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Metro North Safety v. Schedule?

You need an app for all the changes.

As Metro North re-emphasizes safety, train officials are trying to make sure that commuters' personal schedules aren't messed up.

The MTA announced the shift after the federal "deep dive" report came out saying an overemphasis on preventing delays along the commuter railroad's money-making main line led Metro-North officials to routinely put on-time performance well ahead of safety practices and concerns.

Safety and performance aren't an either/or choice, Bill Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, told Patch March 27. 

"The essence of safety is doing the job right, and doing the job right can improve performance overall," Henderson said. "We believe that it’s possible to operate a safe railroad that meets riders’ expectations on performance. 

"It’s true that repairs and temporary speed reductions reduce performance, but many of the other measures that have been discussed, such as in-cab alerters and worker safety measures, have no direct impact on performance," he said. "Further, the most substantial safety measure that’s planned, positive train control, is likely to have a positive impact on performance, since its approach to maintaining spacing between trains is more operationally efficient than traditional block signaling."

Meanwhile, commuters can keep track of train times using Metro North's app. Based on the railroad’s web-based Train Time™ data feed, the app makes it easy to learn when the next trains are due at your station, whether each one is running on time, and which track each one is slated to use, MTA officials said.

Metro North has been tracking users' responses in the three months since the app was released, so that improvements can be made when upgraded versions of the apps are released.

As Joseph Giulietti, President of Metro-North Railroad, said in a press release: “Our focus right now is on our top priority, safety. However, we are also looking to improve service quality. Expanding access to real-time information is a major part of that, and I am glad to see that many of our customers are using this app.”

The departure tracks are posted in the apps at the same time that they are posted at digital signs in stations, where available. Tracks are usually available more than an hour in advance at most stations. 

The app also makes it easy to find out fare information, see railroad maps, and learn about stations, including waiting room hours, parking availability, connecting transit services, status of accessibility for the disabled, elevator and escalator status, and phone numbers for area taxi companies. The app also includes real-time service status, brief up-to-the-minute service alerts, railroad news items, info on special deals and getaway packages, and more detailed notices about service changes resulting from planned track work.

It also includes information about connecting with the railroad via social media, email and 511.

To learn more about the app, including how to download it to your iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone, visit this web site:

· Metro-North Railroad: http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/traintimeapp.htm 

In addition to supporting the efforts of scores of app developers who use MTA data and intellectual property in 130 transportation-related apps that can be found in the MTA’s App Center, this is just one of eight apps that have been officially created or commissioned by the MTA itself. The other MTA apps for iOS, Android include:

· Subway Time, which provides real-time train arrival estimates for all stations on the L, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 subway lines and S 42nd Street Shuttle.
· The Weekender, which lets New York City Subway customers visualize weekend service changes caused by subway track work.
· MTA Drive Time, which provides graphically animated views of current travel speeds and travel times on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, RFK Bridge, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, Henry Hudson Bridge, Cross Bay Bridge and Marine Parkway Bridge.
· Meridian, which provides comprehensive information about the permanent artwork installed throughout the MTA system, including the ability to search by line or by artist, get turn-by-turn directions to the art, and see photos.
· Grand Central, which combines information about where to eat, shop, and run errands within Grand Central with Metro-North track listings and departure times.

The Train Time app has gotten good reviews, Metro North officials said. Here's one they cited:

· “Handy! I like this app. Lets me know when I should hustle it up and try to catch that train with rail time tracking! Or when I have plenty of time to stroll to the station.” –Google Play customer review of Metro-North Train Time on February 17, 2014 (five stars)

Robert Guttman March 27, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Everybody is going to claim that they want the railroad to emphasize safety over schedule - until their train arrives late.
Patrick March 27, 2014 at 09:34 PM
Nope. I say safety schmafety. My morning rush hour trains are 20 minutes late every day for the past 9 months. Step on it Mr. Engineer. I don't really care if we hit something.
Flower Jasmin March 29, 2014 at 06:19 AM
Timeliness is a matter of safety on its own; Once one train is running late then the rest have to be adjusted and errors are more likely.

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