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MTA's LIRR Train Time mobile app keeps tabs on trains

MTA launched the first official app for customers

MTA launched the first official app for customers of Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road. (Dec.19, 2013) Credit: MTA

It won't make the train come on time, but the Long Island Rail Road's first official mobile application will let riders know exactly how late that train will be.

LIRR Train Time will give customers access to an unprecedented amount of information in the palms of their hands, officials said Thursday in releasing the app and a similar version for Metro-North Railroad.

Information the app provides includes details about the next several departures from a station, fare amounts, track assignments for each train and updates on service conditions.

The free application, available now for iPhone and Android smartphones, consolidates information from several sources, including email service alerts to customers, electronic station billboards, and the LIRR's social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman and chief executive Thomas Prendergast said in a statement that the app should be "the definitive mobile go-to source for all the information someone would need in order to ride" the LIRR.

"We always say 'Know Before You Go' because it makes traveling with us a lot easier, and these apps put a trove of useful information right into your hands when you are on the move," Prendergast said.

Several third-party mobile apps for years provided some of the same functionality as Train Time, but the goal of creating an in-house app was to give riders as much access to official agency resources as possible, said LIRR customer service vice president Joseph Calderone.

Train Time will also give customers real-time arrival information for their specific train, including whether it is late by six minutes or more. That detail is made possible by the LIRR's recent installation of global positioning systems on all trains.

"Now we have a better, more granular feed on where the trains are, and that's going to help us both with the app and with station signs," Calderone said. "The beauty of this is now you can check before you go to a station."

The app also allows users to view railroad maps and get information on each station, including waiting room hours, parking availability, handicapped accessibility, and whether elevators and escalators are working. It even provides phone numbers for local taxi companies.

The MTA's information technology team developed the app for the LIRR, using input from riders' advocates, including the LIRR Commuter Council.

William Henderson, executive director of the MTA's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, which includes the council, said the app is a natural evolution of resources for LIRR commuters, who have craved mobile information, even if it was just "a bundle of timetables."

"The more information you have available to you, the better decision you can make," Henderson said.

Other official MTA apps with real-time information released in recent years include Bus Time, Subway Time and Drive Time, which provides traffic conditions for MTA bridges and tunnels.

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