Transit advocates seek NYC bus ‘countdown clocks’
Already in use in city’s subway stations
By now, everyone has seen the “countdown clocks” in many subway stations – electronic signs that tell you that the Number 3 train is coming in 3 minutes, or the Number 2 train is coming in 12 minutes.
Pilot bus countdown clocks, funded by the Staten Island Borough President’s Office, have been installed by New York City Department of Transportation at two locations in Staten Island.
The clocks use GPS data from the buses to tell riders how many stops away their bus is right now. They are also about 8 feet off the ground, which cuts down on vandalism, and are powered by solar energy.
Demonstrators outside City Hall earlier this month asked officials to expand the pilot program in the city budget and bring countdown clocks to heavily used bus stops throughout the city. An MTA spokesperson told the Eagle that such an expansion would be administered by the city Department of Transportation (DOT), not the MTA itself.
“Countdown clocks have been a huge hit on subway platforms,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance and former aide to state Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Downtown Brooklyn/Lower Manhattan). “Now it’s time to bring them to bus stops. We have the technology and we have the interest from riders. It’s time to bring bus countdown clocks to New York.”
“Bus clocks at key intersections are a logical next step to bringing real time arrival information to riders, especially those who don’t or can’t use cell or smart phones,” said Cate Contino of the Straphangers Campaign, who noted that MTA’s “Bus Time” lets riders use a mobile-phone app to find how many stops away their bus is.
“I take the bus every day after work to get my errands done. I look up the street and don’t see the bus coming, so I ask myself: should I tough it out and take the train? Should I give up and try another time?” asked Bob Nelson, a member of the Riders Alliance who lives in Cobble Hill.
The DOT says that each solar-powered countdown clock would cost $20,000 to install. However, the Riders Alliance says that other cities, such as Washington, D.C., have installed them for as little as $4,000 per sign.
Jordan Reisner, a member of the Riders Alliance who uses the B63 bus in Brooklyn, said, “I am excited about the prospects of bus countdown clocks, not only to improve bus service but also to encourage more people to take MTA buses, helping to alleviate strain on our subways and roads.”
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