Jun
07

Transit unveils online delay verification app

By

A screenshot of New York City Transit’s new delay verification web application. It is available online right here.

“My train was delayed” is to New York City as “my dog ate my homework” is to high school. It is an excuse so common that many employers now require an official notice from the MTA that their employee’s tardiness was in reality due to a late train.

For the past few years, New York City Transit has provided snail-mail correspondence that allows workers to show their bosses proof of a delay. In fact, from 2007-2009, Transit sent out over 103,000 letters, and the process has long been cumbersome for the authority.

With a new website, though, and more attention on technological development, Transit unveiled an online delay verification application last week. Now, those delayed and in need of proof can enter the train, the time and their e-mail address. A few days, the verification will show up as an email.

“Our goal is to provide safe, reliable and on-time subway service,” Transit President Thomas Prendergast said in a statement. “While we do our best to make sure every trip is on time, things can and do happen. With this new service, any rider who needs it can easily request and obtain the necessary delay documentation for school or work.”

According to Transit, the authority had received 232 online requests between when the application went live on Thursday and the end of the day on Friday. As of early Saturday morning, 213 of those requests had been processed, but as the popularity of the new application increases, MTA officials say the turnaround time will be somewhere between five and 15 days. For an agency with a past history of poor technological innovation, this application, development in-house and designed to reduce postage and other mailing costs while improving customer service efficiency, is a sure step in the right direction.



5 Responses to “Transit unveils online delay verification app”

  1. Scott E says:

    Unless this system can automatically cross-reference requests with a database of delays, I see this becoming a big headache creating a huge backlog for Transit. When you make a system that is so easy to use, everybody will use it. I’ll bet that nearly every reporter covering the story, as well as some of those who read or hear the reports, are submitting requests just out of curiosity – to see what happens. Out of the 232 requests submitted between Thursday and Friday, how many do you think were legitimately for the intended purpose?

    • aestrivex says:

      i can’t imagine that this type of project would be implemented any way other than automated checks to a database, even by an organization as technologically backwards as the MTA.

      • Scott E says:

        Look at the last paragraph: “As of early Saturday morning, 213 of those requests had been processed, but as the popularity of the new application increases, MTA officials say the turnaround time will be somewhere between five and 15 days.”

        This suggests to me that it would be done manually. Plus, there’s a “Tell us what happened” box in the form (see screenshot at the top). No automated system would read and understand that.

        • Andrew says:

          It could be a mix of the two – the system will try to match up the customer’s entries with a reported service delay but will then wait for human verification. I don’t know.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Seems like this could be a real point of differentiation. Sure, you could drive to work, but then any delays would be self-reported and subject to eye-rolling from your supervisor or HR office. If you took transit and were delayed, you can now easily get a note from Jay Walder saying so.

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