Southern Brooklyn

BusTime Is Now Available In Brooklyn

Display using the BusTime app on an iPad. Click to enlarge
Display using the Bus Bus NYC, an app on an iPad that uses BusTime data. Click to enlarge

THE COMMUTE: BusTime, already available on all bus routes in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, has been expanded to all bus routes in Brooklyn as of Saturday. Previously in Brooklyn, it had only been available for the B61 and B63 bus routes. The expansion throughout Brooklyn and Queens, originally scheduled for 2013, was revised to March 9, 2014 according to an MTA press release, but was actually available a day early.

Signs, however, announcing the expansion to every borough already began appearing in several subway stations as early as February 24th. Leave it to the MTA to cause unnecessary confusion, even if it was only for two weeks.

What Is BusTime?

We’ve discussed BusTime several times before. It is a bus tracking system advising passengers where the next bus is so they would no longer have to rely on schedules, which are mostly not adhered to. Originally intended to be digital displays, either stand alone or built into the bus shelter, showing the arrival of the next bus, the MTA opted for a different system. A system that is only available to computer and smartphone users and those who know how to send text messages on a cell phone. Yes, that is most of the population, but does not include many seniors who are not tech savvy.

To make matters worse, the initial plan to show where buses are in real time has been changed to show how many stops away buses are or how many miles away they are. That is less useful. The major reason for the change is that the MTA did not want to pay a fee to a NextBus, a division of Cubic, which uses a proprietary algorithm to display estimated arrival times in minutes.

Why couldn’t our bus shelters also provide this information and why couldn’t advertisements alternating with schedules pay for their installation and maintenance? If advertisers could not be found at low usage locations, those stops could be packaged with very high usage locations, or in a worst case scenario only be provided on heavily utilized routes. It would still be better than only providing schedule information on poles, which is difficult to read in the dark.

I do not want to give the impression that BusTime is completely useless. Knowing the number of stops away a bus is helpful, even though much of the time all you have to do is to look down the road several stops to see if a bus is coming. I find being able to view the location of the buses on a map to be more useful than knowing if a bus is 18 stops or three or seven miles away. How is the passenger supposed to know if a bus is traveling at four, eight, or 12 miles per hours? The passenger — especially someone in unfamiliar territory, on a route he or she does not normally take — has no such knowledge.

BusTime is still better than no information at all. In many cases, you will be able to meet the bus shortly before it arrives instead of waiting for it, which is the purpose of the system. But a subway countdown clock it is not. A display showing the next bus is five or seven miles away just means a very long time, and rather than encourage bus usage, it may have the opposite effect by causing someone to call for a cab instead.

A Long List Of Broken Promises

The decision not to provide the information at bus stops or in minutes, as was originally intended, is one of a long list of broken MTA and DOT promises. The current bus stop shelters were designed with a large ad space and a small space just above it for schedule information. That space now is just white space or sometimes it is used as additional advertisement space. The other white space was supposed to display up to date strip map information, which, unlike the Guide-a-Ride signs on the poles, are lit up at night.

CEMUSA decided they did not want to update the maps, so instead they started replacing them with Transit Tips. Then they decided that was too much work also, and now on most bus shelters it is also just white space. The DOT, which manages their contract, appears either to be negligent in enforcing it or quietly eliminated the provision requiring lit up bus numbers and strip maps. Of course, providing borough-wide maps on the shelters would be asking way too much, although Chicago sees fit to provide a complete transit map on all its bus shelters and also display arrival information in minutes.

A History Lesson

The MTA has been promising a bus locator system since prior to 1980. That year, a pilot bus locator system was installed at the newly-constructed Queens Village Depot in Southeast Queens. It was not GPS-based as is today’s system. It could only pinpoint buses within a quarter-mile, but, unlike the three failed GPS attempts over the following 30 years, one of which was priced at $14 million, the 1980 version worked. Instead of being expanded citywide as intended, it was removed due to pressure from the transit unions fearing Big Brother (coming in 1984) being able to keep watch over its bus operators. The MTA was fearful of a strike if it did not cave into union demands. It is doubtful if the unions of today could exert that type of influence.

So after 35 years of promises, we finally get Bus Time, though not as originally envisioned. However, if buses are delayed due to traffic, unusually heavy loadings, or some other reason, Bus Time still will not make the buses come any faster, or will it?


