Starting next month, commuters in Brooklyn and Queens will know exactly how much longer they'll have to wait for those two packed buses that inevitably pull up simultaneously. The MTA's live bus tracking service, MTA Bus Time, is expanding on March 9th to include all Brooklyn and Queens’ bus routes. More than 164 new routes, encompassing 9,000 bus stops, will be added to MTA Bus Time, which lets you check the buses' location via smart phone and text message. (Here's the website if you're curious.)

The expansion makes the MTA Bus Time project fully operational, with GPS hardware in thousands of buses operating in all boroughs. If you've never used it before, here's how it works:

  • Click it: From any web-enabled smart phone or desktop computer, just go to bustime.mta.info and enter a bus route, intersection, street address, landmark, or bus stop code. You’ll get a map showing where buses are located within the specific route or region you’ve searched. Click on a bus stop or a bus for more detailed information.
  • Text it: Text an intersection or street address to 511123 from any cell phone to receive a message listing local bus routes. Select a route and direction to learn the location of the closest bus stop and how far away the next buses are. Bus distances are given in terms of miles away if the bus is far, in terms of bus stops away if it’s close.
  • Tip: You can save a step by texting a bus stop code instead. Bus stop codes are provided in text responses, are online at Bus Time’s website, and printed on the Guide-A-Ride schedules posted at bus stops.
  • Scan it: If you have a smart phone with a QR Code reader, scan the QR Code printed on the Guide-A-Ride schedules posted at bus stops. Without touching a button, your smart phone will instantly take you to information about buses approaching the stop where you’re standing. Because of Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter, some bus stops do not yet have Guide-A-Rides showing the QR Codes and bus stop codes. They will be updated soon.

In the press release announcing the expansion, the MTA also points out that MTA Bus Time servers "feed raw data to app developers free of charge. Now that data is available for Manhattan bus routes, a number of apps that already provide real-time information about buses can expand their offerings to cover Manhattan as well." These include All Aboard NYC; All Schedules Free; Bus New York City; Google Maps for Mobile; and In Time Staten Island, among many others.