Feb
01

B63 BusTime pilot officially live

By · Published in 2011

A screenshot of the landing page for the B63 BusTime pilot shows the buses along the route.

New York City Transit has officially flipped the switch on its own in-house real-time bus tracking project. A few hours ago, its pilot program around the B63 — which I discussed in an in-depth exclusive this morning — went live. It’s now available at the MTA’s BusTime site, and the Developer API is ready to go as well.

“Today, the transit system is quickly catching up with our 21st century expectation that real-time information is available on the go for all New Yorkers,” MTA Chair and CEO Jay Walder said in a statement. “That means knowing if your bus is on time before you leave home, getting updates on delays while you’re out and about, and unlocking opportunities for better service across our entire network. MTA BusTime is a big part of this new vision for bus service in New York.”

By clicking on a bus, users can see how far away the vehicles is from its next stops.

As I explained this morning, the new tracker, developed with OpenPlans, uses an open-source software program along with a GPS device with dead reckoning, an on-board wireless modem and an internal computer to keep tabs on the buses along the B63. The MTA is offering web- and text message-based tracking for buses and is working with merchants to install LCD signs displaying bus locations in real-team along the route. For customers used to frustratingly long waits for buses and glances down busy avenues, this should take the guess work out of waiting for buses that sometimes don’t show up at all.

“We are working hard to provide up-to-the minute travel information for both bus and subway customers,” Transit president Thomas Prendergast said. “There are few things as frustrating as having to guess when the next bus is going to show up at your stop. With MTA BusTime, next bus arrival times are right in your hand.”

If all goes well with the pilot, this system will be installed in all Staten Island buses later this year. For more from OpenPlans, check out their posting on the project.

Selecting a particular bus stop shows how far away the nearest buses are.



Categories : Buses, MTA Technology

12 Responses to “B63 BusTime pilot officially live”

  1. Steve H says:

    Hey Benjamin
    This is very cool. I’ve wasted many minutes (probably hours) waiting for the 63.
    Any idea why the MTA doesn’t have this same kind of map & mobile site for lines like the L or 2/3 that now have train arrival info with signs? Would be especially great for early morning trains.
    Great blog. Thanks

    • John Paul N. says:

      They’ll have to build the API for that.

      I hope the MTA has adequate servers. Website outages due to heavy Web traffic don’t make me feel confident.

      • The website outage due to heavy traffic has happened once since the MTA upgraded to its new configuration, and that was on a day with an unexpectedly large blizzard. I wouldn’t expect that to be the norm.

        • John Paul N. says:

          Have you seen the mta.info home page at this moment? Although not an outage, the MTA is clearly trying to reduce its data traffic. However, I can see specialized pages like the subway line schedules alright. So the MTA knows that its servers have limits.

  2. digamma says:

    Is there a way to report errors in the developer data? Entire bus routes are missing from Queens. I don’t see any feedback link on the page.

    • I don’t think they’re doing anything with Queens routes yet. I haven’t looked at the data though to see how or why it would be missing. But I’d urge you to check out the Transit Developers or MTA Developer Resources Google groups.

    • John Paul N. says:

      The Queens NYCT Bus routes based in Brooklyn (ENY, Fresh Pond, Grand Av.) are in the Brooklyn GTFS.

      The MTA Bus Co. routes are in their own GTFS zip file, though from the last time I checked, most stop times were missing. They were converting from a non-GTFS file to GTFS, but it looks as if they just inputted values from their printed schedules into the GTFS. While the NYCT Bus GTFS gives too much information (all their special schedules for holidays make the file at least twice larger than necessary; if the holiday schedules are just another-day schedules on a weekday, like Sunday schedule on a Tuesday, and are not truly modified-weekday schedules), the MTA Bus GTFS doesn’t give enough.

      The MTA Developer Resources link is the best bet to get a response from the MTA.

  3. BrooklynBus says:

    I hope the MTA can use this information to reduce bus bunching. That would even be more important than knowing where the next bus is. At least this system will highlight how extensive this problem is throughout the City.

    I just watched the B63 for about an hour. When I started, there were 5 buses right behind each other all going south between 92 Street and 101 Street. At least they didn’t leave the terminal in a pack and did get spread out. Since then I’ve seen several groups of two buses together, but nothing more serious.

    • Ray says:

      Bunching is very annoying, because it makes the bus schedule useless. The other day, I saw 4 (yes, FOUR) B9’s in a row. I assume only one of them was on time.

      On another note, I was on a bus in Vancouver that just parked to the side for 5 minutes because it was 5 minutes ahead of schedule. It was kind of annoying, but it made sense. The schedule sets people’s expectations, so might as well meet them the best they can.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] over at Second Avenue Sagas, which did an in-depth look prior to the launch, as well as a follow up post-launch.  You can also read our official reaction to the launch on the OpenPlans […]

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