Allan Rosen is a 25-year veteran of the MTA, including a former Director of Bus Planning. He’s also a Sheepshead Bay-area resident and one of the original planners behind the B4 route. He previously criticized the MTA’s latest round of cuts, and here he questions the revisions made and the amount of thought given to residents’ objections.

On Friday, the MTA announced a set of revised service cuts that are expected to be voted on by Board members on Wednesday. The fact alone that only two weeks were allowed to review and evaluate all the public comments for well over 100 major route and service changes is ridiculous in itself when the MTA ordinarily makes only about ten route changes per year and studies each of those for an average of two years.

The MTA is like a doctor doing surgery without doing the proper diagnostic tests. Standard planning practice is to use passenger traffic counts to determine schedule changes and origin destination surveys, i.e. asking people where they are beginning and ending their trips to determine route changes or eliminations. Yet the MTA uses the former to do both. Also, like doctors, they are playing with people’s lives. There are four nursing homes and assisted living facilities along Emmons Avenue where the B4 is now proposed for weekend and partial weekday elimination, leaving some visitors with no mass transit option to visit their loved ones or employees to get to work. At the same time the City and the MTA are promoting “Leave your car home and use mass transit” campaigns.

The revision to B4 service will restore weekday service, but only from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and reroutes the bus from Neptune Avenue to Avenue Z. They are starting at 2 p.m. because I told them about the high afternoon ridership which apparently they overlooked. What else are they overlooking? The move to Avenue Z could be a great idea or it could be a bad one. Long story short, you would only know by doing the proper diagnostic tests, i.e. proper surveys, which are not being done. They are only guessing which is something New Yorkers just cannot afford.

A month or two ago, the MTA announced that it will not be necessary to cut administrative salaries by 10 percent at this time as earlier proposed to help close the budget gap, but they may consider this again later this year. Why wouldn’t that be necessary now? Did they find a new source of revenue? If so, why not cancel more of the proposed cuts or will a new set of cuts be announced this summer to make up for the ones being dropped this month with more hearings on those cuts in the fall? All this while the MTA continues to ponder the 10 percent cut in administrative salaries.

It appears that I was correct in my testimony when I stated that the MTA’s strategy is to overwhelm with so many proposed service cuts all that once that it will be impossible to fight most of them and that is exactly what is happening. I do not believe any of the written testimony submitted to the Board was even reviewed by New York City Transit staff. There was just not enough time. The only reason my testimony was reviewed was because I sent copies directly to the planners involved. They even omitted one hour and forty minutes of testimony at the Brooklyn hearing on the MTA website while stating that the entire hearing was posted. What happened between 8:06 and 9:56 PM? Where is that testimony? So how can we trust that anyone reviewed the written testimony submitted, not mention the phone calls and e-mails?

One point is clear from all this. The MTA continues to do whatever it damn well pleases and needs to be better regulated. As an example, legislative approval should be required before they are allowed to change crowding level guidelines (which they recently did) or walking guidelines that would allow them to reduce service even further. But what does it matter anyway? They just violate them by measuring distances as the crow flies and are never challenged.

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  • nolastname

    Who is “staff”?

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    We don't have the ability to customize every byline, so I created a generic umbrella one for posts that don't involve me or one of the regular writers. This was a guest post, so I put it under staff and made clear in the first article that it was submitted by Mr. Rosen.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Maybe the solution is to run the B4 down Avenue X from McDonald Avenue straight through to East 14th Street, and then down East 14th to Avenue Z. Why share Avenue Z with the B36 for such a stretch?

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    East 14th Street is too congested for that. Because it is also an entry street to the Belt Parkway West, it already gets severely backed up with traffic. It is also not a particularly wide street, unless you remove parking. Which you couldn't do because the train station is just one block away from Ave Z, so spots are at a premium.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    The route I'm suggesting is the one that was used for the B1 bus until the late 1970s. Keep in mind that the B4 runs at 20 minute intervals. The run on East 14th Street would turn going east on Avenue Z. On the Bay Ridge run it would go up East 13th Street.

    The bus stop street markers are still there, those are the whitish blocks of concrete on the corners.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I do have to concede that traffic on East 14th Street is more than the usual for minor streets. But it should be wide enough, it had been a bus route since before 1930. Nevertheless, there would be a loss of parking where the bus stops would be.

