Real-Time Westchester Bus Info Mysteriously Appears on Google Maps

Riders of Westchester County's "Bee Line" bus service are still waiting for bus tracking apps, but maybe not for long.

A Westchester Bee Line bus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A Westchester Bee Line bus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It’s been four years since the MTA finished rolling out real-time bus arrival information citywide. Riders of Westchester County’s “Bee Line” bus service, meanwhile, are still waiting for bus tracking apps — but maybe not for long. Real-time Bee Line information began popping up sporadically on Google Maps this week. (Hat-tip to the Westchester bus rider who flagged this for us.)

It’s a bit of a mystery, since the arrival information isn’t online anywhere else. The Bee Line mobile app only has maps and schedules, as does the county’s website.

Unlike the MTA, Westchester doesn’t publish the real-time bus data online as an open API, which allows developers at Google Maps and other mobile transit applications to incorporate it into their programs. It’s not clear how Google Maps ended up with Bee Line real-time arrival information, which is only showing up for certain buses, as you can see in this screen-grab from earlier today:

Real-time arrival information is now appearing on Google Maps for certain Bee Line buses.
Real-time arrival information is now appearing on Google Maps for certain Bee Line buses.

I called up the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation to see what the story is with the intermittent real-time bus info, but got put through to voicemail.

Whatever the explanation, a full rollout of bus tracking capability would soothe the anxiety of 110,000 daily passengers, including many people bound for work in NYC and NYC reverse commuters heading to Westchester.

  • Rider

    This would be a huge win for Westchester riders. Unlike NYC, many of Westchester’s bus stops suck. The stops lack good sidewalk or crosswalks to reach, are in weeds, mud pits or snow banks leading people to just stand in the road. Reducing the need to stand there for long by knowing when the bus is coming is a big relief.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Track 34th Street Buses From Your Computer or Phone

|
Since last August, New Yorkers waiting for a bus on 34th Street have been able to check electronic signs at bus stops to find out how long it will take for the next oneto arrive. As of yesterday, they don’t even need to head to the bus stop. Riders can see the real-time location of […]
Subway arrival data displayed on an app produced by Transit, a Montreal-based start-up, and the MTA's Subway Time app.

Will the MTA Put Better Transit Data to Work for Riders?

|
The Montreal-based app Transit is based on an unorthodox assumption: trip planning limited to directions from Point A to Point B doesn’t actually fit the needs of most riders, who travel the same route every day. “[The idea] we started with at Transit was to give the information of the next bus at the stop [where […]

The Case for Open MTA Data: Transparency, Savings, and Easier Riding

|
Transit riders in Portland have dozens of mobile applications at their disposal thanks to Tri-Met’s open data. New York’s ridership dwarfs Portland’s, but the MTA’s data policy stifles similar innovations. Without good information for riders, transit systems don’t work very well. A subway station sans system map or a bus stop lacking a posted schedule […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Finding the Buses That Need a Speed Boost

|
Mapping bus speeds in Washington, D.C. Slower lines show up as dark blue. Image: Greater Greater Washington A fresh look at old information can sometimes be all you need to better understand a knotty problem. And a fresh look is exactly what the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority provided with a new set of bus […]