That brings us to BusTrek, a companion to BusTime, still in its pilot stage. It is already in use at least in Manhattan. Using information provided by BusTime, BusTrek should help dispatchers to make real time decisions to help keep buses operating on schedule and minimize bus bunching. Before BusTime, it was not possible to know where all the buses were on a given route at any one moment in time, making it difficult to make decisions that would reduce bus bunching.

The possibilities with BusTrek, I believe, are much more exciting and useful than merely telling passengers where buses are. A system that can reduce a 45-minute wait to 15 or 20 minutes has great potential. The MTA has thus far given no indication when the pilot will be completed and what will happen if it is not successful — whether they will abandon it or further attempt to make it work. One MTA employee let it be known on the Internet that some employees involved in the pilot have been using the technology to play video games rather than regulate the buses. I will not provide a link or reveal on which site I learned this, because knowing the MTA, rather than disciplining the employees involved, they would be more likely to discipline the employee who spilled the beans.

The other advantage of BusTime is that now, everyone will be able to see just how extensive bus bunching really is, and it’s not just me saying that one out of three buses arrive in a bunches much of the time.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Comment policy


  1. This is going to actually revolutionise my life. I’ve been using a Bus app called “Bus New York City” for the last 9months, and its amazing with Bus Time integration in Manhattan, but I LIVE IN BROOKLYN! When I use the app, it feels like I’m saving about 15minutes on every single journey which really adds up over the course of the year. Hats off to the MTA

  2. I hope that app lasts. I believe I read that NextBus is trying to shutdown Bus New York City because they give real times which NextBus claims only they are allowed to do.

  3. I noticed this last week. And then I went to the MTA’s website to only find the 2 bus lines mentioned above. What a way to jerk us around. Typical MTA fashion.

    Secondly- does anyone have any idea as to why they got rid of the shelter on East 22nd Street & Kings Hwy?

  4. There are a few different ones. The MTA doesn’t have an official app, but I personally recommend Citymapper.

  5. Saturday was the first day all routes were available. Prior to that it was only the B61 and B63 for Brooklyn routes.

  6. This is total drivel. Why does Sheepshead Bites continue to allow this column to be published on an otherwise excellent site?

  7. It should say with a countdown clock of how much time is left until the bus is approaching your stop just like some of the trains. 0.7 miles means nothing for me because the bus could be there in under a minute (a straight away) or in 5 minutes (with traffic lights). It tries but doesn’t try hard enough. Way to go MTA on doing half a job and charging full price for it.

  8. I agree but as I stated that would have meant the MTA having to pay NextBus fees which they wanted to avoid. But as Krisstie L mentioned in the comments, there is an app (you can purchase) called Bus NYC which does translate miles into a countdown clock, but the question is how long will that app will be around.

  9. I think he is talking figuratively. They are pretending to give you the whole loaf but only giving you half a loaf would be another way to put it.

  10. also, due to the nature of trains – with no real traffic infront of it- times can be done much easier…

    bus’s have to deal with cars, people, stopping at stops, and street lights. all can greatly change the time a bus takes… but trains run on time more then buses….

    buses can skip a stop or 10 making the trip faster, trains is always the same distance between stops at the same speeds… buses can change so id rather know the dtsance then the time bc can say 45 seconds then jump to 2 minutes bc of a bus stop or a street light….

  11. explain how this is not a valued and good article…. it keeps us in the area informed on the other side of the mta and this more then anything having bustime- makes our lives easier…. i think you are merely a troll…

  12. Typical low-life troll if you look that person’s comment. Hard to believe someone agrees with the junk. The article has vaule information.

  13. Some of the apps use NextBus times. Im sure if MTA can get the Google live traffic data and use the calculations to get the distance & time conversion math, it will help customers for the exact time arrivals and arriving to destination.

  14. And how is the system supposed to know any better than you do how long it will take the bus to travel 0.7 miles? It depends on traffic conditions, traffic signals, and number of intermediate stops made.

    That said, the system provides the raw bus location data to all who wish to process it. Check out the various apps available – you may find one that presents the information in a format you find particularly helpful. If not, let a developer know what you’d like to see.

    Personally, I find the Google Map interface on the BusTime website most useful of all, moreso than raw distances or rough time estimates, but that’s just me.

  15. It seems to work in Chicago and London and they have traffic too. They would never give time in less than minute increments anyway. And most of the time if a bus is only 2 minutes away, you can just look up from your smartphone for a minute and just see the bus coming.

