New Winnipeg app will help drivers steer clear of train crossings
A local company has created an app it says will notify drivers of train crossings, allowing them to avoid congested areas.
Winnipeg driver Cheyenne Call said she often finds herself waiting for trains to cross in the Waverley Street and Taylor Avenue area.
Balis Borrer lives in the area and said he, too, is constantly being held up by trains at the intersection.
"I catch it every single day going to work, coming back from work," said Borrer.
But drivers like Call and Borrer could soon have a tool at their disposal that would allow them to anticipate and steer clear of traffic jams at railway crossings altogether.
A group of Winnipeg consultants have come up with a way to predict when a train is coming, where it's going and what the average wait time will be — and they'll be using Twitter to spread the word.
"This is providing real-time tweets so whenever there's a blocked crossing at Marion and Archibald or Marion and Cottonwood, there'll be a tweet that goes out to all our followers," said Garreth Rempel, principal and founding partner of MORR Transportation Consulting Ltd.
Rempel and his team continue to collect data and are applying algorithms to try and better predict where trains will be and when.
The service is still in its pilot phase, but they're already sending notifications from the @trainofwpg Twitter account for the two Marion Street crossings.
Marion and Archibald 07:49 pm Rail crossing blockage <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/traffic?src=hash">#traffic</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/winnipeg?src=hash">#winnipeg</a> More locations coming soon.—@TrainfoWPG
One of the main factors motivating the team to add more locations to the app as soon as possible is the appeal it has for emergency first responders, who could use the service to get to destinations without a hitch.
"[We're] trying to improve their reaction time and their response time to the emergency but also being able to respond to trips from the emergency itself to the hospital. You know, maybe there's a train we can avoid on that route as well," said Rempel.
Rempel hopes to gradually add more locations as the team sharpens their ability to predict train crossings.
"It's not just simply looking at trends, looking at numbers. It's actually understanding 'how do railways operate? how do traffic systems operate?' So, we're pulling that together, putting into a central source and letting people know about it."
Call doesn't use Twitter, but she said she knows many people who do that will use the app once it's completed.
"I do know a lot of people who use Twitter and that would probably help, that would be beneficial."
You can find @trainfowpg on Twitter.