  • http://www.flickr.com/knightmare6 Knightmare6

    I doubt a lot of residents living on East 14th Street between Avenues Z and Y would like to have the bus come rumbling down their block, much less lose parking on either side.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    It was the case until the late 1970s. And the street was designed to handle buses.

    Two parking spaces would be lost on each block.

    The current Ocean Parkway turnoff is worse.

  • PayPaul

    They are going to put the UA theater out of business with this decision on the B4. It's a smelly dirty theater anyway but it's the only one we have.
    Yeah. Why is that?

  • theresa scavo

    Years ago, the bus ran from 86th Street and 25th Avenue down 86th Street to where it changes to Avenue X. It proceeded down Avenue X to Sheepshead Bay Road and then to the Sheepshead Bay train station.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I just checked a 1969 map which shows the B1 running down Avenue X and turning south on East 14th Street toward Avenue Z. Northbound it ran up East 13th Street.

    http://images.nycsubway.org/maps/bus-bklyn-si19

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    November 11, 1978 was the actual last day of operation of the old B1. I was the one who had the B1 shifted to Ocean Parkway and eliminated service along E 14th Street. What you have suggested would provide service to a greater area, but has two drawbacks. It removes service from the Beach Haven Apartments and access to Coney Island Hospital. I think it is more important to serve those needs than Avenue X. You also might be interested in learning that when service was removed from Avenue X east of Ocean Parkway, the Transit Authority received only one single written complain to protest. By that standard alone, I think it was a good change.

    If you want to read about how those changes in 1978 were made and what changes I originally proposed that were never made, you can go to the Grand Army Plaza Library and do a title search for “Routes” and it will come right up. It is approximately the fourth selection. Give the call number to the librarian and he or she will get it for you.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    Do you want their names? It was the Director of Operations Planning, and the Director of Short Range Planning.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    It will hurt business a little, but I highly doubt it if it will put them out of business. But if the MTA were interested at all in helping local businesses, rather than discontinuing the B4, they would extend it up Knapp Street to Kings Plaza. Not only would that increase shopping access for Plumb Beach, it would provide a way for Marine PArk residents without cars to access a movie theater with the recent closing of the Kings Plaza Cinemas. But the problem is that when they study a proposal like that, they assume no one would ride the bus and only consider what the operating costs would be for running empty buses. Any service you put out there will attract some riders.

    Before the B1 operated to Brighton Beach, no one traveled by bus between there and Bensonhurst because it required three or four buses. Now it is very heavily utilized route, and it wasn't the MTA who was pushing for it.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    True. But you could say the same thing about virtually any street.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I had forgotten why the B1 rerouting had been made. Unfortunately the limited hours that the B4 runs will great diminish it's effective purpose, as many clinic appointments take place in the hours between the service runs. Perhaps full restoration in the future would occur making this change more useful.

  • Local Broker

    the UA here is the highest grossing UA theater in the country. do you really think the bus has anything to do with that? i havent taken a bus in about 15 years but when i was a kid i used to take the B4 all the time. why is it that most of you are talking about how things were in the 70s or earlier things are different now a bus going down east 14th street would get stuck as soon as some one double parks which is the case every single day on pretty much every street in this city.

  • PayPaul

    Mass Transit planners seem to set the system up for failure. They make certain that the service is inconvenient so therefore there are less riders. I lived in Pennsylvania for awhile and remember people who had to drive their cars to go long distances to work telling me that they would travel by the bus but for its lack of convenience.

  • PayPaul

    So are you one of those people who think we should all just get a car if we don't like the inconvenient bus service?
    Buy me one and pay for my license, gas etc.

  • Local Broker

    did i say you should drive? did i say its good that they changed the service? yes driving my car is a lot more convenient than sitting next to some stranger that smells like shit and thinks coughing on me is a way of saying hello. i know you are older and would like things the way they were back in the day but things change. dont you think its a little childish to respond by saying i should not only buy you a car but also pay for you to use it.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    You are right. The bus has little to do with that. Most people wouldn't want to wait for a bus that supposedly runs every 20 or 30 minutes, but sometimes comes every 45 minutes. The story would be quite different if the bus ran every 5 or 10 minutes, but that will never happen at least in the next 10 or 20 years. So I really don't know what your point is. Don't run a bus on any street where people double park? Common now. Double-parking is no worse today than it was 30 years ago. The only difference is that more people are being ticketed for it now.

