Way back in February . . .

by @jehiah on 2008-08-25 14:09UTC
Filed under: All , Programming , mobile , Trains , iPhone

Back in February 2008, I became fed up with the way Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train schedules were listed online. For some reason I didn’t just get frustrated, but I tried to do something about it.

Starting in March I began republishing LIRR schedules in the format I wanted them in. I had a few simple goals, and yes, creating a simpler schedule was one of them.

I wanted:

  • list of the next trains for today whatever day that may be
  • to show only the specific schedules for a trip between two stations
  • plainly labeled “peak” and “offpeak” trains
  • easy readable URLs to remember or bookmark
  • simple pages (that also worked well on mobile devices)
  • no ads

That was pretty much it, and in March 08 I launched thenexttrain.com with LIRR Schedules.

I met my goal of showing just the next few trains. I decided to show just a few minutes into the past, enough to see if you just missed a train or to see if it’s late, and just a few hours into the future to see what is coming. If you check at 1pm you see the trains from 12:45pm to 6pm. No need to figure out if you should look at the holiday schedule, or of you are on the old or new schedule or any of that.

The urls are about as clear as it gets
If you can’t understand from those urls what the page contains, well… you might be beyond hope.

As for no ads, there are none. There are no ads. I am continually amazed at how anyone can find the train schedules and navigate pages that look like this

So needless to say, I met my goals.

I decided not to stop there (with LIRR schedules) I got excited and by July I was re-publishing schedules for LIRR, Path, Caltrain, BART, SEPTA, and MARC trains.

And now I’ve taken it one step further. Now schedules for almost all of those agencies are available as an application for offline use on the iPhone and iPod touch. They are for sale in the iTunes App Store. In addition I am releasing schedules for VRE, UTA and MBTA with associated applications, bringing the total number of agencies covered to 9.

That equates to listings for over 35 thousand departures daily from 591 different stations.

As commuter trains become more popular and their ridership increases, their schedules should also increase in frequency, and that is good (not only for the environment, but also for ease of travel). It’s my hope that easy access to train schedules will help ridership to grow, and in turn help bring that change about.

I’m not the only bringing this change about. Some other great applications are out there for the iPhone too!

iPhone + theNextTrain = Schedules in your Pocket
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