Following a request by Community Board 15, the Department of Transportation will make its second appearance before the board tomorrow evening to address concerns about the Select Bus Service route planned to replace the B44 Limited along Nostrand Avenue.

Allan Rosen has been doing a tremendous job covering all the concerns – and some benefits – that Select Bus Service (a.k.a. Bus Rapid Transit) will have along Nostrand Avenue, particularly focused on the Southern Brooklyn portion of the route. After some delays, the city is expected to begin implementation in early 2013, but has yet to answer all of the questions raised by the community.

One of the important considerations is parking, for which the DOT has given differing answers on how it’ll affect the area. At a hearing late last month, a DOT spokesman to Sheepshead Bites that only 5 to 10 parking spaces would be eliminated in the neighborhood. But another DOT rep at the same meeting told Rosen that there would be no net loss to parking, as spaces that are eliminated below the Junction will be replaced by new spaces as some bus stops are eliminated.

When the DOT last appeared before the Board – in May 2010 – they were faced with an antagonistic crowd concerned the larger buses would eliminate much needed parking spaces, that the benefits are being overstated, that the costs and nuisance are not worth the four-t0-eight minute cut in commute time, and that fare evasion will sky rocket with the off-board payment system. We’ll see tomorrow if residents have warmed up to the proposal – which has gone relatively unchanged – in the 17 months since their last appearance.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, October 25, at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard) in the Faculty Dining Room.

*The original version of this article stated that an MTA representative told Rosen that they were unclear of the net loss. That was an error. The correct information is now published above.

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  • transportation equity

    Repurposing underpriced car parking spaces for better bus service? Sounds good to me.

  • Andrew

    Good.  I realize there isn’t much time, but might I recommend that attendees first try to find the time to ride one of the existing SBS routes (M15 or Bx12)?  That way you’ll at least get a basic idea of what SBS is and how it differs from other bus service, so you’ll be able to make intelligent, informed comments.

    Otherwise, you’ll be no better than the supposed bus planners whom Mr. Rosen alleges plan in a vacuum and never ride the buses.

    • Allan Rosen

      Yes, please come and make intelligent informed comments like asking the MTA why they do not have to prove that more people will save time rather than lose time south of Avenue X where drivers will be stuck in traffic not being able to make left turns for two or more cycles and through traffic will be waiting behind them when the exclusive lanes will be in effect at the same time buses will be barreling through carrying only three to six passengers south of Avenue Z.

      Ask them why one DOT rep stated 100 parking spaces wil be lost north of the Junction and another stated 150 on the same day to two different people. Those are legitimate questions Andrew.

      • Andrew

        Well?  Have you had a chance to ride either of the existing SBS lines yet?  Or are you still armchair-planning in a vacuum?

        I think it’s pretty clear that you don’t ride the B44, that you have no interest in riding the B44, and that you probably don’t have much interest in improving service for people who do ride the B44, at least not if doing so might make it a little less convenient for you to drive your car.

        The fact is that SBS works on the Bx12 and the M15.  It’s not perfect – there are plenty of minor flaws – but it’s so much better than what was there before that I’d rather see it expanded, minor flaws and all, to other lines rather than try to kill it over petty issues.  Most of your concerns are very minor or affect a tiny number of people compared to the potential ridership.  You’re worried about 50 parking spaces?  That’s less than one busload!

        Get out there and ride SBS.

        • Allan Rosen

          If more people will be helped than will be hurt as the MTA and DOT alleges they havevthe burden to prove that by exposing all the facts, not by giving one half of the story like they have been doing. That is a fair request and far from being petty.

          They give a number as to the total number of minutes saved by bus riders. Where is the number for the estimated number of minutes lost by cars and trucks or the estimated loss in revenue for some affected businesses? Do you really think that people will travel further by bus to local ma and pa shops
          because they might save a few minutes by bus which would only wipe out
          that time savings.

          Do you think it makes sense to double the amount of service on a portion of the route that has only half a dozen riders for them to save four minutes to get them to a station they do not want to go to while at the same time make them stand in crush loaded buses that do go where they want to go (Sheepshead Bay Station) and not providing more buses there so that some have to rely on car services instead which the MTA does not consider part of the demand? Is it wrong to suggest an alternative which would add many more people to the SBS? Yes, these are petty issues indeed.

          As I’ve stated, even if the SBS works well in Manhattan and the Bronx, doesn’t mean it will work as well in Brooklyn. But don’t expect to see that from the slanted statistics the MTA collects which will show it working like a charm by only showing half the data and biasing it like they usually do.

          • Flatbush Depot

            Allan, I must respectfully make points, some of which I have made before.

            1. Ridership on the B4 may not be very self-sustaining since it doesn’t have a solid ridership base and suffers from everything local/limited buses suffer from. The local/limited bus system just not a stable system and typically the only way it has solid ridership is if its riders have no choice but to use it. This is the case in dense areas where it’s very hard to find parking. Even if they had a B4 going to the station every 5 minutes, it would still be affected by the variables that affect local/limited buses and people may not be encouraged to use it since they just don’t want to deal with that system after having dealt with so many headaches caused by them using that system. It’s like: “You have a bus every 5 minutes instead of 15, BUT…it’s the same system you’ve always dealt with. There is still on-board fare collection, signals, stops every 2-3 blocks apart, the fact that nobody is perfect, and people running for the bus, adding to the line of people already waiting to board and pay.

