MTA Bus Time for Staten Island Launches; the Arrival of a Platform

OpenPlans Transportation has been hard at work producing a real time bus tracking system for New York City. As we announced last fall, with project partner Cambridge Systematics, the MTA launched Bus Time on Jan 11, 2011. And the time has come, for Staten Islanders to know when their bus is about to come.  Welcome to Bus Time.

It's multipying.

You can learn about the technical specifications and characteristics of the new open platform here.  Right now, lets play around with Bus Time. You can access it at on your desktop or mobile device, or text a unique bus stop ID to 511-123 .  Heres some tips on using it:

  • To see mutliple lines as pictured, search for “St George Terminal Island”  It will display all the buses that go through this hub, representing about 70% of the local buses running on the island. Sit back and watch the buses lurch on by.  While it may sound boring, its quite captivating.
  • Zoom in to the first or second closest zoom levels.  The individual bus stops become visible, clicking on a bus stop roundel displays the bus stop ID, and next arrivals for all lines serving that stop.
  • On your mobile phone, text one of those six-digit ID’s to 511-123. You’ll get a text back displaying how far or close the next buses that serves that stop is.
  • Service changes, alerts and diversions are all updated live.  SMS responses and bus stop call out boxes alert you to any changes in service.
  • Bus Time works outside of Staten Island – express routes travelling into Manhattan via Brooklyn or New Jersey can be tracked for the entirety of their run including while they are plowing the canyons of Manhattan.

Cheers and accolades for Bus Time:

“The MTA is really trying to get this service out there in a timely manner. Not to mention how developer friendly they are being with it—BusTime launched with
an open API which allows for awesome things like this DIY ‘the next bus is in xx minutes’ sign that stores can put in their windows.”

New York Times:
“The program represented not just an added convenience for Staten Island bus riders, but also a sign of the growing embrace of, and collaborations with, the technology community in the city.”

“Bus Time…can be instrumental in job creation, leading to small businesses that can form around using or distributing the information that software provides.”

“In my test, doing those three things got me an accurate and comprehensive list of local and express buses that use the nearest stop. And a nifty map popped up on my laptop showing the location of those buses as they came toward me.”

Second Avenue Sagas:
“I’m excited to see what this can do for bus ridership. It essentially takes the guesswork out of waiting…Hopefully, mobile app developers will make good use of the plethora of data that will come out of Bus Time as well.”

Your Favorite Deity:
“Bless your hearts. Now you guys can see buses the way I see buses.”