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App of the Week: TheNextTrain

TheNextTrain is an app born on the Long Island Rail Road that allows riders of the LIRR, Metro-North Railroad and 15 other railroads across the country to get schedule and fare information with a few taps on an iPhone screen or clicks of a mouse. And it's our app of the week.

NextTrain App GraphicThe app lets users select a station-to-station pair to learn of the upcoming departure times, the scheduled length of the trip, whether it requires peak or off-peak fare, and where to transfer if needed. Or, users can select a station -; either by name or by using a map -; to learn the upcoming scheduled departure times and destinations.

"I started TheNextTrain to experiment with making my own LIRR travels easier in 2008 when visiting family on Long Island," said its creator, Jehiah Czebotar. "The idea behind TheNextTrain is to have a way to get to commuter rail schedules for a specific city pair that would automatically take into account all the holiday/weekday/weekend schedules and special cases."

The fully licensed app uses data that the MTA provides to tech developers on its website using the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). But Mr. Czebotar launched the app two years before the MTA released this data electronically. At first, he was laboriously tabulating schedules from the MTA's website. "I'm much happier now that GTFS data is available," he said, "because it replaced that time intensive, error prone task with a 5 minute task."

Train travelers can access the app via the web for free or can download it for iPhone for $4.99.