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MTA Program Allows Riders to Track Buses on Smartphones

By Ben Fractenberg | October 15, 2010 10:48am | Updated on October 15, 2010 11:53am
The M34 and M16 lines are part of a pilot program to give riders estimated bus arrival times.
The M34 and M16 lines are part of a pilot program to give riders estimated bus arrival times.
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Jennifer Glickel/DNAinfo

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — The MTA unveiled a Web-based bus locator service that lets riders know an estimated time of arrival for the M16 and M34.

BusTime allows riders to use their smartphone, iPad or other mobile device to track the progress of a bus on a map or see how many more minutes they can expect to wait at the bus stop.

"Why rush to the bus stop when you can finish your cup of coffee or stop and grab a newspaper?" NYC Transit President Tom Prendergast said in a statement.

The system uses GPS to track each bus on the two lines, and then sends the information to MTA servers, which update their location in real time. The system also provides updates on service interruption and emergencies.

Riders can also subscribe to a text-message service that provides similar information.

If BusTime is a success it may be expanded to the entire system, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the New York Post.

Riders at an M34 and M16 stop at West 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues were optimistic about the new service.

Amy Ford-Wagner, 38, who works in Midtown, said she often has to go from the west side to the east side to run errands. But not knowing whether she should wait for the crosstown bus can slow her down. 

"That's the most annoying thing," Ford-Wagner said. "You dont know whether you should walk a couple of more blocks or wait for the bus."

"A couple of minutes makes a big difference for me," she said.

Heather, 52, a frequent M16 rider who declined to give her last name, said she thinks the service will be good "provided the bus will be there at that time."

When she gets to a bus stop and checks the schedule, the bus arrival times can bear little resemblance to reality.

"Sometimes it says two minutes and it's really about eight or nine minutes" before the bus comes, she said.

But Sonny Pernice, 42, thinks it will work out.

"It's going to be great," he said.