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Searching for Your Stop using SMS/Text Message

To search for a specific stop, you must use one of the following two ways to search for upcoming bus arrivals at a bus stop with the MTA Bus Time Text Message/SMS interface: 

If you send just a bus route, MTA Bus Time returns only whether the route is scheduled to run or not.  It does not include any information about when buses will arrive to your stop.  
text a bus route to 511123

Adding a route to either type of search limits the results to that bus route.

By Bus Stop Code (and Route)

Sending a stop code to MTA Bus Time returns a list of all upcoming bus arrivals to that stop. Searching by bus stop code is the most precise way to find out about upcoming bus arrivals to your stop. 

When you're at the bus stop, you can find the stop's code by looking at the schedule box posted on the bus stop pole. See Finding Your Bus Stop Code for more information.

Let's look at what you can send:

The most basic option is to send a text message with the 6-digit bus stop code TO: 511123 . MTA Bus Time responds with upcoming bus arrivals for the stop:
an image showing the stop code 201077 texted to 511123/  There is a response of which buses for the S78 are nearest/

Some bus stops are served by multiple routes.  In this case, MTA Bus Time responds with the upcoming buses for any of them.  Note that this means you may not see the route you are looking for if other buses are closer.  To get bus arrival information for just one route at a stop, send the stop code and the route of interest:
an image showing the stop code 203804 texted to 511123/  There is a response for multiple routes, the X19 and the X17J/  The user responds by texting 203804 X17 to the number 511123/  There is a response showing only the X17 buses which are approaching stop 203804/

Sometimes, a stop will have routes that are not scheduled at that time.  In this case, MTA Bus Time responds with a message to this effect.  Similarly, a route can be scheduled to run, but the buses have passed your stop and there are no buses headed to it at this time.  In this case, MTA Bus Time responds that there are no buses en route.
an image showing the stop code 200001 texted to 511123/  There is a response saying that the S40 route has no buses en-route and the S90 route is not scheduled/

If a stop code is sent with a bus route that doesn't serve it, MTA Bus Time will respond in one of two ways- if the route goes nearby, it will say that the route selected does not serve this stop:
an image showing the message 203344 X14 texted to 511123/  There is a response listing the S79, S94, X1, X2, X3, X9, X10, X15 routes and saying there is no X14 at this stop/

If the route does not go nearby, MTA Bus Time will respond that there are no nearby stops for that route:
an image showing the message 203582 X2 texted to 511123/  There is a response aying the X17, X17J and X19 are not scheduled and there are no X2 stops nearby/

Service Changes

Bus routes with service changes are marked by asterisks. Service changes details are available by replying "C + ROUTE". Note that you don't actually have to type a '+', just separate the route with a space.  MTA Bus Time will only display the first part of the service change, up to the length of a single text message.  There may be more than one service change, in which case MTA Bus Time will prompt you to send "N" for the next one.
an image showing the stop information for stop code 202990/  It shows the information for the S79 route with an asterisk before it/  The user responds by texting C space S79 to 511123/  There is a response saying that S79 buses are detoured from Ring Rd between Platinum Av and Richmond Av South/

For more details on Service Changes for a bus route please refer to Bus Service Changes from MTA.info.

If you receive a "no stops found" message, verify the bus stop code you entered is correct, try sending an INTERSECTION + ROUTE or refer to Troubleshooting.
 

By Intersection (and Route)

When you send MTA Bus Time an intersection (with or without a bus route), MTA Bus Time will return a list of bus stops nearby, up to the character limit of one SMS message. If you specify a route, MTA Bus Time will also show bus arrivals for the route you specify.

Let's look at what you can send:

Send a text message to 511123 with an intersection.  MTA Bus Time responds with the routes which go near the intersection:
An image showing a message Atlantic Av and Bond St to 511123/  There is a response saying there are 4 stops nearby and requesting the user Pick a route, then listing the B61 and B63/  The user responds by sending B61 to 511123/

Send a selection (the name of a route which Bus Time has suggestion).  MTA Bus Time responds with the two directions that route travels.  Send your selection ("1" or "2") again and MTA Bus Time responds with the stop information corresponding to your selections:
an image showing the response to the selection of B61/  The system requests the user pick a B61 direction, then lists the two terminals (endpoints) of the route, numbered 1 and 2/  The user responds 1, and there is a response listing the B61 buses approaching the nearby stop in that direction, stop code 307010/



Send a text message to 511123 with an intersection and route. MTA Bus Time will send back the two directions that route travels.  Send your selection and MTA Bus Time responds with the stop information corresponding to your selections, as above.


Ambiguous Searches for an Intersection

Ambiguous addresses and intersections return a list of possible intersections along with their ZIP codes in NY (not all location results returned are served by MTA Bus Time yet).
SMSDisambiguation/png
At any time, reply with one of the suggested options to see which stops are near that intersection (you may be prompted to select a route and  direction) or try the suggestions under Troubleshooting.

Glossary of SMS Terms

 

(old) bus location data shown is more than 2 minutes old (but not more than 5 minutes)

@term.  a bus is at the bus terminal, check the bus route schedule for more information

@term. sched. dep. a bus is at the bus terminal and is expected to leave at the given time

+layover@term. the bus is scheduled to wait at the terminal before it arrives at this stop

no bus en-route no buses are approaching this stop at this time

ROUTE# no scheduled bus service for the route planned at this stop at this time

ROUTE*  service change notice for a route: reply with 'C' + ROUTE for more information or visit Bus Service Changes from MTA.info.

'No matches' messages may occur because:

  • Your stop code or intersection could not be found or your stop is not yet being served by routes equipped with MTA Bus Time.

 

Message Blocked?

If a phone isn’t receiving text messages – or if it's getting texts that say “mobile messaging is blocked” – there’s usually one of two reasons.

1) The phone plan doesn’t support messages from short codes (the 5-6 digit numbers many organizations use for SMS such as MTA Bus Time's 511123).
2) There’s a parental control in place that prohibits text messages.

The best solution is to contact the service provider and check the phone plan. Make sure that the phone can receive messages from short codes, and there are no parental controls in place.

 

 

Also try Troubleshooting for more help.