Home Buses BusTime arriving in Manhattan this month

BusTime arriving in Manhattan this month

by Benjamin Kabak

While exiting the Times Square station near the Shuttle platform’s Track 4 exit today, I noticed the sign you see at the top of the post. For Manhattan bus riders, a big day is coming soon as the MTA has promised that BusTime, it’s real-time bus tracking system, will be available on all of the borough’s buses some time this month. I reached out to the MTA for more details and was told that the announcement will come next week.

BusTime is the MTA’s distance-based bus location system that was developed in-house. While the system does not include countdown clocks, it comes with a text message-based system and smartphone enabled apps as well. For Manhattan bus riders, the arrival of BusTime will take the guess work out of waiting for some of the city’s least reliable and slowest bus routes around. It’s a solid first step.

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Abba October 3, 2013 - 2:15 pm

The project is taking too slow.

Benjamin Kabak October 3, 2013 - 2:20 pm

Out of curiosity, what’s your baseline point of comparison here? It involves installing a bunch of equipment on every single bus at every single depot, building our server and tech infrastructure, testing it and then going live. I know the team, and it’s very lean.

Yeah, it’d be great to do this faster, but considering how much this costs, it’s not bad to see this roll out in one borough per year.

Epson45 October 3, 2013 - 2:31 pm

Abba is right. Its too slow.

VLM October 3, 2013 - 2:34 pm

Who knew the internet had so many experts on bus-tracking technology?

Epson45 October 3, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Yes, who knew.

JJJJ October 3, 2013 - 8:56 pm

When NJ Transit beats you at something, youre doing it wrong.

Boston, SF and DC have had this for years and years and years.

Karm October 4, 2013 - 4:48 pm

trying to do anything in nyc is more complicated than those other 4 agencies combined… “better late than never”

Henry October 4, 2013 - 10:22 pm

New York City runs the largest, busiest bus operation in the nation.

Comparing to the other systems is apples to oranges, particularly when none of the cities mentioned have nearly as many tall buildings blocking signals and whatnot.

Phillip Roncoroni October 3, 2013 - 9:24 pm

The order of boroughs is what’s wrong with the implementation. Queens is so heavily bus dependent and it looks like it’s going live last. That doesn’t seem right.

Boris October 3, 2013 - 10:21 pm

Brooklyn and Queens routes share depots, and there’s a lot of interlining. The MTA saved the most complicated part of the project for last.

Epson45 October 4, 2013 - 10:28 pm

Its actually, Queens is running older fleet and needs to retired another year or so if MTA stops delaying nearly 700 new local bus order.

Chet October 3, 2013 - 3:05 pm

Being on Staten Island, I’ve been using Bustime (and my wife as well) for quite some time now- overall, it is worth the wait. There have been a couple of occasions where a bus doesn’t have its GPS on, so it isn’t on map; but beyond that it is great.

For the express buses on a weekend which have tendency to run ahead of schedule, it means no more missing the bus because it was ten minutes early.

Anyone who uses a bus and a smartphone in Manhattan is going to love it.

Emily October 3, 2013 - 3:32 pm

I use it frequently for the B61 in Brooklyn, and I love it. My only complaint is that there seems to be a “hole” in Red Hook (near IKEA/Fairway) that prevents buses there from signaling their locations. On multiple occasions I’ve been waiting on 9th Street and there’s absolutely nothing listed closer than Columbia Street, and then bam! five minutes later there’s a B61 pulling up. Either LOTS of buses have their GPS off, or there’s some weird vortex down in Red Hook.

Similarly, many of them seem to have the GPS off when they are having their break at the terminal (which I guess is a function of the bus being turned off), so sometimes it says the nearest one 3.7 miles away, when in reality, it’s only 100 yards away and getting ready to start up again. (I live near the southern terminus of the B61.)

Can’t wait til it’s rolled out in the rest of Brooklyn!

Epson45 October 3, 2013 - 4:27 pm

Its probably the GPS signals in some areas that are block off momentary.

Brooklyn is next.

Boris October 3, 2013 - 10:18 pm

BusTime can’t anticipate when a bus traveling in one direction will reach its destination and start the next trip in the other direction. This means that near a terminal there are always going to be surprises. A bus could be near a terminal but traveling in the opposite direction of where you need to go, so you see nothing and then all of the sudden there’s a bus around the corner.

Abba October 3, 2013 - 4:36 pm

We’ll its a very nice project so it would be nice if it went quicker.Yes my guess is that 2015 Queens will go up.To me it seems slow.maybe I’m wrong.

Benjamin Kabak October 3, 2013 - 4:36 pm

The rest of the city (Brooklyn and Queens) will be online by April.

The Outer Boro October 3, 2013 - 10:11 pm

I hope so, I’m tired of waiting for Queens busses

Roxie October 3, 2013 - 4:48 pm

Don’t really need one for Queens. They could just put up a static page saying “the bus is late and running way too slow”.

The Outer Boro October 3, 2013 - 10:10 pm

Bus time has always been in Manhattan. It “officially” started Staten Island, all express busses go to Manhattan. Then on to the Bronx, 11 routes plus the BxM express busses and the M100. And the M34 and M16(now M34a)for a pilot program.

Henry October 4, 2013 - 10:23 pm

The M34/34A system was a separate technology effort that was shut down once the trial period was up, because it was too expensive to expand to the rest of the system.

Jacob October 3, 2013 - 10:54 pm

BusTime wasn’t developed entirely in-house — it’s based off of the open-source project OneBusAway, though the live-mapping feature is a significant addition.

Herb Lehman October 4, 2013 - 9:48 am

Though maybe not the most technologically advanced thing, BusTime has been extremely useful on Staten Island and has worked well. I’m glad Manhattan’s going to get it too.

Epson45 October 7, 2013 - 12:19 am

It is online, right now.


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