Council Allocates Funds for New Bus Countdown Clocks

In a move hailed by transit advocates and riders, 11 City Council members have allocated capital discretionary funds to install more than 100 new countdown clocks, which track buses in real time using GPS, at bus stops citywide.

Advocacy organization Riders Alliance thanked City Council members Cabrera, Chin, Cohen, Garodnick, Johnson, Kallos, Lander, Matteo, Treyger, Ulrich and Weprin for voting this week to expand the well-received countdown clock implementation beyond Staten Island, where it was piloted.

Council Members allocated a total of nearly $2.8 million to install the new countdown clocks, including Brooklyn's Brad Lander, who allocated $240,000, and Mark Treyger, who allocated $100,000.

The clocks, which incorporate MTA's new GPS technology, are installed by the City Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT estimates that it costs about $20,000 to install a countdown clock.

The Riders Alliance is pushing for universal installation of the clocks by 2015, with DOT and local Council Members jointly siting the clocks.

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for advocacy organization Straphanger's Campaign, called the clocks "one of the best things that Council Members can do for their constituents who travel by bus."

Council Member Brad Lander called the clocks "part of a robust transit infrastructure and a recognition of the importance of buses and bus riders.” 

Council Member Mark Treyger is “committed", he said, "to making sure that Southern Brooklyn is not left out of the technological movement taking shape across the city", saying that the clocks "will make catching the bus more convenient and less frustrating for thousands of residents each day,” 

Bus riders can already access real-time information on their smartphones or via SMS.

Riders Alliance members began reaching out to City Council earlier this year, asking them to allocate discretionary capital funds to expand the installation beyond the original pilot. Stops that serve multiple routes, that have heavy ridership or that serve communities with a high percentage of non-cellphone users -- like seniors -- are being eyed for new clocks.

Chicago, Washington DC, Vancouver (Canada), Portland (Oregon), Albany, and Syracuse are now weighing installing countdown clocks, and Boston is installing them.

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