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Transportation Nation

THE ACTUAL STORY -- The MTA Removes Countdown Clocks on the Crosstown Line

Monday, April 09, 2012

Staten Island bus rider Regina Esposito uses Bus Time.

We were fooled. The MTA has had real time bus information on the M 34 since 2010.  So when we wrote, per the MTA's  press release, that Manhattan's M-34 is the latest bus route to get Bustime, the MTA's real time bus information system, that wasn't accurate.

What's new is that as of this week the MTA will have a new operating system, which means its countdown clocks won't work.  From the customer perspective the only difference is there won't be LED's at the bus stops saying when the next buses are coming, which seems like a net loss to the customers.

Our sharp-eyed colleague, editor Matthew Schuerman, caught the double-speak.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the authority didn't mean to mislead. "The system that was in place before was proprietary technology," Lisberg said. "It would have cost more.  We want to do it in the cheapest way possible."

@NYCTSubwayScoop tweeted at us: "That was a pilot system run by Clever Devices.  MTA Bus Time is a open source platform and we're not beholden to a vendor," adding in a second tweet: "the displays were the property of the vendor, not NYC Transit."

Let us say, we get that.  We've been close followers of Bustime.  But when we read the press release -- it led us to believe that a new service was arriving on 34th street.

Transportation Nation apologizes to our readers for letting this one get by us. (We weren't the only ones -- New York 1, ABC Local were among the other media outlets who were confused.)

Bustime has helped riders in Staten Island and Brooklyn navigate the transit system.

It allows users to check where buses are on their desktops, or to text a stop code to the MTA at 511123, and receive a text back saying how many stops away the buses are.

The service allows users who are shopping or at work to check the arrival time of the next buses without being at the top.

Bustime has been on the B-63 bus in Brooklyn for over a year, and in Staten Island for several months.   The Bronx is scheduled to get Bustime later this year, with Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan to be phased in.

The American Public Transportation Association has linked real time transportation information to increased transit use.

For a list of stop codes go to http://www.bustime.mta.info

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WNYC News

Countdown Clocks Removed From Manhattan Crosstown Route

Monday, April 09, 2012

WNYC

Countdown clocks along the M-34 bus route — which runs from Bellevue Hospital on the East Side of Manhattan, past the Empire State Building and ends at the Javits Center on the West Side — will be removed from stops beginning Monday.

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WNYC News

MTA's BusTime Off To Fast Start

Friday, March 23, 2012

WNYC

The old adage is true: “If you build a system for mobile devices that allows Staten Islanders to find out when their bus will arrive, they will come.”

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA's BusTime Off To Fast Start

Friday, March 23, 2012

Staten Island bus rider Regina Esposito uses Bus Time. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) The old saying is true: “Build a system for mobile devices that allows Staten Islanders to find out when their bus will arrive, and they will come.”

OK, that’s not an old saying. But it turns out to be true. The NY MTA’s BusTime system has been up and running in Staten Island for barely two months and already an estimated 10 percent of all bus riders use it every weekday. The service lets riders use a mobile device to text or scan a bus stop code and receive a message with their bus’s location.

“Having that information on the phone just revolutionizes the experience of riding the bus,” said Josh Robin, a project director with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which has had its own version of the program since 2009. “You can look on the screen and see the bus moving toward you instead of peering down the road, hoping to see the lights and LED sign of a bus.”

Staten Island is the first of the city’s five boroughs to receive BusTime, which, according to transportation analysts, is off to a flying start.

“I think it is a smashing success to have 10% of the riders using it within a year of opening the service,” said Dr. Kari Watkins, a civil engineering professor at Georgia Tech who studied real-time bus arrival information in Seattle. She said it has taken two and a half years for that city’s version of BusTime, called OneBusAway, to be used by 20 percent of its riders.

The success of BusTime has not come overnight. The NY MTA struggled for years to come up with a GPS system powerful enough to accurately track its buses while they plied their routes. Robin, who observed the MTA’s era of GPS trial and error, said he’s encourage by the outcome. “To think of all the fits and starts that MTA had in getting the GPS out there, this 10 percent rate is really impressive.”

NY MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the authority plans to introduce BusTime to the Bronx and a borough-to-be-named-later by the end of this year. He said the entire city should be covered by the end of 2013.

Donovan said it’s too soon to tell if BusTime has led to an increase in ridership in Staten Island. He did say that usage of the system in in the borough has grown at a faster rate than it did for a pilot program on the B63 bus in Brooklyn. “We are pleased with the growth rate and we expect that it will grow further as more people become familiar with it and tell their friends,” he said.

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Transportation Nation

A Whole New York City Borough Gets Real-time Bus Information

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yep, Staten Island, your bus will come. And now, you can know when. The MTA is today launching real-time bus information for the entire borough. Users can find out where their bus is -- actually, not theoretically.

Which means you can linger in a shop, or not bother to leave your house on a cold morning, until you know the bus is truly about to arrive at your stop.

Though the MTA has been running a pilot on the B63 from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to downtown, this will be the first system rolled out on a borough-wide basis.

Knowing this information, the American Public Transportation Association says, can be a key factor in convincing travelers to use public transportation rather than personal vehicles.

There are a few ways to get the info. You can go to the MTA's website, mta.info/bustime, and click on a map which shows you where all the buses are. (The MTA says the Staten Island service will go live around noon on Wednesday.) Or you can text from your phone (smart, or not) and ask the system to find you.

That's an improvement from what users on the B63 pilot have faced. B63 riders have had to text a unique code, and will get information on how many stops (or miles) away the bus is. That means users have had to memorize codes, or got through a cumbersome system of looking up the codes online.

The information is based on GPS, and in Brooklyn, at least, has proved to be uncannily accurate.

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WNYC News

Staten Island to Get Real-Time Bus Information

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WNYC

The MTA is launching real-time bus information on Wednesday for the entire borough of Staten Island. 

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Transportation Nation

Staten Island To Get Real Time Bus Info By End of the Year

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Placard Advertising Bus Info on Brooklyn Bus

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  It's hard to think about next Christmas before Valentine's day, but the MTA says Staten Islanders will get a Christmas present in 2011 -- real time bus information on all 900 of their buses by the end of 2011.

The MTA is currently piloting such a program on its B63 bus. in Brooklyn. (For details on that pilot, including where to get the information, check out Transportation Nation's story on the program here.)  Small field tests of that pilot show the information to be accurate, though right now, you either have to know the code or go to the website mta.info/bustime, enter B63, choose a direction, and then find your stop.  In the near future, the MTA says, placards at each stop will give text number codes riders can enter.

Real time information enables riders to plan trips, to stay inside in inclement weather until shortly before a bus arrives, or to make decisions about whether to take a bus, walk, or pursue another mode of transit.  It's improved customer satisfaction -- even in a time of service cuts and fare hikes -- in Boston, Chicago, and other cities.

The MTA says once all of Staten Island is outfitted, it shouldn't be too long before the rest of the city's 6000-bus fleet gets buses, but it isn't giving an exact date for the other four boroughs.

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