Plymouth-tested phone app helps drivers avoid waiting at railway crossings

Tired of wasting up to 10 minutes of your precious time waiting for gates to open at downtown level crossings?

Well, there’s an app for that – and it’s being refined in downtown Plymouth.

Conceived by Integrated Traffic Solutions, based in Grosse Ile, Michigan, the Plymouth Trains application, which is active but still under construction, can warn users when a level crossing is blocked by a passing train, at the time of the day or the day. night when there is the best chance for a train to rumble on certain routes and the average waiting time at each crossing.

Users of the app can even watch live video of trains as they navigate the tracks on the targeted routes, noted Paul Sincock, City Manager of Plymouth.

“Integrated Traffic Solutions came to us and asked if we would be willing to work with them to develop this application,” Sincock said. “Knowing how much people don’t like to wait at railway crossings, we told them absolutely.

“This is especially useful for emergency service vehicles when heading into an emergency. They can change the route they take if they know a train is going to block a certain route. It’s a very, very in-depth system. development.”

Within 24 hours of launching the app, 500 people had downloaded it to their smartphones.

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The app is under development and is currently only active for the Farmer Street crossing in Plymouth, which has six crossings within its city limits.

The free app is available for download from the Apple App Store. An Android version is in preparation.

The city and the tech company are working on infrastructure and technology issues to cover the city’s remaining passages, Sincock said.

A screenshot of the Plymouth Trains app, still in development.

“The Farmer Street crossing was a great place to start testing and collecting data, as we were able to hook up a camera to the back of a nearby building,” Sincock said. “With each passing train, the computer creates algorithms and adds data. The challenge with some of the other crossings is that there isn’t a building nearby to attach a camera, so it’s something they’re working on.

“What’s handy, however, is that if app users see that there’s a train crossing Farmer Street, they know it’s probably blocking Main Street too because they’re so close. from each other. “

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The app is equipped with an optional setting that uses the driver’s position and sends a notification when they are within range of a blocked railway crossing. The “train chance” feature can help users plan their trip by seeing the likelihood of a blocked passage.

Contact reporter Ed Wright at [email protected] or 517-375-1113.

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