MTA to Install Location Trackers on Bronx Buses This Year

By Patrick Wall on January 23, 2012 7:39pm 

A worker installs tracking hardware on a Staten Island MTA bus in November 2011.  MTA workers will soon install the equipment in Bronx buses.
A worker installs tracking hardware on a Staten Island MTA bus in November 2011. MTA workers will soon install the equipment in Bronx buses.
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MTA/Patrick Cashin

BRONX — Bronx bus riders will soon be able to track the location of their bus on their mobile phones or computers.

Earlier this month, the MTA rolled out an online bus tracking system, called MTA Bus Time, on Staten Island. Now, the agency will install GPS units and other hardware on the 1,025 buses that service the Bronx. 

The MTA plans for the tracking system to go live in the Bronx, and another yet-to-be-announced borough, by the end of the year. Buses in the remaining two boroughs will be added to the system in 2013.

“Knowing how far away your next bus is means you can spend more time with your family or more time at a coffee shop instead of waiting at a bus stop in a state of uncertainty,” new MTA chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement Monday.

Riders can locate the nearest bus in two ways: by texting their stop’s intersection or code and route to 511123, or by visiting the MTA Bus Time website on their computers or smart phones. The service tells users how far away the approaching bus is in terms of miles and stops.

“The next phase of this will be to develop a minute-by-minute countdown,” said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. “But our first goal is getting it rolled out this way” – that is, with just geographic tracking.

When a pilot tracking system launched last year along the B63 route in Brooklyn, private developers used location data provided free of charge by the MTA to create nine different bus tracking apps for mobile devices, Donovan said. The agency is hoping developers will create similar apps when the Bronx buses are added to the system this year.

Donovan declined to give an exact date when the Bronx buses will be trackable, but did say the hardware installation is “a multi-month process,” which will happen overnight when buses are parked at the depots.  The MTA also said that once the Bronx tracking system is up and running, the agency will use the data to improve service.

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