Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The top new transit app in NYC is now official, at least as far as government sponsored contests go. Embark won the MTA's app contest in February, and last night the trip planning phone application won the NYC BigApps competition in the mobility category.
Last year, when NYC doled out $40,000 in prizes for apps that use government data in useful ways, transportation cleaned up with two of the top three. This year Embark was the lone tool for getting around to get a nod. (Full list of other winners).
While most trip planning tools require internet access to generate suggested routes, or tell you your travel time, Embark is designed to work underground while actually on the subway. So when the garbled overhead announcement threatens to ruin your plans with a delay or unexpected closure, you can whip out your phone to see what alternatives you have right there on the train.
Nest year, maybe we'll get an app for making your train switch to express when you're running late.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
New York City Transit is making an effort to step into the digital age. There's no GPS data on all buses like in Boston and San Francisco, but NYC does have a burgeoning tech scene with a ready supply of app developers. Now the MTA is luring them into making transit apps.
The MTA App Quest offers $15,000 in prizes to the best transit software applications that "improve the transit experience" for the region's 8.5 million riders (aka potential app users). Now that submissions are in, the MTA wants the riders to get in on dishing out those prize dollars.
Members of the public can vote on the 42 competing apps with about $3,000 of prize money dedicated to fan favorites. Apps range from quirky to clever to new age and newfangled.
Most, however, are aimed at a wider audience, and some tap the latest smartphone features. The NYC Station Finder app helps you find the nearest subway station -- not on a map, but with an augmented reality viewer. While standing on a street, hold up your phone in front of you to see through the camera. Nearby stations are superimposed on the "reality" before you (video here.) The TravAlarm NYC is an alarm clock that will factor in known train delays and wake you up earlier and suggest an alternate route if your subway line is running behind.
It's easy to imagine how even more sophisticated and useful apps will result once there is real time location data of trains and buses available to the developers. There's plenty of other data spewing out of the MTA for some unexpected applications. Ridership junkies (and transit reporters like our own Jim O'Grady) may find TurnStileData useful, which let's you see how many people pass through a given turnstile in a four hour period.
Transit apps have proven popular in past city contests. When New York City held its Big Apps competition for the best applications to use government data, Roadify took home the grand prize -- and other transportation apps scored well too. (Our review of that contest here.)
After a few hours of open voting--by no means long enough to indicate a leading contender for the Popular Choice Prizes in this MTA competition--the NYC Notify Me app had the early lead in votes. This app alerts you when there are service disruptions on your regular subway or commuter rail lines.
In addition to two riders' choice awards, the rest of the prize money will be doled by a panel of judges from city agencies, transit-friendly media outlets, and tech experts.
According to the MTA, there are "more than a dozen data sets available for the challenge, including General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) schedule data; current service status; real-time information for some bus lines; elevator/escalator status; turnstile and fare data; bridge and tunnel traffic data; and subway entrance GIS data." Real time bus data is available on two bus lines.
To cast your vote, go here. Voting is open for one month.
*A previous version of this article conflated TravAlarm NYC, part of the App Quest and TravAlarm, not part of the App Quest, which lets you snooze on the train by waking you up when you are about to get to your stop — not by GPS location, but by estimated time elapsed after factoring in where you entered and where you are going.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
(Transportation Nation) Google announced this morning it would provide real-time transit information for mobile apps and desktops in six cities. Which is to say, not when your bus or train is supposed to arrive, but when it is actually going to arrive, based on where it actually is.
From a Google press release this morning:
"Starting now, Google Maps for mobile and desktop can tell you when your ride is actually going to arrive with new live transit updates. We partnered with transit agencies to integrate live transit data in four U.S. cities and two European cities: Boston, Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Francisco, Madrid and Turin."
We'll have more, plus a test run in SF, coming soon.
Monday, April 25, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Transportation information is knowable -- though not always to a centralized authority. But the proliferation of both smart phones and social media means regular folks can tell each other when the bus is come as quickly as...well...they can tell you there's a revolution underway in the Middle East. Will Roadify and other apps revolutionize the way we get around? I take a deeper look, on Marketplace Money.