Clever Commute In Dispute With NJ Transit Over App: (UPDATED)

UPDATE: NJ transit responds:

The most accurate, up to date information regarding NJ TRANSIT can be found in one place – and one place alone – at njtransit.com.

For our customers who utilize New York Penn and are seeking gate changes, we know that data can only be posted with confidence no earlier than 10 minutes prior to departure because of the frequent change in track assignments by Amtrak until that time.

The unfortunate reality is that one particular website was providing information to its customers that was grossly inaccurate. This website manipulated NJ TRANSIT data to make these inaccurate forecasts.

The reality is that the users of this website are NJ TRANSIT customers – who were receiving inaccurate information regarding NJ TRANSIT services. As a result, NJ TRANSIT eliminated that website’s access to its feed.

I would strongly emphasize that customers looking for the most accurate, most up to date travel information regarding NJ TRANSIT can find it through NJ TRANSIT’s two main – and two official electronic communication portals – via njtransit.com and through NJ TRANSIT’s twitter feed at @nj_transit

Many thanks,

John Durso, Jr.
NJ TRANSIT

Joshua Crandall, CEO of Clever Commute, created an app to tell commuters, in advance, which track a train would arrive on. NJ Transit at first agreed to release the information, but now they’re blocking it, says Crandall.

Crandall tells his side of the story in this Clever Commute blog post:

NJ Transit provides technologists the tools to build their own apps using a NJT datafeed (“API”).
Clever Commute invested its resources to build such an app. When NJT learned about it, they contacted us to say that they disapprove of what we did…and subsequently changed the feed and removed a key feature of the product we have built and sold.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Better to have a herd of animals all run for the gate when it’s announced. Why on earth would they want to make the experience better for their customers?

  2. This whole thing is outrageous. As you read the history of what went on here, it is plain that NJT is – shocker – full of crap. The level of service they provide, especially when contrasted with Metro North, is abysmal. While not without some merit, their favorite ‘go to’ is to blame Amtrak, and here, there is no reason in the world why they should have an issue – especially after the fact.

    The only answer is that some member of senior mgmt or some egocentric programmer (redundant in many cases) decided that an ancillary feed somehow posed a threat. Which is, of course, bullshit. it’s about customer service, something NJT knows or cares little about.

  3. If NJT says the info isn’t accurate, then why do I want to pay for it?

    Look, the last thing I want to do is defend the worst rail system in the country, but can we keep NJT focused on Customer Service issues that really matter (like, where is my train going this morning?) rather than admittedly inaccurate data that Josh makes a buck off of?

  4. Having used the service for a number of weeks and never – not once – being given an incorrect advance track, I would beg to differ with NJT’s mealy mouthed bullshit. Also interesting that the website’s advance track access has been cut off only at NY Penn, but not at Newark Penn, Hoboken, or Secaucus.

  5. I guess everything’s relative. NJ Transit’s customer service ethic is miles ahead of Decamp’s. But if I had to sum up both services’ attitude toward riders it’d be: “Where else you gonna go?”

  6. Hmm, judging from Mr. Durso’s statelent it appears to me that both NJ Transit and DeCamp use the same communications consulting firm: Split, Infinitive, Hyphenate, and Mispel LLC.

  7. So, what does this mean for those of us who have paid for the Inside Track web app? The whole reason I paid for it is for those advance track notifications…

  8. For starters: our data comes directly from NJT. No manipulation. No forecast.
    To Mr. Durso’s point: NJT has _not_ eliminated our access to the API.
    Rather, NJT has modified the API so that it does not share these “advance notice” track numbers (with any developers).

    Indeed: the data NJT published to developers was not 100% accurate.
    But -man- did people ever RAVE about our product.
    (https://clevercommute.com/blog/what-clever-commuters-are-saying-about-our-inside-track-service/)
    Now, from the start, I knew that “early track numbers” was not enough to justify a subscription service…so we’ve been working tirelessly to provide a full suite of premium features. We have that now…but we’re going to continue to re-invest. See this link for our first dozen features 🙂
    https://clevercommute.com/blog/twelv-amazing-features-of-the-inside-track-for-nj-transit-train-riders/

    @bloomfielder: as I mentioned in my communication to all paying customers: I want you to be happy. I can offer you several options so that you’ll feel that you are getting value for the money you paid. (via feedback -at- clevercommute -dot- com)

    My inbox is always open…

    –“Conductor” Josh

  9. “Indeed: the data NJT published to developers was not 100% accurate.”

    Outside perhaps of Mussolini’s Italy, what train schedule information is? I don’t commute by rail (I don’t commute to Manhattan) so I’m merely curious, but: how accurate was it?

    I’d imagine that it could be quite a bit lower than 100% and still be useful and appreciated.

    …Andrew

  10. The moment Clever Commute released the app I bought it because my least favorite moment of any given workday is waiting and watching the monitors, waiting for the inevitable stampede.

    The app had very clear disclaimers that you should verify the train before getting onto it, because there was an off chance that the Clever Track listed could be wrong. I was OK with that.

    Even if I only used the Advance Track to my benefit once in a month, it was worth $4 to me to avoid the insane, sweaty, and unsafe crush of people all trying to get a seat on the train or get down the narrow stairs to track 5 and 6 in the few minutes before the train’s supposed to leave.

    This move of blocking the data is not *quite* as bad as when NJ Transit nonchalantly raised fares by 25% (nearly $100 extra a month for me). But it’s definitely a bush league move.

    The app’s advance track feature was working for people most of the time, and anything that helps to alleviate the mess, NJ Transit should welcome.

    To that point, I think Josh’s been doing a good job of making riders more comfortable and informed. NJ Transit might take the high road and partner with him rather than punish him and all the commuters who like the service. It’s not too late, NJ Transit. High road.

Comments are closed.