This is the third in a three-part series by Allan Rosen, examining why cuts are bad, how ineffective planning hurts the system, and how the MTA can deliver better results.

THE COMMUTE: Today, in the final segment of this series, I give a rundown of the much-needed, common sense changes — from planning to priorities, and buses to bias-elimination — that the MTA needs to make in order to operate more efficiently and effectively.

1. The planning process needs to be transparent so decisions made by the planners can be questioned, and possible mistakes in analyses could be easily identified and corrected.

2. Before making any additional service cuts — and I am not speaking of routine service adjustments, only ones that result in an overall reduction of service — the MTA must first make sure that it has eliminated every inefficiency they can, as well as strive to revise union regulations to permit further efficiencies. They owe that much to the riding public.

Instead, when funding is scarce or when there is a downturn in the economy, the MTA first looks to cut service rather than eliminate waste such as by improving logistics so that track workers do not have to wait around two hours for materials to be delivered in order to begin work.

3. The viewing of communities, the unions, and elected officials as enemies must end. They should be treated instead as allies who want to improve our mass transit system. No amount of money will solve that one — only a major change in attitude. You don’t make friends by ignoring them, lying to them or misleading them, as the MTA frequently does.

Case in Point – I am now waiting eight months for a reply from the MTA’s Director of Operations Planning (after numerous reminders to him and his superiors) regarding his promise to investigate moving the new B4 bus terminal at Coney Island Hospital middays and weekends so that passengers can transfer between the B4 and B68 in both directions instead of only one. The MTA must be more responsive to its passengers and be more honest with them. When you are talking about walking distances, for example, you do not measure them “as the crow flies” to minimize the impacts of service cuts, as the MTA did last year.

There are many who are not familiar with the inner workings of the MTA, who believe that all the MTA’s problems will be solved if only they received enough funding. Yes, funding is important, but it is by no means the MTA’s only major problem.

4. Misplaced priorities are another. As part of Jay Walder’s push for technology, Mr. Walder is now considering expanding the number of countdown time clocks and retrofitting 20-year-old subway cars with new electronic signage as exists in the newer cars. This new equipment will only have to be maintained by in-house forces once the manufacturers’ warranties wears out.

Is this truly more important than painting station ceilings or repairing broken subway tile? Many stations have not seen a paint job in a generation or more. Or how about repairing age-old drainage problems, which pour water from the subway station ceilings? More permanent solutions than placing a bucket under a drip need to be found. When was the last time the lack of an electronic sign discouraged you from taking a train or bus? But I bet a scary looking or poorly maintained subway station or underpass did.

5. The MTA’s bias against buses must end. The MTA tries to force people into subways even if it means longer walks and longer trips for some, like taking two or three trains, changing in Downtown Brooklyn and then a bus, as opposed to taking one direct bus (the B4) from Bay Ridge to Sheepshead Bay, for example. They did this by eliminating B4 service in Sheepshead Bay one year ago.

The MTA wants to provide as little bus service as possible because trains are cheaper to operate when you don’t consider the long-term capital costs to maintain the system. The only upkeep with buses are the buses themselves, and the depots. The subway system, on the other hand, requires upkeep of an entire infrastructure. When all costs are considered, are trains really cheaper? Buses have their place and need to be treated with the same dignity as subways, not as a stepchild.

While the MTA expands new technology in the subways, what are the chances that the GPS pilot study on the B63 will be declared a success and expanded system-wide so that the 70-year old problem of bus bunching can finally be controlled?  Or will the MTA simply conclude that the money just isn’t there? After 30 years of studying GPS and other tracking devices and spending tens of millions of dollars, their track record on this one is not good.

6. New York City Transit (NYCT) and MTA Bus need to be better integrated. Last year’s service cuts resulted in the elimination of several New York City Transit express bus lines, which performed much better than MTA Bus Express Bus routes that were retained. This was due to subsidies available for MTA Bus, which could not be applied to NYCT. Perhaps this needs to be revisited so that, when cuts are made, all routes are on the same level playing field. Better integration would also permit efficiencies such as merging the B2 and B100 operating a block apart for a portion of their routes and reassigning buses to closer depots. (A merger, however, would also require alteration of other routes like the B9 or B41 so as not to create longer walking distances for those wanting to transfer to the Brighton Line.)

7. The MTA should not be allowed to change its Service Planning Guidelines whenever it wants to. State legislative approval should be required. They need to be made public on the MTA’s Transparency tab on its website.

