Metro to release data; smart-phone applications expected

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Local,Brian Hughes

Metro riders likely will use their smart phones to learn about delays, train arrivals and station disruptions, as the transit agency announced Thursday it will release its data to the public in coming weeks.

Starting Aug. 11, third-party developers can access the information for smart-phone applications, making train schedules readily available on the go. Bus data, which Metro says is more difficult to consolidate, will be released by the end of the year.

Riders, local business owners and tourism advocates have long pushed for the release of the information, saying it will help commuters who rarely use Metro's trip planner, which is on the agency's Web site. And displays showcasing the information could pop up in offices, hotels and other tourist-friendly places in the Washington area.

The train data includes real-time arrival predictions, rail routes, and elevator and escalator outages. The bus information outlines schedules and stops, as well as NextBus arrival data.

Metro will spend $30,000 annually to ensure the security of the information, which will be stored by a third-party host.

The agency remains in negotiations with Google, expected to use the data to expand its transit trip planning application to the Washington area. The popular application links riders with schedules, directions and maps.

Despite the new plan, Google wants the information delivered in a different format, said Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates.

"Metro is actively working to reach an agreement with Google," she said, declining to comment further.

Transit systems in Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland, Ore., among others, already supply similar information to the public.

Staff Writer Kytja Weir contributed to this report.

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