Halfway to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Station on his way to work in Manhattan, Nicholas Daniel-Richards always wondered the same thing: “Should I walk or run?”
He knew his train was due at a certain time, but couldn’t tell for certain if the train would actually be on time and if he should hurry to get there, just in case it was early.
As an answer to these questions, Daniel-Richards created the Stopwatch application for handheld devices. The app allows users to instantly find out where the nearest train station is, relative to their location, and how long they have until the next train arrives. Unlike trip planning apps like HopStop, this app quickly detects the closest train station to you, displays arriving train times and – unlike the recently released MTA Subway app – works when you don’t have an internet connection.
Daniel-Richards, a Brit who’s lived in the United States since 1997, has been building digital products and the teams behind them for over 15 years. Currently a resident of Bayonne, he has been a commuter from a number of places as far away as Pennsylvania and, more recently, Hoboken and Jersey City. He has helped launch projects for companies such as Vogue, Techcrunch, The Verge, Ebony, Mashable, Showtime, Madison Square Garden, AMC, IFC, FuseTV, Sony BMG, Atlantic Records, Smith & Nephew, Columbia University, Dr. Pepper, BBC Worldwide and BBC America.
Helping the community
A resident of Bayonne for about year, he has been a regular rider on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. He said he and his wife moved to Bayonne because of its small-town feeling and sense of community.
“I’ve been working in technology for a number of years,” he said, “building for other companies and problem solving through technology.”
“When I’m going to the train station, Path, or the light rail, I look up schedule when a day before,” he said. “But when I’m walking to the train, the first thing that hits me is, do I walk or run? Should I be running or can take my time? There was no quick way to know that. There are some great applications, but they require to go through all this steps. I just wanted something to tell me if I need to run or walk. There was nothing that gave you that in a quick glance.”
He said he knew when trains were running, but that it was sometimes a gamble when to leave the house or make the return trip, given that connections could be made between various transit systems.
“I’ve been working in technology for a number of years.” – Nicholas Daniel-Richards
Local businesses, he said, could also tap into this app, posting their own information about things they know might interest commuters and steer them in route to their eateries or their stores.
“Some commuters might not even know those businesses exist,” he said.
If they are near a business on 34th Street, for example, they might be able to see that they could get coffee or a snack at that business, which would be near the light rail station. Additions to the app might make them more willing to stop, especially if the app tells them they have enough time to do so.
While trains advertise on the inside and outside of the cars, most people these days, Daniel-Richards said, are staring into little screens as they travel.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.