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Bus Stop Countdown Clocks Headed Downtown, DOT Says

By Irene Plagianos | June 27, 2014 3:37pm | Updated on June 30, 2014 8:16am
 A solar-powered bus stop countdown clock on Staten Island, which was installed as part of a DOT pilot program last year.
A solar-powered bus stop countdown clock on Staten Island, which was installed as part of a DOT pilot program last year.
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Facebook/Riders Alliance

LOWER MANHATTAN —  Catching a bus Downtown will one day be as easy as 3…2…1.

The Department of Transportation is slated to install countdown clocks, which let passengers know when a bus is scheduled to arrive, at about 13 bus stops in Lower Manhattan. The clocks will arrive by next summer, the DOT said.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin provided the $260,000 in capital funding to pay for the project.

The clocks, which a DOT spokesman said would cost about $20,000 each, will be either solar-powered or hard-wired.

The devices will likely be installed on the M22 bus line, which runs from Battery Park City to the Lower East Side, and the M103 bus line, which heads from City Hall to East Harlem, a Chin spokesman said.

Chin has received the most complaints from constituents about those routes, in particular from seniors who have raised concerns about lengthy wait times.

The push for countdown clocks has grown recently across the city, after the MTA recently launched its Bus Time program, which allows riders across the city to access real-time GPS information about bus locations online or by text message.

According to Chin’s office, as well as transportation advocacy group the Riders Alliance, Bus Time isn’t enough, since many people, especially seniors, don’t have smartphones or internet access.

“These countdown clocks will help modernize our Lower Manhattan transit system and make the buses more accessible to all riders,” Chin said in an email.

“I’m also very excited about the benefits they will provide for our seniors, who sometimes struggle with public transportation because they don’t have access to smartphone apps and can become nervous or anxious about long waits at the bus stop.”

In February, the Riders Alliance led a rally outside of City Hall, calling for citywide countdown clocks.

There are currently four countdown clocks in the city, all located on Staten Island, the DOT said. Two of them are solar-powered and two have been built into wayfinding signage.