  16. From its inception, the BusTime project was always intended to provide a data feed rather than static displays at bus stops. The static displays were the end goal of the two earlier proprietary bus tracking projects that were canceled. Those projects would have only allowed bus riders to track buses once they arrived at the bus stop. Anybody trying to determine when to leave home to avoid a long wait, or where to get off a connecting bus or train to transfer to either of two options of bus route (think of the B49 at Sheepshead Bay vs. the B1 at Brighton Beach) would have been out of luck. Further, the data generated would only have been available for internal NYCT analysis in forms spelled out in the initial contract, unlike the open BusTime data, which can be used both internally by NYCT and externally by (e.g.) advocacy groups and elected officials for whatever analyses they find useful. And they would have been a lot more costly to procure and to maintain.

    Nothing in the BusTime architecture stands in the way of displays at bus stops, where there is both interest and funding. Staten Island has a few examples of bus stop signs with BusTime displays, and a local merchant in Flushing has placed a home grown display in his window.

  17. very few places you cant see a bus comming… ave z and 14th when the 49 turns and ocean and z are few places u cant see it… that could use a didicated screen for this… not even a timer just put a location…. “you are here. bus is here” and people would be thrilled

  18. The MTA schedules its buses based on traffic, traffic signals and I presume passenger loadings as well. They would therefore have better knowledge to convert distance into time than the average passenger would.

    Let me ask you what does 3.7 miles away plus layover mean to the average passenger? That was a message I saw today on BusTime. Last night around 11 PM, I saw “No buses enroute. Check again later”. What is that supposed to mean? I also find the map most useful.

  19. But if the website says the bus is coming in 10 minutes, and you get to the bus stop in 7 minutes and find that the bus has already passed, you might be somewhat upset, and rightfully so.

    I don’t know how accurate the systems in Chicago and London are. Note that London has wider bus so spacing than New York, so there is probably less variability in running times. I can say that, when I was in Boston a few months back, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the accuracy of the predictions.

  20. Schedules are based on some sort of typical or average run. While they vary by time of day, they cannot possibly incorporate random variation from one trip to the next. (That sort of random variation is much greater than on the subway, where, barring unusual circumstances, all trains make all scheduled stops and congestion is fairly typical by time period from one day to the next.)

    Those schedules, by the way, are traditionally based on very small samples, due to the sheer cost of manual data collection. BusTime allows for much larger samples, with reduced likelihood of entry error.

  21. I guess the thing to do would be to check every five minutes or so to see if the bus is running ahead or behind predictions. Don’t forget, the passenger can make the same mistake even when distances are given thinking the bus is traveling slower than it really is.

  22. And they could do that in the unused space allotted for schedules on the existing bus shelters.

  23. Yes, in that case the MTA can only be accused of providing nearly useless information when giving a huge distance instead of breaking their promise with an inaccurate time. So which is worse?

  24. Random variation of train arrivals or train bunching is also not uncommon although the only traffic is from other trains. It is not as frequent as bus bunching and less noticeable because two trains cannot arrive at the same time on the same track.

    I know this because once I waited an hour for the Nostalgia train which never arrived because it broke down. I was waiting at 7th Avenue and watched as the D and E all arrived irregularly. The E was coming every 5 minutes on a Sunday, while a D didn’t come for about 30 minutes, then one came behind the other. And yes that is an anecdote.

    On other occasions, I’ve looked at the countdown clocks and also saw irregular arrival predictions like 3 min, 3 min, 17 min, etc.

    I also notice that you didn’t answer my question what 3.7 miles plus layover means to the average passenger.

  25. I repeat. The bus shelters were even designed to allow space for a display. As someone pointed out, even if it does not indicate time, how difficult would it be to display “Next B49 at Av J.” for example.

  26. A live data feed of all bus locations is most certainly not “nearly useless.” Read my comment from Tuesday afternoon, and Krisstie L’s of Monday afternoon. Or look at the reviews of any of the various apps that use the data. Or see how the data feed is being used internally.

    As I’ve said, there’s nothing stopping developers from taking the raw bus locations and converting them, using the algorithms of their choice, into time estimates. This is much more useful than the limited proprietary systems that had been envisioned earlier.

  27. I was referring to random variation in travel time from the point that the bus/train is currently at to the point that you’re waiting at. If it normally takes a D train 8 minutes to travel from West 4th to 7th Avenue on a Sunday afternoon, then almost every D train will take very close to 8 minutes to travel that distance on a Sunday afternoon, barring unusual incidents. A bus, however, may have a lucky streak of skipped stops and green lights, while its follower might have to make every stop and stop for a number of red lights (and maybe even pick up a wheelchair or two).

