Will "arrogance" impede upon instituting much-needed policy changes within the MTA? Source: wka/Flickr

THE COMMUTEThe key to efficient and effective transit service is through properly matching service to demand. The MTA attempts to accomplish this through routine “traffic checks” where employees wearing orange vests sit alongside the bus drivers and count passengers getting on and off. Each bus route is usually monitored every few years with heavily utilized ones monitored more frequently. Exceptions are made for routes having special problems and those undergo more frequent checks. I’m not sure how subway traffic checks are performed, but I would imagine that they are conducted from the platforms.

There are also separate weekday, weekend and special lighter holiday bus schedules for Christmas, as well as school open and school closed schedules and even special summer schedules. But are these measures enough? They are not. There still needs to be further refinement in the bus schedules.

As reported by The Daily News, a very scientific study [PDF] recently delivered to the Transportation Research Board concluded that, for some routes, ridership was indeed lighter on Fridays; for others early afternoon schedules needed to be beefed up because many passengers left the office earlier in the day; for other routes, it did not matter. The study further concluded that the disparity is getting greater as technology is permitting more people to work at home and make their own work schedules. All things considered, the MTA could save $13 million annually by writing special Friday schedules instead of having a single weekday schedule and should reinvest those savings in the system, the authors concluded.

If any of this sounds familiar, it is because Last May I suggested that B1 service could be cut by a third on Fridays through lighter Friday schedules when Kingsborough Community College is only in session for half a day. I hinted that the MTA should investigate if similar savings could be made on other routes, with the monies saved used to beef up service at times when service is deficient. On the B1, that would be Mondays through Thursdays.

MTA Arrogance

Last week, I once again discussed MTA arrogance, and how the MTA rarely listens to the public or even to its own employees, how innovation is not encouraged, but going with the flow is.

In the past I have criticized Operations Planning for perhaps being the most arrogant of all departments. They rarely listen to the public because they consider themselves the “experts” who can learn little from the average passenger. They have rejected more than 50 of my suggestions for bus routing improvements that I have made to them over the years. Cost was the reason most often stated for rejection, and sometimes reasons conflicted with one another. Additional cost was the sole reason for rejecting one simple change I recommended, which would have required an operating cost increase of a little more than $100 a day extra, not accounting for the increased ridership that would have resulted.

How Most MTA Changes Are Made

Changes are usually dictated from the top down. Trying to do it the other way and you are a like a salmon swimming upstream. I wouldn’t expect the MTA to accept my suggestion of separate Friday schedules based on a single survey of a few hours involving only one bus route. However, the study I cite today was co-authored by an MTA employee who I happen to know personally, Alla Reddy, because I worked with him in the early 1980s in the MTA department in charge of material distribution.

Not only has he worked in Operations Planning for more than 20 years and has had a top position there conducting traffic checks, he came to the same conclusion I did regarding the need for separate Friday schedules. They would provide more efficient and effective service and that would also save the MTA money. Instead of being eagerly willing to accept this recommendation, this is the official MTA response from MTA spokesman Charles Seaton, whom I also know, according to The Daily News:

“This was an intellectual exercise done in preparation for a paper delivered recently to a national transit research group and in no way represents the stated or future policies of MTA New York City Transit,” MTA spokesman Charles Seaton said.

Instead of embracing this study and rewarding the employee who co-authored it, it appears the MTA is summarily dismissing it, and the question is: Why? Seaton and Reddy are very decent people. The reason cannot be personal. It is because all policy changes must come from the top when someone in a high position even at Operations Planning cannot get a policy change accepted.

When I was in Car Equipment in the 1990s, an engineer recommended a change involving subway car batteries at a weekly staff meeting. The department head asked him what does he see when he looks in the mirror? The engineer was perplexed for an answer. The department head continued, “Do you see any writing on your forehead saying that you are the president?” When the engineer responded that he doesn’t, the department head told him, “Only the president sets policy, your job is to do only what you are told.” The following year, that department head was named “Manager of the Year.”

So what part of this research paper does the MTA have a problem with? It certainly cannot be with saving $13 million annually. They would welcome saving money especially when providing service that is not needed.

This Is The Problem

The final statement in the study states: “Opinions expressed are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect official policy or positions of MTA New York City Transit.” The report also acknowledges specific individuals who helped with the study, including the current director of Operations Planning, Peter Cafiero. So why wouldn’t the official MTA response be that they will take the study under advisement?

The answer is that it is the budget people who make the decisions within the MTA, not the planners. The budgeters have decided that a major way to get the MTA out of debt is to constantly reduce service and charge more for those services, ignoring the effects those measures would have on future ridership. Transportation planners know better, but planners are not in charge of making policy. Operations Planning is instructed to cut service, and cut is what they do.

Even the former chairman, Jay Walder, who was the only MTA chairman with an extensive knowledge of transit, was a budget person and not a planner — just as the current chairman is. The research paper concluded that the savings be reinvested into the system, something I have long advocated, and that is the reason why Seaton stated that this paper does not represent “future policies” of the MTA.

