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Great use of the MTA API or greatest use of the MTA API?

by Benjamin Kabak

Warning: F-word ahead: Making the rounds today is a website so pure in its simplicity that it needs no further introduction. Presented for your approval is IstheLtrainf**ked.com. It is the brainchild of Jonathan Vingiano, a programmer who often relies on the L train, and in a short post introducing the concept, he explains how he used the MTA API to provide real-time updates one everyone’s favorite subway line. “Almost every day,” he says, “I find myself asking one question: ‘Is the L train f**ked?'”

As he explains how the site work, the post ends up being one praising the MTA’s new focus on working with developers. Vingiano, who posted his source code, writes, “The website’s info is no more than 60 seconds old and is a good way to find out if maybe you should be taking a cab home instead of waiting around for 45 minutes or so. The app is using the MTA’s official API (which is great btw), Sinatra, Heroku, and GitHub. These awesome tools let people like me release fun apps.” So there you have it. This is the MTA API at its most simple and direct. Would L train riders have it any other way?

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John Paul N. February 10, 2011 - 4:20 pm

Points for the app getting right to the point. But the developer is lucky b/c in the current API, the L (as well as the G and 7 and J/Z) is a self-contained line. I’ll be more impressed if he produces “Is the F Train f*****?”.

Andrew February 10, 2011 - 7:38 pm

Wait. This is based on the real-time L train location data that’s fed to the countdown clocks? I didn’t realize that was available to the public. What about the similar IRT data? When are we going to see a live system map that shows where all the trains are, like the live B63 map?

John Paul N. February 11, 2011 - 12:06 am

It’s the service status almost-XML that Mr. Vingiano is using and is used in many other applications, including mine. When the train location data is released to the public, which hasn’t happened yet, the MTA will be sure to publicize it.

Andrew February 13, 2011 - 8:49 pm

Oh, so it doesn’t give any more information than the MTA website prominently displays on its front page.

It’s train location data that I’m really looking forward to.

pea-jay February 11, 2011 - 8:31 am

My dream application is a dynamic service map of the system at any given point in time that shows all operational lines plus glowing red shading around it to represent delays, black x’s to represent closures with pop up windows with small details. Kinda like what they do with LA freeway info. Then have the MTA stream this info on the web, on flat screen displays in the stations AND on each car as well as wirelessly to peoples smart phones. Now that would be killer. Can’t tell you how often I’ve been faced with that choice of transferring only to find out the next line had a problem and I should have stayed on and used a back up routing

Unapologetically Mundane February 11, 2011 - 3:42 pm

Ahhh, only about three months too late for me. I finally gave up on the L and moved to Downtown Brooklyn, where the only train annoyance I have is getting asbestos poisoning from the falling ceiling at the Borough Hall stop. There’s a certain point–over 100 minutes, I guess–where the wait time on the signs actually becomes amusing, but nevertheless, genius website.


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