Starting Monday, February 9th, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) began offering a digital bus tracking timetable for its public bus lines running in Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs.
Although the real-time tracking system is new, public demand for accurate bus arrival information has been building up for quite a while.
As the Baltimore Sun explains, “riders have been clamoring for the system for years, complaining that MTA buses often operate outside of posted schedules — leaving them [the riders] out in the cold and making their commutes unpredictable..”
The timetable tracking system, called “My MTA Tracker,” will allow commuters to access updated arrival times for each of the MTA’s buses. The system is not yet available as a mobile app, but it’s accessible via the MTA’s website and is mobile-friendly for riders who wish to access arrival information on smartphones and tablets. CBS Baltimore also notes that riders without smartphones can call or text an updated MTA phone line for real-time arrival information.
The My MTA Tracker is just one part of the state’s ongoing Bus Network Improvement Project, which aims to provide better public transportation options for the Baltimore-Washington metro area.
Local news station WBAL TV 11 states that the MTA is working closely with transportation officials in Washington, D.C., in order to improve other public transportation lines, including the Metro rail line and the MARC train.
Although it’s likely that Maryland’s digital bus stop timetable could be very successful and could influence other major cities to adopt a similar system, the outcome of the system doesn’t take away from another significant point: that the MTS recognized how important its bus system is for commuters, and that accurate timetables of each bus line is incredibly valuable to commuters.
Even for bus companies that focus more on coach bus rental trips between cities, rather than intra-city public transportation lines, being able to estimate travel time accurately and adhere to a driving schedule is one of defining features of a successful bus service.
The MTA plans on monitoring the My MTA Tracker for 100 days, and if the system is successful, it will make arrangements to develop the tracking system further. Additionally, MTA officials have stated that there are already plans to create similar systems for the Metro and MARC rail lines.
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