8. The MTA’s intolerance for diverging opinions that do not conform with the party line must end. Was it coincidence that the most outspoken MTA board member, Norman Seabrook, who voted against making last year’s service cuts, did not have his term as board member renewed when it expired?

Was it coincidence that the MTA supervisor, who promised me she would request additional service for the B1 bus, would be investigated a few months later for time fraud? MTA insiders know when the MTA wants to get rid of someone — the first thing they do is to look for irregularities with your time.

Was it coincidence that the only top MTA employee, who would honestly respond to every one of my emails (about 20) the very same day he received them, would resign a month later with the rumor being that he was forced to resign?

Okay, maybe I am getting a little paranoid, but there seems to be a pattern here of punishing those who are not following the MTA’s agenda of providing the least amount of service they can get away with politically. Their agenda should be how to best serve the public.

9. Restructure bus schedules to allow for adequate amounts of running time. Delays caused by heavy passenger loadings, as well as wheelchair passengers, must also be considered in addition to traffic congestion. A bus driver is much more likely to display his “Next Bus Please” sign if picking you up means he has to sacrifice part of his lunch break.

MTA dispatchers also need to take more corrective action to get buses closer to schedule. This may require bus drivers with one or two passengers asking them to switch buses when two buses are running together. Years ago, late B1 buses would turn around at Corbin Place when there was little passenger traffic at Kingsborough Community College, saving them about six minutes, so instead of you having to wait 20 minutes for a late bus, you would only wait 14 minutes. That’s a big saving.

10. Finally, why is it that most of the MTA’s voting board members are from the real estate and banking industries? Why are the most knowledgeable people about the system, the ones who use it, not the ones who make the decisions? If those responsible for running the system actually used it more than taking only one bus or subway line, if that much, they would understand much more and would not be so willing to cut service.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

 

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  • Ron B

    Thanks for the great info, I think the MTA has taken a different approach towards stations, where they are now trying to improve more stations by masking necessary repairs and esthetic upgrades instead of total renovations which happen every few decades.

    • Allan Rosen

      There are actually three different types of station upgrades.  These started around 20 years ago when the MTA realized there will never be enough money to fully upgrade all the stations.  I forget the exact names, but each type of upgrade had its own name.  Station Rehabilitation was the highest type of upgrade.  I think one of the others was called Station Modernization. These three typres do not include routine repairs and responding to emergency situations.

      • Ron B

        thank you

  • ajedrez

    1) Agreed

    2) Agreed

    3) The problem is that some elected officials truly are enemies of the MTA. On one hand, they’ll vote to take money from the MTA’s budget, but on the other hand, they’ll protest against service reductions.

    The same thing with communities, to a lesser extent. Some communities have prevented the MTA from creating more efficient routes by blocking an extension (like the Q79 in Floral Park)

    I’ll agree with you about responding to passenger suggestions. I’ve sent a whole bunch of suggestions to the MTA (since after the service reductions, I realized that they had a “Contact Us” section), and they didn’t respond to a single one.

    4) Admittedly, the new technology is helpful, but I agree that there are much higher priorities.

    5) You have to admit that, even after considering the fixed costs of maintaining the infrastructure, trains are probably still cheaper to operate. Still, the buses and subways generally serve two different groups of passengers, and if if a bus has decent ridership, its riders shouldn’t be forced onto the subway (because of elimination, unreliable service, or other similar causes).

    6) Agreed (though I don’t see what you’re saying about the B9 and B41).

    7) I agree with making its guidelines public and easy to understand, but I don’t agree with them requiring legislative approval to be changed (then again, I see no reason why the legislature would turn down the MTA’s request to change the guidelines)

    8) Agreed.

    9) I agree that there needs to be better dispatching (and this goes back to your complaints about excess deadheading, since dispatchers can order a deadheading bus to pick up passengers if there is a delay). However, I think the unreliability of the buses is going to just be something we’re going to have to accept. I don’t like it when buses run behind schedule, but if you give the drivers more time, there could be a large number of days where the driver is going to resort to driving slowly in order to prevent himself from getting ahead of schedule.

    10. Agreed.

    • Allan Rosen

      3. Agreed.  But you have to ask yourself how did they become that way.  I bet a lot has to do with all the times they were lied to by the MTA. One elected official who protested against the cuts and also voted for taking money away, Savino, at least had the honesty to admit, that she didn’t realize what she was voting for.  I don’t know if that would qualify her as an enemy.
      Regarding communities, having been on both sides, I will be the first to admit that communities can be a big pain and are not always rationale in their decisions.  Sometimes they don’t even represent the community but only their own interests.  Still, they should not be dismissed or lied to.  Their criticisms need to be taken seriously.