            2. If the people see this system that they’ve never used before and seems better than the local/limited bus, they’re more likely to use it than if you just make a minor improvement to a system that most know and frankly don’t like very much. Some hate it with a passion.

            3. I’m not sure so many more people would ride the B44 if it went to Sheepshead Bay station, and it would rob those south of Avenue Z of a better service. What I would like is an extension to Pike Street & Cherry Street in the Lower East Side, as long as there is a westbound bus lane on the Williamsburg Bridge and Delancey Street until about Essex Street or so since the bus has to get into the (current) left turn lane. There should also be a second left turn lane here, so “the (current) left turn lane” would become “any available left turn lane.” The route should have an intermediate stop at Allen St-Grand St (M15 local, M15 SBS, and (B) and (D) trains). I like Pike & Cherry as a terminal because it’s a very dense area. This extension wouldn’t take any service away from anybody along the B44′s corridor. There should be an eastbound bus lane only if the eastbound side of the bridge has traffic problems like the westbound side, but from what I understand the eastbound side never has problems unless there is an incident or accident that affects bridge traffic.

            4. Major destinations served directly by BMT Brighton line trains but not Brooklyn IRT Nostrand line trains or IND Fulton St line trains: Rockefeller Ctr. Herald Sq.

            Major destinations served directly by Brighton line as well as either Nostrand line or Fulton line trains: Times Sq. Penn Station. Washington Sq. Union Sq. Atlantic Terminal.

            Major destinations served directly by Nostrand line or Fulton line trains but not Brighton line trains: Grand Central. City Hall. Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn Borough Hall and that immediate area. Grand Army Plaza/Brooklyn Public Library. Brooklyn Museum of Art.

            -Are you suggesting that people ride the B44 SBS all the way to Fulton Street, to transfer to the (A) and (C) trains?

            -Yes, if they are not extremely cautious people and have not had extraordinarily bad experiences in the areas in question, and if they know they can make these connections. And if my estimates turn out to be accurate.

            Some of the things I wrote depend on the accuracy of my estimates of the maximum amount of time it will take for a B44 SBS bus to complete a one-way trip (45 mins northbound, 46 mins southbound). I don’t agree with the estimates provided by the MTA/DOT, so nothing, absolutely NOTHING, is set in stone until we actually see what happens in a year. If my estimates are correct, one can reach destinations served directly by the Brighton line and Fulton line trains in the same amount of time or less if they use the Fulton line rather than the Brighton line, even with the 2- to 4-minute walk from Bedford Av-Fulton St to Franklin Av-Fulton St or Nostrand Av-Fulton St, respectively.

            Also Sheepshead Bay station is looking even seedier than or just as seedy as Franklin Av-Fulton St on the (C), Nostrand Av-Fulton St on the (A) and (C), and Flatbush Av-Nostrand Av on the (2) and (5) right about now, given the infamous Sheepshead Bay Train Station Tales.

          • Flatbush Depot

            For a return trip the 2- to 4-minute walk doesn’t even count, since the Nostrand Av-Fulton St bus stop and subway station exit/entrance are just a couple hundred feet away from each other.

          • Flatbush Depot

            And I made a mistake. Penn Station is directly served by only the Nostrand and Fulton lines, not the Brighton line.

            Major destinations served directly by BMT Brighton line trains but not Brooklyn IRT Nostrand line trains or IND Fulton St line trains: Rockefeller Ctr. Herald Sq.Major destinations served directly by Brighton line as well as either Nostrand line or Fulton line trains: Times Sq. Washington Sq. Union Sq. Atlantic Terminal.Major destinations served directly by Nostrand line or Fulton line trains but not Brighton line trains: Penn Station. Grand Central. City Hall. Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn Borough Hall and that immediate area. Grand Army Plaza/Brooklyn Public Library. Brooklyn Museum of Art.

          • Flatbush Depot

            Formatting sucks. So many specifications.

            Major destinations served directly by BMT Brighton line trains but not Brooklyn IRT Nostrand line trains or IND Fulton St line trains: Rockefeller Ctr. Herald Sq.
            Major destinations served directly by Brighton line as well as either Nostrand line or Fulton line trains: Times Sq. Penn Station. Washington Sq. Union Sq. Atlantic Terminal.Major destinations served directly by Nostrand line or Fulton line trains but not Brighton line trains: Grand Central. City Hall. Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn Borough Hall and that immediate area. Grand Army Plaza/Brooklyn Public Library. Brooklyn Museum of Art.

          • Allan Rosen

            I’ve already discussed with you on another forum why I believe your SBS travel estimates to be incorrect and the MTA’s to closer than yours to reality. So I won’t repeat myself other than to state, one factor you are not considering are cars parking by the curb lane. They will have to temporarily wait in the bus lane in orde to park. Buses will be delayed unless there is room for them to switch into the car lane. Even a delay of 10 seconds would be enough for them to miss a traffic signal. With cars parking and leaving about every 15 to 30 minutes, one bus can be expected to be delayed several times in one trip. That alone will add several minutes that you are not considering.

