Real-time next train arrival information now available by phone, Plus – Greatest WMATA Video Ever?

Perhaps someone put something in my coffee but the video above has blown my mind.

Another reader would like to know what app you guys recommend for your iphone:

“Dear PoP,

I’m the proud new owner of an iPhone. One of the functions which pushed me from “that’s neat” to “I so need that” was access to real-time bus and metro information. Now I’m a little flummoxed about which of the many DC transit apps are the best, and am curious about which are your readers’ favorites. Important functionalities to me are real time arrival info, and being able to look at stops/routes on a Google map (especially for bus, since as far as I’ve ever been able to tell that type of information is provided nowhere else by WMATA).”

From a WMATA Press release:

Metrorail customers can now get real-time next train arrival information by phone, in addition to online and via web-enabled mobile devices.

Customers may simply call Metro’s Customer Information phone number, 202-637-7000, and say “Next Train.” They then will be prompted to say a station name or enter the first four letters of the station name to hear when the next trains will arrive at the selected station within a 20-minute window.

For stations that serve more than two Metrorail lines, such as Gallery Pl-Chinatown, L’Enfant Plaza and Metro Center Metrorail stations, customers will be prompted to say or enter the Metrorail line color they are traveling on such as “Red Line” or “Green Line.”

26 Comment

  • DC Rider seems to be the most organized.

  • Nextbus is never ever ever correct. Actually, it is correct just enough to try to lure into believing that it is a useful tool. But then you end up waiting out on 7th for the 70 bus that’s coming “in 3 minutes” for 40 minutes, not daring to hail a cab because you are hoping that the bus will be there any second now and you already spent all that time waiting, while your poor hungry dog is at home waiting for his dinner and his walk. Do not be seduce by the lure of the Nextbus. Down that path lies only madness.

    • +1 Amen.
      I’ve made much better decisions since I’ve stopped checking Nextbus.

    • I used to have these experiences and had given up on NextBus for a long time. But I recently started using it again and the accuracy has noticeably improved.

    • Really? I’ve found it to be useful at least 70-80% of the time. The rest of the time it either a) doesn’t display any time estimate (transponder is probably off) or b) shows some ridiculous time estimate (87 minutes for the next bus during rush hour) which I just ignore. For $2 that’s not bad considering the alternative is not ever having that info and never ever knowing when a bus is going to come.

      The hard limit on the usefulness of these apps is the data that WMATA makes available. I’m shocked (shocked!) that this data can be complete shit once in awhile. After all this is the same organization that kept refusing to make data available to Google transit when developer after developer told them “Look, it’s all right there! You ALREADY provide it! Just let us sign agreements to use it!!” That WMATA delayed because they “couldn’t guarantee that the data is 100% accurate” is telling.

      Anyway: 70-80% of the time having an idea when the bus is coming > 0%

  • The NextBus app is actually very good, the only limitation seems to be the accuracy of the transponders themselves (or, more accurately, relying on the bus drivers to turn them on!). You can see route maps in Google maps by browsing through the route listings, but there’s no overall map that will tell you which lines go where. You kind of have to know the general direction that a bus is going. I like that it allows you to save favorite stops and routes for quick access.

  • So for the Metro is the time the next time will actually arrive?

    Or one of the various estimations posted on the monitors in the stations which have become increasingly unreliable as the days go by?

  • I’m in MtP, and I’ve found that the accuracy of Nextbus varies by line. The H3/H4 is almost always right. The S-lines are right most of the time, but the 43 line often tells me that a bus is leaving from Lamont Park when there is actually no bus to be seen.

  • NextBus works perfectly for me. Yes, it’s not 100% accurate, but does a well enough job.

  • I’ve been using “Mytransit – Washington D.C.” for a few months now. It’s pretty accurate and easy to use.

  • I find the Metrorail real-time information included within the free TBD iPhone app faster and easier to use (at least on an iPhone) than Metro’s own website. Plus, TBD provides links to the latest entries on leading neighborhood blogs such as PoP!

  • I purchased a SmartCard yesterday because my old one started failing. The woman at the window bent my card until it cracked and said I would need to buy another one. I was charged $5 even though their website and advertising all say that after Aug 29 they are supposed to be $2.50. After confirming this info from their website and returning to ask why I was overcharged, they could only say “It was postponed.” Just another small example of the pathetic failure of service (escalators, anyone?). Metro is just depressingly untrustworthy.

  • Trains seem to be able to keep much more predictable schedules than buses. I use the Metro website all the time (for trains) and find it very, very useful and accurate.

    At any rate, these look like scary, scary people… evil sorceresses maybe. I’d be a little nervous to ride the metro with either one of them.

  • I think that lady in the video needs to get off the phone with that metrobot or she’s gonna miss her train.

  • I just got a droid- any recs? Right now i have meetrodc and dc metro transit info- so far so good

    • I really like the JazzMoon products on the Droid


      • I have one of their apps- i’ll be sure to check oi justut other ones they make. I just had both apps (and the schedule at the bus stop itself)ail me as i tried to catch the D6- i was saved by metro’s tripplanner of all things!

  • “Thank you for calling Next Brawl. The next brawl of fifty-four people at the station will be in minutes. Additional brawls are in and minutes. If you would like more information on brawls at other stations, please say “

  • Or you all could just carry around a good book and that 5 min. won’t matter so much. . .

  • We need to have Eckingtonite serve as the PR for WMATA. Well stated. It does not matter is the train/bus is on time as long as Eckingtonite is posting comments on the system.

  • NextBus DC is the best Bus App. That being said, it’s certainly far from perfect – it does deal with the bus system, after all.

    I’m surprised that no one mentioned “Capital Rails” for the iPhone. It’s a little bit of a pain to set up (you have to choose your stations from the settings screen, not the App itself) but once you select your favorite stations, it’s reliable and very easy to use. I highly recommend it.

  • Just don’t try calling NextBus when you’re on a busy street. It won’t be able to differentiate you from the traffic noise.

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