  • Local Broker

    its obviously impossible to avoid double parking in this city. i just cant picture a bus going down that street or even making a turn onto it from x or y. anyway im done with this subject i dont take the bus and come to think of it know anyone close to me that does. i take that back my aunt takes the bus everyday and she loves it never drove a car in her life.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    That certainly is a cynnical attitude. In NYC, I don't think it is intentional, but I agree that many changes that are made are not the best possible ones. The reason usually has to do with cost and an unwillingness to experiment by trying anything daring. A convenient service usually costs more, so they will pick the less convenient cheaper alternative. The result is people don't use the service or not as many that would have used it if it were more convenient. So the service fails for lack of ridership.

    As far as Pennsylvania, long distance services are even more costly to provide. Mass transit needs high populkation densities to be sucessfu. We are very fortunate in NY to have those densities.

    However, I do not believe that the MTA's goal is to increase ridership. The way they look at it, they lose X dollars for every mile of service provided. If they provide half as much service, their deficit is cut in half. So their goal is to reduce service, not to improve mass transit. That is the core of the problem.

  • PayPaul

    I think you and all those other drivers who think they own the road are arrogant and childish. You ARE saying I should have a car to avoid all those horrible inconveniences. The auto industry for years has lobbied to make certain mass transit doesn't get the kind of funding it needs to provide a viable alternative. I've heard people such as yourself tell me to “buy a car” because I object to the state of mass transit as it is now. Perhaps they state that a bit more blatantly than you are doing but you say it nonetheless. They who assume I'd be better off with one can buy me one. That is what I say to them back. You have the audacity to suggest that we'd all be better off if we all owned a car and supported the Auto Industry. Not everyone can afford the purchase and maintain a vehicle. That goes for now as it did in the “old days”. Don't give me this culture of the young as if you have a monopoly on that “car is king” attitude. Young and old share that twisted idea.
    Oh and don't you just love that carbon monoxide haze hanging over that roar on the interstates, bridges, highways and roads? Do you love the traffic and the road rage? Do you love paying a quarter to a half of your income to maintain that gas guzzling, environment destroying vehicle. Maybe you don't and fail to see the impact automobiles have. The double parking problem around here is the result of way too much of the ever increasing population in this neighborhood bringing in their horn blaring obnoxious SUVs and buying these condos that have inadequate parking spaces. Change? That's not change for the better.
    I want to see a reduction in the number of cars on the road and an increase in the number of buses, trains and other transportation alternatives. It's so sad you have such a low opinion of your fellow human beings. Maybe you need to get out of your car once for awhile and exercise your feet. Get to know your neighbors.

  • PayPaul

    What I also have seen a lot all over the city is drivers pulling up right in front of a bus when it's trying to board or unload passengers. It's a disgrace. I'd love to see the statistics from the 61st precinct on how many standing violations have been given out for such things as double parking. Then there's the endless red light jumpers. That's another ball of wax altogether. Those people are usually driving those obnoxious SUVs.

  • PayPaul

    I almost could say I don't expect less densely populated areas to have an adequate mass transit system. Yet in NYC we all should expect better. The MTA has a long record of endless waste of funds. The most recent example is that Fulton Street Hub that has gone way over budget:

    http://secondavenuesagas.com/2007/12/20/fulton-

  • Local Broker

    you are just saying what you want and believe what you want no matter what anyone else says and thats your right. i never said everyone should drive that would be crazy and very bad for me because there would be even more traffic. you need a bike or rollerblades but be careful out there some crazy suv driving condo owning immigrant coming out from a bus stop running a red light might kill you.

  • Local Broker

    if this keeps going on before the end of the night neds going to jump in and try and be the voice of reason.

  • PayPaul

    Cute. You painted a very real scenario there.
    Wouldn't you board the bus if: A)It ran more frequently, B)They were kept clean and C)The homeless guy who smells of shit were pushed off the bus? Yes, I agree with you on that one. The homeless guy who smells of shit is offensive and needs proper medical care somewhere.

  • Local Broker

    the smelly guy/girl is not homeless its just some random person that smells like shit. bottom line is cars a re a reality they are not going anywhere anytime soon. for me personally if its close enough for me to take a bus i would rather drive. going into the city i drive 99% of the time last time i took the train was a couple years ago with my mom to midtown mid week mid day and only for 2 hours so had no reason to drive. the only bus i would consider taking is an express into the city. where do you find one of those anyway i might actually do that in the future.