            Your point about people not wanting to ride the B4 even if it ran every 5 minutes because it suffers from the same problems as every other local route is only true as it relates to those making long trips on the route. It would not apply to short trips to the subway station taking only about 10 minutes riding time. That is not to say that increasing service to that level would be cost effective.

            As far as your lengthy description of which lines serve which stations, I think is not all that important since there are transfers available between the Brighton Line and the IRT at Atlantic Avenue. As for someone riding Sheepshead Bay all the way to the A train even with SBS is doubtful. I can’t imagine anyone doing that. A train passengers can just transfer from the B train at West 4th Street or Columbus Circle on weekdays. On weekends two transfers would be needed, but the A isn’t that convenient either in the northbound direction.

            I agree that consideration should be given to extending the SBS over the Manhattan Bridge especially on weekends. That is the only scenario I can think of why someone might ride the entire length of the route, to travel to Manhattan without using the subway. I even suggested that in an earlier article.

          • Flatbush Depot

            You’re grasping at straws with that comment about parking. If somebody is parking, the bus can only be delayed if it does not have room to enter the adjacent lane because there is too much traffic. Things like a car parking can be seen from far away, so a bus operator or any other motorist has plenty of time to make a decision.

            This cannot possibly contribute more than a couple of minutes (if that) to a bus trip, as my friend is a bus operator who drives through areas in the Bronx that are just as densely populated as areas along the B44′s corridor. If what you said really happened, he’d be complaining to me about it every time I see him. In fact, I’ll ask him how often cars park in front of him when he’s traveling in the right lane.

            And transferring between subways is easier said than done, especially when the connection cannot be made by simply walking across the platform. A lot of people want to make fewer transfers so that they can sit and contemplate, read, write, study, or listen to music. Easy to do if you’re getting on at the first stop (Flatbush Avenue IRT).

            Just the fact that the train is sitting at the terminal for a minute or so, depending on when you get there, is an important psychological factor as it relaxes the mind more so than a situation where you have to stand at a non-terminal station (Sheepshead Bay BMT) or sit on a bench waiting for the train, and then [get up and] board the train and try to find a seat when it arrives.

            By the way I would do what you said you can’t imagine anybody doing. If my estimates turn out to be accurate.

          • Flatbush Depot

            If my estimates turn out to be accurate and such a trip either adds negligible travel time or saves time (which is possible in practice, though not necessarily on paper).

            Oh, and the situation at the Brighton line stations includes the walk up the stairs to reach a platform, which requires more energy than walking down the stairs to reach an underground platform at Flatbush Avenue-Nostrand Avenue (or Nostrand Avenue-Fulton Street or Franklin Avenue-Fulton Street). Good for exercise, not so good if you want to be relaxed before you get to work or class.

          • Andrew

            I mostly agree with you.  I don’t think that extending the B44 over the bridge makes sense – aside from the substantial increased cost, running a bus over an East River bridge introduces a major source of unreliability to the entire line.  The bridge does not and will not have a bus lane (and I’m shocked that Allan doesn’t object strenuously to your suggestion that one of four Manhattan-bound lanes be reserved for buses), nor do the bridge approaches.  It’s also not clear to me who would ride the bus over the bridge.  Anybody transferring to the J/M/Z/F can get the J/M/Z at Marcy and get across the bridge in less time, and the M provides largely the same service as the F in Manhattan, at least on weekdays.  And I could be wrong, but I don’t see the Delancey Street area itself generating much ridership for the B44.

          • Allan Rosen

            Actually I wouldn’t oppose a part-time lane reserved for buses, but not during rush hours or midday if traffic is heavy. I think SBS over the bridge has great potential as long as measures are taken so that reliability is not sacrificed. I even proposed it in an earlier article. I think it has greatest potential if it operated over the bridge beginning at 7PM until 6AM and all day weekends and holidays. People would use it to avoid the subways during those hours. some just don’t like taking them at night but would use a bus. (I know there is no SBS proposed for nightime, but a local from midnight to 6 AM would be just as good.) But that is too much too expect from the limited thinking potential of the MTA planners.

          • Andrew

            How kind of you to agree to a bus lane exactly when it’s least useful!

            Why on earth would you propose an extension to Manhattan off-peak only?

          • Allan Rosen

            1. Because cars and trucks are delayed enough during the rush hours.  I’m not sure, but if it takes 15 minutes to go over the bridge now in the rush hour, why make it 30? Taking away a lane would make it intolerable for them.  But that wouldn’t be any of your concern because they don’t matter in your opinion.  

            2. An extension during the peak would only make the route unreliable without a special lane which I just explained would not be a good idea.  In the off-peak, hopefully reliability wouldn’t be an issue and as I said it might encourage more people to come into Manhattan who would not otherwise because they do not want to ride the subway or pay the $5.50 for Express Bus.

          • Andrew

            The whole point of a bus lane is to give buses priority on crowded streets, since they’re much more space-efficient.  If you’re only willing to have bus lanes when the street isn’t congested, there’s no point in having bus lanes.

