In this day & age, real time information is available at our fingertips regardless of the subject matter. Unfortunately when it comes to the MTA, they have been far behind their peers in providing such information to its riding public. They have been trying to catch up so they deserve a little credit for that.
A few days ago, the agency announced the launch of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) real time train information pilot. Here is more courtesy of the press release I received:
The MTA Long Island Rail Road today launched a pilot of LIRR Train Time™, a digital service that provides real-time train arrival status to customers using mobile devices or desktop computers. Starting today, LIRR customers using the Port Washington Branch will be able to use the service by going to http://mta.info/lirr/TrainTime. To use the service, a user enters his or her origin and destination, and Train Time will then provide upcoming departure times and indications showing whether each train is running on time or, if late, by how many minutes. Train Time also displays scheduled arrival time at the destination station, track assignments at most origin stations, and a chance to click for a list of each upcoming train’s intermediate stops.
“Each day, our customers are becoming more familiar with CooCoo text schedules and a wonderful, ever-growing availability of LIRR-related apps for iPhones, Android devices and Blackberries,” said Helena E. Williams, President of MTA Long Island Rail Road. “We’re delighted to take the next step to further improve the digital information that makes traveling on the LIRR easier and more rewarding. Now, our customers will be able to get access to the same convenient information offered by real-time electronic signs on our platforms, before they get to the station.”
Train Time uses real-time train location information provided by an enhanced state-of-the-art GPS system and from the LIRR’s signal system. Its graphic interface is based on the one used by Metro-North Train Time™, a similar service that launched last year. But because LIRR customers sometimes need to change trains at Jamaica or other stations, the Long Island Rail Road edition of Train Time has added space to show up to two transfers. Outside of Jamaica, the LIRR’s most common transfer points are Babylon, Hicksville, Huntington, Lynbrook, Mineola, Ronkonkoma and Valley Stream.
The LIRR is piloting its edition of Train Time on the Port Washington Branch because the branch does not connect with other branches at Jamaica. The transfer columns will remain blank during this pilot release. To the left of these columns, Train Time shows a train’s scheduled arrival time at the selected destination. And next to that, users can click on the “stops” button for each listed trip to view all the intermediate stops made by each train or combination of trains.
Train delays are shown in terms of number of minutes late. In keeping with U.S. industry-wide railroad standards for on-time performance, trains arriving within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of their scheduled time are listed as being on time.
Train Time on the Port Washington Branch has been beta tested by LIRR employees and some commuters selected by the LIRR Commuter’s Council. Now, Train Time invites the general public is invited to provide comments and reactions to the service via a link on its main page. The LIRR will make updates based on user comments before launching Train Time on the LIRR’s 10 other branches. Train Time has a survey link on the application page to help make it easier for customers to provide feedback on the product.
Because of the complex operational dynamics at Penn Station, where last-minute track changes can be made, LIRR Train Time™ does not show track assignments at Penn Station. Track assignments are available at all other participating stations.
LIRR Train Time™ is the latest in a series of initiatives the MTA has undertaken to increase the availability of digital service information. Other recent advances include subway countdown clocks, real-time bus tracking via MTA Bus Time™, a competition to encourage app development, two major overhauls to the MTA website, digital screens that provide service status information, release of machine-readable service and performance data on the MTA’s website, and more.
Long Island Rail Road Train Time™ is also available by going to http://mta.info/lirr and clicking on the “LIRR Train Time” link.
Hopefully riders take advantage of this information which leads to a successful pilot. Time shall tell……..
xoxo Transit Blogger