  • Allan Rosen

    It's done it before and can do it again if necessary, but what does it matter anyway? You are right though when you say that it is impossible to avoid double parking, and I'm sure the Mayor loves that because of the revenue he gets from it.

  • Allan Rosen

    It's because of people like you that they tried to push through congestion pricing. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for even admitting that you drive into the City 99% of the time.

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    Nope. Though I think you're all sort of overreacting to each other's points, you haven't yet crossed any lines that would bring me into this. All I've got to say is East 14th would not work today like it worked in the 70's, but since no one is actually considering rerouting it to that street, it doesn't matter.

    Congrats on having a discussion without being totally disrespectful to each other.

  • Allan Rosen

    Ned, I think you're getting a little confused regarding East 14th Street. The part of East 14th Street being discussed is the part from Avenue X to Avenue Z where the B1 used to run until 1978. That street has not changed since the 1970s. You are thinking about the part that has two-way operation between Avenue Z and the Belt Parkway which has seen more traffic in recent years. Actually, the B4 and now the B49 both use that street now Northbound. Under the new MTA plan, only the B49 would continue to operate there.

  • Local Broker

    i should be ashamed? yeah its all because of people like me. you know who shouldn't be allowed to drive into the city and cause congestion is government workers that get free parking permits. most of these people dont make enough money to pay any significant taxes, dont spend money in the city and dont pay for parking. i hate politics you cant win from where i am one side wants to fine me for something that should be free even though i pay tolls at the tunnel and the other side blames me for hurting the environment and causing traffic. i dont go into the city that much anymore i used to go 6 days a week now maybe once every 2 weeks and i do drive those times and why wouldn't i. if i want to spend money and drive my car instead of taking a very uncomfortable bus or train i will. why should cops and firefighters and lawyers and clerks get to drive and not have to look for parking and not pay for it. they should be the last people that get perks they work for the city they should be taking city transportation for free. this whole congestion pricing bull is about making money not the amount of cars on the road.

    • Allan Rosen

      When you said 99%, I got the impression that you drove every day. Once every two weeks isn’ t too bad unless you are driving in the rush hour. I actually agree with most of your other statements. The only thing you are wrong about is the part about government workers driving and causing congestion. 95% of government workers take the subway into the City just like everyone else. The other 5%, those with the permits (judges, court officials, politicians, city owned cars, the press, and anyone with political connections who gets a permit) I agree needs to be greatly limited because those placards are much abused. As far as the cops and firemen, most of them just park illegally anyway and no one bothers them. That’s not right either. And I was also against congestion pricing for the same reason you are, it was all about money, not cars on the road.

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    I'm not confused at all, actually. I, too, am talking about the stretch between Ave X and Ave Z. Cars come down those blocks in droves for the Belt Parkway, as well as turning onto Sheepshead Bay Road. It is far more active than any of the surrounding numbered streets between Ave X and Ave Z, and it certainly has changed since the 1970s. But again – it's irrelevant. To my knowledge, no planners are seeking to put a bus here. Are they Allan?

  • Local Broker

    i thought it was going to get bad. i have been being bashed all day. i need some young minds to back me these old folks are out for blood.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    It was sort of like that in the seventies. That doesn't invalidate your point. The question is whether a bus that runs every twenty minutes will impact traffic to a noticeable degree. The B1 ran more frequently down that stretch, and yes, occasionally there was a slowdown as a result. Especially when buses ran too close together. That scenario wouldn't occur with the B4.

  • Allan Rosen

    You are correct. No one is talking about putting a bus there other than people in this comments here. But you say 14th Street is more active than the other streets, but you don't say it is more congested. I don't think it is. If it were, more people would use 12th which is relatively traffic free. So you have to travel a little longer on the service road, but since there are really no lights, so it doesn't really matter. Traffic tends to equalize itself that way.

  • Allan Rosen

    The old B1 never was scheduled to run more frequently than every 20 minutes. If you saw buses closer than that, it just meant one was late or early. And you are right that a bus every 20 minutes wouldn't make a difference as far as traffic is concerned. But I already explained why Avenue Z is preferable to East 14th Street. Also, the current B4 operates at 15 minute intervals during parts of the day.