            I don’t think a bus lane here makes sense because I don’t think a bus route here makes sense.
            How many people do you really think would be attracted to Manhattan by a bus that will drop them off at one corner of the Lower East Side when there are already plenty of subway lines that run into Manhattan?  This isn’t the 1980′s anymore – most people don’t have any concerns with riding the subway.  Anybody with difficulty climbing stairs can use a number of ADA accessible stations around Manhattan.  (If they’re starting on the B44, they can transfer to the 2 train at Flatbush Avenue.)

          • Allan Rosen

            If the bus lane will slow down traffic from 30 mph to 20 mph, I could perhaps see the need for one.  I’d also rather see a parking lane be removed for a bus lane than a moving traffic lane.  FYI, when SBS was first announced, that was what they MTA said they were going to do. They never said anything about removing traffic lanes.

            If the B44 SBS were extended to Manhattan they could transfer to the M15 SBS, providing a network of SBS routes where people could avoid local buses altogether. That I think would be the attraction.  And also even if it is not the 1980s, there is still a considerable population that are frequent bus users who wouldn’t think of setting foot in the subway.

          • Andrew

            I don’t see the point in turning SBS into a network of its own.  SBS connects with non-SBS buses and the subway; there’s no reason for somebody to plan a trip around SBS routes only.

            The population of frequent bus users who wouldn’t think of setting foot in the subway is, relatively speaking, tiny.  (It also tends to be a relatively elderly population, perhaps consisting largely of those who haven’t ridden the subway since the 70′s or 80′s and haven’t seen firsthand how it’s improved.  As time passes, the new elderly will be more familiar with the post-80′s subway and won’t be afraid to ride it.)

          • Andrew

            Many more people will be helped than will be hurt, just as many more people were helped than were hurt on the Bx12 and M15.  Maybe if you were willing to ride them, you’d be able to see that for yourself.

            The number of minutes lost by cars and trucks is negligible, since Nostrand Avenue is part of a dense grid with many other options and because improved bus service will itself reduce the rate of driving.  Small local businesses without parking lots generally don’t get all that much drive-up traffic – it only seems that they do because cars take up so much space.  (In many cases, also, the owner and employees drive to work and park on the street – illegally feeding the meter at spaces intended for shoppers – and then turn around and complain that there isn’t enough parking for their customers!)  Don’t assume that everybody makes the same mode choices that you do.

            I’m curious, by the way – you seem to be highly concerned about the possibility of any slowdown to drivers and about any reduction in parking.  Are you equally concerned when, say, a roadway is widened at the expense of a sidewalk or bike lane, or is it only drivers who count?

            If ridership at the south end of the line remains very low, there’s no reason the local can’t be cut back again – nothing here is set in stone.  The advantage to extending the local is that curbside fare payment equipment doesn’t have to be installed at each and every stop.  But once smartcards come along, the curbside equipment won’t be needed, and there will be more flexibility to reassign stops and stopping patterns.

            As I’ve said before, your alternative is an interesting one, and I think it’s worthy of consideration.  But I wouldn’t assume that everybody wants the Sheepshead Bay station and nobody wants the Flatbush Avenue station.  They’re on different lines and they go to different places.  In my experience the B and Q are more crowded than the 2 and 5 in Brooklyn, so there’s certainly nothing wrong with attracting more riders off the B/Q and onto the 2/5.  Don’t assume that everybody makes the same route choices that you do.

            I’m asking you to look at SBS as it exists today to inform your arguments.  No, it won’t be exactly the same in Brooklyn, but I think you’d have a much better sense of what the pros and cons are and how the SBS concept can be adapted to the Brooklyn setting.  For someone who’s written thousands of words on SBS, it’s astonishing that you haven’t ridden either of the two existing lines – yet you have the chutzpah to insist that the MTA’s planners “plan in a vacuum” and “never ride the buses.”  Look in the mirror – you, sir, are the vacuum planner.

          • Allan Rosen

            First of all it’s not a case of “willing to ride them.”  I take buses and trains when I need to get some place (other than the nostalgia train)  like most normal people not just for the heck of it like subway and bus fanatics which I am not.  There you go, jumping to conclusions again.  And since I wouldn’t have a frame of reference to base my opinion on. even if I did ride them, I would have no way of knowing if they were indeed helping or not, even if I did ride the SBS.  I also wouldn’t know how other users of the street feel about it, but their opinion doesn’t matter anyway according to you.

            Regarding your second point regarding a grid and many other options for drivers.  Again, you obviously have no personal experience in this matter.  You are just speaking from looking at a map, similar to the way MTA plans its bus routes.  I could tell you to try all the alternatives in the morning rush hour to try to cross Eastern Parkway by car if I used your logic, but I won’t.  I have made that trip about a dozen times.  (If I admit to any more, you would just lecture me that I should be in the train so I won’t.)  The truth is that there are no good alternatives.  All the northbound streets are jammed.  It can take about 15 minutes to get between Empire Blvd and Eastern Parkway on Nostrand or any alternative, because Eastern Parkway gets the priority signalization and that will not change even after SBS. I haven’t really tried the southbound trip in the evening, so I wouldn’t know what happens between Atlantic and Eastern Parkway, but I would imagine the experience would be similar.  