So is it MTA arrogance that is preventing the MTA from adopting a recommendation from one of its own planners, one with more than 20 years of experience in Operations Planning, someone intimately involved in their own traffic checking and data analysis? Or is the reason far more sinister? That the MTA’s one and only concern is to reduce costs, no matter the effect on ridership, no matter the inconvenience to its riders, no matter the increase in traffic congestion those cuts may cause because they have absolutely no intention to improve service. Service that would result in increased ridership but may come at a greater cost to them possibly increasing their deficit.

Conclusion

The MTA may in fact eventually accept the recommendation for separate Friday schedules, but only to save money. However, until the MTA comes to the realization that continuing to cut services without reinvesting those savings back into the system will only continue to harm the system, we are all doomed.

Chairman Joe Lhota has the opportunity to be a leader and make some real policy changes. Will he lead, or just continue to only emphasize the MTA’s bottom line as his predecessors have done? If the answer is the latter, perhaps now is the time to break up the MTA, and instead replace it with an entity that is responsive to needs of the public.

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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  • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

    Great article. Bosses not listening to lower employees is hardly the unique domain of MTA!

    But I have a question. Since metrocards are automated, why isn’t customer traffic analyzed thru metrocard use? Would seem to be a more accurate, cheaper way. And it could be done for all hours, not randomly.

    As a former computer guy , this thought comes immediately to mind. Am I wrong that every single metrocard use is captured? I understand some people still use change, but very few.

    • http://twitter.com/Lostinservice Lostinservice

      Metrocard totals can only give you ridership amounts, an individual can give you a number of people getting on, getting off (not included in metrocard), and location (also not included).

      Given that the MTA prefers staying in the 80s when it comes to technology and moves at a snail’s pace it makes sense that a person with a counter is their best method.

      • Allan Rosen

        I still think they use pencil and paper.  They haven’t advanced to counters yet.

  • Brightonresident

    Why would the MTA need “traffic checks”?  Wouldn’t the metro card reader provide the same information and save “man hours”?

    • Allan Rosen

      The answer to both of you is “NO.”  Both are used and are needed. The data from each supplements each other. MetroCard Info is limited since you only swipe when you enter the system, not when you get out.  So the system only knows where you get on for subways and where you transfer.  It does not know your complete trip since it doesn’t know where yoy get off.  For buses MetroCard data does not even know which stop you got on at.  It only knows the route and time you got on but not the exact location, although an approximate location where you got on.

      For subways, if you are getting on at a major transfer point like Times Square, the MetroCard cannot even deduce which train line you are using. For the subway MetroCard data is of little use, only tells you which entrances need more turnstiles, which ones could be closed, etc.

      The only way to determine crowding levels and the need for additional service is through traffic checks. But those two measures are still not enough to do route planning.

      That third technique is origin/estination surveys which the MTA no longer uses because of its expense.  That tells you where someone started his trip and where he completed it.  With that measure you know how far he had to walk to get to the bus, something traffic checks do not tell you.  They supposed to be used only to refine schedules, not to change routes which is what the MTA is also using them for.  That is one reason why route changes that are made are not always the best.

      There is still a fourth type of data collection that the MTA also does not use for planning called a latent demand study.  That’s where you make phone calls to determine why people are not using the system and make an attempt to attract lost riders back and obtain new ones.  If they did that in Sheepshead Bay, they would see the large numbers using car services because of poor or non-existent service as is the case with the B4 on weekends and middays. 

      • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

        I understand the limitations. I was thinking more of the buses than the trains.

        Does MTA use the metrocard information at all? At the very least, it’s a dead-on accurate measurement of who gets on what bus and when. I know they capture that info because I have an ezpay metrocard and I can see such information myself.

          One cannot convince me that such information is worthless (how many people get on what bus at what time).

        • Andrew

          It’s not useless at all, and the MTA does use it, despite Allan’s claims to the contrary:
          http://trb.metapress.com/content/m16827875p078248/http://trb.metapress.com/content/l0038032800011h2/I think BusTime will be a game-changer, allowing for the same methodology used on the subway to be used on the bus.

        • Andrew

          My earlier reply is barely legible. Let’s try again:

          It’s not useless at all, and the MTA does use it, despite Allan’s claims to the contrary:
          http://trb.metapress.com/content/m16827875p078248/
          http://trb.metapress.com/content/l0038032800011h2/

          I think BusTime will be a game-changer, allowing for the same methodology used on the subway to be used on the bus.

          • Allan Rosen

            I never said it was useless. Bus time COULD tell you exactly which stops were boarded but will they use it for O/D? Just like will they use it to better regulate buses to keep them on time, the original reason why they wanted GPS in the first place. It wasn’t to tell people where the next bus was.