      But sometimes they are given a bum rap. CB 15 was portrayed by the media as auto loving and rejecting the B44 SBS only because they didn’t want to sacrifice parking spaces.  I was at the meetings and can tell you that simply was not the case.  CB 15 had many legitimate concerns which the MTA gave evasive responses to or simply refused to answer and they have consistently lied. For example, I wanted to know how performance measures would indicate if the SBS was a success or not.  Specifically, I was worried about the increased walking distances to SBS stops.  I said that if someone has to walk 3 extra minutes to access an SBS stop and 3 extra minutes after leaving the stop, why would you  consider a savings of 6 minutes riding the SBS a success, when the total trip time would be unchanged.  The response I received was that total trip time including walking distances would be the measured because doing anything else would be dumb.  Well, I couldn’t disagree with that answer, but look how they are measuring success on Second Avenue.  They are doing it purely by the number of minutes saved by the buses.  In other words, exactly what they said they would not do. When months passed and the MTA still would not provide requested answers, CB 15 had no choice but to reject the proposal which is moving forward anyway.

      As far as ignoring passenger suggestions, the same is true if you are an employee.  They are also ignored because of the arrogance of Operations Planning. As an employee, in 2004 I submitted about 25 route change requests as part of the Employee Suggestion Program so they were forced to respond. They rejected every single one of them with illogical and conflicting reasoning.  I appealed most of the decisions but the appeal process was a sham, and just a rubber stamp of the rejections.

      5. I said “all the costs” by that I included original subway construction costs and the cost to rebuild stations.  With buses, the MTA is not responsible for building or maintaining the roadways so I wasn’t including them.

      6. Either you eliminate the B100 or the B2 west of Flatbush Avenue.  It makes more sense to eliminate the B100 because it makes fewer stops and the B2 serves the area better.  Also, if you eliminated the B2, you would still have two routes one block apart, the B31 and the B100. The most logical routing which the MTA actually once proposed was to extend the B2 along Avenue U to serve Mill Basin. The problem with that is that people who presently use the B100 along Fillmore Avenue would have no way of accessing the Brighton Line anymore.  That’s why I would support replacing the B41 along Avenue N with a B9 rerouting or branch at least during rush hours.

      However, since the MTA today is solely concerned with costs and not how passengers are served, they are more likely to discontinue the B2 at all times and leave the B100 as is. That is why I believe they first eliminated night service, then weekend service.  It is part of their larger plan to erode ridership to justify discontinuing the route at all times.  If they wanted it to succeed, they could extend it westward at the other end past the Brighton subway to give the route more of a purpose but they would never do that.

      7. The legislature might turn down the MTAs requests to change the guidelines to make the trains more crowded because they have to answer to their consituency and because they may just want to give the MTA a hard time.

      9. I’m not sure how to answer this one because on somedays you may have three wheelchairs on one trip and on some you may not have any.  I don’t know how to plan for that.  But there are routes where drivers are consistently complaining they don’t have enough time to complete.  Some will start a few minutes early knowing they will need the time, but risk getting into trouble if they reach a time point early.  Just like they have to listen more to the communities, the MTA also needs to listen more to their own employees who are aware of many problems upper management chooses to ignore or make believe  don’t exist.

      • ajedrez

        3) Admittedly, most of the people on Sheepshead Bites (and almost all of the people on NYCTF) have a greater knowledge of transit than the politicians.

        You’re right that their concerns need to be taken seriously, though. Even if it is benefitting other riders, that change could have enough of a negative impact on them that it isn’t worth implementing it (like the B44 +SBS+). At the very least, they could try to compromise.

        And I agree that if somebody takes the time to come up with a suggestion that seems somewhat reasonable, they should at least take the time to analyze why it can’t be done. They probably can’t come up with anything for your suggestion to move the B4′s off-peak terminal to Sheepshead Bay (or at least Coney Islaand Avenue) because there is no logical reason to reject it. But, like you said, they’re arrogant.

        5) OK.

        6) Makes sense. So I guess Kings Plaza shoppers would have to use the B3 to access the Brighton Line then?

        So then the B100 would travel via Avenue R->East 36th Street->Fillmore Avenue and then continue to Mill Basin, correct?