            Yes, a bus lane would be quicker for buses, but you could be doubling the time it would take to cross by car.  However, I wouldn’t dispute that more people would still be helped than hurt by this lane during rush hours.  I’m not so sure about  the off-peak however since during those hours, the parking lane will not be used for moving traffic and the buses will be emptier.   To say the number of minutes that will be lost by cars and trucks will be negligible is untrue.  You also are not considering the cost to truckers and how increased costs will be passed on to the consumer.  You should know all the facts before making your claims.

            If you know anything about me you would know that I have been pro-mass transit my entire life, having never had access to a car until I became 20. That is one of the reasons, I made mass transit my career. To say I only care about drivers is just another totally wrong assumption on your part.  I care about what is right and that people are given all the facts. I am not concerned about any reduction in parking.  I think removing 10 or even 20 parking spots for a worthwhile purpose is no big deal if there is no way to avoid it. The thing is when that happens, there is a good chance they could be replaced if someone at DOT cared to replace them.  There are hundreds or perhaps over a thousand parking spots that are banned for no logical reason.  In many instances, there was a reason ten years ago, but no one ever evaluates “no parking zones” to see if any stops could be replaced, perhaps part time, because the original reason for banning them no longer exists. I see this all the time. Hey, but what does that matter to you, you don’t think that there should be any free parking at all?  Right?  

            In some cases, it can make sense to widen a street and narrow a sidewalk.  It depends on its usage.  However, most of these sidewalks have already been narrowed already to the bare minimum.  I can’t think of a location where it would make sense to do this today. I’ve never seen a roadway widened at the expense of a bike lane except for Kent Avenue where a bike lane was removed.  I disagreed with that removal because I didn’t agree with the protestors who objected to scantily clad women from outside their neighborhood riding their bikes through their streets.  It is not “their” streets.  They are public and everyone has a right to use them  Besides, I say the more scantily clad women the better.  

            How do you figure that curbside equipment will not be needed once smart cards come along? How will people enter the rear door of an SBS if they don’t pre-pay off-board? 

            As I stated to Flatbush Depot, I think most people just want to get to the closest subway.  Since there is a transfer at Atlantic Avenue between the three lines, another at Union Square for the Lex, one at Times Square for the 7th Avenue Line, another at 59th for the Lex, one at Columbus Circle for the B and 7th Bway line, and more that I haven’t mentioned, I don’t think people care that much about the destination of the train they first board unless it is late at night and they want to minimize transferring.

            Finally, maybe I haven’t personally ridden the SBS, but I have a close friend who rides buses all day long in all the boroughs, five days a week in order to perform her job duties and she absolutely hates the SBS. She has to drag a cart for her job and the extra walking distance to it makes it difficult to use.  Often she has to rely on the M15 local which she tells me has gotten twice as worse since the SBS was instituted.  It is now slower because it is always crowded and sometimes she has to wait 30 minutes for it because she has no other choice.  She never waited more than 15  for the M15 before the SBS was put in.  You won’t find statistics about wait times for the local in the  MTA statistics.  All they will tell you is how much faster the SBS is running. I think I know exactly what we have to look forward to when it comes to Brooklyn.

          • Andrew

            If you were willing to take one or two rides on SBS, you might get a sense of how it helps and how people use it.

            You accuse the MTA’s planners of never riding the buses.  You accuse me of having no personal experience driving.  (Neither of which is the case.)  Yet you’ve pontificated for pages and pages on SBS without having ever ridden SBS.  HYPOCRITE!

            Why do you bring up Eastern Parkway?

            A bus lane would not double travel times for cars.  That’s plainly absurd.  As I’ve said, enough drivers have ample alternatives (using other driving routes, or using the bus, or driving at less busy times of day) that, following the initial adjustment period, travel times would only increase a little bit, if that.

            I certainly think that this city spends far too much effort trying to placate a minority of its residents (I’m referring here to car owners, by the way) who already consume a highly disproportionate share of public land.  It’s not the city’s responsibility to ensure that you have somewhere to store your private property.  That is especially true when the city would like to repurpose some parking spaces for something of potential use to all New Yorkers, such as bus lanes.

            For decades, city streets have been routinely widened at the expense of the sidewalks.  Did you find that at all objectionable?  Did you insist on seeing exactly how many pedestrians would be inconvenienced?  Or do you only insist on precise numbers when it’s motorists who might be inconvenienced?

            SBS buses (I’m not sure what the plan is for other buses) will have smartcard readers at all three doors.  The current machines are temporary.

            You are absolutely incorrect when it comes to the subway.  People prefer to avoid transfers, because transfers add time and uncertainty.  If I can sit on a bus for a few more minutes to reach the train that will take me directly to my destination (and get a seat, since I’ll be getting on at the terminal!), it’s worth it.

            The fact is that SBS has an extremely high satisfaction rate.  See, for instance, this report from 2009.  Also note that SBS buses are quite crowded; if the local is truly as infrequent as your friend claims (which, of course, it isn’t), that would indicate much higher ridership on SBS than on the local.

          • Allan Rosen

            You are so sure that you are right you won’t even read or understand what anyone else has to say on the issue.  I’m not going to keep repeating  myself.