          • Andrew

            If they’ve gone this far, why wouldn’t they use it for O/D once it becomes available?

            GPS has a number of useful functions, but the one of most direct interest to the public is the ability to see how far away the next bus is. Walder understood that the public is happier to see a highly visible feature than an invisible one (even if the invisible one improves their ride), so he promoted the visible functionality publicly. That doesn’t mean that the data won’t be available for other uses.

            On the subway, ATS is primarily a train tracking system, which is helpful for dispatchers, but the most directly visible function to the public is the feed into PA/CIS, which displays when the next trains are coming. There’s no reason that a single tool can’t be tapped by multiple interests.

          • Allan Rosen

            Correct, but none of the press releases state that Bus Time will be used for anything other than telling the passengers when the next bus will come.  They emphasized that use for previous GPS projects, so why not mention it now?  Wouldn’t that be could publicity and something the public would want? 

            I am not going to assume anything until the MTA states it will be used to better regulate buses and keep them to their schedule.

          • Andrew

            Allan: 

            Correct, but none of the press releases state that Bus Time will be used for anything other than telling the passengers when the next bus will come.  They emphasized that use for previous GPS projects, so why not mention it now?  Wouldn’t that be could publicity and something the public would want?  

            I am not going to assume anything until the MTA states it will be used to better regulate buses and keep them to their schedule.

            As I said on 2/16, “Walder understood that the public is happier to see a highly visible feature than an invisible one (even if the invisible one improves their ride).”

            In fact, the BusTime website states that “the MTA will be using the system ourselves to help make things like scheduling, service management, and emergency response even better.” Happy now?

        • Allan Rosen

          First of all, I never stated that MetroCard data is worthless. I said it has severe limitations for use regarding O&D. It does tell you how many people get on what bus at what time but it doesn’t tell you where the bus is at that time. Unless it is a transfer point, that location can only be estimated. You also have no idea where the trip began. You assume that someone lives near the bus or subway stop he boarded at, but that may not always be the case. Someone could have driven them there especially if you are talking about outer Queens. An OD survey woud show that. Metro Card data would not.

          Also, if the MTA uses MetroCard Data to determine ODs, and it requires a lot of manipulation and assumptions that morning trips mirror evening trips, why is it that none of this was ever presented when the MTA made its service cuts? Only counts were referenced, not O/D data.

          • Andrew

            Bus locations do have to be estimated. BusTime will be very helpful in that regard.

            As the first paper’s abstract says:

            A set of straightforward algorithms is applied to each set of MetroCard trips to infer a destination station for each origin station. The algorithms are based on two primary assumptions. First, a high percentage of riders return to the destination station of their previous trip to begin their next trip. Second, a high percentage of riders end their last trip of the day at the station where they began their first trip of the day. These assumptions were tested by using travel diary information collected by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. This diary information confirmed that both assumptions are correct for a high percentage (90%) of subway users. The output was further validated by comparing inferred destination totals to station exit counts by time of day and by estimating peak load point passenger volumes by using a trip assignment model.

            The authors realize that the algorithms are imperfect, but, as they also point out, they produce data for all time periods on every day, on all subway (and soon bus) trips, with no response bias, which – despite the 10% error rate – makes them far better than any old fashioned O-D survey.

            Why would any of this have been presented with the service cuts? All that was presented was a list of proposed cuts with a very brief justification and a projected dollar savings for each. That was the end result of the planning process, not the planning process itself. (Where were counts referenced?)

    • Anonymous

      MetroCards only tell you total ridership. They don’t tell you where people get on and off. You can make a guess based on transfers (say, how many people transfer from the westbound B4 to the (B) or (Q) trains), but you can’t really get an accurate idea.

      So if somebody gets on, you don’t know if they’re riding a few blocks or to the other end of the route.

  • Anonymous

    How do origin/destination surveys work? Does a guy sit on the bus and hand out the survey to everybody who boards and have them mail it in?

    • Allan Rosen

      That’s the way it supposed to work.  But with postage paid replies so expensive now, if it is done, it is usually on a very limited basis, like one route or two.  Doing the entire system would be cost prohibitive unless it is done something like every ten years.

      For those surveys, the response rate is very important because every return represents between 4 and 20 people making the exact same trip.  For accuracy sake, you want the highest possible return rate.  25% is considered excellent. The average is usually between 8 and 15%.  5% would be considered a poor return.  It may be possible to do a phone O & D survey, but I’m not sure how that would work.  Since you are looking for travel patterns you would have to make an awful lot of phone calls.  A half percent sample for example would be totally insufficient.

      Also. training your surveyors is very important. I wouldn’t even trust the MTA to do one because of what I happened to accidentally see about 15 years ago when they did one on the B49. Someone was handing out surveys to everyone getting one. One lady asked the surveyor if she could have some extras for some of her friends and he politely obliged by giving her at least a dozen surveys.  He obviously had no idea of the purpose of the survey or how it worked.  If it happened once, be assured it happened somewhere else. So how accurate could the results have been?  Never knew the purpose of that survey or what happened to it.

