New System Lets Riders Find Buses With Phones, Computers

Thousands of riders can click, text or scan to find their bus

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getting around in New York City is always a challenge but in Staten Island it's especially tough because there is no subway service. Thousands of people depend on boats and buses, and now the MTA promises a new way to time your commute. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012)

    New MTA technology being tested on Staten Island allows bus riders to find out the location of their bus with their computers and smartphones.

    And by the end of next year, bus riders citywide will be able to locate their buses the same way.

    "This means more time at home in the morning with your family, relaxing with a cup of coffee," MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Wednesday.

    The technology transmits the GPS location of the bus, using software that was developed with the help from Columbia University and City College students.

    The way it works: each timetable and bus stop on Staten Island now has a code. Riders can text that code with their phones, and should get a reply within seconds indicating how many stops away the next bus is.

    Riders still home at their computers can simply go to this website and search by intersection, bus route or bus stop code for information on their buses.

    "It's different," said Carol Bird, waiting for an S59 bus at the Eltingville Transit Center. "Maybe it will work."

    For lifelong Staten Islander JoAnn Parlato of New Dorp, the knowledge could help friends curb their No. 1 complaint about the buses: "They're not reliable, they're not on time."

    But not everyone cheered the new initiative.

    Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said 20 percent of the 120,000 daily bus riders in the borough are older than 60, and might be less inclined to use technology.

    To help them, Molinaro suggested the MTA transmit bus locations directly to the bus stops, like with countdown clocks.