New Signs Tell Downtown Bus Riders How Long They Have to Wait

By Julie Shapiro on September 23, 2010 6:03pm | Updated on September 24, 2010 8:27am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

LOWER MANHATTAN — New countdown clocks at seven bus stops around lower Manhattan answer the pressing question on most riders’ minds: When is the bus coming?

The signs, which use GPS technology to count down the minutes until the next two buses’ arrivals, apply only to the Downtown Connection, a free bus run by the Downtown Alliance.

"When you wait for a regular bus, you wait at the stop and it comes eventually," State Sen. Daniel Squadron said at the NextBus program’s official launch on Thursday.

"When you wait at the Downtown Connection [stops], you’ll be able to make a choice about whether you want to wait [ride the bus], or get on the subway, or walk, or if you’re late take a taxi."

The Downtown Connection runs on a 37-stop loop from Chambers Street to the Battery seven days a week and last year attracted 850,000 riders.

The Alliance piloted the NextBus program two years ago, and Squadron recently allocated $24,000 to expand the countdown clocks to seven stops.

Two additional NextBus signs will be added later this year in Battery Park City, thanks to a $24,000 matching donation from Goldman Sachs.

In addition to displaying bus information, the signs can also transmit warnings or instructions in an emergency.

So far, the signs are getting a mixed reception among regular riders of the bus.

"I didn’t notice it ’til you told me," said Henry, 40, a Brooklyn resident who was standing beneath one of the signs on Water Street.

Henry, who works in the Goldman Sachs mailroom and did not give his last name because he is not permitted to talk to reporters, watched as the sign switched from "1 minute" to "Arriving," and then stayed there for several more minutes.

"It’s a waste of money," he concluded.

Nellie Lillie, 39, who hopped on the bus in southern Battery Park City, said she waited 13 minutes even though the sign told her it would be just 7, but she didn’t mind.

"It’s free," said Lillie, who rides the bus every day to pick up her daughter at P.S. 89. "How do you complain about free stuff?"

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