Commuters Use ‘MBTA Ninja’ To Help Other Riders

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s the latest way to find out what the heck is going on with “T” service without having to rely on the T for the information. Instead “MBTA Ninja” is all about riders helping riders.

It has been the winter of a T rider’s discontent, filled with cancellations, delays and frustration deeper than a South Boston snow bank. “The Red Line, four stops, it usually takes me 10 minutes. It took me 40 minutes and I was late,” says one rider.

One of the worst parts is the helplessness that comes with not knowing exactly what’s happening. “You’re not warned when there’s going to be a half an hour delay going one way or another,” says an Orange Line rider.

“We’ve all had a lot of frustration the last couple of weeks with the T,” says Geoffrey Litt. Litt along with Radhika Malik and Dave Lago ride the T every day and have their own information network. “Whoever used to go out first used to send the text message just saying what the conditions are,” says Malik.

Then the three software developers who work together at Panorama Education in Boston had a brainstorm. “Then we thought, what if everyone in Boston could use that together,” says Litt.

So they created MBTA Ninja. Just go to the website, select a line and see problem spots and delays. It’s a two-way conversation with riders telling other riders what’s happening in real time. “We’ve had a couple of incidents already where we report things 5-10 minutes earlier than the MBTA does,” says Lago.

We showed the website to several riders today and they liked what they saw. “The more information we can get them quicker, about what’s going on with these trains the better, so this is excellent,” said one.

“The Ninja is basically all around the city reporting things that officials can’t really report to us in time, and he’s doing the job for us,” says Malik.

In the three days MBTA Ninja has been running, more than 10,000 people have used the site. The Ninja’s next challenge is tracking the Commuter Rail.

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