Sunday, September 7, 2014

Free SunRail train-tracker app

When you step on a SunRail platform the first question likely to cross your mind is: When is the train coming?

Honestly, SunRail has an excellent on-time record, but sometimes stuff happens. If you’re like us you want to be sure the train is coming on time.

Last month SunRail introduced a train tracker on its website that shows where the train is. That tracker is great if you’re using a desktop, laptop or a tablet. But that tracker is not so good if you’re standing on the platform using your smartphone. The official SunRail tracker has not been optimized for the smaller screen of a smartphone. (Duh!)

Ideally SunRail should have provided a mobile app (one of those cool icons) you can download to the screen of your smartphone.

Not to worry, though, Ben Gohlke has created an app called Sol Train 2.0 (Sol = Sun, get it) that you can download from the Apple App Store. The app is free and you can also download it to your smartphone by clicking here.

Ben, an Orlando native and a Lake Mary resident, is an app developer who works for a digital publishing company in south Orlando near the Mall of Millenia. Even though Ben doesn’t take SunRail to work because it doesn’t stop near his office, he is a big fan of the commuter train and has ridden it for fun with some friends.

Like the rest of us, Ben is perplexed that SunRail isn’t providing an app, so without any compensation he decided to create one. He worked on this project nights and weekends with the help us his Mom and some friends.

As you might imagine creating an app -- a self-contained program that is designed to execute specific functions – and receiving approval to distribute it through the Apple App Store is painstaking work. We absolutely love the fruit of Ben’s labor.

The Sol Train app can quickly help riders answers the two most important questions: Where is the train I need? How long before it gets to this station?

In addition, if you’re not at a station, the app will show you how far you are from the closest station, and how long it will take you to drive to that station. What’s more, there’s also a Spanish language version of the Sol Train app. And Ben is already considering upgrades for his app. This app only works on Apple devices, but Ben is planning to develop an Android version.

We think Ben (who can be reached through his website) deserves a standing ovation.

In the interest of full disclosure there is another SunRail app called Orlando Transit. Choose the one that works best for you and enjoy.

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