MTA BusTime is a great thing

Usually, in New York, if you want to get someplace more than a few blocks away, you take the subway, or if you need to go crosstown, you brace for misery and take the bus. Busses are typically more pleasant than subways, but they are often slow and come unpredictably. I’d be delighted to take my boys to school on the M60 every morning, but busses can come 20 minutes apart. Of course, when you do get one, two others will often follow close on its heels.

The MTA has finally launched, city-wide, an online service that tells you when busses are coming. It’s called BusTime.

bustime logo


As is standard practice for the MTA, they have made the BusTime data feeds publicly available, so that people can integrate them into iPhone apps and the other services. The bus app that I use, unfortunately, seems to have done this incorrectly.

NYC Bus logo


It clearly believes it has the correct data but the results it produces are nonsense. A friend at the MTA guesses that it is reporting the busses as scheduled, rather than the their actual locations. The easiest solution is to tap into the MTA’s data feeds at their own mobile website. For example, the URL to check the busses in front of my son’s school is and it produces results like this:

bus time


Totally accurate, and hugely useful as we decide whether to take the bus or the subway each day.