        Somebody on Subchat suggested a good way that they could’ve cut costs on the B2 by 1/3. He said that, since the route was 18 minutes long, and drivers received 3 minutes of layover, you could have 2 buses and give the B2 21 minute headways. Instead, the MTA used 3 buses and gave the B2 20 minute headways, wasting an extra bus.

        Or alternatively, they could’ve used that extra bus to cut the headways from 20 minutes to 15 minutes. 

        7) But didn’t the legislature approve the service reductions, or that wasn’t a requirement?

        9) Agreed.

        • Allan Rosen

          3. A friend of mine suggested the B44 SBS instead of going to Knapp Street, follow the B36 route to Sheepshead Bay Station.  I think that is an excellent suggestion and much better use of resources provided the logistics of turning around articulated buses and laying them over at the Station could be worked out.

          6. That certainly is a possibile routing to keep the B100 instead of the B2 and would be better than just eliminating the B2, but it inconveniences current B2 riders because they would no longer be able to use it to get to Kings Plaza without a very long walk or an extra bus.  There may be better alternatives.

          • Allan Rosen

            Forgot 7. The legislature did not have to approve any service reductions.

          • ajedrez

            So if the +SBS+ were sent to Sheepshead Bay, what would happen to the B36? Would it just get a slight service reduction (since some passengers would shift to the +SBS+ for the short trip)

            Actually, that idea makes a lot of sense. Plus, when I lived in Brighton Beach, I remember that there was a decent amount of shopping around the Sheepshead Bay station, which should be a ridership generator in addition to the station itself.

            By the way, the guidelines would be able to be negotiated with the legislature, wouldn’t they? Say, if the MTA wanted to raise its off-peak guidelines to 150% of a seated load (instead of 100%), they would be able to negotiate to something like 125%, correct? (I guess then the MTA would try to use the strategy of asking for more than it really wants)

          • Allan Rosen

            Service on the B36 would stay as is at least during rush hours and school hours where additional service is warranted.  During off-peak it may be necessary to operate some buses between Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay Station.  This would assume that passengers would not be penalized by having to take a third bus where necessary when the current trip only requires two buses.

            When talking about the crowding guidelines, you have to remember that they are average loadings not maximum loadings which makes perfect sense.  You wouldn’t want the MTA to be forced to add a train just because the train is overcrowded between 34th Street and 42nd Street, but has ample capacity for the rest of the trip.

            The off-peak maximum guidelines used to be 100% seated load. In order for the MTA to implement the last round of subway service cuts, they had to increase the guidlines to 125%.  They did this without anyone’s approval or any public hearings.  There were no negotiations with the State Legislature.  If you increase them again to 150%, you might as well bolish them altogether. To reach a 150& of the seated guidelines on average would mean that for a good portion of the trip, trains would be at crush capacity during the off-peak and at the peak load point you wouldn’t even be able to board the first train.  That would be insane.

          • Allan Rosen

            The off-peak service guidelines need to be returned to 100% of a seated load as soon as the MTA’s financial picture improves.  It makes no sense to plan off-peak service so that many people have to stand for a good portion of their trip.  That is one way to assure that no one will leave their car home to take a train.

  • http://blog.arikatt.com Ariela B.

    Great article, Allan. Now if only someone up top would actually pay attention for once.

    • Allan Rosen

      Thanks. I’m trying to get the media interested but its hard.  They just look for senstionalism.

      • http://blog.arikatt.com Ariela B.

        It’s pretty appalling overall, so I’m surprised more on your list hasn’t been already sensationalized by now and delved into more thoroughly and publicly. Sure, there have been “public” complaints and a 60-second, ADHD-worthy spot or two on MSNBC or wherever about the conditions of the stations and back with the issues during the blizzard, but honestly I expect more from the bigger media outlets. Especially considering how nearly EVERYONE in NYC has used the MTA regularly at some point, and they ALL have opinions and horror stories. Instead all we’re shown is stories centered around the tired “MTA mishandling money” issues (which of course just come across as the MTA getting a very basic slap on the wrist by the news channels), when there’s far more they’re failing the city on than simply bad bookkeeping. If someone wold run a higher level story about the points you’re bringing to light, it may get more people thinking at least. And there’s no need to even stretch truths to turn heads, because the truth is pretty damn ugly already.

