App of the Week: RailTime

RailTime, our App of the Week, can help Metro-North commuters, and their loved ones, keep track of upcoming trains with ease.

The centerpiece of RailTime is a train schedules board. When you open the app, it automatically scrolls the train board to display upcoming train departures from your pre-selected station pair. A pie symbol on each row shows you at a glance how many trains will leave within the next hour, and how soon they'll depart. The pie is colored red if your train is departing within a timeframe that you have pre-determined.
If your trip requires a transfer, RailTime calculates any possible connections and shows you the optimal ones. The home screen's train board will show you the number of connections, and if you tap the trip, RailTime will show you the transfer points and times.

The app obsesses about upcoming train departure times so you don't have to. You can set an alarm that will warn you when a train is leaving in 10, 20, 30, 45 or 60 minutes from the present time. You can limit the alarm to express trains only, or even a single train you know you need to make. "It's great if you're at a bar with friends and you know you're so-many minutes away from the station," said the app's creator, Ken Anderson of Mobile Machinations, himself a daily Metro-North commuter.

You can also automatically notify loved ones or co-workers about your scheduled arrival via email or Twitter at the touch of a button.

You don't need a live Internet connection for the app to work, because all of the schedule data is stored right on your device. RailTime will keep the current schedule on your device until it's no longer valid, ensuring you are always using the most up-to-date timetable.

The app was launched in February 2011 and is available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app is free to download and schedule data is available on a line-by-line subscription basis. The first subscription is $4.99 for a year for one line, then additional lines or years for $1.99.

Next up, Mobile Machinations intends to add the Long Island Rail Road.

Illustration of RailTime app