Monday, May 12, 2008 - verdict?

I'm really glad that it's now easy to check real-time train arrivals/delays on our wireless phone now. I was at a doctor's appointment this morning, and with the long wait, I had no idea what time trains come during post-commute hours. I decided it was a good time to put to the test! The result? Unexpected...and bizarre.

Immediately it showed me 5 minutes, 10 minutes, as the estimated arrival time for the next SF bound trains from Orinda. Wow...I thought, this is cool! So I thought I had 10 minutes to comfortably get myself over to the station, park my car and walk up to the platform.

However, as I arrived, I saw the previous train (5 minutes before the one I wanted to take) arrive. I didn't rush, thinking I still have 5 minutes to get up there.

Well!!! I was wrong! I walked up and saw on the schedule that the next SF-bound train is 20 minutes away!

How did that happen?? Where did my intended train go? The real-time schedule said it would arrive in 5 minutes so why the 20 minute wait?

Needless to say, it didn't come in 5 minutes and I decided not to wait the full 20 minutes. I left the station (after paying the minimal fee to get through the turnstiles) and had to drive to work. After a certain hour, I do not have a connecting shuttle to take to work, and finding a taxi is a difficult task in that area for some reason.

Verdict- good concept but could probably use some fine tuning!!! What did happen today?


Rafael said...

I've been using the service for the past week and it works perfectly for me. Maybe there was a glitch that day/time? I'm not sure. I use it to determine whether I need to run to the train or walk. My commutes are from San Bruno to Montgomery and back.

bartmusings said...

It must be a one time glitch. This is really quite a convenient service and I'm glad BART FINALLY offers it!

dndgirl said...

How do you get this info?

bartmusings said...

dndgirl, just upload on your PDA, blackberry, Treo..etc, and you can customize the locations.

Bill Dailey said...

I've been using it on my iPhone for the last week or so to determine how fast I should walk to the stations. It has generally been accurate within a minute or two for the actual arrival times of trains (which seems about the same to me as the monitors at the stations themselves).

As far as the "disappearing train" that seems to happen every once and awhile. Maybe they are taking a trian out or service or turning it around?

Anonymous said...

Do NOT depend on the scrolling marquee to tell you if the train is on time or not.

Case in point - I check it every morning and it has never been incorrect. Often times the marquee will not have the next train coming. My phone this morning said the next SF Daly City train was 5 mins away. Then the marquee said 9, followed by 6, etc. The website is more accurate, and be sure to refresh it if you leave your phone browser.

I use this to my advantage on deciding whether or not to get on a crowded train as the marquee won't post the same city destination twice in a row until the train has left.

So if a Pittsburg Baypoint train is excessively packed and another train is 3 mins behind, I'll step to the side.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that 'Estimated Arrivals' still a beta test? I guess I could see why it might not state the correct information. As for the scrolling marqees not being correct when providing the arrival time to the station...that is weird, you would think, outside of major system issues (ie turning trains back) these should be close to on-time. Then again, I don't rely on either of those, I rely on myself to be at the station to allow me atleast 45 minutes from the time I intended to be to work. Not the best system, but I have not been late once even with a sometimes unreliable system.

Anonymous said...

Updating my previous post at 9:43am, I got to N. Concord today and actually went to this site and checked the estimated arrival time. It was nearly identical to the marquee when I got down to the platform. Although I did hear commute was horrible this morning. Thanks A/L Line.