Apps to Track Massachusetts’ Transportation in Real Time

The MBTA Ninja app, built as part of last weekend’s Code Across Boston hackathon, is modeled after the GPS-based app Waze -- so riders can submit train issues and delays in real time.

by Jordan Graham, Boston Herald / February 26, 2015
Central Red Line MBTA Station Flickr/Tony Webster
(Tribune News Service) -- Local software developers are creating a new crop of mobile apps to improve alerts and give MBTA riders a real-time snapshot of delayed or overcrowded trains as the beleaguered transit system struggles to get commuters to and from work.

“Right now it seems like the only voice that exists is the one from the MBTA to the people, but that’s not a channel back from the people to the MBTA,” said David Lago, one of the creators of MBTA Ninja. “We cannot trust the alerts from the T, because they’re unreliable, they’re not specific.”

Lago, Geoffrey Litt and Radhika Malik built MBTA Ninja as part of last weekend’s Code Across Boston hackathon. Lago said the three co-workers at Panorama Education had resorted to texting each other to find out about service issues because official T alerts weren’t all encompassing — for instance, they don’t report overcrowded trains.

Through MBTA Ninja, which is modeled after the GPS-based app Waze, riders can submit train issues and delays in real time. Litt said there were about 200 reports before yesterday’s evening commute through the app, including medical emergencies MBTA Ninja reported before the MBTA.

Also aimed at monitoring T service, “Live MBTA Subway Mapping by Stefan!” offers riders a real-time look at the location of trains on all of the system’s transit lines.

And another app, DELAID, by design firm Altr, uses analytics to determine which lines are most likely to have future delays based on weather and social media from commuters.

“If standing on a platform, freezing to near death is going to be a continued reality, an act of faith ... a total bet, then we want to show you the odds,” the creators said in a blog post. DELAID is in development.

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