    When were you waiting for the Nostalgia Train at 7th Avenue? I can’t recall any time that it’s picked up passengers there. The standard December weekend run doesn’t serve 7th Avenue, and most other runs are limited to ticketholders and only pick up at predetermined locations, such as the Transit Museum itself.

    It means that the next bus hasn’t reached the terminal yet, and the system is warning the user that the bus will probably sit at the terminal for a while, so it might take longer for the bus to arrive than if it had a straight shot of 3.7 miles. Neither BusTime nor SubwayTime handles terminal operations very well. Have you run your questions or suggested improvements by the BusTime team yet, or are you just going to complain here?

  28. We had just missed the Nostalgia train at Queens Plaza because we decided to take a few pictures not realizing it would only spend about 20 seconds with its doors open there so we took the next E hoping to catch a D at 7th Avenue and perhaps still catch it on 6th Avenue. We ended up waiting like 30 minutes for the D and there was a second one right behind. For some reason, I no longer remember why we decided to wait at Seventh Avenue a while longer and I noticed all those E’s every few minutes and Ds coming two at a time. The point was still the trains were not running as regular as you think they might run.

    Last night I saw BusTime say B1 leaves terminal at 12:25 AM and then 4.3 miles away which is more useful than “plus layover.” But such a huge distance does not give someone an idea of how many minutes he will have to wait so he can meet the bus there instead of waiting for it. It could be 15 minutes or 30 minutes. Adding layover just makes it more difficult since you have no idea how long the layover will be.

  29. Now I am confused. If Bus Time data can be used on the road by dispatchers as the presentation states to increase reliability, then what is the BusTrek pilot about? I thought that was its purpose to make service modifications on the fly.

    Yes, the current system certainly has greater potential than the previous attempts, but that potential has to be realized. Let’s hope it is. As it stands now, giving a huge distance or saying “18 stops away” is not very useful.

  30. BusTime is a source of basic data regarding bus locations, not merely an end-user application. BusTrek is an application that takes the raw data from the BusTime system and presents it in a format useful to dispatchers.

    The data feed is public. Anybody can use it to display or analyze the data in ways that neither of us can possibly imagine. That’s the beauty of an open system. If your primary complaint about BusTime is that you don’t like the way it presents the data to the end user, then you’ve missed the point.

  31. Well not just anyone, but those with enough computer knowledge to know how display and analyze the data.

    I can only assume its not being used yet in Brooklyn because I am still witnessing poor dispatcher decisions like instructing late operators to display their not in service sign although their buses have enough capacity so that more crowded following buses are left to pick up the load they cannot handle. The result is two consecutive buses on ten minute headways flagging stops forcing passengers to wait at least 30 minutes. That is not an improvement in my book. If this is the result of utilizing bus time data, it is not working.

  32. Fortunately, there are lots and lots of apps out there that do lots and lots of useful stuff with the open data feed. I’m sure we will see many more as time goes on.

    I realize that you, personally, are only interested in knowing, once you have already walked to the bus stop, how long you’ll be waiting out in the cold. (I can’t imagine why you aren’t interested in getting a sense of when to leave home or whether to get off the subway at Sheepshead Bay or at Brighton Beach, but you clearly aren’t.) But your needs aren’t identical to everybody else’s needs, and static displays at bus stops would only provide one possible sort of functionality, one that’s of little use to much of the ridership.

    I didn’t say that BusTime guarantees perfect dispatching. I said that it provides information to allow for better dispatching. Perhaps this particular dispatcher hasn’t yet been fully trained in the use of BusTime or simply made an error, or perhaps you were not fully aware of the circumstances surrounding his decision. You are (again) trying to make broad conclusions based on anecdotes. Me, I’d be more interested in seeing whether bus reliability gradually improves over time now that BusTime had been fully rolled out.

  33. I have no idea how old quinyus is, nor do I care. But I’ll take this opportunity to mention a 73 year old acquaintance who has sung the praises of BusTime to me on multiple occasions.

    BusTime doesn’t discriminate by age.

  34. BusTime just seems like a waste of money. We have falling infrastructure from a 100 year old system and expansion of lines for both subway and buses that should have taken precedence over this. Not gonna make a bus come any faster. You just have to wait because the MTA doesn’t give a damn about it’s customers. Any way to waste money is a good way. That is their motto.

  35. Your acquaintance is the exception. I also know a few in their 70s who are computer and smartphone literate, but those are more the exception than the rule. But anecdotes are okay when you use them. I will have to remember that.

