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Real-time B63 arrival system draws mixed response

While many B63 riders are relieved that bus arrival time is nolonger a matter of guesswork, but available virtually at the touchof a button, others have found glitches in an electronic pilotsystem the MTA established earlier this year.

Ridgeite Meredith DeVito, who was waiting for the B63 at the86th Street stop, said she was satisfied with Bus Time, as the MTAdubbed the mobile phone information texting system which itinitiated along the B63 Fifth Avenue bus route back inFebruary.

It’s fantastic, DeVito said. It’s relatively accurate. Shesaid she only wished that the real-time system would expand to theB60 bus, which she rides to work.

The Brooklyn Spectator also tested the texting systemon an iPhone 4, and received an immediate and accurate bus arrivaltime response.

But Bus Time is not always reliable, according to other B63riders.

Evelyn Mota of Sunset Park said she attempted to use the onlinenotification system on her computer, but it didn’t work. This lackof efficiency has discouraged her from using either of thecell-phone based methods, she said.

I tried [the texting system], and it didn’t work, added BayRidge resident Justin Medina, who was waiting at the B63’s BayRidge Avenue stop. It said it can’t be processed at thistime.

Maria Lopez, also awaiting her bus’s arrival at the Bay RidgeAvenue stop, experienced problems as well when she attempted to usethe texting system. I sent a message, but they didn’t send[anything] back, she said.

Maxine Bua of Bay Ridge, who was waiting at the 86th Streetstop, said she has never used the system, but believes it can beuseful for Brooklynites who are in a hurry.

I don’t worry about things like [bus arrival times], Bua said.When I come out to shop, I come out to shop. You’ve got to havepatience…. Truthfully, the buses really run on time. We’re reallylucky in this neighborhood.

To utilize Bus Time, riders text a code – which is prominentlydisplayed at each bus stop – to 414-11; in return, they willimmediately receive a text letting them know how many stops awaythe bus is from their location, and how far away it is inmiles.

Smart-phone users can also snap a photo of a two-dimensionalbarcode at each stop, which will direct them to real-timeinformation on the MTA’s mobile website. Real-time information isalso available online at www.mta.info/bustime.

Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for the MTA, said that Bus Timeshould work on any phone that has a text messaging capability,regardless of whether it is a smart phone or a more basicmodel.

Bus Time is powered through enhanced global positioning systemdevices, software developed through the help of a non-profit civicgroup called Open Plans, according to Ortiz.

In addition, with just over six months since the pilot’sinception, Ortiz said the MTA has found that locals are pleasedwith the system.

We are in the process of soliciting feedback from customers,but anecdotally, feedback has been very positive, Ortiz said.

Bus Time is set to expand through Staten Island by the end ofthe year, according to Ortiz, and the goal is to have itcity-wide. However, Ortiz said he did not know when the systemwould reach all Brooklyn buses.

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