ASU grad launches iPhone app for Phoenix light rail riders

[Source: Arizona Republic Light Rail Blog] — An Arizona State University grad has launched a free iPhone application to help people ride Phoenix’s light rail system.  For each station, it features a map, bus connections, a train schedule and travel times to other train stops.  The app also has “how-to” information for riding the system and using fare machines.  Since he launched the app on Dec. 8, Mitch Karren says 750 people have downloaded it.  The curious come from 25 different countries, from China, which has the most subscribers outside the United States, to Mid-East minnow Qatar.

Karren graduated in June 2008 with a degree housing and community development, the exact worst time to jump into Arizona’s turbulent real estate industry.  A week later he was laid off from his real estate related job.  He decided to enroll in a class to learn how to write iPhone apps.  “I noticed other cities had pretty well established iPhone apps for their transit systems,” he said.  “I wanted this to be a service to Phoenix.”

The service has been well received.  Thirty-three people posted reviews, mostly giving it five stars.  Comments range from “wicked, awesome,” to the one critic who calls it “predictable.”

Karren is seeing a steady 22 downloads a day, with only word-of-mouth for marketing.  About 500 users have accessed it 1,500 times.  His analytics data tells him Saturday is the busiest day people use the application and the 8 p.m. hour the busiest hour in each day.  People are most interested in information for the end of the line stations.  In the spring, Karren plans to update the app with information about surrounding businesses.  Ultimately he wants to give people real-time information about where the trains are.  In time, he’s hoping to expand the service to Blackberry and Android phones.

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