        I think the biggest problem and barrier to ANYTHING however, is the same problem that leads to the outer boroughs being ignored time and again: Those in power view Manhattan as the only part of NYC they need to worry about when it comes to money, transportation, tourism, and convenience. Nobody’s going to give a rat’s ass about putting forth smaller community-requested bus changes, for instance, when buses are such a hassle on the streets of Manhattan thanks to other street traffic, and everything is seen on an ignorant and blindly comparative level (“well if we don’t need it, they shouldn’t”). Yes, most days I’d rather hop a train or walk 10 blocks in the city than bother with a bus, but down here in Brooklyn and the other boroughs it’s another matter entirely. Unfortunately we’re also running very low on public officials who will actually stand for and push what matters the most out here.

        I wish there was a clue-by-four big enough to thwack all the city and MTA officials with at once.

      • http://blog.arikatt.com Ariela B.

        It’s pretty appalling overall, so I’m surprised more on your list hasn’t been already sensationalized by now and delved into more thoroughly and publicly. Sure, there have been “public” complaints and a 60-second, ADHD-worthy spot or two on MSNBC or wherever about the conditions of the stations and back with the issues during the blizzard, but honestly I expect more from the bigger media outlets. Especially considering how nearly EVERYONE in NYC has used the MTA regularly at some point, and they ALL have opinions and horror stories. Instead all we’re shown is stories centered around the tired “MTA mishandling money” issues (which of course just come across as the MTA getting a very basic slap on the wrist by the news channels), when there’s far more they’re failing the city on than simply bad bookkeeping. If someone wold run a higher level story about the points you’re bringing to light, it may get more people thinking at least. And there’s no need to even stretch truths to turn heads, because the truth is pretty damn ugly already.

        I think the biggest problem and barrier to ANYTHING however, is the same problem that leads to the outer boroughs being ignored time and again: Those in power view Manhattan as the only part of NYC they need to worry about when it comes to money, transportation, tourism, and convenience. Nobody’s going to give a rat’s ass about putting forth smaller community-requested bus changes, for instance, when buses are such a hassle on the streets of Manhattan thanks to other street traffic, and everything is seen on an ignorant and blindly comparative level (“well if we don’t need it, they shouldn’t”). Yes, most days I’d rather hop a train or walk 10 blocks in the city than bother with a bus, but down here in Brooklyn and the other boroughs it’s another matter entirely. Unfortunately we’re also running very low on public officials who will actually stand for and push what matters the most out here.

        I wish there was a clue-by-four big enough to thwack all the city and MTA officials with at once.

  • winson

    perhaps you can also talk about how the MTA wastes money by ordering new buses and subway cars when the ones we have right now are doing just fine. I was surprised to learn MTA buses on average operate for around 15 years only. Those LFS buses on the B36, B1, B3 etc are not really necessary as the RTSs that have always operated there are doing just fine. The new buses are also quite ugly IMO. The MTA already has retirement plans for the R62/62A and R68/68A subway cars even though they can last past 2030. I admit those R160s are great and the cars they replaced were certainly not suitable for service anymore (the oldest in the system is the 47-years-old R32s on the C line), but the MTA should not be so hasty with retiring cars if they can remain in service for a little while longer.

    • ajedrez

      I think they get federal money to pay for the subway cars (I heard that the federal government pays 80% of the costs). Still, I agree that they should find better uses for the 20% that they do have to pay.

      The thing that I’ve noticed about each generation of buses is that they have less and less capacity. The Orion V/VIIs have more capacity than the hybrids (because people don’t like to move back), which have more capacity than the new LFSs (because of the seating arrangement). On routes that get crowded (like the routes you mentioned), it really isn’t a good idea to be putting the LFSs on those routes.

    • Allan Rosen

      You really can’t be sure that they are wasting money by ordering new buses and trains. It all depends on the cost of maintaining older cars and buses.  At some point in time it no longer makes sense to keep old equipment.  However, if they are replacing equipment simply because someone else is paying for it and no one is helping them maintain the older equipment, that would be dumb from a public perspective but not from their perspective.

      As far as 15 years being too long to short to keep a bus around, that may not be true.  I remember hearing back in the 1980s that 10 years was optimal.  They were keeping buses for 20 years back them because they couldn’t afford to buy new ones back then.

      There are, however, circumstances when you would keep trains around a few years longer just because they are needed in service.  I remember when either the R10s or R30s were being scrapped, I’m not sure which, Bed Stuy was asking the train length of the C train be extended by two cars because of overcrowding.  The MTA declined saying there was a car shortage but at the same time was scrapping cars which could have been used for that purpose for several years until the next new car orders would arrive. 

