The MTA announced bus riders in all five boroughs will soon be able to track bus times through real-time information. Credit: Marc A. Hermann/MTA
Riders across the five boroughs can now track approaching buses at all of the city's more than 9,000 bus stops with their smartphones.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Monday that all of its 5,500 buses have been outfitted with GPS transmitters, soon allowing New Yorkers to look up real-time information for their commutes.
The MTA will roll out the last phase of its plan by March 9, launching the MTA Bus Time system in Queens and Brooklyn.
New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco called the new program another way that the MTA is working to improve customer service.
"As we have seen with train arrival information in the subway, customers appreciate when they know when that train or bus will show up at the station or stop," Bianco said.
The announcement comes a day after a commuter group pleaded for expanded countdown clocks at bus stops.
Members of the Riders Alliance asked on Sunday that the city use the new GPS technology to expand a Staten Island pilot project launched by the Department of Transportation last year.
Back in 2012, the MTA dropped its plans for countdown clocks at bus stops in favor of MTA Bus Time, which it considered more cost-effective.
But not all riders have smartphones, transit advocates said on Sunday.
"As I enter geezerhood, buses are increasingly a better option for me, but I don't have a smartphone to check when the bus is coming," said Riders Alliance member and Brooklyn resident Bob Nelson. "Bus countdown clocks at my stop would help an older person like me plan my day."
Through MTA Bus Time, riders can track their buses on their smartphones, the Internet or through text messages. Bus routes will show live information on the MTA Bus Time website. Similarly, commuters can opt for a text to 511123 and select their bus route to get location information.
Those already at a bus stop can either access the MTA Bus Time website or use a QR code reader to scan the QR code posted on the Guide-A-Ride schedules at every stop.