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'Bus Clocks' Would Let Passengers Know When Ride Will Arrive

Pols and public transportation advocates push for digital next-bus-arrival boards at bus stops across the city.

With any luck, straphangers across New York may soon be able to stop wondering when, exactly, their bus will show up.

Elected officials and public transportation advocates called on the city to install digital "bus clocks" at all stops, enabling passengers to know when their ride would be arriving.

Major cities including Washington, DC, Albany, and Syracuse already have the technology in use.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority already has plans in place to install GPS in all buses, allowing riders to use their phones to determine how many stops away their bus is.

The system would be similar to those MTA boards that let you know when the next train is coming on the 1/2/3 and 4/5/6 subway lines, which let riders know how many minutes until the next train arrives.

While the plan, called Bus Time, is a step in the right direction, Councilman Brad Lander, D-Park Slope, a strong advocate of the bill, implored city agencies to do more.

“We have the technology to make our buses more accessible and predictable—we just need to put it to use,” Lander said in a statement. “Bus Time is a great resource, but it should be available to all New Yorkers, including seniors and others who are less likely to use cell phones.

Brooklyn's B63 and B61 buses are already equipped Bus Time, as are all Staten Island and Bronx bus routes. Bus clocks should be the next step, said Councilman Stephen Levin, D-Brooklyn.

“Installing countdown clocks in bus shelters is an easy step that the MTA can and should take to ensure that all riders know when to expect the next bus," he said.

"Simple measures like this will make everyone’s commute more convenient.”

Public transit advocates including the Straphangers Campaign and the Riders Alliance also support the push. 

"Nothing makes the bus more reliable than knowing exactly when the next one will arrive," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives in a written statement. "These countdown clocks will take the guessing game out of waiting for the bus. Installing these clocks will be a boon for New Yorkers who rely on the bus to get where they need to go."

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