            Call me a hypocrite if calling people names makes you feel better.  I already explained why I haven’t ridden an SBS and why riding one will not help me form a different opinion about what will happen on the B44 SBS which is what we are talking about, not how great or not so great it has been in he Bronx or Manhattan.

            I explained why I brought up Eastern Parkway if you would only bother reading what I wrote. Because you talked about the dense grid and all the alternatives drivers have to Nostrand and Rogers. I was explaining how even with that dense grid, in the morning rush it still takes up to 15 minutes to travel between Empire Blvd and Eastern Parkway in the AM rush, no matter which of the alternatives you choose.  Removing a lane will makes matters much worse.  If they could use the bus, they would be doing that already and SBS will not get them out of their cars because the overwhelming majority of drivers along Nostrand Avenue do not have both their origin and destination in the corridor, so they still would need at least one more slow bus to make their trip.

            How do you know if travel times would only increase a little bit after the adjustment period if you are only going to measure travel times on Nostrand and Rogers? Who will be counting additional cars on the BQE or all the other streets in the dense grid to speak of?  Not DOT.

            Then you go off on your anti-automobile tirade once again which has nothing to do with SBS.  You talk about all the streets that have been widened inconveniencing all those poor pedestrians and how horrible that has been for them. In Brooklyn, that would apply to Emmons Avenue and 4th Avenue that were widened in the 1970s.  Guess what, even with narrower sidewalks, they are still empty!!!  No one is walking in the street because of overflowing sidewalks.  So who exactly was inconvenienced? In Manhattan, I will grant you that pedestrians along 5th Avenue were inconvenienced with a little more crowding with the widening of that street.  But who benefited from that the most?  It was all the local and express bus riders along 5th Avenue, not the automobiles.  You have no argument here.  You just lose.

            As far as transferring between train, I already explained that most people would not want to make extra transfers in the non-rush hours, but I really doubt it if is is much of a factor in the rush hours.  Why don’t you do a survey asking B44 riders, south of the Junction, how many will ride to the A train once SBS starts.  I think you will find very few, like maybe 10% or less.

            I looked at the report you linked showing the “extremely high” satisfaction rate for SBS.  IT is no different than any other MTA evaluation that first draws its conclusions, then goes out to find the data to prove them.  Why don’t you read between the lines to what they are not telling you?

            The tell you that bus travel times decreased by 20%.  No mention is made of overall travel time for the passenger which would include increased walking time to the SBS stops. They said that 32% of local customers said that their travel time also improved due to SBS.  That means 68% of local riders believed their travel time did not improve or got worse. Why isn’t the breakdown shown of what percentage believes their trip stayed the same and what percentage believed their trips were slowed.  Could it be that perhaps, 50% believe their trips were slowed down by SBS because of more crowded locals and fewer of them? Why is it the MTA only shows you the numbers they want you to see? (See my article today.)

            Go ahead and call my friend a liar which you just did because she doesn’t agree with you. Did it ever occur to you that some people may be forced into taking the SBS although they do not want to just because it is coming every five minutes and after seeing 4 or 5 pass by in a row without a local, they just finally give up and board it and that’s why it is so crowded?  

             

             

          • Andrew

            If it’s OK for you to pontificate about all the shortcomings of SBS without ever having ridden SBS, then why do you accuse the MTA’s planners of never riding the buses?  If it’s OK for you, why isn’t it OK for them?

            I thought your primary concern regarding travel time for drivers was south of Avenue X.  Why did you suddenly shift up north?

            You claim that “If they could use the bus, they would be doing that already.”  Where on earth do you come up with that idea?  Lots of people have multiple options to reach their desired destinations.  Some drivers certainly could take the bus, but they find driving faster or more reliable.  If the B44 were made faster or less reliable, and/or driving were made slower or less reliable, then some of those drivers would switch to the bus.  They didn’t teach you about mode choice in planning school?

            I never said that sidewalks should never be narrowed, so you neen’t go off on a rant.  I asked if, when sidewalks are proposed to be narrowed, you insist on a detailed analysis of how many pedestrians are inconvenienced.  For instance, a few years ago, when the new subway entrance at 96th Street was built in the middle of Broadway, rather than take out two car lanes, the two sidewalks were narrowed.  Did you ask for a detailed pedestrian analysis?  (In fact, every time I’ve been there since the sidewalks were narrowed, they were terribly congested.)

            I never said that anybody would ride the B44 from Sheepshead Bay to the A train.  (You may be confusing me with Flatbush Depot.)  I said that people will ride the B44 from Sheepshead Bay to the 2 and 5 trains.

            And you’re dead wrong about transfers.  Anybody who wants the IRT and has a bus that will take them to the IRT (at the first stop, where seats are readily available) reliably in a reasonable time will take that bus to the IRT rather than taking a different bus to the BMT and then transferring to the crowded IRT.

            I don’t read between the lines because I don’t assume that there must be a conspiracy going on.  But let’s say you’re right, and the actual number of satisfied SBS riders is not 97% but is merely 87%.  Or even only 77%.  Or 67%.  That’s still pretty good, don’t you think?

