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Next Silver Line bus from Logan Airport? A mystery no more

Boston,Mass. -01/20/12 -The Silver Line stop at Logan Airport Terminal C with it's clock showing the arrival times of the buses, Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki (metro)

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

KNOW WHERE YOUR RIDE IS — A new display sign at Logan Airport’s Terminal C tracks arrival times for Silver Line buses heading to South Station in hope of boosting ridership.

With the blink of an LED sign, the Silver Line at Logan Airport has, finally, entered the late 20th century.

Where do I stand? Is it really coming? Where does it go? All of those questions are now answered by a display sign counting down the minutes until the arrival of the next bus outside Terminal C, with more signs to follow at other terminals.

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That should demystify a ride that costs $2 ($1.70 with CharlieCard) and reaches South Station in 14 minutes - take that, LaGuardia; how do you like me now, O’Hare? - but can be tricky to navigate for experienced riders, much less for out-of-towners. “Having used it myself, frankly, in the past, it can be a mystery,’’ Secretary of Transportation Richard A. Davey said. “And I ran the T.’’

The hope is that the displays lead more people to take Silver Line service, rather than cabs.

The first sign, activated last week, is only loosely related to the T’s other efforts to provide real-time information, such as smartphone and Web applications developed by third parties harnessing MBTA data. The T is working out kinks so that LED boards at subway stations can operate as countdown clocks.

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The Logan sign was a one-off, motivated by a T employee who saw a digital display for SEPTA at Philadelphia’s airport and e-mailed Davey a photo, asking if the MBTA could do the same. The resulting sign, worth about $5,000, came from T inventory. The programming was done in-house.

“It makes it a lot easier,’’ said Frank Hao, a South End medical student, catching the bus home from Logan on a cold afternoon.

“You can wait inside and just run out when it comes.’’

ERIC MOSKOWITZ
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