The B61 Gets BusTime, and It’s Going to Be Great

Crossing Brooklyn just got so much better. So, so much better. Brad Lander’s office just announced today that the B61, which runs between Downtown Brooklyn and Windsor Terrace (and also, barring the free IKEA shuttle, happens to be the best way to get from Park Slope to Red Hook), is getting BusTime as of July 1st.

The GPS-based system lets passengers use their phones and computers to find out where the next buses to arrive on a route actually are (rather than where they’re supposed to be). It’s already in place on the B63, and let me say that it is GREAT.

Admittedly, BusTime in itself won’t actually speed up the much-maligned line, but it will get rid of the endless where-is-the-bus-and-do-I-have-time-to-buy-a-snack mystery.

And while the new system is definitely the showiest improvement on the B61 (did I mention it’s going to be GREAT?), it’s not the only news from the line. The release promises that the bus is going to run more frequently during the afternoon rush hour (roughly every 9 minutes instead of every 10), and more reliably across the board.

“Bus Time is a great [see?] step forward for B61 bus riders, who are looking for more reliable bus service,” says Lander (note: aren’t we all?). “The MTA has brought Bus Time to the B61 at our urging and I look forward to taking further steps to making the line a great bus for the neighborhoods it serves.”

And if all of those “further steps” happen, the B61 — currently running on schedule less than half the time during rush hour, according to a City Council report on the subject — is going to be the bus to beat. Or at least a reliable means of transportation. On the current wish list:

  • Nicer and better-lit bus stops (especially at the Smith-9th St. station)
  • Somehow harnessing BusTime to make sure the lift bridge over the Gowanus Canal is held open until busses pass
  • Rerouting the bus across the BQE via a new intersection at Mill St.
  • Even more “frequent and robust” service

And …wait for it…

  • Countdown clocks at bus stops like the ones already in use at some subway stations (and some Manhattan bus stops).

For now, though, I’m pretty content to be excited about BusTime.