Jul
07

A mobile cheat sheet for subway exits

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The true sign of an expert subway rider is the knowledge concerning door choice. I know which set of doors will leave my right at the staircase for my morning commute, and I know which set of doors will open so I can be the first out of the station on the way home at night. Not everyone though pays as much attention to their commutes as I do, and sometimes, we find ourselves en route to an unfamiliar station. At that point, the door choice becomes a guessing game. Well, to borrow a phrase, there’s now an app for that.

As City Room’s Jennifer 8. Lee reported this morning, a mobile start-up called Exit Strategy New York has released an application available for iPhone, Blackberry, the Android and the Kindle that higlights the exits as stations around the city. A brother-and-sister team put in the legwork and spent countless hours charting the system over the last few months to bring this info to the masses. “It’s incredible, you can be off by an entire avenue,” Jonathan Wegener, one of the company founders, said. “You are three or four minutes off from where you thought you were going to be.”

Per the company’s official backstory, Wegener and his sister Ashley simply camped out in train stations. They write, “At each subway station, they waited for the train to come so they could mark which door of the train aligned with the exits. At stations with multiple stairwells, they figured out which were the most efficient ones. They did this, again and again and again, in hundreds of subway stations.” That’s fairly ingenious.

In the end, they compiled information on car door locations, exit placement and even the hours of operation for those stations with part-time exits. Not everything was as easy as counting doors though. Amusingly enough, according to the programmers, they ran into some problems with the varying car lengths. When the F trains switched from sets of eight 75-foot-long R46 cars to 10 60-foot-long R160 cars, the app had to be updated in development.

The app went on sale today, and it is available for $2.99 for Blackberry and $1.99 for the other platforms. It features exit information every stop in Manhattan and much of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx and should eventually include every station. It also works offline. I’ll download this one soon and give it a spin on my Blackberry. Expect a review in a few days.



3 Responses to “A mobile cheat sheet for subway exits”

  1. rhywun says:

    Since my ride is fairly long and VERY slow, I’m much more interested in finding a seat–and I judge my entry onto the train accordingly. Which generally means I’m happy to trade a couple minutes of walking for 40 minutes of standing. YMMV.

  2. JP says:

    Don’t forget the anatomy of a line. How many tourists have you seen accidentally share a lap with a stranger, just outside of grand central on the 4-5-6? There’s one sharp turn there.

  3. Josh says:

    That’s a neat service, though as Rhywun points out above it’s not what everyone is necessarily looking for. I read about a similar application developed for the London Underground and it’s nice that there’s one here now too.

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