NEW YORK - Gothamites don't like waiting — even a few New York minutes. Now the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) promises up-to-the minute train schedules for several of its subway lines.
Standing across from the city's biggest Apple store, in the main hall of Grand Central Station, outgoing MTA chairman Joseph Lhota showed off a new app, MTA Subway Time for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch today (Dec. 28). It draws on new data from several train lines and taps into new data feeds that the city has just made available.
The app, which the city calls a test, is rudimentary. Users tap an icon for one of seven supported lines and then have to scroll through the entire list of stops — 38 just on the relatively short number 6 line. Then they tap the name of the stop to see the upcoming uptown and downtown trains. It's much simpler than other apps, such as the free NYC Subway, which uses GPS produce a list of nearby stations the user can choose from.
A single app isn't so important, but the data that it runs on is, said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. The city is now providing updates on where exactly each train is, using sensors that have been placed on train tracks every 30 to 1,000 feet. "That's the big news," Donovan said to TechNewsDaily. The new data is much more detailed than what apps have been using in the past.
The app works for the shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square and for most of the city's numbered lines — 1 through 6 — which run uptown and downtown on the East and West Sides. It will come within a year to the L line, which ferries hipsters under the east river between Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan's East Village.
The city's perpetually under-repair 7 line may get the sensors in 2016, but the other lines are a mystery. In a statement, the MTA said only that it has long-term plans to update those lines "pending funding availability." [See also: Inflatable Plug Could Have Stopped NYC Subway Flooding ]
The MTA suffered nearly $5 billion in damages after Superstorm Sandy in October.