The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) significantly upgraded MTA Bus Time, its live bus tracking service, by making it available as a free downloadable app for iOS and Android smartphone users.
Additionally, new time-based bus arrival information will be available for Bronx bus routes and will be available for bus routes in the other boroughs in the near future as the MTA moves forward with new ways to provide customers with real-time arrival information.
The MTA Bus Time app offers a user-friendly interface for iPhones and Android-based mobile devices. Users previously accessed the service on a desktop or smartphone by logging in to the mobile website or via text message and QR code based access. Customers who prefer to access MTA Bus Time through the mobile website may continue to do so, while the app offers a downloadable option that saves time and effort.
The app includes a new feature that gives customers a time-based arrival estimate of a bus at any given stop. MTA Bus Time users currently track buses based on distance between a queried bus and the customer’s current location, either through the number of stops or the distance in miles. The new time-based estimates take into consideration multiple factors that can affect the arrival time of a bus, such as its schedule, historical travel times over the same distance in the month prior and current traffic conditions. If those conditions change, the app automatically updates the prediction.
The new app also includes two frequently requested features: a map-based street grid view that shows buses moving in real time and automatically shows nearby bus routes as well. Another new function remembers customers’ most frequent or favorite trips and learns their regular trips and shows nearby routes customers have previously used.
The MTA Bus Time service uses location data provided by an enhanced global positioning device mounted inside each bus. That information is transmitted wirelessly to a MTA Bus Time server using onboard cellular equipment. The server integrates bus location data with bus route info, schedules and map files to output the information received by bus customers.