  • LLQBTT

    This sounds like just yet another example of what is institutionally wrong with the MTA and why it needs to be reimagined and/or dissolved completely.  They are indeed arrogant beyond belief, but what do you expect?  They have no real competition and are behaving like a true monopoly.  Cut as many costs as possible, respond to the customers only after lots of pressure.  Until a solution is found, this is the way it’s going to be.

    I say break it up into its smaller entities and somehow introduce an element of competition into the mix.  I don’t think that Roberts’ idea about having lines compete was that far flung.  Now this isn’t perfect competition, but what else is there to do?

    • Allan Rosen

      What was Robert’s idea to have lines compete?

      • LLQBTT

        It was the General Manager line program, and it started with the L and & 7 lines before it was scrapped by the Prendergast (I believe).

        By way of example, didn’t MTA only add service to the B41 after it was ineffectively competing with the van services on Flatbush that were first illegal and later legalized after community pressure?  It was the same MTA arrogance. No one knows the B41 better than us, but in fact, service was way short of actual demand. That gave the vans the opening they needed. Then MTA said that they are illegal and instead of increasing service, pushed for the vans to be stopped. How’s that for customer focus? Eventually the service was made legal and only then did MTA start adding buses to the route because now they actually had to compete, and how embarrassing it would be for them to lose out to a bunch of “start-ups”

        • Allan Rosen

          You are giving the MTA way too much credit.

          First, I also liked Robert’s Line Manager Program.  I was on more than the L and the 7 lines because at least the 4 also had it. But the purpose wasn’t to have the lines compete as I understood it. It was to give one person central power over a line to make it easier to cut through the layers of bureaucracy so that problems could be addressed more readily.  It had some problems and wasn’t perfect, and was ended before it could fairly be assessed if it resulted in significant improvements.The program was ended by Prendergast when the 4 line manager took his new powers too seriously and actually wanted to improve service for the customer by starting a trial 3 month Jerome Avenue rush hour express in the Bronx. Most loved it. The ride was more comfortable and more people were able to get a seat.  Again it wasn’t perfect and needed some fine tuning.  But the MTA didn’t care about happier passengers and more pleasant rides and was annoyed that an idea could be implemented that didn’t need approval from the top or came down from the top.So they ended it after 3 months despite rave customer reviews, immediately transferred the #4 line manager, then ended the program.  Of course they cited budget constraints, but any new program needs time to attract new riders for example from express buses or from riders coming from Westchester who were driving to some point to park their car.  They MTA didn’t wait the year that was needed for passenger habits to change and didn’t extend the trial.  So much for the customers opinions.Regarding the B41, you are correct to a point. Service on the line was inadequate so the vans started. When bus usage dropped, the MTA reduced B41 service so the vans increased theirs.  The MTA did new routine bus counts, saw fewer passengers and reduced service again.  This cycle continued over a number of years until the MTA became suspicious where half their passengers went.  Then they found out about the illegal vans and started screaming for enforcement. The police obliged. The communities became upset and demand they be legalized. So they were, however, legal meant that someone had to presubscribe to the service and only those passengers could be picked up. Of course the vans didn’t listen and still picked up everyone. Enforcement was stepped up again. Kings Plaza was redesigned to prevent vans from accessing the shopping center, so they stopped along the side streets but lost customers.  As enforcement increased passengers started returning to the buses.It was only after the passengers returned that the MTA started to increase service.  They never increased it in order to compete as you suggest but only in response to increased ridership.  Today the vans still carry a very significant portion of the ridership. Before the vans, the B41 was the number 1 route in Brooklyn ridership for like 40 years.  Now they are down to number 6.  Without the vans, they would still be number one.

          • LLQBTT

            Wow, way worse than I thought (or could have imagined!) Thanks for clarifying

          • Allan Rosen

            Sorry about the lump of text.  But I wrote 6 paragraphs and somehow everything got lumped together.  Glad you were able to decipher it.

          • Andrew

            First, I also liked Robert’s Line Manager Program.  

            I didn’t. Roberts’ primary means of evaluation was on-time performance – the percentage of trains that arrive at the end of the line within 5 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. (Not a particularly relevant measure for subway riders, who are more interested in wait times, evenness, crowding, and stuff like that.)

            The easiest way to boost OTP is to pad the schedules, and that’s exactly what the line managers did. Since the line managers, in the Roberts setup, were also in charge of the physical plant, they also cut back on maintenance, because maintenance delays trains.

            Prendergast did away with the line manager system. Thanks to him, wait assessment, which measures evenness of service, is now reported to the board. Meanwhile, he’s playing maintenance catchup – that’s where the Fastrack idea came from.

            I was on more than the L and the 7 lines because at least the 4 also had it.

