NEW YORK—City council members and transit advocates want countdown clocks at bus stops.
The clocks would allow people waiting for buses to see when the next bus will arrive, similar to the countdown clocks in parts of the subway system.
The MTA already has Bus Time, an online application accessible via smartphone, for tracking buses, but the coalition says not everyone has a cellphone or access to the Internet, or if they do it might not be available before getting to a bus stop.
“The Bus Time system cannot be utilized by bus riders, particularly many senior citizens, who do not have cell phones,” reads part of a resolution spearheaded by Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn.
“New Yorkers are an impatient people,” said John Raskin of the Riders Alliance at a press conference Monday, according to Streetsblog. “We are not good at waiting. But we are much better at waiting when we know how long we have to wait.”
New Yorkers are an impatient people. We are not good at waiting. But we are much better at waiting when we know how long we have to wait.
John Raskin, Riders Alliance
The MTA has committed to installing countdown clocks throughout the whole subway system, and at one point under former CEO Jay Walder planned the same for bus stops, according to WNYC. But at least one set in a pilot program through April along Manhattan’s crosstown M34 route was taken down.
The authority no longer plans on going further than the digital information provided through Bus Time, which it already has in place borough-wide in Staten Island and the Bronx, and on the M34/M34A in Manhattan and B61 and B63 in Brooklyn, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. The information through Bus Time will be available citywide by the end of 2013.
The city’s Department of Transportation “is currently working on a project to bring real-time bus arrival information to bus stops around the city,” a representative confirmed in an email, but gave no further details.
Councilman Lander’s office estimates that purchasing and installing each clock would average $4,000 to $6,000, and operating and maintaining each clock would cost up to $1,000 a year, or up to $200 per sign per month for outdoor LED signs.
An option for bringing the cost down is to allow advertisement on the clocks, notes the report from Lander’s office.
Cities in the United States with such digital displays include Washington, D.C., Arlington, Va., and several cities in Maryland, as well as in New York in cities including Albany and Syracuse, according to Lander’s office.
The report states that the clocks could be hung from streetlights or traffic poles near bus stops, and could be powered by the pole or through other means, such as solar power.
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