May 25, 2011
For those living in the Chicago suburbs, the Metra trains are invaluable for going to downtown, whether for commuting to work or going to visit the city for pleasure. Truth: alcohol can be consumed on Metra trains; coincidentally, plenty of Cubs fans ride the Metra when going to Cubs games. Of course, the problem is knowing when the trains are coming and going, especially for those new to the Metra system. One mistake people often make is thinking that there’s a train that leaves in the 11am hour on the Union Pacific-West line; there isn’t, and this is something that has to be learned the hard way. I assumed that there would be one, as there’s one every other hour, but there isn’t. If only I had a handy-dandy set of train times available! Sure, there’s a mobile website to visit, but what if I don’t have data access, or just need to quickly see where a station is located and what times the trains leave at? Well, Rail-Hopper for Metra is here to help.
This app provides a simple offline database of train times (there’s a short initial download of app data the first time the app is launched), so even in no service areas, the train schedules can be viewed. As well, the app provides Google Maps links to the train stations, so it is possible to see and get directions to where a station is. Each stop also has the information for the station’s phone number, times the ticketing agent will be available, when the waiting areas are open, and a map of parking for Metra customers. Stations can be added to a list of favorites for quick access, as well. A list of service alerts is also available, to see when trains may be running late.
Rail-Hopper is currently only available for the Chicago Metra system, and it is an invaluable resource that I wish I had more access to while I was up in the Chicago area recently. It would have saved a lot of time, especially as I can’t always carry a paper schedule around to see when trains are supposed to arrive. Rail-Hopper for Metra is available from the Android Market for the low, low price of free. And no, it will not help you actually hop the rails. That’s dangerous and we do not recommend it. Android Rundown does not want you to get electrocuted.