            It was on all lines by the end. The L and 7 were the initial pilot lines in 2007.
            http://www.mta.info/mta/news/releases/?agency=nyct&en=090807-NYCT120

            The program was ended by Prendergast when the 4 line manager took his new powers too seriously and actually wanted to improve service for the customer by starting a trial 3 month Jerome Avenue rush hour express in the Bronx. Most loved it. The ride was more comfortable and more people were able to get a seat.  Again it wasn’t perfect and needed some fine tuning.  But the MTA didn’t care about happier passengers and more pleasant rides and was annoyed that an idea could be implemented that didn’t need approval from the top or came down from the top.So they ended it after 3 months despite rave customer reviews, immediately transferred the #4 line manager, then ended the program.  Of course they cited budget constraints, but any new program needs time to attract new riders for example from express buses or from riders coming from Westchester who were driving to some point to park their car.  They MTA didn’t wait the year that was needed for passenger habits to change and didn’t extend the trial.  So much for the customers opinions.

            Absolutely incorrect!

            There was a three week pilot program in June 2009, with four express trains each morning on a 15 minute headway. Trains stopped at Woodlawn, Mosholu, Burnside, and 149th before resuming regular service. These express trains took the place of regular locals (since there’s no room in Manhattan for any additional trains).

            The pilot program came to a close as scheduled, and it was evaluated. The results? The expresses were lightly loaded. Riders at Bedford Park, Kingsbridge, Fordham, 183rd, 176th, Mt. Eden, 170th, and 167th were hit with the double whammy of longer waits for more crowded trains.

            Despite that, there was a second pilot for 7 weeks in Oct.-Dec. 2009, with some modifications: five trains on a 20 minute headway, with Bedford Park added as an express stop.

            Again, the pilot program came to a close as scheduled (even though Prendergast replaced Roberts during its run), and it was evaluated. The results? Similar to the first pilot. I’m sure the service was popular at the four express stops, but it was very unpopular at the seven local stops. And if you think crowding on the Lex is bad, it’s even worse when a 4 train is unusually crowded coming out of the Bronx.

            In response to Prendergast’s maintenance concerns, he reoriented the line manager program in February 2010:
            http://www.mta.info/mta/news/releases/?agency=nyct&en=100226-NYCT34

            Finally, last year, he gave up and scrapped it entirely.

          • Allan Rosen

            Where is your proof that line managers cut back on maintenance?
            If on-time performance was not measured correctly, that was not the fault of the line manager program.  I’ve heard that criticism of measuring on-time performance before and I agree with it.

            If local riders were hit with longer waits and more crowded trains which inconvenienced more passengers than the number who saved time, from the first pilot where is any of that stated and how do you know it wasn’t corrected with the second pilot where Bedford Park was added as an express stop?

            When you end a pilot because it failed, you need to publicly state why your initial assumptions of what you thought would happen didn’t. There is nothing to be ashamed about when you try something and it fails. There was no reason to transfer the #4 line superintendent unless you were afraid that he would try it again perhaps so it would work. 

            Also, i remember reading somewhere that the MTA stated that the express cost them extra money because they had to provide an extra train or two.  That would not have been possible if they were operating at full capacity as you stated.

            If you just discontinue it without reason, you make yourself open to speculation. 

          • Andrew

            Where is your proof that line managers cut back on maintenance?

            It’s going to be hard to find proof of something like that; Prendergast isn’t going to explicitly announce to the public that his predecessor cut back on maintenance. But it’s implicit in the opening paragraph of press release I cited earlier.

            If on-time performance was not measured correctly, that was not the fault of the line manager program.  I’ve heard that criticism of measuring on-time performance before and I agree with it.

            On-time performance was being measured correctly. The problem is that on-time performance is not a customer-focused measure on the subway. But Roberts treated it as the holy grail.

            If local riders were hit with longer waits and more crowded trains which inconvenienced more passengers than the number who saved time, from the first pilot where is any of that stated and how do you know it wasn’t corrected with the second pilot where Bedford Park was added as an express stop?

            I stood at 161st for three rush hours, near the end of the second pilot, and watched. The expresses were universally emptier than the locals.

            When you end a pilot because it failed, you need to publicly state why your initial assumptions of what you thought would happen didn’t.

            Both pilots were ended because they were only scheduled to be in effect for predetermined periods.

            There is nothing to be ashamed about when you try something and it fails.

            Aside from the inconvenience and delays to the people who were hurt by the pilot. Could the two pilots have been avoided by analyzing ridership data instead?

            There was no reason to transfer the #4 line superintendent unless you were afraid that he would try it again perhaps so it would work.  

            Nobody was transferred as a result of the pilots. (That’s either your fabrication or your source’s fabrication.) Compare the two press releases – the Line General Manager position changed hands between the two pilots (I don’t know why, but probably because someone retired), but the Group General Manager remained the same, which suggests that the idea came from the GGM or higher up. Howard Roberts was President during the LGM switch, so blaming it on Prendergast is a bit disingenuous.

