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June 30th, 2012

Real-Time Bus Arrival and Location Info for the B61 Bus

Help is on the way for the riders of the B61 bus. I got to know a little bit about riding the bus in Park Slope when I was commuting to the city for court reporting classes. Because I had that heavy (HEAVY) backpack, I would wait for the bus on the corner of Third Street and Seventh Avenue and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

I saw the same people every day and some days we got mighty impatient. There was always someone standing way out in the middle street looking southward for the bus. “Is that a bus,” we’d ask.

Truth of the matter, it was almost always more prudent—and faster—to just walk to the subway at Grand Army Plaza or Flatbush Avenue. But sometimes you just want to take a bus.

On cold winter mornings, there was always such relief when the bus finally arrived. On most mornings there was just plain relief that there was a bus at all.

Well, some exciting changes are  afoot for riders of the B61 bus.

City Councilmember Brad Lander’s press guy sent out a release yesterday about the debut of something called BusTime on the B61 bus, making it the second bus in Brooklyn with the system that provides real-time bus arrival and location information. You an learn how the system works here.

The system, which is already in use for the B63 bus on Fifth and Atlantic Avenues, uses GPS devices on buses, which lets bus riders use their cell phones and computers to find out where the next buses to arrive on a route actually are.

I will say that it sounds like a big improvement over standing out in the middle of the street, risking injury, to check on whether there’s a bus coming. Especially for those of us who need distance glasses and can barely see two blocks away. Quite often a van or a truck looked like a bus and I (and others) got our hopes up.

There are other planned improvements to the B61 bus, as well.

· More frequent buses in the PM rush hour, increasing the average headway from ten to nine minutes.

· More reliable service at all hours resulting from:

o An increase in the amount of time the bus has to make the run and to recover at the end of the route.

o A change in the location of the bus driver shift change from the middle of the line to the end of the line.

Lander says: “Bus Time is a great step forward for B61 bus riders, who are looking for more reliable bus service. The MTA has brought Bus Time to the B61 at our urging and I look forward to taking further steps to making the line a great bus for the neighborhoods it serves.”



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