MTA Adds Real-Time Arrival Estimates on L Line
January 13th, 2014
L train riders from Canarsie, Brooklyn to 8th Avenue in Manhattan can now get real-time train arrival information on their phones and online. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that the information that appears on platform countdown clocks on the Line is now available via the MTA Subway Time™ iPhone and web app. And the MTA is now providing the data to app developers to include in third party apps that help with subway navigation.
The MTA launched the Subway Time app in December 2012 with real-time train arrival estimates showing the number of minutes away a train is due at each station on the and lines and 42nd Street Shuttle. Today’s announcement marks the first expansion of the app and real-time data feed from that initial group of lines.
“Know before you go – we like to repeat this catchy slogan because it is so much more helpful to have information with you before you get to our station than once you’re already there,” said MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast. “That’s why we’re delighted to be able to extend the reach of our real-time data so that our Line customers can have it wherever they are, and make a decision about when to venture out from the comfort of your own home, coffee shop, office, or wherever you may be.”
MTA Subway Time for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch is available via the Apple app store at this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mta-subway-time/id561507659?ls=1&mt=8 . A web-based desktop version is available at http://bit.ly/1eOUQg4. A number of apps developed by external tech developers include the same real-time data feed as well. Information about many of those apps can be found at the MTA’s online App Gallery at this link: http://web.mta.info/apps/
MTA Subway Time™ is designed to be quick to load and easy to use. The opening screen displays icons for the subway lines served by the app. You can select a line to see all the stations it serves, then select a station to see real-time arrival estimates for up to nine trains approaching that station from each direction. For simplicity, stations that serve multiple lines show all trains combined in a single list.
The arrival time estimates can be refreshed anytime by touching the icon in the upper right of the screen. The exact time the data was provided is displayed at the bottom of the screen.
The app is synchronized with the mta.info website displaying planned service changes and real-time service disruptions. The MTA is evaluating how to best incorporate this real-time information into its point-to-point trip planning web utility,Trip Planner +.
The new real-time data is also being made available simultaneously in raw form to app developers via a GTFS-Real Time feed on the MTA’s cloud-hosted open data portal. Developers who wish to add line real-time data to their existing apps, or learn how to use the raw open data on any of the lines that have real-time train arrivals, can access it at http://mta.info/developers.
The addition of the L Line’s real-time information into the app is made possible by a technology known as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), the modernized signal system employed on the Line that also powers the countdown clocks located overhead on L station platforms. Signaling on the Line is currently being upgraded to CBTC. The project is expected to be completed in 2016, and the could be added to Subway Time thereafter. The MTA hopes to have countdown clocks in place at the remainder of the lettered lines within three to five years, through digital means overlaid on top of the existing signal system that uses technology dating back to the 1930s.
The Line, built in sections between 1913 and 1931, has 24 stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It was the first line to receive countdown clocks on platforms. They were activated in January 2007.