  36. I am also interested in seeing if relability improves over time. But it also depends on what cost you improve reliability.

    The decision the bus dispatcher made may have saved the bus two or three minutes. I’m guessing he was five minutes late since the following bus came in five minutes when there was a ten minute headway. So now instead of being 5 minutes late, he is only two minutes late, but is that worth causing 12 riders to wait at least 30 minutes or a bus, when they would have been able to board had the dispatcher done nothing and allowed the bus to pick up passengers. Then the maximum wait would have been 15 minutes?

    When so many buses leave Kingborough skipping the first mile between 1PM and 6 PM, Bus Time would not tell me if the next arriving bus will stop or not. Also I can’t walk from my house to te bus stop

  37. in the time the bus travels to the stop from the college, so the info provided by BusTime is not very useful to me. It doesn’t tell me if a bus is waiting at the terminal or how long the bus will be laying over there so I can’t really use it to figure out when to leave home.

    I also do not see how it could help me decide whether to get off at Sheepshead Bay or Brighton Beach since I have to calculate the extra time in traveling to Brighton Beach and guess if I will get there before the bus arrives. If I check just before the train stops at Sheepshead Bay and it says the bus is .75 miles away from Brighton Beach and 1.3 miles away from Sheepshead Bay, how would I know if I will just miss or make the bus at Brighton Beach and if I should get off the train at Sheepshead Bay or not?

  38. The column is mildly informative but the commentary really gets bogged down in personal conversation among transit wonks and geeks that has no place on a general interest community blogg.

  39. I never said that trains were regular. I said that the running time from point A to point B on the subway is a lot more predictable than on the bus, so the translation from distance to time is a lot more reliable on the subway then on the bus.

  40. What anecdotes? BusTime can be used by anybody, of any age, who has the necessary equipment (a computer connected to the Internet or a cell phone) and knows how to use it. It can also feed information to electronic displays, as we’ve seen on the B44.

  41. You’re overanalyzing. As the train nears Sheepshead Bay, pull up BusTime for the B49. Ignoring any buses too close for you to catch, how far away is the next bus? If it’s fairly close, get off and catch it, and – congratulations! – you’ve avoided the risk of a long wait. If it’s far away, you’ll probably be better off on the B1. (If you like, you can look up the B1 as well, but I probably wouldn’t bother.)

    I’m not giving you exact numbers, because I don’t know what they are. You can figure them out with a few days’ experience.

    No, it’s not going to give you a precise answer to the question of which bus you should take, but, if you choose to use it, it will allow you to make an informed decision.

  42. If running time on the subways were so predictable, there would hardly be any late trains. That’s not what I often see when I look at the countdown clocks. Next 2 in 3 min. Next 3 in 12 min, next 2 in 13 min; next 3 in 18 min. I rarely see even spacing.

  43. Most people in their 70s and 80s are technologically challenged without computers and any without cell phones or only know how to make calls, not send text messages. Fewer have smartphones. Your key word is “can” not “is” . You used your 73 year old to represent all senior citizens and that is an anecdote. And as far as I know, that B44 display is only at one location, Church Av. Is there one also at Flatbush?

    And as I explained there are severe limitations to using Bus Time near a terminal when you have no idea if the layover is five minutes or 30 minutes for lunch.

  44. As I have said multiple times, the BusTime system is available to all who have the necessary equipment. Yes, there are some people, of all ages, who don’t know how to use it. If they wish to avail themselves of the system, they are welcome to learn how to use it.

    I don’t know what the current status of the displays is – it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had occasion to ride the B44. But a single display is sufficient to prove that displays at bus stops are possible – it’s only a matter of funding.

    I agree that information near terminals could be improved.

  45. “They are welcome to learn how to use it.”

    Irrelevant. Still doesn’t mean they will use it if they are technologically challenged or don’t have the will to learn. That is true of most seniors in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who use the buses. That is why I said you are using anecdotal evidence to conclude this group of people will use it.

    Displays at bus stops is another issue which woud be used by a wider population if it was available. No one was arguing that dispays at bus stops were not possible. You are creating your own arguments and then answering yourself.

    Again not giving the time or showing the stop where the next bus is also limits the usefulness of the information. 18 stops away tells you to look for another way to get home or get a snack first, not when to expect the bus.

  46. So according to you, subway running times are predictable, but trains are either late anyway or scheduled at irregular headways and it makes sense to predict travel times. Bus running times are not predictable (tell that to the schedule makers) so it is not possible to estimate when they will arrive.

