Real-Time Bus Info Arrives Along the B63

At 5:19 p.m. today, the MTA's new BusTime system showed that B63 buses were approaching 86th Street in both directions.

From the Verrazano to Brooklyn Heights, passengers on the B63 can now make their rides more predictable. As of today, the MTA has launched a new bus tracking system that enables riders to find the location of every bus on the route either online or by text message. For riders who can send texts or check the internet from their phones, there’s much less guesswork involved in determining, for instance, whether it will be faster to walk.

If the tracking system, which was developed as a low-cost, in-house solution, turns out to be a success, it will be expanded to the entire bus network on Staten Island as early as this year.

Until today, the only real-time bus info available to New York City riders was along 34th Street. As Ben Kabak explains, that system is proprietary and expanding it would lock the MTA into another inflexible, unaffordable contract.

The B63 tracking system, in contrast, was developed using an open-source model in collaboration with OpenPlans, Streetsblog’s parent organization. It collects data with onboard GPS devices, then analyzes and improves the data before publishing the bus locations.

Currently, the system can only calculate the distance between a bus and a given location, not the time until a bus arrives. To help speed the development of that functionality (and save money), the MTA is making all the bus location information open to the public. Any enterprising developer can enter the fray and create the algorithm that will help bring real-time bus arrival information to New Yorkers.

  • J

    This is great! Not only does it help riders catch the bus, it also makes it easy to see service issues, especially bus bunching. As of 6:17 pm, there were 3 northbound buses on 5th Ave near Flatbush, 2 southbound buses on 5th near 26th street, and 2 southbound buses on 5th near 86th street. This is a real problem and needs to be addressed.

  • Chris

    Just goes to show you somethings are cheaper to do in-house than outsource via outside contractors.

  • Ian Turner

    It’s phenomenal that the MTA was able to get this done while simultaneously cutting “administrative” costs, which costs I’m sure include the work needed to develop this system. There is no doubt in my mind that Jay Walder is worth the price.

  • Eva

    @ Ian Turner, MTA is lying. they still have managers who hauled in more money and less work. Jay Walder is pretty much hurting MTA on labor relations with the unions and hurting us well when we still spending a lot of wasteful crappy contracts.

    ——————————————————————-

    The big issue with the B63 demo that the M16/M34 demos have is time until the bus arrive and a neat GUI on the stop listed bus arrivals on the stop. If that doesnt further developed on the B63 demo, good luck to persuasive to many people who witness the countdown clocks on the IRT subway lines. I dont care how many miles to arrive or stops, just when it is arrving that is the people who cared.

  • Also nice is that while riding the bus you can figure out which stop is closest to your destination, and get off accordingly. Using a smartphone to figure that out seems like using Thor’s hammer to drive in nails, but it’s something that’s always irked me about buses when I wasn’t familiar with where I needed to get off. Great job, MTA and OpenPlans!

  • Marty Barfowitz

    This is really phenomenal. Kudos to the MTA for getting out of the way of itself and letting this happen.

  • Aaron Naparstek

    I want to hang a web-enabled digital sign on the front of my house at Union Street near 5th Avenue to give people walking up Union a sense of when the bus is coming. What do we need to do to make it happen?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps on commercial streets bus arrival signs will become the equivalent of those time and temperature signs banks used to have. A reason for people to look at your business.

  • Nick
  • Ian Turner

    Eva, are you saying the MTA didn’t actually cut $500 million of administrative costs? If so, what is the basis for this allegation?

  • Aaron, would people be able to see a monitor mounted in your window? Because outdoor LCD displays ain’t cheap.

  • Eva

    You’ve actually believe the MTA, that they cut $500 million on admin cost?, lol…

    MTA=ATM Going to shove taxpayers with more taxes.

  • Ian Turner

    Eva, I believe the agency cut $400 million, yes. ($500 was a typo). If you think that the agency is lying about this, what’s your evidence? How are they making payroll?

  • Eva

    If I were you Ian, make a friend with a MTA employee… the long laundry list wont even fit inside the comments section. Jay Walder is screwing you and MTA workers.

  • tom

    Aaron: If I understand your intent you will need a city permit for an illuminated sign(Buildings?, Consumer Affairs?); however, they are is not allowed on a residential block. I know someone who applied and got one but even he was not sure how it was allowed. Good luck.

  • Ian Turner

    Eva, respectfully, you didn’t answer my question.

  • Carlos

    Please make that work for the entire system….specially the B43 BUS!

  • Chris

    Ian, it’s because she doesn’t have any evidence. She just knows the MTA is corrupt, just like the probably millions of others of New Yorkers who still believe they had “two sets of books,” and probably don’t even know that the MTA is one of New York’s most transparent public benefit corporations and posts all of its financial statements online.

    But please, pity Eva. She has been brainwashed by years of attack-dog politics by politicians trying to win a few votes with the transit-riding public talking by aimlessly bashing something that they know absolutely nothing about. Then, those same politicians go and screw over those same voters by stealing dedicated transit money, and Eva never hears about it.

  • Aaron, hook up your LCD projector to your computer, hang a sheet in one of your windows, and beam bustime.mta.info off of it. Voila!

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