Some Silver Line app users are in the dark; developers say riders can expect updates within week

Silver Line riders: Your smartphone screen is not playing tricks on you.

If you’re a Silver Line rider who usually turns to a smartphone app to get around the District’s Metro system, you may discover that your virtual friend is missing information on the new line. It’s almost like the Silver Line doesn’t exist.

But it does. And so does the information.

Philip Stewart, a Metro spokesman, said the transit system – which provides arrival and departure times to app developers – made Silver Line station information available to developers on July 19. Metro officials began welcoming riders to the new line on Saturday afternoon.

But during Monday’s morning commute, the 9,700 riders that Metro said entered or exited the line’s five new stations had little to go on by way of apps. To find out train arrivals, some did it the old-fashioned way: turning to signs on stations’ platforms or to Metro’s Web site.

Developers said the delay is caught up in an approval process. It takes days for Apple to approve updates to any app, so even though Silver Line information was available, they’re left waiting before the changes can go live.

According to Apple’s Web site, 98 percent of app submissions are reviewed in five business days. So Silver Line riders could see arrival and departure times on their favorite apps by the end of this week.

On Twitter, MetroMinder DC announced the app was updated. But by Monday, most area Metro apps had no Silver Line data.

Ian Dixon, who created Next DC Metro and Bus in 2012, said the transit system did not announce that the new data was even available.

“Some developers just realized they made it available,” he said. “It was a little bit of a scramble.”

Dixon submitted his update two days ago, and said the approval process could stretch anywhere from four to seven days.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority developers began posting inquires about Silver Line datat on a group Facebook page back in June. Developers use Metro’s open data API – or application program interface – to incorporate Metrorail and Metrobus schedules, trip planning and real-time service information on Web sites, mobile phones and digital screens.

“With the Silver Line set to begin service on July 26, when can we expect the line and its associated stations to appear in the API,” asked one June 23 poster.

Rumors started flying. “… The real answer is never,” said one commenter.

Metro said it announced that the data was available on its developer Web site when it was released.

“The availability of the API data was announced on our developer Web site the day it became available,” a Metro official said.

And people like Chetan Shenoy got what they needed.

Shenoy, co-founder of a company that launched CapitolHop in January, said it could take longer to go through the approval process than it actually did to implement the changes.

“We’re trying to get it out this week hopefully,” Shenoy said of the update.

Both he said Dixon said there have been user complaints about the delay.

But Shenoy said: “Please be patient. We’ll have it as soon as we can.”

So hold tight Silver Liners – some of you won’t be in the dark for much longer.

Victoria St. Martin covers breaking news and Prince William County for The Post's Local desk.
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