Eyes on the Street: Real-Time Bus Arrival Display on Nostrand Ave [Updated]


New York finally has real-time bus arrival information and excellent route maps posted at bus stops. Or rather, at least one bus stop has this info, and it looks like the kind of thing that should spread to a lot more bus stops.

NYC DOT policy director Jon Orcutt posted this photo on Twitter over the weekend, when Bus Time went live in Brooklyn and Queens, bringing real-time arrival information to every borough. This display is at the Church Avenue stop for southbound Nostrand Avenue B44 Select Bus Service.

The bus arrival screen is integrated into one of NYC DOT’s WalkNYC wayfinding boards, which has also been customized with B44 route maps. The display shows how many stops away the next four arrivals are — both local and SBS buses. After years of looking jealously at other cities’ real-time bus stop displays, NYC seems to be on the verge of catching up.

It’s unclear how rapidly the displays will be rolled out. The WalkNYC maps are currently in four neighborhoods. We have a request in with DOT about whether the Bus Time-enabled displays will be coming to more bus stops.

Update: DOT says this is a prototype installed last fall for the launch of B44 SBS, with the arrival info switched on when Bus Time went live this weekend. The prototype is still being tested so there’s no timetable yet for a full rollout, but the plan is to eventually bring these displays to all SBS routes, starting with the B44, M34, and M60.

I went over to Church and Nostrand this afternoon and got a few more up-close shots of the display. (Sidenote: The parking situation on this stretch of Nostrand and Rogers is literally a free-for-all. No meters, double-parking everywhere, drivers bypassing the stopped vehicles by violating the bus lane. To make SBS work as well as it should here, there needs to be a price on the curb.)

Take a look:

The other side of the WalkNYC board (the bus arrival display only looks off because of the shutter speed).
The area maps show some of the intersecting transit routes.
The route map uses WalkNYC’s “heads up” display technique, with the top of the map oriented toward the direction you’re facing. Instead of a schedule with each bus run, it shows average frequency at different times. Also, as you can see, it’s all quite shiny.
  • AnoNYC

    I think this is great and it looks good!

    Is it solar powered?

  • asd

    What’s the appeal in making something like this solar powered?

  • you could put them everywhere without hardwiring them into the grid

  • AnoNYC

    Exactly why I asked. Would hasten installation.

  • asd

    Well presumably every single street with a bus will have electric cables underneath it. Shouldn’t be too hard to wire it. Is solar power+battery backups for nightime/cloudy days cheaper and more reliable? If cheaper, over what time frame?

  • anon

    Would not necessarily speed the installation. In order to be stable, the way finding panels need a deep foundation (several feet). So you are digging anyway, might as well hook up to power. Plus the batteries required to power at night or at low light with solar are significant, either they need to be in a large above ground utility box or buried as well. Hard wiring is the way to go.

  • BBnet3000

    Several feet? I doubt that.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Just because there are power lines around, it doesn’t mean they are easy to tap into (If they were, lots of people would be steeling free electricity). Previously NYC said that running cable made this project too expensive. If it is solar, then we might get a bigger roll out quicker. If it’s just a wifi receiver (or even runs off the cell network) + an LED display, it should have very little draw, being able to run off a battery for days. And if it is so dark for days and the system goes down, it’s not the biggest problem in the world; no body is going to die.

    This is a great idea and they should roll it out in the outer boroughs first (who depend on less frequent busses more).

  • BBnet3000

    Yep. The Citibike stations are all solar powered because its cheaper and makes moving them easier.

  • Gentleman
  • Jonathan

    Good question. It’s a transit stop. Shouldn’t it be pretty near permanent? Haven’t we all read hundreds of opinions about how trams are better than buses because they represent something more durable than ephemeral? Isn’t this an example of the same thing?

  • Joe R.

    Many bus stops already have shelters with lights, so the power is easily accessible. Solar power is good to have as an option in cases where grid power isn’t available but the default should be grid power.

    Incidentally, LED displays use considerably more power than LCD. You could probably squeeze in a large enough battery to power it overnight, but not for days. And you’ll need a pretty big solar panel to keep the battery charged, probably something a square meter or more in size.

  • chekpeds

    This looks really great but I am concerned about cluttering : a bus stop will now be comprised of 6 separate pieces of furniture: the MTA pole, a shelter, the three off board ticket machines for SBS, and the bus arrival totem (by far the most attractive). Why not install the totem either instead of the MTA pole , or at the open end of the shelter ?
    On narrow sidewalk like 8 th and 9 th avenue, this just does not work. Pedestrians see their space cannibalized by cars and now furniture .


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