Commuting by bus in the wilds of Brooklyn or Queens was filled with less uncertainty than usual this morning, as GPS trackers on Sunday debuted on every damn bus in the boroughs, completing a citywide project introduced more than two years ago.
Bus locations are now viewable on a number of smart phone apps, thanks to the agency’s relatively open developer API (we’re partial to Electric Labs’ Bus NYC app for $3 in the iTunes store) and on the mobile web at bustime.mta.info.
If you own a dumb phone, you can always text your address to 511123 (details here) and MTA will reply with the bus’s location for any of the 164 routes in Brooklyn and Queens.
We’re no longer left to wonder if a bus had already come or was just around the corner or if we should just walk to the subway because that thing is fifteen minutes away and we’re already late.
Now, anybody with an app can see the bus’s exact location.
None of this guarantees the bus will be on time, what the bus will smell like or if that chatty rider will be on board, ready to entertain us with rehashed editorial points from that morning’s Post.
But at least we’ll know its location.
Here’s a “behind-the-scenes” video from more than two years ago, introducing Bus Time:
While knowing where our bus is on the route is a huge leap, it’s not going to prevent that moment when you walk up (or down) the subway stairs to see your bus already pulling away from the stop.
Some things will always be left to chance.