Introducing Traveler: Predictive Analytics for Philly’s Regional Rail

If you’re a regular rider of regional rail here in the City of Brotherly Love, you’ve undoubtedly encountered your fair share of weather-related delays. And likely, all you’ve ever been able to do about it is shrug your shoulders, stand around, be late, and promise yourself that you’d take an even earlier train next time.

With a new app called Traveler, developed in the Arcweb Technologies Lab, those unforeseen weather delays could become a thing of the past.

Traveler is a predictive alerting app for SEPTA’s Regional Rail riders. Using advanced machine learning technologies to forecast train delays due to weather, the app analyzes historical train arrival and departure data and current and past weather conditions to show delays before they happen. The app even allows you to set custom alerts to be notified minutes, hours or even days before your train is late. It’s a bit like having a digital fortune teller in your pocket.

We built Traveler for two reasons. The first one is obvious: to help regional rail riders get to their destinations on time, without having to waste time. The second reason we built Traveler was to experiment with React Native, “a cross-platform framework that lets teams build mobile apps using only JavaScript. It uses the same design as React, letting developers compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components.”

Read more about our experience with React Native.

Why experiment with React Native? Speed-to-market is one reason. With React Native, we were able to use up to 98 percent of the same code for the iOS and Android versions of Traveler. With just a few tweaks required for each respective operating system, we were able to get the app into the hands of 99.7 percent of the smartphone-owning population all at once, faster than if we had to code two separate apps, which is the traditional approach. In a client scenario, building on React Native could be faster, cost less and be easier to maintain. (Full disclosure: Arcweb Technologies did not build this app for SEPTA, nor is SEPTA an Arcweb Technologies client. But, SEPTA, we’re always open to chat!)

We used SEPTA’s publicly available APIs and data to pull in years of train arrival and departure data. That data source, along with the weather information from DarkSky.net and a little bit of R&D from the Arcweb labs, helped make Traveler a reality. Not only is it a cool piece of technology, it’s a great showcase of what we do for our clients.

Not only did we run this just like a real client project utilizing a full design and discovery process, applying agile methodologies throughout, but we also built a team, stuck to a budget, and launched a final product into the market.

So if you ride SEPTA regional rail, give Traveler a try! Download it now for free on iOS or Android and let us know what you think:

The Arcweb Technologies team members who built Traveler: Mike Balcerzak, Ryan O’Boril, Greg Bright, Shahrukh Tarapore, Erik Mulvaney, Ryan Sailor and myself, Jeffrey Lunger.

Want to talk to us about about React Native? Reach out here.