- The smart way to ride? (Photo: Courtesy of Metro Master)
Two recent graduates of George Washington University concluded last year that our vast Metrorail system needed a new smartphone app. How to navigate this sprawling WMATA mess? How to know what rail cars would be less crowded and when would new trains arrive? Let's bring on the data, they said, and craft a new, comprehensive iPhone app to help riders. And let's throw in some trivia and a digital map for good measure.
On Feb. 20, David Glidden and Andrew Thal officially unveiled their new Metro Master app, available in the iTunes App Store and priced at $2.99. They spent more than 30 hours riding the rails over the course of four months to collect their WMATA data — a project that arose from chats during a Nationals baseball game last July in which Glidden realized there was no suitable app out there for traveling the Metro. They estimate that the eight months of preparation, from idea conception to app publication yesterday, amounted to about $250. No wonder. They've calculated more than 2,746 route combinations and reveal some of the sketches and diagrams involved on their website. They traveled to all 86 Metro stations and traveled all five line to gather their transit wisdom. Metro Master's tagline: "The best app for navigating the D.C. Metro."
I reached out to Glidden and Thal with a few questions about their new app, ready now for anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch (they're hoping to expand the app to the Android soon). Here's what the two young Metro Masters had to say about their app and our complicated Metro system:
- (Photo: Metro Master)
TBD On Foot: Your new app seems to have taken an enormous amount of time to research and create. What kept you going throughout all that?
Glidden and Thal: It was definitely a lot of Metro riding (check out the Rider's Log if you haven't already) and we quickly realized that it would be much more efficient to collect data during rush hour so we wouldn't have to wait 20 minutes in between at every station! But really what kept us going was our excitement that this would be something people would use and enjoy. We both are entrepreneurial and tech geeks at heart (especially Andrew), and this project allowed us to fulfill those aspects of our lives.
On Foot: How much have you taken the Metro yourself? What's your own commute like?
We use the Metro pretty much every day. Andrew commutes to work on the Metro getting on at Rosslyn, one of the busiest stations during rush hour. David uses Metrobus to get to work, and he uses the Metro to get to other places in the city that aren't a part of his daily commute. David is frequently in the Dupont area, so he has had to adapt to the fact that there is only one entrance to Dupont for the next few months.
On Foot: I notice you're both recent GWU grads. Tell me, how've the new escalators been working out for you at Foggy Bottom? I'm curious to know your reaction to the station in general. I used to take it regularly and recall some of the long lines that snaked out down the street...
During much of the time in the fall when David was collecting data, he would start his journey from Foggy Bottom since he works there. The long lines were definitely a frustration but the new escalators are nice and the new overhang is looking great as well. Currently neither of us live there, so we don't use the station as much as we used to and haven’t experienced the long lines that frequently.