  • Allan Rosen

    What does being young have to do with loving a car over mass transit? I don't see the connection. Unfortunately, I know plenty “old people” who think like you and also wouldn't be caught dead riding a train or local bus. Occasionally, I hear someone say that they've been on a train for the first time in years and they wonder what happened to all the grafitti and the trip wasn't that bad like they expected.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    My observations were not meant to justify a changed routing. I was merely speculating on how such a change would impact traffic were it to occur..

    And I had forgotten that the B1 had run at 20 minute intervals.

  • choco1cake

    Someone should FORCE the MTA to watch Undercover Boss and go out and see the REAL World. CUTS is what is needed, THEIR SALARY, take away THEIR CARS and make them use mass transit only, and NO RAISES for any of them either. Cut more upper staff cuts who make alot of money and start the lower workers on the move up, just like many companies. To bad their is not another company to change to. :(

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing when I was watching “Undercover Boss.” I couldn't believe how hard those people have to work in the “real world.” Even many of the CEOs said they never had to work so hard in their entire life. Last week, one of them was actually “fired” at the low level job because he couldn't keep up the pace.

    I know the bus drivers work real hard as do the train operators. But after having worked there in the offices for 25 years, I can assure you that no one at the MTA offices works anywhere as hard as those employees on “undercover Boss.”

    One problem with the managers at the MTA, is that the organization isn't structured so that the work is distributed evenly. Some managers have to work 10 or 12 hours a day without overtime just to keep their heads above water, while others get by for their entire career never putting in more than 3 hours of work for the entire day.

    There are some managers who just pass work up and down the chain without contributing anything of their own other than hounding employees to get the job done and then passing whatever they receive back up the chain of command. If the employees do a great job, then they get the credit as if they did the work and get promoted while the employee doing the work never gets any credit. If the employee just does an acceptable job, then the manager gets to keep his.

    Rarely is anyone demoted or fired for doing unacceptable work. The only time you get in trouble is if you are late, show up drunk, or do something else that is horrible. Mediocrity is the norm and is accepted. That is one of the major problems in a nutshell, and all the cutting they do won't fix that.

    Also, upper management at the MTA is paid about 30% more than City employees doing comparable work. Someone who would make $60,000 or $70,000 at a City Agency is paid $100,000 or nearly that at the MTA and there are many employees making over that amount, and other than the ones in Operating positions, most are not killing themselves either to make that type of money.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    Just to confirm a statement in my original post that two weeks was not enough time to review all the comments received as a result of the hearings, a friend of mine just received an e-mail from MTA New York City Transit thanking him for his 35 page submission of suggestions, but there was not enough time for them to review it before the vote today.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing when I was watching “Undercover Boss.” I couldn't believe how hard those people have to work in the “real world.” Even many of the CEOs said they never had to work so hard in their entire life. Last week, one of them was actually “fired” at the low level job because he couldn't keep up the pace.

    I know the bus drivers work real hard as do the train operators. But after having worked there in the offices for 25 years, I can assure you that no one at the MTA offices works anywhere as hard as those employees on “undercover Boss.”

    One problem with the managers at the MTA, is that the organization isn't structured so that the work is distributed evenly. Some managers have to work 10 or 12 hours a day without overtime just to keep their heads above water, while others get by for their entire career never putting in more than 3 hours of work for the entire day.

    There are some managers who just pass work up and down the chain without contributing anything of their own other than hounding employees to get the job done and then passing whatever they receive back up the chain of command. If the employees do a great job, then they get the credit as if they did the work and get promoted while the employee doing the work never gets any credit. If the employee just does an acceptable job, then the manager gets to keep his.

    Rarely is anyone demoted or fired for doing unacceptable work. The only time you get in trouble is if you are late, show up drunk, or do something else that is horrible. Mediocrity is the norm and is accepted. That is one of the major problems in a nutshell, and all the cutting they do won't fix that.

    Also, upper management at the MTA is paid about 30% more than City employees doing comparable work. Someone who would make $60,000 or $70,000 at a City Agency is paid $100,000 or nearly that at the MTA and there are many employees making over that amount, and other than the ones in Operating positions, most are not killing themselves either to make that type of money.

  • http://brooklynbus.tripod.com/ Allan Rosen

    Just to confirm a statement in my original post that two weeks was not enough time to review all the comments received as a result of the hearings, a friend of mine just received an e-mail from MTA New York City Transit thanking him for his 35 page submission of suggestions, but there was not enough time for them to review it before the vote today.

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