MD: New Light Rail Technology Gives Riders Real-Time Train Arrival Info

May 15, 2014
Next Train Arrival System offers platform presence and mobile/Web functionality

On May 15, the Maryland Transit Administration officially unveils the latest addition to the Light Rail Public Address System Upgrade Project with the Next Train Arrival system, delivering real-time train information to customers through three distinct delivery methods: LED platform signs, plus mobile and full Website desktop functionality.

This service is the latest effort by the O’Malley-Brown administration to increase transit ridership. One of the most requested items from customers, Next Train Arrival technology is part of the MTA’s Transit Modernization Program - an all-inclusive strategic effort to improve public transit throughout the state. Light rail’s Next Train Arrival system will be followed by similar technology roll-outs for MTA local bus and Metro subway service scheduled to launch before the end of 2014.

“This new technology is another step forward to achieve Governor O’Malley’s goal of doubling ridership by 2020,” stated MTA Administrator and CEO, Robert Smith. “When we give riders what they want and make riding transit more efficient and enjoyable, you get a system that residents, businesses, civic leaders and transit advocates have long hoped for and worked toward.”

The $1.1 million system includes the installation of GPS antennas, cellular modems, specialized software and computers on all 53 light rail vehicles. Much like a car navigation system or the Google Navigation App, the Next Train Arrival system uses GPS coordinates to predict a train’s arrival time for each of the Light Rail vehicle’s destination routes: Hunt Valley, Timonium Fairgrounds, North Avenue, Camden Yards, Penn Station, Cromwell and BWI.

In addition to viewing LED platform signs at all stations, which display a train’s final station destination and arrival time for the next 2 closest trains, riders will be able to receive real-time information for up to the next 4 trains arriving by going to the website. Once at the website, light rail customers will have a choice of ways to view and locate live trains by using a simple schematic map or a Google map. Simply touch or hover over a station or moving train on either map and real-time information pops up.

The mobile website, specifically engineered for smartphones, will be viewable with any operating system including Android, Apple, Windows and Blackberry, as well as tablet browsers.