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What track is my train on?

If you have ever walked into Penn Station, you know that it's a nightmare. Thousands of people waiting around, eyes glued to the TV screens, waiting to see what track their train is going to be on. As soon as a track number is put up on the board, there are two different reactions. Either you are thinking "That's my track! Nobody else matters and I don't care who I run over as long as I get to my track" or you are on the other side thinking "Why can't that be my track? Now I am getting trampled and I'm not gonna be able to see what track my train is going to be at".

A few weeks ago while waiting for my train's track to be posted, using my undeniable charm, I got friendly with a former-conductor. After talking for around 10 minutes, he saw my restlessness to get a good seat on my train. He calmly asked "What train are you taking?" to which I responded "The 7:05 train towards Bay Head". I immediately saw a grin start to form on his face as he checked his phone and said "Go to track 1 NOW!". I didn't know what to do, was he punking me or was this legit? Rather than run to the track and never see this man again, I decided to focus on how he was able to get this info so quickly. After a lot of praise and a little bit of begging, he ended up spilling the most sought after secret in Penn Station. (This was all on the condition that I don't pass on the secret and I will keep my word.) Over the next few weeks, I have been one of the first people on the train, with the best seat, all without the sweat marks!

After seeing so many of my friends in aggravation, I decided to think of an easy way for them to see their track number, all without revealing any secrets. I reached out to them and wanted to hear their requests and suggestions. After a few days, I decided that the best way to reach out to them would be through Twitter. This is because users can see past train information and it gives users an option to receive notifications for all tweets.

The next step was to create a python script to pull the data and push it to Twitter in an easily-understood, user-friendly tweet. After creating the script I had a perfect working pipeline that would grab new data and format it properly for Twitter. (I cannot share/post the script due to my promise with the former-conductor.) I needed a service that would be able to continuously run my script in the cloud so I went with PythonAnywhere. This is because I have used them for some previous projects of mine and they were able to run my scripts for me at no additional cost.

Lastly, I used IFTTT to post the tweets for me. I implemented a line of code in my script to send a POST-request to IFTTT with the tweet. When this request was sent, IFTTT would take the data from the request and send out a tweet with this information.

The twitter account is @Deal_Train. The name is because of the city where me and my friends live in New Jersey. This Program/Account was created solely for people who are traveling via the NJ Transit from NY Penn Station towards Long Branch / Bay Head.

PS: I will make my account private once it hits 100 followers in order to keep an element of secrecy.

Reach out to me if you would like me to create an account for a different line on the NJ Transit.


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