            When Prendergast toned down the LGM program in 2011, there were more LGM reassignments, because there were fewer LGM’s than there had been before.

            Also, i remember reading somewhere that the MTA stated that the express cost them extra money because they had to provide an extra train or two.  That would not have been possible if they were operating at full capacity as you stated.

            Expresses, if anything, reduce operating costs.

            It’s pretty common knowledge that the Lex express is maxxed out. The only way to add a train on the 4 is to take it away from the 5.

            If you just discontinue it without reason, you make yourself open to speculation.

            It wasn’t discontinued without reason. The MTA is under no obligation to report on all of its analyses to you. If you have a question about this one, file a FOIL request.

          • Allan Rosen

            I think I am going to stop arguing with you because it is just a waste of time because you just go around in circles and you don’t admit you are wrong as you claim. You just deflect the conversation elsewhere. So if I don’t respond as frequently to your comments, don’t assume I agree with you.Here are some examples: First you criticize the line manager program because it only counted a train as late when it reached its endpoint, stating Prendergast changed the way it was calculated making it better. Now you state on time performance was measured correctly. So which one was it? Was Roberts doing it right or wrong? Nevermind don’t even bother to answer because it has nothing to do with the original point we were discussing anyway.When I mention an anecdote, you criticize me for not having facts. You dismissed my friend’s story that it took her two hours to get to central London from the airport. But it is okay for you to use an anecdote when you stood at 161st Street. And I assume you were there for the entire rush hour, not just an hour, and the expresses being emptier does not automatically mean failure. The B trains are most times more crowded than the Qs. It’s difficult to equalize crowds between express and local.If your implication is that the expresses should have been more crowded than the locals, that may have happened over time. People don’t change their travel patterns in 7 weeks. If the pilot lasted for a year, no doubt more people from Westchester would have started riding the 4 once they learned travel time was reduced and the trains were less crowded which was the case. Expresses reduce operating costs but not when you add one or two trains which I remember reading somewhere they did.And if the MTA were truly transparent as they claim, when the progranm ended, they should have had another press release saying why it wasn’t made permanent. Either the expected results didn’t happen, etc. You shouldn’t have to file a FOIL request to find out why. I only remember them citing additional costs as a factor when questioned by reporters.

          • Andrew

            Allan:

            I think I am going to stop arguing with you because it is just a waste of time because you just go around in circles and you don’t admit you are wrong as you claim. You just deflect the conversation elsewhere.

            Please tell me where I am wrong.

            So if I don’t respond as frequently to your comments, don’t assume I agree with you.

            I won’t assume anything at all.

            Here are some examples: First you criticize the line manager program because it only counted a train as late when it reached its endpoint, stating Prendergast changed the way it was calculated making it better. Now you state on time performance was measured correctly. So which one was it? Was Roberts doing it right or wrong?

            Did you actually read what I wrote?There are many train performance measures out there. One of them is called on time performance, which is defined as the percentage of trains that reach the last stop within a predetermined threshold (traditionally 5 minutes) of their scheduled arrival times. That’s the measure that Howard Roberts focused on. I have no doubt that it was calculated correctly. The problem is that, on a service with headways below 10-15 minutes (as is the case on almost the entire subway system except at night), passengers don’t care about schedules. They care about headways, they care about crowding, they care about travel time, but they don’t care about absolute times printed on a schedule, and they only care about what happens at the last stop if that’s where they’re going.Read capt subway’s comments here – he says it a lot better than I can, and he speaks from experience.

            Nevermind don’t even bother to answer because it has nothing to do with the original point we were discussing anyway.

            Oops, too late.

            When I mention an anecdote, you criticize me for not having facts. You dismissed my friend’s story that it took her two hours to get to central London from the airport. But it is okay for you to use an anecdote when you stood at 161st Street.

            Do you understand the distinction between anecdotes and data?

            And I assume you were there for the entire rush hour, not just an hour,

            I was there for the full period of the express service.

            and the expresses being emptier does not automatically mean failure.

            That depends on how you define success. But the expresses being emptier does imply that far more people are hurt than helped by the express service.

            The B trains are most times more crowded than the Qs.

            That’s much more common – during rush hours, it probably holds for every express line in the city. People at express stops can opt for the faster ride or for the more comfortable ride. On the 4, people at local stops had no choice but to wait longer for the crowded local.

            It’s difficult to equalize crowds between express and local.

            That’s a concern on this line in particular, which continues to pick up large crowds at 125th and 86th of people who don’t care if the train ran local or express in the Bronx. The 4, on average, is already overcrowded, but having some trains significantly more crowded than others is even worse than having all train equally overcrowded.

            If your implication is that the expresses should have been more crowded than the locals, that may have happened over time. People don’t change their travel patterns in 7 weeks.

