PARK SLOPE – The LED lights for the B69 to Kensington showed 13 minutes until the next bus. “Want to go across and get a slice?” one traveler asked their companion. A shrug was the response. Instead, they slid into the shade of an awning on 7th Ave, apparently content to wait it out.
Variations on this theme have played out out across neighborhoods in Brooklyn over the last week as countdown clocks for Bus Time arrive in Brooklyn.
The NYC Department of Transportation will install twenty-eight of the Bus Time pole signs by the end of the year. The signs will appear on bus routes in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Kensington, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island and Brighton Beach, said the DoT.
Each sign shows an LED countdown of the minutes left until the arrival of the next bus on each route. The blank spaces seem to provide an option for new routes serving the same stops, allowing for expansion without replacing entire signs.
Waits are updated in real time, reflecting current bus positions via GPS hardware and wireless technology, said the DoT. The system will be familiar to users of the Bus Time website.
For the vision impaired, there’s also a button on each sign pole that will announce the wait times for each route.
Dylan and Diane Cohen have been using the signs for a couple days and were quite happy with them—though with a few quibbles.
“The voice is very robotic,” said Diane, “And it didn’t say ‘Flatbush,’ but spelled it out: ‘F-L-A-T-B-U-S-H’ without breaks between words. It was confusing.”
“And there’s no more QR code, like on the normal stops,” Dylan observed, “For a backup.” The new bus stop signs do appear to lack the route maps seen further down the road on the old style signs.
The signs are designed to provide riders with easier access to wait time information—especially those riders who may lack a smartphone to access the Bus Time website.
Piloted in Staten Island and Manhattan in 2013-2014, the program has had positive results, said a DoT spokesperson.
With 28 stops planned for the borough in 2017, the DoT says further expansion in Brooklyn will happen through funding provided by local elected officials. How soon that will be is anyones guess, but as of last week, the clock is running.
UPDATE: The story has been updated to clarify the way wait times are calculated—they are updated in real-time via GPS.