September 9, 2010

MBTA makes 'real-time' bus information available

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has made real-time bus location and arrival information available for all 187bus routes, serving 47 Massachusetts cities and towns, and launched mbta.com/apps, a resource for customers seeking applications and services that provide real-time bus arrival information.

Following a project to equip more than a thousand MBTA buses with global positioning satellite (GPS) technology in 2009, dispatchers in the MBTA's Bus Operations Control Center were able for the first time to pinpoint the location of every MBTA bus in real-time. As of today, that same information is available to T bus riders, regardless of route.

Less than ten months ago, MassDOT launched the first phase of its open data initiative by releasing real-time information for five bus routes. The data released to software developers included real-time GPS locations of buses and arrival countdown information for every bus route. Within just one hour of releasing this data, a developer built an application showing real-time bus positions.

Within two months, more than a dozen applications had been created including Websites, smart phone applications, SMS text message services and 617-phone numbers. All of these applications were created at no cost to MassDOT or the MBTA.

In his first week on the job, MassDOT Transit Division Administrator and MBTA GM Richard Davey announced that real-time data would be provided for all routes throughout the entire bus system. The expanded rollout began in June and was completed this week.

"Real-time countdown information is an opportunity to revolutionize riding the bus in Boston and one of my top priorities, said Davey." As an everyday MBTA rider, I know the value of real-time information to take the guesswork out of riding the T."

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