L train shuffle buses

Are you a bus rider? Many people never ride the bus because they feel intimidated or confused by the routes. The thing is, the bus is kinda what’s up when it comes to mass transit. You have cell service, there’s usually a seat, and you’re not stuck underground. Sadly, for those of us who ride the bus regularly, the only thing that actually seems regular about it is the fact that it never shows up when it’s supposed to! (I’m looking at you B57: I’ll see you in purgatory). Seriously–those schedules are basically made up numbers with colons haphazardly thrown in for good measure.

Well, recently the MTA has added QR codes to select bus stops, including those along the B38 and the B57 in Bushwick, so you can see how far the bus actually is. So how do the codes work? Well, we tested them out for you, and here are the results.

You need a smart phone

super bushwick world phone case

The sad thing is, that while it’s better to have a QR code than nothing at all, the only people who will benefit from this is those with smartphones. If you have no cell phone, or a flip phone, the only way to use this app is to ask the very nice person standing next to you to scan for you. On top of it, you’ll need the QR code application to actually scan the code. It’s free and doesn’t take up too much storage space, but it will be another icon on your dashboard.

Good luck when it’s dark

The first thing I noticed using the QR code, was that you need light in order to scan it in. This is sad because the times I really need to know when the damn bus is coming is typically at night. Luckily for me, my phone has a flash option with my QR app, but my friend Allison’s didn’t, so she had to wait for a car to come by and quickly scan while their headlights illuminated the bus stop. But hey, I’d rather wait for a car to find out when the bus is coming than actually wait for the bus itself!

Sometimes it doesn’t have data available

Nothing’s perfect. And neither is this app. When my friend was waiting for the B57 one night, the app gave her the above message saying no buses were scheduled at that time. She decided to wait it out and one came a few minutes later. On the B38, it’s worked perfectly fine for me though. They’re probably still working out some kinks.

You have to know your miles

Once you actually scan the code in, the information comes up very quickly! It tells you how far the next two buses are and if the next one is stationed, when it’s scheduled to depart. The thing is, it doesn’t give you an estimated arrival time–it just tells you how far the bus is in miles. In order to gauge how long you’ll be waiting, you’ll need to know approximately how long it takes to get from point A to point B. There’s many factors in this, (Is it rush hour? Is there an accident? Do these roads have a lot of stop lights?). So while it is helpful, there are still many variables.

Overall assessment

As a daily bus rider on the B57; a bus who seems to only show up on leap years and during an eclipse, I’m very happy about the MTA adding a QR code to its bus stops. It’ll at least give the passengers some idea on if they missed their bus, or if it’s even running. It’s a little too exclusive given the fact that you need a smartphone, but it’s a step in the right direction, and probably the most cost-effective way to notify riders of the bus’ status.