Figuring out when a train is scheduled to arrive can be a real chore. However, this is not true for 21-year-old MIT engineering student Ian Reynolds. The college student built a real-time map of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) train schedule on the wall of his fraternity room.
Now whenever Reynolds wants to know when the train arrives, he just looks over his shoulder.
“The MBTA is a big part of life in Boston, and I built this as sort of a love letter to the transit system that we all know and love (to hate),” Reynolds posted on Reddit.
The map, which is updated in real-time with location data, was constructed using over two-dozen feet of pixilated LED lighting strips. It took Reynolds three weeks to finish his creation.
The map has been synchronized with the interface of the MBTA, allowing one to watch the trains move through the system. The trains are shown as bright LEDs, and the whole process is, well, kind of trippy.
Reynolds admits that he does enjoy watching the show go on.
“I do find myself staring at it sometimes. I’ll just turn it on and then zone out.”
For Reynolds, who doesn’t usually take the train, the map doesn’t receive much usage as practical train schedule. However, it does make his room a little more funky.
“It’s just something that makes the room look nice,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Reynolds has created a guide to help other engineers construct city maps of their own. He says that he had a good deal of fun tinkering with his creation.
The MBTA offers commuters in Boston bus, rail, subway, and ferry services. Its subway line is the fourth-busiest in the United States, while its light-rail system has the most riders in the nation. The MBTA is the largest consumer of electricity in Massachusetts. It is commonly referred to by locals as “The T” based on its logo.