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MTA rolls in new Train Time app for Metro North


A mobile ride

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out its Metro North Train Time application last week, its first official app, the first official for the commuter rail line.

The nation's largest commuter railroad designed the app to streamline users' commutes and attract new commuters. The MTA worked with Canvas to test and design an app.
"The MTA is looking to constantly improve the quality of every touch point their riders have with the railroad," said John Kaminski, CEO of Canvas, New York. "Creating new digital tools is one critical pathway to accomplishing that.
"Apps in particular can be an important tool for both commuters and periodic travelers," he said. "For commuters, it helps them understand service changes, delays, get faster access to important information like track numbers, find trains outside of their normal schedule range, etc.
"For periodic travelers, it's an important tool for orienting them with the system and introducing them to details that will be important to their trip, like where to park, what trains are 'peak' or 'off peak,' what are the fare categories, etc."
Right time
A variety of third-party apps currently serve the need of MTA Metro-North customers, but until now there was no official resource that was operated by the railroad, and where the integrity of the information was guaranteed by the MTA, according to Mr. Kaminski.
Metro-North and the LIRR aimed to develop an official app, which would make riding the train more convenient and easy. 
Taxis, town cars, discount bus lines and other transporters compete for commuter' money and time. The MTA's new app is marketed as the be-all and end-all. It is the app for all needs.
Ridership has increased during the past decades, however the MTA did not know whether that was due to the increasing ease of access to digital real-time information via the Web, text, email, third-party apps and in-system digital displays.
Train Time app includes fast and accurate information about Metro North train schedule. It is the only app to provide accurate official information about track numbers.

A screenshot of the app

On track
The app features real-time updates and ADA accessibility information.
It provides peak and off-peak fares and city ticket fares for the Bronx and Harlem lines.
Train Time also offers train stations' transportation information about taxis, parking and connecting trains and busses.
The app was designed to provide fast and easy access to the MTA website.
"Creating impeccably designed, high quality user experiences is critical to improving the quality of your customer engagements," Mr. Kaminski said, "Whether your business is a public service like the MTA or a private brand.
"There are a variety of recent projects like the redesign of NYC.gov by Huge, the maps and signage in Lower Manhattan by Pentagram, and this app, that are examples of creating exceptionally designed user experiences for public services," he said.
Final Take
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York

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Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily. Reach her at kari@mobilemarketer.com.

Related content: Software and technology, mobile, mobile marketing, mobile commerce, Train Time, LIRR, MTA, John Kaminski, app, application

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Comments on "MTA rolls in new Train Time app for Metro North"

  1. Chris Parker says:

    March 13, 2014 at 12:50pm

    The Metro-North Train Time app. is a great idea, however the app. is still only as good as the data sent from the command center. Among the limitations, any train less than 6 minutes late is reported "On Time", simply because that is how it is aggregated for statistics. Also, even when a train is going to be officially late, delayed, or cancelled, information about that service change is untimely and usually not reported on the app. (or on the station announcements) until at or after the scheduled time, making the app. pretty useless for planning alternative arrangements around service changes or interruptions. Finally, sometimes the train status is not updated uniformly for all upcoming stops, such as a train reported cancelled at its origin continuing to be reported as "On Time" and later "Delayed" at all its stops until its scheduled arrival time has long passed. Late train times also fluctuate as the train gets later and later, basically no different than telling me "the train should be here in 5 more minutes" when I check every few minutes.

    MNR has a great idea and opportunity with this app., and hopefully with time they will deliver data improvements, but for the time being it is only really useful to me as a quick schedule lookup tool (i.e. when is the next train coming, or when will my train get to that station, etc.).
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