Last October, MTA NYC Transit introduced a long overdue service to its bus riders, real bus time location information. The service debuted on the M16 & M34 & to this day continues to be an invaluable tool to riders along the route. After showing success in Manhattan, the agency implemented the service across the river on the B63 this past February.
Fast forward to yesterday where the agency announced it plans on bringing the service to Staten Island by the end of the year. Here are more details courtesy of a press release:
Staten Island bus riders will soon be able to benefit from MTA Bus Time, the latest Metropolitan Transportation Authority initiative to alert riders to the status of their commute in real time, with actual bus locations available on the web, by text message and on smartphones. The MTA board yesterday approved a contract with VeriFone, Inc. to install on all Staten Island buses the necessary hardware that will provide real-time bus information to customers in the entire borough.
The $6.9 million contract also includes an option to purchase 500 smart card readers to test the new contactless fare payment system that the MTA is developing and plans to fully implement in 2015.
“Today, our transit system is quickly catching up with our 21st century expectation that real-time information is available on the go for all New Yorkers,” said MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder. “That means knowing if your bus is on time before you leave home, getting updates on delays while you’re out and about, and unlocking opportunities for better service across our entire network. MTA Bus Time is a big part of this new vision for bus service in New York.”
MTA Bus Time is already taking the guesswork out of waiting for your next bus ride along the B63 route in Brooklyn. The successful pilot was launched in February and uses enhanced global positioning system devices that triangulate bus locations in real time. Accessible through cell phones and other electronic devices, all bus customers have to do is text us a code that is prominently displayed at their bus stop. They immediately receive a return text with the real-time locations of the next several buses.
Electronically-savvy customers are also using their smartphones to snap a picture of a two-dimensional barcode installed at every B63 stop. A barcode-reading app, available free of charge, can then interpret this information, and take customers directly to our mobile website.
The MTA Bus Time website, www.MTA.info/BusTime, is accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. The site presents map-based moving images representing the real-time location of every B63 bus in service. The same information is available through smartphones, on a simplified website designed specifically for mobile phone browsers.
The pilot on the B63 was developed in-house by the MTA in collaboration with a non-profit civic group called OpenPlans utilizing non-proprietary open standards and software for development and deployment, allowing for increased flexibility, and done at a fraction of the cost of previous vendor pilots.
The system selected for Staten Island is part of VeriFone’s TransitPAY solution, a rugged, reliable and secure system that can transform the customer experience and accommodate NFC smartphone-based payments and contactless smart cards.
“VeriFone is thrilled to be a technology solutions partner in the MTA’s ongoing effort to modernize New York’s transit services,” said Jennifer Miles, VeriFone senior vice president – Retail, Global Security and Vertical Solutions. “VeriFone is committed to development of new mobile solutions for taxis and buses, and self-service solutions for areas like mass transit and parking.”
The next step in the process will involve awarding a contract for the development of the systems software to fully integrate the location and other relevant information that will be transmitted from the hardware on Staten Island buses to a central server that will transform such information into customer-friendly formats.
“I’m certain that bus customers will be thrilled with MTA Bus Time,” said NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast. “Having next bus arrival times right in your hand available at any point in your trip is part of our ongoing effort to improve the customer experience.”
“With a variety of ways of accessing MTA Bus Time, Staten Island customers will find it extremely convenient and useful. It’s another way we’re committed to improving bus service,” said Darryl Irick, VP for Department of Buses and President for MTA Bus.
Complete information on MTA Bus Time is available at the MTA website at www.MTA.info/BusTime.
This is wonderful news for bus riders in the usually forgotten borough. While the service has only been limited to 3 routes in 2 boroughs respectively, it has shown to be an invaluable tool to those riders. Hopefully in the coming years, we will see the service implemented system wide.
xoxo Transit Blogger