            You keep raising increased access time as though boardings are equally distributed among local stops.  Of course, that’s not the case – some stops are much busier than others.  The SBS stops are the busiest stops.  Most likely SBS riders would be using an SBS stop at one or both ends of their trip even if all service were local!  But anybody who isn’t using SBS stops and doesn’t want to walk further is welcome to use the local, which will continue to be available.

            You know quite well that NYCT schedules bus frequencies based on loading guidelines.  If locals are overcrowded, then service will be increased on the local.  (In my experience, it’s the SBS buses that tend to be overcrowded, on both the Bx12 and the M15.)

            You know how to read a schedule as well as I do – the M15 local is always scheduled on better than a 30-minute headway except for a few hours in the middle of the night, when SBS doesn’t run.  Blaming 30-minute headways on SBS is ludicrous.  If she had to wait 30 minutes for a bus, there was obviously a pretty serious service disruption.  There was probably also a 30-minute break in service on SBS that she didn’t see.  Once BusTime expands to Manhattan, she’ll be able to find out where the next local is, and if it’s too far away, she can decide to walk to the closest SBS stop.

          • Allan Rosen

            First of all, I haven’t pontificated on all the shortcomings of SBS.  I highlighted shortcomings about machines not being maintained and people unfairly receiving summonses.  The MTA acknowledged that machines on the Bx12 were breaking down far too often in the report you linked and said they will be replacing machines bought in 2009 with new ones in 2011 that will have weather protection.  And you stated in a few years, those won’t be necessary either with the introduction of the smart card.  They couldn’t foresee that those machines would need weather protection?  You call that good planning?

            The other complaint I made was that i didn’t think it would be justified to have an SBS lane on Woodhaven Boulevard since it is the only alternative for north-south travel other than the frequently congestion BQE or Van Wyck, given the fact that buses would only operate every 5 to 10 minutes and the car lanes would be moving at 10 mph, and car trips from the Belt to Queens Boulevard would increase from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, while only a few minutes would be saved by the buses.

            All my other complaints related to the proposed B 44 SBS.  I really never criticized the M15 or Bx12, other than to tell you that M15 local service deteriorated since the introduction of SBS.

            The MTA planner’s should ride the buses because they are the ones making decisions affecting people’s lives without knowing the effects they are having like creating a situation between the B4 and B68 where you can transfer in one direction but not in the other.   I am not making any decisions affecting bus riders, and as I stated even if I did ride the SBS in Manhattan and Bronx it wouldn’t matter, because without a frame of reference riding those routes before the SBS started which I didn’t, I would have no way of knowing how much better it is now, if it is indeed better.  

            I didn’t suddenly shift up north.  I believe I mentioned the problem about Eastern Parkway in one of the first articles I wrote about SBS. 

            You assume that most if not all drivers have their origins and destinations in the Nostrand Avenue Corridor and with faster buses they would switch from car to bus. You have absolutely no basis from which to draw that conclusion.  I submit that the vast majority do not have either an origin or destination in the corridor and some have neither.  Therefore, they would still need at least one slow local bus to transfer to and the SBS would not be enough of an attraction to get them out of their car.  Consider my trip along Rogers Avenue during the morning rush, the few times I made that trip.  I was traveling from Manhattan Beach to Woodside.  Travel time using Woodhaven Boulevard 45 minutes to 1 hour usually, my usual route.  Using the BQE, 32 minutes to 2 hours. Travel by subway 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. If the BQE and the Belt to Woodhaven were both jammed, I would take Bedford or Ocean Avenue to Rogers / Bedford to the BQE in Williamsburg which would take a little over 1 hour.  I used the train for 30 days, then bought a car. Now do you think I would switch to the SBS if I were making that trip today? Neither my origin or my destination is in the B44 Corridor.  Further if there was SBS along Woodhaven Boulevard, I couldn’t use that either because my origin and destination is not in that corridor either.  It is naive to assume that most drivers could switch to the SBS, given the choice.  And yes, I was taught all about modal choice in urban planning school. It just doesn’t apply here because the Os and Ds for most drivers are not in the same corridor where the SBS will be running.

            I cannot comment on 96th Street because I have not seen it, but I do believe car lanes were eliminated at 72nd Street.

            More service will be provided on the SBS than on the Limited.  That service hasto come from somewhere.  You don’t believe that they will reduce local service to pay for the extra SBS service? Even if two thirds of the passengers use the SBS and one third use the local, then loadings will be equal on both buses.  But that will never happen. If the load is split equal between SBS and local, a more likely scenario, then the locals will be twice as crowded as the SBS. If the loadings show the locals to be over the guidelines, you really think they will provide more locals when they are already providing more SBS than Limited?  People will use the Limited because they just won’t want to wait 15 or 30 minutes for the local because they will be delayed due to overcrowding.

            I really doubt that most SBS riders would be near a SBS stop at both ends of their trip.  Although they are more heavily used, don’t forget that for every SBS stop there are three to four local stops. So if four times as many people used an SBS stop than a local stop, the number of people using local stops would still equal the number using SBS stops.  The ones who are most likely to be near one SBS stop would be transferring passengers.  People are just as likely to live near a local stop as an SBS stop.

