The Metropolitan Transportation Authority today launched a test version of “MYmta,” a comprehensive new app, along with new.mta.info, its new mobile-optimized website. The MTA is asking its customers to use the feedback functions on the app and the website to provide feedback on what features they like, what can be improved, and what should be added.
Both the app and the website bring wayfinding for all of the MTA’s mass transit properties under one roof, providing:
– Real-time arrival information for trains, subways and buses.
– Service status, including information on planned work and updates on the causes of delays.
– The ability to find nearby stations and stops with the click of a button.
– A unified trip planning function for travel across the MTA’s regional transportation network including trains, subways and buses, as well as non-MTA entities such as Staten Island Ferry, NYC Ferry Service, PATH, and New Jersey Transit.
– The ability for customers with mobility challenges to plan accessible trips across trains, subways and buses.
– The ability to personalize the app by saving favorite lines, stations, stops and trips.
The MTA plans to add functionality related to the bridges and tunnels it operates in a subsequent version of the app. The new app is currently available in the Apple and Google Play app stores.
“The MYmta app and website are being custom built for MTA customers, by MTA customers,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “In Phase One of our outreach we engaged more than 2,000 customers through surveys, one-on-one interviews and conversations with riders in the subways, buses and rail roads during which we showed the app and documented their feedback. We also tested the app with more than 1,500 employees. Phase Two of our outreach campaign begins today: we are releasing a first draft of the app, and asking New Yorkers to try MYmta, test its features and use the customer feedback functions on the app and website to let us know what works, what should be added, and what they would like to change.”
“We think MYmta will be an important tool for our customers as they plan and manage their commute,” said MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim. “In addition to real-time arrival and trip planning, the app lets you personalize your experience. It also lets you choose whether you want to use buses, subways or rail lines, and plan accessible travel. Best of all, it gives our customers access to insider information from our control centers about planned work and delays. Want to know what’s going on anywhere in the system? MYmta will tell you.”
Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, commented, “I juggle at least four official MTA apps on my phone, and I know I’m far from alone. But with the beta launch of MYmta, riders will finally have one single app for everything: real-time service updates, subway and bus arrival times, LIRR and Metro-North schedules, and even commuter rail tickets through the eTix app. Having tried it out myself, I think it’s great, and exactly what we’ve needed for a long time. The MTA is asking for rider feedback and testing, and the best thing we could do is give them the advice they’re looking for to help make future versions of this app even better. We at TSTC commend the MTA for working with riders and advocates on this app, and we think it’s a huge step forward for riders and for the MTA as well.”
Collin Wright, Advocacy Associate for Transit Center, said, “New Yorkers from Montauk to Mott Haven and beyond now have MTA travel and ticketing information in one convenient mobile app. We’re excited for the future potential of MYmta.”
Improving Communications Data
As part of developing the MYmta app, the MTA has begun a process of data improvement and modernization, building an improved data infrastructure that includes new trip planning engines, enhanced monitoring, and more.
“The process of building MYmta has been directly analogous to the extensive work we are doing to improve the reliability of our subways, buses and railroads,” Ms. Hakim said. “In the physical world that involves replacing thousands of feet of third rail, installing new rails, and putting in miles of new signal wiring. In the digital world, we have been modernizing and updating our data streams, building new trip planning functions, and delivering real-time information in order to provide the best possible data in the MYmta app.”
Updating the MTA’s digital infrastructure also improves the quality of the information the authority provides to the third-party developers who take advantage of its open data policy.
“We’re thrilled to improve the data we provide to third-party developers,” Ms. Hakim added. “Our goal is to provide our customers with timely and accurate information across as many useful options as possible.”
Within the MYmta app, the MTA is also building in special functionality for Paratransit customers, in a part of the app that is going to be known as MY Access-A-Ride [or MYAAR]. It will enable Paratransit users to plan and manage their trips, book rides, track the real-time location of their driver, and give us feedback on what’s working and what isn’t, all from their mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. MYAAR is currently being tested by Paratransit customers, and is slated to launch this summer.
Research & Outreach
To hone in on the most important features required for the MYmta and the MYAAR experience, the MTA performed extensive customer outreach in order to understand their specific needs.
The six-month development cycle included surveys, and over 180 hours of one-on-one interviews and in-system ‘intercepts’ in which the MTA approached customers in the system, showed them features on the app, and recorded their feedback.
As part of its research, the MTA also spoke with Paratransit users, joined them on rides, and held several workshops through which customers helped design potential solutions and prioritized the app features most important to them.
Going forward, the MTA is committed to further developing the app and website in direct response to customer feedback.
Based on customer feedback the MTA has developed a series of features that will be added to the app and website in the months ahead, including the ability to track buses in real time; a feature that will enable customers to report issues in the system; and customized alerts in the app.
All of these features are currently slated to roll out later this summer, but customers can visit the MTA’s test website at new.mta.info and help decide what features are most important by giving them a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’ The page listing the upcoming features is here: https://new.mta.info/whats-next
Existing MTA Apps
Existing MTA apps, including Subway Time, Bus Time, LIRR Train Time and Metro-North Train Time, and The Weekender will all continue to live on serving our customers until the MTA receives enough customer feedback indicating that their needs are better served through the new app and website.