Park Slope

When is the next bus? In Brooklyn, LinkNYC kiosk has answer

April 5, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The plan calls for Link kiosks all over the city, including this one on Fourth Avenue near 33rd Street in Sunset Park, to display information on when buses are expected to arrive at bus stops within walking distance. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Residents of Park Slope and other nearby communities will soon be getting a new way to tell how long they will have to wait for the next bus to arrive.

Under a new pilot program, bus arrival time information is being installed in 29 sidewalk kiosks in the 39th Council District (CD). Each kiosk will display information on a 55-inch screen listing when buses are going to arrive at bus stops located within walking distance of the kiosk. If a kiosk is located near several bus lines, then information for all of the bus lines would be listed.

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) announced the new pilot program.

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The 39th CD, which is represented by Democrat Brad Lander, includes parts of Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Kensington.

The pilot program marks the next step in the city’s efforts to put technology to use for the public.

“I am proud to be a part of this expansive initiative where we can leverage technology to enhance public services. This is what keeps New York City on the leading edge of urban innovation,” DoITT Commissioner Samir Saini said in a statement announcing the pilot program.

Since Mayor Bill de Blasio launched his technology initiative in 2016, more than 1,700 kiosks, called Links, have been erected around the city. Hundreds of them are in Brooklyn. The Links replaced the old pay telephones that used to line sidewalks. A total of 7,500 of the kiosks will be installed during the next several years. 

The Links offer free Wi-Fi, free phone calls, easy access to the 911 and 311 systems, maps and the social services platform Aunt Bertha through a LinkNYC network. The kiosks are also equipped to serve as charging stations for residents seeking to charge their phones and other mobile devices. A consortium called CityBridge is in charge of LinkNYC. 

More than 3.5 million people have used the free Wi-Fi service to date, according to officials. 

The 39th CD is only the first step in the new bus arrival time pilot program, according to officials, who said the technology will be installed in all of Link kiosks around the city.

“LinkNYC isn’t just the world’s largest, fastest free Wi-Fi network, it’s a platform to make life in New York City easier through delivering relevant local content and information,” said Link President Jen Hensley.

John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy organization, said the new program is badly needed.

“City buses need deep interventions before they will function adequately, and part of the path to turning around our failing bus service is to get more information into the hands of bus riders, in as many ways as possible. Adding bus arrival times to LinkNYC kiosks is a smart and creative way to help bus riders save time, and it will help make the bus a more modern, convenient option for New Yorkers to choose,” he said.

Lander, who worked with the city to get the pilot program introduced in his council district, said the bus arrival time information will be a source of valuable information for residents.

“The ‘real-time passenger information’ bus clocks we’ve installed in our district and across the city prove that knowing when the next bus is coming is a real quality-of-life improvement for NYC’s bus riders. Now, thanks to LinkNYC and DoITT, riders will have access to that information on thousands of LinkNYC consoles along bus routes citywide, within just a couple of weeks,” he said. 

Noel Hidalgo, executive director of the civic organization BetaNYC, said the beginning has been promising and that he would like to see the city use more technology.

“As LinkNYC devices have grown to provide subway status updates, weather, sport scores, community meeting notifications and school closures, it is only logical that they incorporate real-time transportation data. I’d love to see more open data on these screens. I would love to be walking down the street and see subway and bus countdowns, status updates and Citi Bike station counts,” Hidalgo said.


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