Clever Commute, NJT in App Scrap

New Jersey Transit has shut down a premium web service from Clever Commute that indeed made the commute more clever for NJT riders–tipping them off as to the location of their track before the rest of the Penn Station cattle are hip to it.

The Wall Street Journal has the story.

This reminds me of the spat several years ago, when StationStops.com founder Chris Schoenfeld went to court with the MTA for the right to make money on an app offering Metro-North train times, which the MTA believed was its own intellectual property.

Clever Commute sells its premium service for $3.99 a month.

Reports the WSJ:

Joshua Crandall, the 47-year-old programmer behind Clever Commute, didn’t set out to reveal the Secret of the Penn Station Signboards. He designed his website to pull basic operational data—train numbers, destinations and on-time status—from a feed published by NJ Transit.

But he soon discovered an unadvertised aspect of the feed containing platform details, which he offered in his Inside Track premium service.

Railroad officials weren’t pleased. After a brief phone conversation and what Mr. Crandall said was two months of silence, NJ Transit blocked the track information powering his website.

Now his customers are angry at Mr. Crandall—and the programmer is fuming at NJ Transit.

“I tapped into this thing where the commuters were so happy,” he said. “They shut it off on me.”

Clever Commute offers a host of commuter services, most of them free, for New York riders, including texting you your track assignment, aggregating rider tips about real-time delays, and, most important, tweeting the location of the bar cars on the New Haven Line each day.

New Jersey Transit claimed Clever Commute’s track alert service was inaccurate, and was causing headaches for riders–and the railroad

Clever Commute founder Crandall tells his side of the story on his CC blog.

He says:

Contrary to what NJT has publicly said, we did NOT “manipulate NJ TRANSIT data to make these inaccurate forecasts.” The data we share with customers comes DIRECTLY  from NJT. No manipulation. No forecast.

Clever Commute invested its time and money to build an app which makes this new field available to commuters…and customers have embraced this product.

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