CityRail Opposing Sydney Timetable App For iPhone

CityRail Opposing Sydney Timetable App For iPhone

CityRailIPhone.jpgApple often takes a deserved bollocking for its strange iPhone App Store policies, but it isn’t the only guilty party. David Braue at ZDNet reports that development of Transit Sydney, an iPhone application listing timetable information for Sydney trains, may cease after threats of legal action by CityRail. The lack of a timetable app for Sydney’s rail service was highlighted as an issue by Lifehacker readers last year, and the use of copyright provisions to block access to public information seems pretty dodgy. On the other hand, there’s a glimmer of hope, as CityRail is apparently working on its own mobile application — one that presumably will work on more than one handset, won’t cost anything, and will include up-to-date trackwork information.


  • Metro Sydney is an iPhone app that contains Sydney train information. They’ve been requested in the latest update to remove train info from the app, though users who still have the train information from the previous version will retain this info if they update (I’ve tested this). The new version updates timetables directly from the CityRail website, so won’t suffer from any timetable changes if CityRail decide to get legal.

    I’ve also spoken directly to CityRail about this issue, and they claim that the reason they can pull these apps is because they violate copyright. They claim to have a whole department that makes sure these violations do not occur.

    I really don’t understand how this is possible, or necessary. Even if there is copyright on this information, since when is it in the CityRail passengers’ best interest to restrict how the timetable data is used? Most passengers are taxpayers, who in fact own the copyright in the first place, presumably, so I’d like to know whose interests CityRail are actually protecting when they send out these takedown notices?

  • Unfortunately, anyone familiar with CityRail and has the misfortune to frequent it’s services will testify that like all their other endeavours, should they develop an app themselves it will suffer a delayed arrival, most certainly not be free (nothing else on cityrail is) work less than half the time, and the most up-to-date information will merely be that your train is delayed with an indefinite ETA. Yes, I am a jaded CityRail customer who would rather the trains ran on time rather than have an app to tell me they’re delayed.

  • Why on earth are CityRail bothering to develop their own iPhone App when they could just sign up with Google Transit for free, and have their timetables integrated directly into the built-in Maps application?

  • Well, it wouldn’t be free as such . . . transit information is integrated into Google Maps in collaboration with transport authorities, so they’d have to devote labour and development to it. And if CityRail are building a general API, Google (and anyone else) would be able to use it.

  • Well, I doubt they’re building a general API. If they’re being this up tight about their copyright, I can’t see them opening up their information to developers now. Two articles in the SMH over the last couple of days covering this – I’m glad it’s getting pushed into the public sphere a bit more. The article mentions that they also sent a takedown notice to a Palm developer who was scraping data from CityRail’s website. I don’t know how they can claim they’re protecting users from outdated information if it comes from their own website.

    I’d also like to know their rationale for paper timetables, if ‘protecting’ their customers from outdated information is so important to them.

  • The data on their website is for the public to access and there are no regulations on replicating it. Just like if somebody gives out better pamphlets of timetable and maps (free)to the public it is not a copyright infringement. Your app is serving the public to access public data conveniently.

    I second to the point that either they want to charge for such a service or they don’t want the public to know about their inefficiency

  • citylink would be better off devoting their effort to building a half decent transport system instead of an iphone app which somebody else has already done. they are useless, greedy and pathetic.

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