34th Street Bus Lines Get Timers

It surprises us that the MTA has chosen the M16 and M34 buses on 34th Street for its bus-shelter digital timer pilot program, which announces to waiting riders when the next one is scheduled to arrive. The relatively uncomplicated L train made a good test case for the subway version, but the Javits Center buses are another story, especially when old ladies start hauling in their Macy's bags. Maybe the recession has made 34th Street less congested, or the bus lane surveillance is more successful than we knew...

The Mayor says, "Knowing when the next bus is due will let you decide if you have time to duck into a coffee shop before it arrives," so we guess he's thinking it will be a boon to local businesses, at least if they serve coffee. The Times recalls a similar program was tried and abandoned in 2007, but the 34th Street system, whose makers are providing the service free to New York, has been adopted citywide in Chicago, so the GPS technology must be OK.

The timers include temperature and MTA propaganda. If it flies, the B61 version will be hilarious. We can already hear downtown Brooklyn riders cursing it out.

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