The MTA has not generally been known for being technologically advanced, although it’s hard to fault an organization that relies on equipment and infrastructure whose age can sometimes be marked with three digits in the years column. That said, occasionally we get a glimpse of what progress can bring, and one such example just recently made its debut on the app store in a beta release.The Subway Time app taps into the same technology that powers the countdown clocks on the 1-6 lines and the S shuttle between Grand Central Terminal and Times Square. As Ben Kabak of Second Ave. Sagas notes, since the technology is not in place to do countdown clocks on most other lines yet (and won’t be for years), this is about as much as we get (iOS and desktop versions exist, but the MTA is hoping enterprising Android developers will tap into the feeds to provide a similar service).
You can now see when the next trains will be arriving, making it easier to time your arrival at a station on the lines that are supported. As for the other lines, L trains should be added in the next year or so, and the 7 train is currently being equipped with the technology that will allow its eventual addition, but most lettered lines are still well away from being supported.
So, for now, it’s limited in use, but for the times when it can be used, it can be quite helpful. Hopefully as it leaves beta it’ll also get a bit more visual polish; Kabak’s review noted some limitations that could be smoothed out with a bit of work.