  • Ron B

    I was really upset when the B-37 was eliminated. I remember taking the B-34 and later the B-1 to 3rd Avenue & Bay Ridge Avenue to catch the B-37 to A&S. I am still outraged over this loss.

    • Allan Rosen

      The MTA never provided the numbers so one could make a determination if the route elimination was justified or not. They more or less said, “Just trust us.”  We know where that gets us.

  • Al D

    Thanks for writing this article.

    2. I’ve always read here and there about union regulations that are inefficient.  Can you name 3 examples of this?  You are kidding (I hope!) about track workers ready for work and the materials showing up hours later.3. You are spot on here.  They work in a vacuum, shutting everybody else out.  And it seems, particularly for the bus outfit, that they truly hate providing bus service as an organizational culture.  Otherwise, why would it be so piss poor for all these decades? I made a sensible suggestion regarding the B62 (yes, northern Brooklyn all) that would greatly minimize risk to passengers and make a transfer infinitely more convenient whilst adding maybe 1 minute to the route’s run time, and at least a year later, the change has not been made.4. The countdown clocks are quite useful, but I agree that retrofitting equipment that is actually 25 years old and older makes no sense. Additionally I think that a missed savings opportunity is that the new countdown clocks should use conventional LCD displays or TVs instead of custom built displays. This would keep replacement costs down, and permits multiple suppliers to compete on price.5. It’s good to know where the buses are en route.  As you put (and well), the same problems have existed for decades whilst life has sped up significantly. But bus travel has not.  I cannot, in my right mind, even consider for a moment taking a 45 minute bus trip that would take 15 minutes car.  And, if you add the uncertainty of what could be a 45 minute wait for a jammed packed bus, it just makes no sense.Also when bus drivers pull over and just wait for no apparent reason other than to adhere to a schedule.  It’s maddening watching all the cars whiz by.  Just revise the damned schedule instead!6. The BM3 is a classic case of this, as is the B103.  The B103 is EMPTY on weekends. Cancel it and save money.  Add the buses to routes that actually need more buses.8. MTA is an organization of turf wars and dysfunction.  Walder needs to reinvent the place from the ground up and get rid of the some of the dead weight there while he’s at it.  I’d bet that if this were done, NYCT HQ would actually get more things done faster with less staff and less bureaucracy.9. It seems that nowadays, an empty bus will simply follow the packed bus and that packed bus is already running behind.  In the old days, at least the empty bus would pass, and proceed to the next stop providing at least the appearance of making up time. What has changed in the work rules to encourage drivers to just ‘follow the leader’ blindly?

    • Allan Rosen

      I’m not an expert in union regulations.  In fact I know very little about them.  All I can say is that the LIRR is notorious for having outdated regulations that benefit the employee and tie the nads of management.

      The track worker example I gave was part of a series from one of the TV stations last year or the year before.  I think it was Channel 2 but I could be wrong.  The other example was they work for 2 hours and get paid for eight.  Had something to do with the fact that they had to be off the tracks before the evening rush hour began.  They had to be paid for a full days work by contract with the union.

      They wouldn’t listen to your B62 proposal because the entire focus is on saving money and not spending one cent extra to help the passenger.

      As far as scheduling, that’s not an easy one to tackle.  No two days are alike. so if you add running time so that it works most of the time, there still will be days when the extra time is not needed and the drivers will wait as you say.  I don’t think that can be avoided.

      The B103s are empty because the MTA does not care since the City makes up the loss via subsidy for MTA Bus.  That was the only condition under which the MTA agreed to take over the Privates.  If those buses were NYCT, they would have been eliminated a long time ago.  That’s what I meant by an unlevel playing field.

      I’m not sure why drivers follow the leader blindly but they still pass each other in some cases.

      Yes, there is a lot of dead weight. In fact, I was part of that problem my last couple of years, but would rather not talk about that. The problem is that some managers view their jobs merely as a mechanism to pass down instructions from above, then forward the results back up the ladder (sometimes without even reading what they send) contributing nothing to the process.  They only want to know why an assignment is late so they can badger their employees to hand it in on time.  If they have poor employees, its a story of garbage in garbage out.  If their employees are consciensious and produce good results all the time, guess  who gets the credit and the promotion, the do nothing manager, not the people actually doing the good work who aren’t even recognized for their efforts.

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