Alexa, Amazon’s ubiquitous AI (artificial intelligence) platform, can now tell you if your New Jersey Transit commuter train is running on time.
NJT has developed and patented “Alexa Skill,” described as “new leading technology that will make it quicker and easier for customers to get the service information they need.” It “allows customers with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices to use the convenience of on-demand voice technology to access rail information.” Alexa Skill—a step up from push notifications on the NJT mobile app, social media via Twitter on individual line accounts, and text message and email alerts via MyTransit—provides Trip Planning Capability, Arrival/Departure Information and Service Disruptions/Delay Information.*
Alexa Skill allows customers to use their voice to request real-time rail information as well as receive transit alerts from Amazon devices. “This provides customers easy access to information which is important to them and allows them to plan their travel without having to look up schedule information on their phone or computer,” or consult an old-fashioned paper timetable, fast becoming a collector’s item one can find at railfan swap meets.
Interestingly, to activate this technology, users must go to their Alexa app, and under the “More” menu, select “Skills & Games,” then search for New Jersey Transit.
“This new innovation is another sign of how we are modernizing the company top to bottom and making it easier for customers to access the critical service information they need, when they need it,” said NJT President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “We will continue to look for ways to leverage technology to enhance communication to ensure our customers always have the latest transit information available.”
*Editor’s Note: Does that information include explaining to irate passengers why their train is sitting motionless on the Northeast Corridor outside the North River Tunnels as Amtrak trains whiz past? Been there, done that! “Alexa, why is the dispatcher doing this to me? Is it really a switch machine problem? And when is Gateway going to get built?” – William C. Vantuono