The MARTA Train Brain Demo

The MARTA Train Brain is a Java program that animates the scheduled movements of the MARTA Rail System. All schedule data was pulled directly from the website and used by the program to control the animation. The System Map was also captured form the website and the route locations were digitized and entered into the program. By combining the schedule and route information the program can graphically display a full seven day week of MARTA scheduled operations.

The animation can be run in either Accelerated Time or Real Time. On the Control Panel at the bottom right of the screen there are two radio buttons which toggle from "Accelerated Time" to "Real Time". In Accelerated Mode, time runs fast and the trains rapidly flow in and out of downtown. In Real Time mode, the trains slowly move according to the scheduled positions for the current time of day.

While running in Accelerated Mode a scroll bar labeled "Adjust Time" will be visible. This scroll bar’s pointer moves from left to right as the time of day advances. It can also be used to adjust the time of day by sliding its pointer to the left or right. Slide the pointer to the right to move ahead in time, or to the left to move back in time.

While running in Accelerated Mode, a scroll bar labeled "Adjust Speed" will be visible. Its pointer can be used to adjust the animation speed. Slide the pointer all the way to the left to bring time and the animation to a halt. Slide the pointer to the right and the trains will barely stay on the tracks.

Also, if MARTA has information available about the actual position of each train, such as "running 5 mins. late", or "Arrived Five Points at 4:55pm", then the Train Brain can poll a database file to display the actual position of each currently running train.

A push button labeled "Schedules" can be used to view schedules. Click the mouse on this button and a number of other push buttons will appear on the system map labeling the various routes. After clicking one of these buttons, a dialog box will ask for the direction of travel for the route. Select a direction and the schedule will appear.

Another push button labeled "Station Info." leads to information about a specific station. Click this button and a message will prompt the user to choose a station by clicking directly on the stations location. Click the mouse on the station’s circle and not the text label for the station. It is not necessary to click exactly on the station because the program will default to the station closest to the mouse click. Once a station is selected, a window will appear with the station’s street address, connecting transit routes, and maybe a local area map of the station. This Station Information was also pulled directly off the MARTA website.


A Trip Planner will soon be included in the Java version of the Train Brain. The user will also be able to plan a trip by choosing a departure and destination station. The program will then search all possible combinations of train and bus connections to present the user a custom schedule. The custom schedule even has the ability to blend more than one route into one easy to read, top to bottom, schedule. The program also will calculate and display the fare between any two points.

The Trip Planner is also available as a non-Java (CGI/Perl) clickable map. The Los Angeles Metrolink Commuter Rail System is currently using this form of the Train Brain to perform Trip Planning on their website at

The program could also be expanded to include Bus connections. This would require a larger view of the entire Atlanta metropolitan area. A zoom feature would be used to enlarge any area of the map to allow the user to see more detail when selecting bus stops or trolley stations.

The program also can be customized to provide any features that might be unique to the MARTA System.


For additional information please contact Mark Reynolds at (909)-686-7725 or