LiveTrain.NYC

LiveTrain NYC maps eight lines using actual train location data.

Like every New York commuter, Michael Prude sometimes finds himself wondering where exactly the next subway train is, and not in those words. While most of us stop our curiosity there, Prude took his interest to the next level, creating a map that shows the trains moving in real-time, with fellow developer Ted Mahoney. The duo call their web app LiveTrain NYC.

"It's a nice way to visualize a complex system and have some utility on top of it," Prude tells CityLab.

Unlike similar apps that use (often erroneous) schedule data to map subway progress, LiveTrain is based on live train locations from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority—the same info that populates the platform countdown clocks. Site users can filter the map by route, click on particular trains to see arrival times, check the schedules for specific stations, or just zone out to the oddly relaxing crawl of digital dots.

For now the map is limited to eight trains: the 1 through 6, L, and S lines. Prude says the developer team "definitely will" expand the system as more MTA data becomes available. They'd also like to turn LiveTrain into a native app. Underground data connection remains a sticking point; for now, the program lines up the next several stops for a train to keep the map moving without Internet access, however briefly.

Ultimately Prude would like the app to tell him whether or not it's worth transferring trains. Like so many 1 train riders, he often finds himself hopping onto the platform at express stops to see if a 2 or 3 is coming, though he ends back on the local to finish his commute. Ideally the app could alert him about a possible transfer and tell him how much time he actually saves from the back and forth.

"That's my next goal: to make that a little less painful," he says.

And in case you’re trapped on a connected platform somewhere, read more about LiveTrain here, learn about other entrants to the MTA's App Quest 3.0 competition here, and watch Amtrak’s trains move in real-time, here.

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