Real-time bus location coming to a MBTA stop near you

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Thursday that all arrival information for MBTA bus routes is now available in real-time. The real-time data release is part of a larger transportation initiative for the governor and is open to the public to develop Web and mobile applications.

Arrival information for all 187 MBTA bus routes in Massachusetts’ 47 towns and cities was added to a repository for transit data, at MBTA.com/apps. The combined information of scheduled and real-time data will help everyday citizens and the overall economy, Gov. Patrick said.

“We are taking the guesswork out of the daily commute for thousands of people who rely on T service across the region,” Governor Patrick said during a ceremony at Ruggles Station. “By creating innovative and practical customer solutions, we are ensuring transportation reform is working for the commuter – exactly who we intended it to work for.”

The state finished the project in less than ten months, when it first released real-time information on five bus routes. Within two months of being made available to developers, arrival data was being used for over a dozen applications including websites, smart phones, SMS texts and 617-phone numbers.

In November of last year MassDOT opened static data to the public in an attempt to copy efforts in California, Colorado and other places. “The more data that is open, the better it is for everyone. And the more people know about [what MassDOT is doing] the more interesting mashups are built,” Joshua Robin, of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation, told CivSource in an interview.

By enhancing customer service through the democratization of open data, Massachusetts was able to do all this at no cost to MassDOT, MBTA or its riders. MBTA General Manager Richard Davey called it a revolution.

“Real-time countdown information is an opportunity to revolutionize riding the bus in Boston and one of my top priorities,” Davey said in a statement.

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