Aug
08

Wifi, BusTime offerings proving popular

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Transit Wireless expects to extend its free wifi beyond September 7. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak on Instagram)

Over the last few years, we’ve seen straphangers come to embrace the MTA’s countdown clocks as a much-needed piece of transit technology. Having information on wait times leads to happier and more informed commuters, and the clamor to bring such technology to the lettered B Division subway lines has grown only louder. The countdown clocks aren’t the only pieces of travel-improving technology that have been warmly embraced by the city’s transit travelers, and two recent articles shed some light on other improvements.

First up, we have word out of Staten Island that Bus Time, the MTA’s in-house solution to real-time bus tracking, has proven popular. According to the MTA, nearly 33,000 bus riders on Staten Island — or a quarter of the borough’s riders — have checked in on the location of their bus, and the entire system has received over a million hits.

I’ve used it regularly along the B63’s route through Brooklyn, and while not having a time-based model takes some adjustment, I’ve been able to figure out approximately how long a wait would be based on distance. While such a calculation may vary from line to line, the system seems to be popular and both more flexible and less expensive than proprietary ones. The Bronx will get its deployment before the year is out.

Next, we have an udate on underground wifi. Straphangers waiting for trains and passing through wired stations have enjoyed the free service from Boingo and Google Offers as Transit Wireless continues to build out its subway cell and wifi network. The current Google sponsorship expires in September, but Transit Wireless says they plan on lining up similar deals for continued free service.

The company, meanwhile, says it’s still on track to bring 30 more stations online before the end of the year. “If you got a long commute, that could be as long as 30 minutes, that you are basically without any type of connectivity which some for people is like cutting off their arm,” Dawn Callahan, an official at Boingo, said. “So I think that this presents people a way for them to stay connected.”



Categories : MTA Technology

8 Responses to “Wifi, BusTime offerings proving popular”

  1. Chet says:

    I love Bustime. The single best thing to happen to bus travel, well ever.

    I use it mostly for the Manhattan express buses. Although I don’t use them all that much, (my wife does everyday), the ability to see where a bus is became so second nature so quickly that a couple of months ago, I was waiting for local Manhattan bus on Madison Avenue and it took me a couple of minutes before I remembered they don’t have Bustime yet.

    Once this is city wide, people will wonder how they did without it.

  2. Jason B. says:

    I thought underground WiFi was stupid… until I used it. It passed the time on the platform quite nicely.

    But what was the best about it is that two days ago I was off to Little Italy and I couldn’t remember what stop I needed to get off at. The E pulled into 14th and I was able to connect and look at Google Maps, all before the conductor closed the doors and we were off.

    It really is an added benefit in that sense, and not just a luxury service.

  3. SEAN says:

    “If you got a long commute, that could be as long as 30 minutes, that you are basically without any type of connectivity which some for people is like cutting off their arm,” Dawn Callahan, an official at Boingo, said. “So I think that this presents people a way for them to stay connected.”

    Wow! A bit melodramatic wouldn’t you say Dawn?

    • Chet says:

      Unfortunately, it isn’t an exaggeration.

      I’m a high school teacher, you should see what happens when you take a kid’s smartphone away from them. You would think they were being denied food and air for life.

      • John-2 says:

        My friend services cell towers for Verizon. We both agree if you blew the things up, anyone in the country under the age of 25 or so would react like they’ve been stranded on Mars.

  4. Joe says:

    Maybe one day BusTime will show, you know, times.

    • Jason B. says:

      I’ve thought about this myself and am not sure how I feel about it. The subways have the countdown clocks but they’re not always accurate. It will say 8 minutes, then suddenly change to 6, then 5. Or it will say 1 minute, but there’s a delay on the line. I’m assuming it uses track circuits to calculate the distance and then based on normal operating conditions it will display the time. In these cases, I’d sometimes rather see what station it is at or where it just left.

      Buses are so prone to traffic delays showing the time might be more infuriating. I’d imagine a similar situation would happen… it shows the time, gets stuck at an intersection, and people start to get furious. At least with the distance, you know that it’s there and coming.

      If they do display times eventually, they should include distance as well, and indicate it’s estimated and subject to traffic conditions.

  5. Henry says:

    Would it be really hard to have BusTime info scroll across screens at major bus stops? It can’t be that expensive to buy an LCD monitor and have text rolling across the screen…

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