How to use the app

These instructions are primarily for the iPhone app, but should carry over easily to the iPad and Android apps.

Let's just run through a basic use case. Say you're somewhere in Cambridgeport, and you want to know where the nearest stop for the Number 1 Bus to the Boston side of the Charles River is and when it's going to arrive next.

Starting at the main menu, you want to press Bus.

The next screen will show you all the bus routes with trips still scheduled today, ordered by number. If the bus you're interested in has a high number, you can navigate to it more quickly using the number index along the right. In this case, we don't need to do that because Bus 1 is at the top of the list.

For every bus route, you'll see all the headsigns for that route. Usually this means that there is one headsign for each direction, but some routes are more complicated and have more than two headsigns. For each headsign, you'll also see the number of trips left for today.

Please note that if a bus route isn't in service today, it won't show up at all on this list.

We've found Bus 1 going toward Boston, so let's tap that.


The next screen is the heart of the application. It is actually two views. By default, you'll see the map view. If you tap on the "Schedule" button, you'll see a scrollable schedule. The map view will show real-time information when a real-time data feed for that route is available; otherwise, it shows next scheduled arrival times. The schedule view always presents scheduled arrival times.

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Here is a guide to what the colored pins in the map view mean:

Pindown1 A red pin is a stop. You can tap on any pin to show the stop name and the next few arrival times. If there are no more arrivals for the day, you'll see a message saying so.
Pindown1green A green pin is the starting point of a trip. A route might have more than one starting point if trips start from different places at different times of the day.
Pindown1purple A purple pin is a stop where a bus is just about to arrive according to the MBTA schedule or according to the real-time data feed if available. You can take this as a rough indicator of where a bus is, or at least should be.
Trackingdot If you've allowed the app to use your iPhone's location, a blue dot will drop onto the map showing your current location if it's close to the route or the line you're looking at. When the blue dot appears, the pin for the nearest stop should automatically show its callout with next arrival times.

You can also bookmark routes using the bookmark button the top of the map or schedule screens. Bookmarked routes will show up at the top of the main menu.

Finally, check out the T-Alerts and the Twitter #mbta feed screens.

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An important note on arrival times

The arrival times displayed in the app are approximations rather than than guarantees. Service delays due to traffic and other conditions can change the actual arrival times. Please visit the T Alerts section of this app (from the Main Menu) to see if there are any serious service delays or changes for any of the routes or lines you're waiting for.

Also, there may be kinks in the GTFS data or in the way that OpenMBTA's data server interprets it that could result in wrong schedule information. With the help of user bug reports, these will be ironed out over time.

Tips for handling the map

In the map view, you can quickly zoom into an area of interest by double-tapping on a spot on the map. You can also pan around the map by dragging it, and zoom in or out by stretching and pinching the map with your fingers.