            I agree that in the morning rush hour someone would not be willing to give up his seat on the Brighton line to change at Atlantic for the crowded IRT if they are going to lower Manhattan, but they have other choices further uptown like Union Square, Times Square and Lex-59th Street, where they still could sit for the majority of the time.  In the evening rush hour, the seat advantage at the Junction disappears since most are traveling in the opposite direction.

            Yes, a 67% approval rating for SBS passengers would be pretty good.  But again you are neglecting the opinions of local riders.   68% of them said their ride did not improve.  What if 50% of them believe their trip declined and only 18% believed it was the same? Don’t they also count? You think there is no coincidence why the MTA didn’t break down the 68% further?  I think I know them a little better than you. 

            I spoke to my friend again to get clarification on those 30 minute delays.  It has happened to her on a number of occasions. She blames it on the traffic near the Queensboro Bridge which is more the rule than the exception.  Also, due to the lane closures due to the construction of the Second Avenue Subway.  So it wouldn’t be because of the SBS.  But she also said that she would often see four or more SBS buses pass without a local coming.  You make it seem that there is always an SBS stop just around the corner.  When bus time comes and it shows the local to be 15 minutes away, you would still have to walk up to a quarter-mile more to get to the closest SBS stop which would take about 7 to 10 minutes and would not be easy if you are carrying packages or using a shopping cart or baby
            carriage.

          • Allan Rosen

            You also said that people would sit on the bus a few more minutes to get to a train that would take them directly to their destination because of the uncertaintly of making a transfer. Doesn’t that include riding the SBS to Fulton Street to get the A directly instead of using a crosstown bus route to the B and then transfer for the A at West 4th Street? I wasn’t confusing you with anyone else. Just merely extending the logic you were using. I guess you feel that it would take too long to stay on the bus to Fulton Street for people to take the A.

          • Andrew

            The A and 2 run a block apart through the Manhattan CBD and have similar stops – who would stay on the bus for that substantial extra distance instead of getting on the 2 at the first stop (seats!) and walking an extra block in Manhattan?

            (And don’t forget that most Brighton stops aren’t served by the B.  In order to make your proposed trip, most people would have to take the bus to the Q to the B to the A.)

          • Andrew

            Your concerns regarding stop spacing and transfer privileges are not unique to the B44.  The same issues apply on the Bx12 and M15, where – surprise, surprise – they have generally not proven to be a problem at all.  If there are any problems at specific locations, they can be rectified in the future.  (For instance, an SBS stop was added on the Bx12 at Sedgwick Avenue.)  By insisting on raising these general concerns over and over and over again without acknowledging that they have already been addressed on two other lines, you are demonstrating that you simply don’t understand how SBS functions.

            I have seen no evidence that local service has deteriorated on the Bx12 or M15 since SBS started.  As I’ve said, and as you know, service levels are determined by ridership.  If ridership on the local has dropped, then I would expect service levels to have dropped as well.  You seem quite certain that ridership on the B44 local will skyrocket after SBS starts up – and if you’re correct (which I doubt), service will be increased as well.  (The local and SBS are scheduled independently, based on loads.  If anything, it’s the SBS that’s more of a challenge if ridership grows, since the buses need to be specially wrapped.  The local can use any bus.)  As for reliability, SAS construction has been making it difficult to get downtown, so I wouldn’t be surprised if reliability has taken a hit on the M15.

            The Bx12 machines were all placed inside shelters to avoid the rain.  You may not realize that the machines were not custom built for SBS but are simply rejiggered MetroCard vending machines.  They were designed to be placed inside subway stations.
            I never said anything about Eastern Parkway.  I was addressing your concern south of Avenue X.

            I never said that most drivers would shift to the B44.  And, by the way, some drivers with origins or destinations off the B44 corridor might still shift to the B44 along with a transfer to another line.  No, they won’t use the B44 to get them from Manhattan Beach to Woodside – if they want to use transit for that trip, they’d (obviously) take the B1 or B49 to the B or Q to the 7.  (By the way, even if transit takes somewhat longer, some still might opt to use it – perhaps they can sleep or read or work on the train, perhaps they don’t have guaranteed parking at both ends of the trip and they don’t want to deal with the uncertainty of searching, perhaps they want to save on gas.  But they won’t use the B44.)

            You still haven’t answered my questions about sidewalks.  I was asking your opinion on a procedural matter.  You are insisting that, because lanes for cars are being eliminated, a full traffic analysis needs to be done.  When sidewalks are proposed to be narrowed, do you also insist that full pedestrian analyses be undertaken?

            Most bus riders are happy to walk a bit further in exchange for a shorter ride.  Yes, you have correctly identified some reasons that some people would prefer a shorter walk to a slower ride, and they will still have the local.  It makes no sense to slow down everybody’s trip merely to give more frequent service to those who are unwilling or unable to walk to an SBS stop.  This is the justification for all SBS and limited service.

            Why would anybody concerned with travel time take a crosstown bus to the Q to 59th and Lex on its circuitous route if they could take the B44 to the 5, which is much faster?

            Unlike you, I don’t see a dastardly conspiracy here.  The Bx12 local was largely unchanged, so it seems pretty likely that most Bx12 local riders don’t think their trip quality has changed much.