            What travel patterns? If you’re boarding at a local stop, you have to take the local; if you’re boarding at an express stop, you can take either train (and the express schedule was posted on the platforms). What travel patterns are there to change? Some people who live between a local stop and an express stop might walk to the express stop to have a chance at catching the express, but it doesn’t take 7 weeks to make that change.

            If the pilot lasted for a year, no doubt more people from Westchester would have started riding the 4 once they learned travel time was reduced and the trains were less crowded which was the case.

            Are you seriously suggesting NYCT should be deliberately trying to attract new riders to the Lexington Avenue line during the AM rush? The line can’t even handle its current ridership. Are potential Westchester riders more important than existing Bronx riders?

            Expresses reduce operating costs but not when you add one or two trains which I remember reading somewhere they did.

            Physically impossible. The Lex is full. There is no room for more trains.

            And if the MTA were truly transparent as they claim, when the progranm ended, they should have had another press release saying why it wasn’t made permanent. Either the expected results didn’t happen, etc. You shouldn’t have to file a FOIL request to find out why.

            Press releases are used to announce when something is changing, not when something isn’t. If press releases were used to announce the results of every small-scale MTA study, there would be thousands of press releases each year.

            I only remember them citing additional costs as a factor when questioned by reporters.

            Then you remember wrong.

          • Allan Rosen

            Yes I did read what you wrote and you just keep changing the subject as I stated.

            I stated that I liked the Line Manager Program.  You stated that you didn’t because of how Roberts measured on time performance. Then you go off discussing different ways of measuring it.  I’m not disagreeing with any of what you wrote but none of that has anything to do with the Line Manager Program.

            You state that they did not add anymore trains during the pilot because the Lex operates at capacity and there is no room for more trains.  That is not true.
            Looking at the southbound #4 schedule for trains arriving between 7:30 and 8:30 AM at Grand Central, there are 15 trains.  We can infer a maximum of 13 #5 trains during that time period for a total of 28 trains. If we infer anymore #5 trains, they would have to be one minute apart which is not possible. So two more trains could run.

            If we also look at the 8:30 to 9:00AM time period, there are 7 more #4 trains for a total of 22. There only can be 6 more #5 trains bringing the #5 total to 19.  22+19=41. The maximum allowed would be 45. That means another 2 trains could operate between 8:30 and 9 AM or up to four more trains for the 90 minutes which could have been provided during the pilot.

            So I don’t remember wrong that the MTA stated there were additional costs for the pilot.

          • Andrew

            Yes I did read what you wrote and you just keep changing the subject as I stated.

            I stated that I liked the Line Manager Program.  You stated that you didn’t because of how Roberts measured on time performance. Then you go off discussing different ways of measuring it.  I’m not disagreeing with any of what you wrote but none of that has anything to do with the Line Manager Program.

            Please read what I wrote on 2/22 again, since I explained myself quite clearly there.

            On time performance is the name of one specific performance measure. It’s the primary peformance measure by which Roberts evaluated his line managers. He was calculating it correctly. The problem is that, while it’s a useful performance measure for commuter railroads and airlines, it doesn’t reflect anything the passenger experiences on a frequent subway system.

            There are other performance measures that are more relevant on a subway system. They have different names. Roberts didn’t care about them.

            You state that they did not add anymore trains during the pilot because the Lex operates at capacity and there is no room for more trains.  That is not true.
            Looking at the southbound #4 schedule for trains arriving between 7:30 and 8:30 AM at Grand Central, there are 15 trains.  We can infer a maximum of 13 #5 trains during that time period for a total of 28 trains. If we infer anymore #5 trains, they would have to be one minute apart which is not possible. So two more trains could run. 

            If we also look at the 8:30 to 9:00AM time period, there are 7 more #4 trains for a total of 22. There only can be 6 more #5 trains bringing the #5 total to 19.  22+19=41. The maximum allowed would be 45. That means another 2 trains could operate between 8:30 and 9 AM or up to four more trains for the 90 minutes which could have been provided during the pilot.

            I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here, but it’s been long established that there’s no room for more trains on the Lex express – that’s one of the primary justifications for the Second Avenue Subway.

            According to page 5B-4 of the SAS FEIS: “Along the heavily used Lexington Avenue Line, the theoretical throughput of 30 trains an hour per track cannot be maintained during peak periods because of the excessive dwell times at stations. These excessive dwell times are often the result of high exiting and boarding volumes, transfers across the platform, physical constraints at the station, and train bunching. At the Grand Central-42nd Street Station, dwell times were observed to cluster in the 50- to 60-second range, well above the 30- to 45-second range needed to maintain 30 trains per hour. The headways were observed to average about 2.4 minutes for the express trains. These gaps translate to about 25 express trains serving Grand Central during the AM peak hour, when 29 express trains are scheduled.”

            So I don’t remember wrong that the MTA stated there were additional costs for the pilot.

            It’s possible that there were additional supervisory costs, since the service plan was more complex. But there were no additional trains.

