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New York Trials Real-Time Bus Tracking Information on Smartphones

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New York's public transport authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is starting a pilot trial of a service that makes bus locations available via cell phones. The trial, which is being carried out on New York City Transit's B63 bus route in Brooklyn puts GPS trackers onto the busses, then passes that information back to their central server.

Accessible through cell phones and other electronic devices, all bus customers have to do is send a request via an SMS number that will be prominently displayed at bus stops. Users will receive a return text with the real-time locations of the next several buses. There is also a smartphone compatible mobile website which can be accessed via a QRCode that is displayed at each bus stop.

If this pilot is successful, MTA BusTime will be expanded across the city, with every bus on Staten Island due to receive the new technology this year.

"Today, the 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 BusTime is a big part of this new vision for bus service in New York."

The authority is also working with local retailers, who will soon be installing LCD signs that will display bus locations in real-time at the nearest bus stop.

Unlike the Manhattan cross-town pilots on the M16 and M34 routes, the B63 system was developed 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 a cost reduction approaching 70 percent, compared to the vendor pilots.

"This project demonstrates that open, standard hardware and software can meet the needs of the biggest transit authorities and their riders at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time required to deploy legacy solutions," said Nick Grossman, Director of Civic Works at OpenPlans.

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Tags: new york  buses  public transport  USA