Randy Dailey, left, and Jeff Lopes designed the new MBTA app ProximiT.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
A couple of Cambridge engineers have put their skills to use and developed an app that will help their fellow MBTA passengers know whether they should mosey to their T station, or make a mad dash.
On Oct. 18, Central Square residents and Red Line riders Randy Dailey and Jeff Lopes released ProximiT, a free iPhone app that offers location-based alerts and tracking for the MBTA's Red, Orange, and Blue Lines.
While inside the app, which creators refer to as “a real time personal assistant” for subway riders, users are able to view the next arrival times for nearby train stations. Outside of the app, notifications are sent out whenever a user gets within a block of their "favorite" MBTA station.
In addition to schedule and delay information, the app also alerts users to construction, and elevator outages.
The app, however, does not offer information on Green Line service because the MBTA does not yet provide real-time data for that line.
Both former Microsoft engineers, the friends decided to launch the app after getting frustrated with what they considered to be a lack of "usable subway companions."
"I want to know, "Do I have time to go to Starbucks, or do I want to go straight to the station?'," said Lopes, who now works near Park Street station. Although there are apps that have offered service information, Lopes said the technology was often difficult to navigate. The goal for ProximiT was to offer users a “seamless” experience that trumps the competition.
"I think some of the existing apps have just taken the (service information) and exposed it in a very basic way," he said of competitor apps, like Catch the T.
ProximiT has been adding 600 active users daily since its release, according to Dailey, and was rated 33rd in the App Store nationally for all navigation apps.
"It's vastly exceeded our expectations... I think we had something that’s really well polished for the real time scenarios. Location is a first class citizen for us. We think (the app) is pretty high quality," he said.
The pair prioritized the user experience while inside the app, and said they aimed to provide an engaging user experience for viewing the next train arrival times for nearby train stations. Outside of the app, notifications are sent out whenever a user gets within a block of their 'favorite' MBTA station
For now, the pair are focusing the app on the T's light rail, but said there has been a lot of interest in the bus lines.
"There is a much bigger interest in getting bus information over the commuter rail. We may start working on that in a few months," said Dailey.
Some ProximiT stats:
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- 3,332 people open and use the app since launch according to analytics tool, Localytics.
- Usage during the weekday has been particularly strong, according to creators. Each day last week saw more than 500 people opening the app.
- An average of 380 new users per day last week. Monday Oct.20 saw 453 new unique users.
- During rush hour, tends to see 150 users per hour.
- According to Apple, our overall downloads were 3,469 as of Friday Oct. 25.
- Its app store ranking for all 'Navigation' apps within the U.S. has floated between 23 and 113 since launch. It was highest during the first three days of launch, and tends to dip during the weekends. Right now it is floating around 100th, although it is recalculated hourly or every few hours
- The app store rating is hovering at 4.5 out of 5 stars, as rated by 34 users. The most popular requests concern bus support and green line support.