The Time Has Come for Countdown Clocks

With the countdown clock in the foreground, the M11 bus makes its stop at 10th Ave. and W. 34th St. | Photo by Levar Alonzo.

BY LEVAR ALONZO | This was one Friday the 13th that turned out to be anything but unlucky, at least for riders on the M11 bus route. On that day last week, City Councilmember Corey Johnson joined Department of Transportation representatives, local residents, and transportation advocates to officially announce the rollout of real-time passenger information (RTPI) bus clocks in District 3.

“Whether you use the bus to get to work, shop for groceries, or visit your friends and family, these new countdown bus clocks will help you make it to your destination on time,” said Johnson.

The RPTI clocks were installed at the W. 42nd and W. 34th St. bus stops along 10th Ave., to help improve service along the M11 route. The new bus clocks, equipped with both audio and visual components, will provide thousands of riders who use the route each week with an accurate countdown on when the next bus will arrive. Riders can see the clocks ticking down the minutes and also push a button to hear a recording telling of the next arriving bus. The M11 route serves riders between the West Village and Harlem.

These two clocks are the first of many to be installed throughout the district, with funding awarded through the Councilmember Johnson’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) process.

“I find it to be extremely handy. It kind of fills you with joy to know when the next bus will arrive. It’s like a slight reprieve from all the other delays in the system,” said Joanna Blum, a 30-year resident of the West Village.

“I think it’s cool. I didn’t know how convenient it would be, with the audio button that tells you when the bus is arriving,” said Lorene Farnsworth, a 37-year resident of the West Village. “All around I view this project as a cool concept.” | Photo by Levar Alonzo.

PB is an initiative which gives residents a hand in deciding how their tax dollars are spent by setting aside $1 million in capital funds for projects proposed, developed, and voted for by community members.

From last year’s PB process, $125,000 was allocated to install more RTPI’s throughout the district — bringing the total amount to $225,000 (similar funding came as a result of previous PB voting).

“Through the participatory budgeting process, we were able to take this important step toward achieving our goal of enhancing bus service throughout District 3,” said Johnson. “The community and government partnership showed with this project a model for projects everywhere. We’ve got a long way to go to improve public transportation in New York but these bus clocks are going to add a lot of convenience to our trips.”

“I think that this a great idea and I am finding that for the most part the clocks have been accurate,” said Eric Blackwell, a New York City Transit employee. “So far I have no complaints of the technology.” | Photo by Levar Alonzo.
With the push of a button, a recording will tell you how many minutes until the next bus arrives. | Photo by William Alatriste.
Eight more minutes and your bus will be here: The countdown clock at 10th Ave. and W. 34th St.  | Photo by Levar Alonzo.
L to R: District Leader Tom Shanahan; District Leader Marisa Redanty; Charles Rosenberg, VP, Manhattan Plaza Tenant Association; Councilmember Corey Johnson, Ed Pincar, Manhattan Deputy Borough Commissioner, DOT; Christine Berthet of CHEKPEDS ,Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety; Jenny Baez, DOT; and Matt Green, Deputy Chief of Staff, Councilmember Johnson’s office. The group gathered on Oct. 13 for the official roll-out of new RTPI bus clocks in Council District 3. | Photo by William Alatriste.