Streams

New NYC Transit Site Easier To Use, Unless You're Mobile

Thursday, May 26, 2011 - 04:02 PM

(New York, NY -- John Keefe, WNYC -- ANALYSIS)  The MTA took a step toward giving New Yorkers fresh, crisp transit information with a revamped website yesterday.

The site is much clearer, with key information right up top: service status by line, links into train and bus pages, and a slick new version of its "Trip Planner" to guide New Yorkers from Point A to Point B.

It's also much easier to find maps and schedules. Particularly nice is the consolidation of bus schedules by borough (the previous site listed some express lines by company, which was very confusing).

The bus schedules and maps themselves, though, are still in PDF format -- literally electronic representations of the paper versions -- which are frustratingly difficult to use on mobile devices. And there are no bus schedules on the mobile version of the site, which didn't get the same revamp.

Fortunately there's now a gallery loaded with third-party apps and services that serve MTA data in more useful, mobile formats. (Full disclosure: The gallery includes two free services I built with live bus data.)

Hard to find from the revamped site are two cool MTA features: The system that proves a train delay made you late for work, and a live map of bus locations on the B63 line in Brooklyn.

Beyond the "status update" widget, real-time schedule information remains woefully lacking. Other metropolitan transit sites, such the one serving Minneapolis and St. Paul, put live bus and rail information right on the home page. Not even third-party programmers can help here until the agency makes subway and bus location information more available.

So the new site is definitely a step in the right direction. But not a leap.

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