For a few months, a select group of NJ Transit commuters shared a secret edge over their rush-hour rivals: early insight into unpredictable track assignments at Penn Station.
But that crucial advantage evaporated last week when the railroad blocked a data feed used to decode track assignments. Clever Commute, a start-up website, had begun selling a premium train information site for $3.99 per month that include the track listings—without NJ Transit's blessing.
A few hundred early adopters used the website to avoid the mad dash at Penn Station, where commuters crowd around signboards to await track listings before rushing en masse to the few doors leading down to platforms. Clever Commute offered a head start of a few minutes.
"Penn Station is such a cattle call," said Liz Koman, a 22-year veteran of the NJ Transit footrace on her ride home to Short Hills, N.J. Her Clever Commute subscription allowed her to skip the signboard scene, stroll to the platform and snag a seat.
"It made it a lot more civilized," Ms. Koman said. . . .[/quote]