More Bus Data, Better Bus Service: Kallos, Hackers Nudge MTA
Few things are more annoying than waiting for a bus when the weather isn’t good. You’re cold, you’re wet, and the bus schedule said it would arrive at 9:05. It’s 9:21. Where’s your bus? Technological advancements have given New York City straphangers some relief with the Real-Time Bus app, which allows users to see how far away their bus actually is. More recently, a collection of city council members used discretionary funding toward more countdown clocks for additional bus stops, an especially useful tool for those without smartphones. But what if your bus is always late? Sure, it’s good to know how long you will have to wait (and maybe have time to grab a cup of coffee nearby to warm up) – but is anyone actually doing anything about it? When Council Member Ben Kallos took office in 2014, he said slow or unreliable bus service was among his constituents’ chief complaints. Kallos’ district spans much of the Upper East Side and includes bus-heavy 1st and 2nd Avenues. The new council member began forwarding complaints to the MTA, but wasn’t finding the relief he or his constituents were looking for. Also a software developer, Council Member Kallos decided to see if the MTA provided data so he could see exactly which buses were consistently late and by how much. With that kind of solid data Kallos felt that he could then dive into the why, especially given his platform as an elected official.