Tired of long, anxious waits for buses? `Bus clocks’ could help

December 10, 2012 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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It’s an age-old question: “Where’s my bus?”
Well, you know those displays that you see at many of the city’s subway stations, where it tells you “Express Train in 3 Minutes” or “Local Train in 2 Minutes?”

Four City Council members from Brooklyn, as well as several from the city’s other boroughs, have now introduced a resolution to install similar displays, which they call “bus clocks,” at bus shelters throughout the city.

“We have the technology to make our buses more accessible and predictable — we just need to put it to use,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope), the resolution’s main sponsor.  

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“There are few things as frustrating as waiting for a bus without knowing when it will show up, especially if you’re already running late for work or the weather isn’t cooperating,” added Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights).

Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, replied that the MTA, in collaboration with the city Department of Transportation (DOT)  tried to install bus clocks as a pilot program on 34th Street in Manhattan, but decided that its Bus Time program provides more information for less of a cost to the city.

Through Bus Time, introduced in November 2011, riders are able get the locations of buses in real time via smartphone, web and text message.

The program began as a pilot program on Brooklyn’s B63 (down Firth Avenue from Bay Ridge to Cobble Hill) line. It has since has since spread to Brooklyn’s B61 bus (from Downtown Brooklyn to Red Hook) as well as all bus lines in Staten Island and the Bronx.

However, the Council members, while acknowledging the value of Bus Time, said that for many elderly and low-income residents, cell phones are not a viable way to get this information.

“Whereas the Bus Time system requires expensive smart phones to utilize, the bus shelter arrival time displays are accessible to all people,” said Councilwoman Sara González (D-Sunset Park). “Given the need to keep constituents informed and the economic realities of my district, I am delighted to be a sponsor of this bill.”

“The addition of bus countdown clocks will be great for my district where we have many seniors who rely on buses for daily transportation,” added Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge).

The corresponding displays in the subway stations are now installed in about 200 of the system’s 460 underground and elevated stations, Ortiz said.

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