New York Bus Time Service Hits 1m Texts Milestone

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Bus Time initiative, which provides customers in New York with real-time information on the nearest bus, has passed a significant milestone, with 1m text messages requesting transit information sent by commuters in the seven months since the service launched in January 2012.

When commuters text a bus stop code or intersection to 511123, they immediately receive a text back stating how far away the next bus is. MTA NYC Transit rolled out MTA Bus Time initially on Staten Island. So far, over 33,000 people have used the text messaging component of the service, an average of 37 times per user, equating to almost a quarter of Staten Island bus riders. Users are texting in on average 8 times per week, and 7,500 people text in every week.

“We are delighted by the rapid growth of the use of Bus Time,” says MTA chairman, Joseph J. Lhota. “This is a service that can really make it much easier to ride the bus, so it’s not a surprise that it’s proven to be so popular.”

Bus Time’s text service is powered by Mobile Commons, a Brooklyn-based software and mobile strategy company. When riders text in, Mobile Commons software queries the MTA’s GPS system to find out how far away the next bus is. This information is returned by text to the rider within seconds.

“The MTA is streamlining commuting by connecting riders with timely transit information when they need it – on the device they use most, their mobile phone,” says Mobile Commons CTO and co-founder, Jed Alpert. “The million-text milestone shows just how useful Bus Time has been, and how commuters have adopted it into their lives.”

In addition to all local and express routes serving Staten Island, Bus Time is now also running on the B61 and B63 in Brooklyn and the M34 and M34A Select Bus Service routes in Manhattan. The MTA is in the process of deploying the Bus Time technology to the other boroughs on an “aggressive” timetable. Over the next year, more than 6,000 buses and 14,000 bus stops will be upgraded in order to make Bus Time fully operational city-wide by the end of 2013. The Bronx will be the next borough to receive full Bus Time implementation, by the end of the year.

There’s more information about MTA Bus Time here.