MTA 2011 Highlights: Countdown Clocks and Bus Time

In 2011, the MTA focused on delivering on some long-promised benefits for our 8.5 million customers. This is the eighth in a daily series that recaps the best of 2011.

The MTA has focused on embracing technology to modernize service. For our customers, that means a new vision for 21st century transit service that incorporates the real-time information that has become central to every other aspect of our lives.

Countdown Clocks

The MTA has made remarkable progress with the long-overdue arrival and expansion of countdown clocks in the subway system. There are now almost 200 stations outfitted with this train arrival information.

Countdown Clocks Go Express.....or Local

167 stations (143 on the numbered lines, and 24 on the L) utilize the Public Address Customer Information Screen (PA/CIS) system that provides train arrival messages in audio and video. The messages indicate when the next two trains are due to arrive at the station and their destinations. Aside from train arrivals, the system also allows NYC Transit to provide both audio and visual messages to customers, keeping them fully informed about service delays or emergency situations.

Riders at an additional 19 stations on the A, C, and E lines in Manhattan, 13 Stations on the E, F, M, and R lines in Queens and one station in Brooklyn benefit from electronic signs that provide similar, but simpler information. They were modified by in-house maintenance personnel, and rely on the signal system's track circuits to prompt the display to show that a train is on the way.

Bus Time

Bus Time -; the MTA's real-time bus information pilot arrived along the B63 bus route in Brooklyn in 2011. The program is the latest initiative to alert riders to the status of their commute in real time, with actual bus locations available on the web, by text message and on Smartphones.

MTA Bus Time Poster Photo

The program has been a success and will soon make its borough-wide debut in Staten Island in early 2012. City-wide implementation is scheduled for spring 2013.

Bus Time takes the guesswork out of waiting for the next bus through enhanced global positioning system devices, installed on buses that triangulate bus locations in real time. Accessible through cell phones and other electronic devices, all bus customers have to do is text us a code that will be prominently displayed at their bus stop. They will immediately receive a return text with the real-time locations of the next several buses.

Electronically-savvy customers can also use their Smartphones to snap a picture of a two-dimensional barcode we've installed at stops. A barcode-reading app can then interpret this information, and take you directly to our mobile website.

Our MTA Bus Time website is accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. The site presents map-based moving images representing the real-time location of buses in service. The same information will be available through Smartphones, on a simplified website we've designed specifically for mobile phone browsers.