    Sorry that sounds awfully inconsistant to me. If subway running times are that predictable there would be even spacing without large gaps. But you say the subway spacing is not even.

    If estimating bus running times is possible in Chicago and London, it is possible here too.

  47. Am I really being unclear or are you simply refusing to understand?

    Trains can arrive at uneven interval for a number of reasons, including uneven dispatching at terminals and merge points, upstream incidents, and minor loading imbalances that grow gradually but persistently add more and more people crowd onto the now-overcrowded train. But once a train is close enough to appear on a countdown clock, it’s close enough that its arrival time can be predicted with a fairly high degree of precision and accuracy. Yes, there might be an incident which would throw the prediction off, but that sort of incident is relatively uncommon, and it would almost always result in an overestimate of time rather than an underestimate (the exception is if a train is directed to skip stops).

    A bus that’s a few stops away might make all of those stops (perhaps with a wheelchair or two!) or it might make none. It might miss a bunch of lights or it might catch them all, or, even worse, it might get stuck in a traffic jam. There have to be bus schedules, but nobody is under the illusion that they’re terribly precise on a bus-by-bus basis.

  48. I am not saying who will use BusTime. I am simply saying that anyone who has the requisite equipment and is willing to take the learning curve can use it.

    I personally consider it very useful to learn that I should look for another way to get home or get a snack first (or perhaps simply stay where I am, indoors, perhaps being productive, until the bus nears). In fact, that’s exactly the value of a system like BusTime.
    [image: Disqus] Settings
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    BrooklynBus (Guest):

    “They are welcome to learn how to use it.”

    Irrelevant. Still doesn’t mean they will use it if they are technologically challenged or don’t have the will to learn. That is true of most seniors in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who use the buses. That is why I said you are using anecdotal evidence to conclude this group of people will use it.
    Displays at bus stops is another issue which woud be used by a wider population if it was available. No one was arguing that dispays at bus stops were not possible. You are creating your own arguments and then answering yourself.

    Again not giving the time or showing the stop where the next bus is also limits the usefulness of the information. 18 stops away tells you to look for another way to get home or get a snack first, not when to expect the bus.

    6:36 p.m., Monday April 7
    * Reply *
    BrooklynBus’s comment is in reply to *Andrew*:
    As I have said multiple times, the BusTime system is available to all who have the necessary equipment. Yes, there are some people, of all …

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  49. Your point was “BusTime does not discriminate by age”. My point was seniors are less likely to use it. Then you cite an anecdote as proof and say they can learn. Yes they can, but if they don’t want to and many don’t want to, that doesn’t change the fact that it does discriminate by age.

  50. “Once enough a train is close enough that it’s arrival time can be predicted, it’s close enough that it’s arrival time can be predicted with …accuracy”

    Since when do only close trains appear on the countdown clocks? Every time I have looked at one, it’s shown the next two trains for each route by direction. Isn’t that the convention?

    What if it says next 2 train in 17 minutes? How can you say there will be no merge points or other reasons for delays or if it even considers a train being held? Hw woud it even know if the train has not reached the point where a dispatcher decided to hold it?

    You also didn’t respond to why bus countdown clocks by time work in other cities. If they work there, they can work here as well.

  51. I didn’t cite anything as proof. I made a plainly obvious statement. Anybody, young or old, who doesn’t want to use BusTime doesn’t have to use BusTime.

  52. A train that’s nominally 17 minutes away might take a minute or two more or less, but it’ll be pretty close, barring a major incident. A bus that’s nominally 17 minutes away might make it in 10 if it skips a bunch of stops or 45 if it gets caught in a traffic jam.

  53. You implied your 73 year old friend who praises bus time, is typical of people his age. If he is an aberration, there was no reason to mention him. I stick by my comment that the elderly are less likely to use Bus Time than the younger generation.

  54. Bus Time via cell phone instead of at bus stops discriminates against the elderly. That’s why need both.

  55. It’s far more typical on the bus than on the subway.

    The question isn’t whether it works – it’s whether it’s reliable.

  56. If you seriously believe that this is an example of discrimination, I suggest you read up on Rosa Parks.

  57. […] In the late 1970s, the MTA announced that they were working on a system to track the location of buses and when completed in 1980, they would be able to adequately address the problem. Although that pilot project worked, it was scrapped due to objections by the unions. Then came two or three failed attempts at installing GPS on the buses. Finally, more than 30 years later, we got a system that works called BusTime. […]

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