Home Buses BusTime to hit Staten Island before 2012

BusTime to hit Staten Island before 2012

by Benjamin Kabak

The real-time bus tracking system currently in place along the B63 will be live on Staten Island by the end of the year. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Even as uncertainty reigns supreme at the MTA right now, the authority is moving ahead with projects that will welcome transit-oriented technologies to New York City. This week, in fact, the MTA Board approved a deal with Verifone that will help bring real-time bus tracking to Staten Island by the end of this year. The $6.9 million contract will be the first of a series of deals that will eventually total an additional $48.4 million the on-board components of a city-wide bus tracking system. Verifone’s deal includes only Staten Island, and the contracts for the remaining boroughs will be subject to future competitive bidding processes.

“Today, our 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 CEO and Chairman Jay Walder said. “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 Bus Time is a big part of this new vision for bus service in New York.”

Verifone’s role on Staten Island will be that of a systems integrator. They will install the necessary hardware in every Staten Island-based bus that will allow for real-time tracking. The MTA will soon award a contract for the software that integrates location and, as the authority puts it, “other relevant information.” Those who worked on the B63 pilot in Brooklyn will lend their expertise to this project as well.

“I’m certain that bus customers will be thrilled with MTA Bus Time,” said NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast. “Having next bus arrival times right in your hand available at any point in your trip is part of our ongoing effort to improve the customer experience.”

Both future deployment and potential next-generation fare technology provisions are included in the Verifone commercial. First, through a competitive bidding process and subsequent negotiations, Verifone will be paid an additional $48 million to bring the bus-tracking hardware to the other four boroughs over the next few years as well. They will also hold an option to purchase smart card readers as the MTA gears up to replace the MetroCard. It’s all a part of Walder’s technology push, and the contract award guarantees that New Yorkers will at least see the bus-tracking project expand.

Furthermore, the contract represents the MTA’s new way of doing business as well. Verifone’s original bid came in at $8.9 million, and the authority negotiated it down to $6.9 million, a figure over $300,000 lower than the next lowest bid.

I’ve long been a big proponent of the MTA’s BusTime system. I explored the technology and development process behind it earlier this year, and I believe it will only get better and more popular as it spreads throughout the city. Right now, it’s of limited use as it is in place only along 34th St. in Manhattan in one form and along 5th Ave. in Brooklyn in another. By blanketing a borough in a bus tracking system, the MTA will have the opportunity to see how much easier and convenient buses will become when real-time location data is at our collective fingertips. It can improve everything from waiting to transferring, and I look forward to seeing it spread throughout the entire city.

“With a variety of ways of accessing MTA Bus Time, Staten Island customers will find it extremely convenient and useful. It’s another way we’re committed to improving bus service,” Darryl Irick, VP for Department of Buses and President for MTA Bus, said.

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Chet July 29, 2011 - 8:30 am

This is great.

Ideally, would be countdown clocks at our bus stops similar to what are being put in so many subway stations or that exist on the M34 route.

In any event, I do hope that BusTime on Staten Island includes the Manhattan bound express buses. They have a horrible reputation, especially outside of the rush hours, to not only be late, but even worse- incredibly early.

During most of the day X10 runs about once every 30 minutes. Myself or my wife have checked the schedule, been at the stop as much as ten minutes early, only to see a bus pulling away from the stop. It wasn’t a bus 20 minutes late, it was one ten minutes early. This happens with incredibly frequency on the weekends.

BusTime could help alleviate that problem. One could check, online, while getting ready to leave to see where the next bus really is. For our local buses, it certainly would be a great help, but it is for the express buses that is truly a necessity.

ajedrez August 1, 2011 - 12:22 am

It’s a shame that they run manage to run early. An aquaintance of mine has the same problem with the X10. Then the next one is delayed because it has to pick up all of the missed passengers, causing a cycle.

The MTA should really re-evaluate the running time for the X10. If buses are constantly running early, that should just be reflected in the timetable.

I very rarely use the express bus, but I have the advantage of being near both the X10 and X17, and I wouldn’t see the X10 running early because I live closer to the beginning of the route.

On a side note, there are some routes that can get really bad problems. The S46/S96 get hammered with Port Richmond High School students, and there are times when I’ve waited 20 minutes when the buses were supposed to be running every 5-7 minutes, and of course, the bus shows up almost crushloaded (people just don’t like to move to the back)

Edward July 29, 2011 - 8:33 am

Excellent. Now instead of guessing that the S40 bus will be 35 mins late, I’ll know FOR SURE that it’s not coming any time soon.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines July 29, 2011 - 8:50 am

[…] Real-Time Bus Info Coming to All of Staten Island Before the Year Is Out (2nd Ave Sagas) […]

BrooklynBus July 29, 2011 - 9:22 am

It’s one thing to tell the riders how long they will have to wait. But what I would like to know is if they will be able to use this technology to help keep the buses on schedule and eliminate big gaps in service by reducing bus bunching? Now that would be a major improvement.

Al D July 29, 2011 - 2:40 pm

C’mon now don’t ’em how to run their buses, they’re the experts! 😉

John July 29, 2011 - 10:29 am

This might technically be less advanced than what they’re putting in here, but I liked what they had in Vegas. You could text the stop number in to a certain number and they would text you back the next arrival at that stop number. I thought that was pretty awesome. You didn’t have to mess with route numbers or directionality or anything, it’s just “when is the next bus coming to THIS STOP.”

Joe Steindam July 29, 2011 - 3:01 pm

That’s basically how BusTime works on the B63, the only real drawback is that the MTA only tells you the distance of the next bus, it hasn’t figured how to translate that information to time instead. But all you need is the number for that stop and the number you send the text to, and you get the next bus. It’s a pretty awesome system, although I wonder how much it’s used, I use it all the time on the B63, but I seem to be in the minority.

pete July 29, 2011 - 1:37 pm

When will someone use BusTime for terrorism or “planned” terrorism and BusTime is conveniently scrapped?

Name July 29, 2011 - 4:28 pm

Oh, please. What’s there to bomb on Staten Island? I posit that any bombing would improve Staten Island.

ajedrez August 1, 2011 - 12:24 am

Just wishful thinking, but it would be nice if the information were readily available at the stop, rather than having to carry a phone to see the information.

Jeff K August 3, 2011 - 3:17 am

In the meantime, it’d be great if there were half as many apps to help us non-B63 users navigate the buses as there are for the subways. If I had a buck for every time I’ve checked the Guide-A-Ride at the bus stop and found a map, but no schedule, for the route I needed, I wouldn’t have to buy another 30 day MetroCard until after the next presidential election.

Real-time bus tracking comes to Staten Island :: Second Ave. Sagas January 11, 2012 - 2:18 pm

[…] its real-time bus tracking program, throughout Staten Island. Although the debut is technically 11 days late, the devil is in the details. It’s taken the MTA far too many years to get this right, but […]


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