          • Allan Rosen

            I did reread what you wrote about the line manager program and I am not disagreeing with you. If Roberts did not emphasize the correct performance measures in evaluating his line managers, which may indeed have been the case, that is a poor reflection on him.  It does not mean that the Line Manager Program was inherently a bad one which was your original point when I stated that I liked the program and you disagreed saying you did not like it.

            “it’s been long established that there’s no room for more trains on the Lex express – that’s one of the primary justifications for the Second Avenue Subway.”

            True, when the Second Avenue subway was conceived.  But when the MTA started making service cuts, the Lexington Avenue line was not immune. While they may have only cut one train or two during the peak hour, they cut more during the shoulder periods. (7AM to 7:30 and 9:30AM to 10 AM)
            Whether the reason be excessive dwell time so the scheduled headways could not be met or whatever, the Lex today does not operate the same level of service today that it did in the 1950s. I remember reading, and I don’t have the source, that between Bowling Green and Brooklyn Bridge trains were once spaced only 90 seconds apart.

            The point I am trying to make is that it was indeed possible that they did operate up to four more trains in the morning peak period when the Jerome express pilot operated and they did save money once the pilot ended and that influenced their decision to end it.

            If the minimum headway is every two minutes, they now fall four trains short during the peak 90 minutes. operating 41 trains not 45 trains.

          • Andrew

            Sorry for the belated response – I’ve been out of town and just got back this afternoon.

            I did reread what you wrote about the line manager program and I am not disagreeing with you. If Roberts did not emphasize the correct performance measures in evaluating his line managers, which may indeed have been the case, that is a poor reflection on him.  It does not mean that the Line Manager Program was inherently a bad one which was your original point when I stated that I liked the program and you disagreed saying you did not like it.

            The basic problem with the line manager program was that Roberts placed his line managers in charge of not just the service but also the tracks, the signals, the structures, the cars – yet he primarily evaluated them on on-time performance in the short term. That placed strong pressure on the line managers to cut back on scheduled maintenance, which delays trains in the short term, even if it can help to avoid delays in the long term.

            That’s how his successor inherited a maintenance backlog, one which he’s been addressing with Fastrack.

            I think experts in running train service should be in charge of running the trains, and experts in signals should be in charge of signals, and experts in track should be in charge of track, and experts in cars should be in charge of car maintenance. The Roberts approach might make sense in systems that have no connectivity between lines, especially if different lines have different signal systems and different car specifications, but it made no sense in New York.

            True, when the Second Avenue subway was conceived.  But when the MTA started making service cuts, the Lexington Avenue line was not immune.

            Then why isn’t it listed here?
            http://www.mta.info/nyct/service/ServiceReduction/part1.htm

            Aside from the restructured service (N/Q/W, M/V), none of the cuts affected rush hours or shoulders.

            While they may have only cut one train or two during the peak hour, they cut more during the shoulder periods. (7AM to 7:30 and 9:30AM to 10 AM)

            Every service reduction, even a single train, is reported to the MTA Board. Since Board materials are now on the website, you should be able to find documentation for the multiple Lex trains that you claim have been cut during rush hours and shoulders.

            Seeing as the Lex has been over-guideline for years, and ridership has been growing, and rush hour guidelines haven’t changed, there is no reason for service to have been cut on the Lex. Sorry, you’re wrong here.

            Whether the reason be excessive dwell time so the scheduled headways could not be met or whatever, the Lex today does not operate the same level of service today that it did in the 1950s. I remember reading, and I don’t have the source, that between Bowling Green and Brooklyn Bridge trains were once spaced only 90 seconds apart.

            The SAS being built now was not planned in the 1950′s. And no New York subway line ever operated at consistent 90 second headways. I think it was on the Queens IND and not the Lex that service was, at one point, scheduled more frequently than every 2 minutes, but there’s no evidence that it actually met that frequency in practice.

            But there have been changes to the signals, and train operators haven’t been allowed to key by signals without special authorization since the 70′s. Under current realities, the Lex express is operating at capacity and has been operating at capacity for a long time. The Jerome express trains were all regular 4 trains before and after the pilots.

            The point I am trying to make is that it was indeed possible that they did operate up to four more trains in the morning peak period when the Jerome express pilot operated and they did save money once the pilot ended and that influenced their decision to end it.

            No it’s not. Don’t believe me? Fine, write the MTA and ask whether the Jerome express was not made permanent because of additional operating costs or if there was a different reason.

            If the minimum headway is every two minutes, they now fall four trains short during the peak 90 minutes. operating 41 trains not 45 trains.

            The minimum headway on this line is not every two minutes. Did you read the section I quoted on 2/26 from the SAS FEIS?

  • Guest

    There are proven and cheap automated voice, SMS, email and pop-up web form customer feedback technologies available hosted/on-demand that the MTA can use that are far more effective and less costly and more timely than live-person and mail-in surveys. If you make the questions short and intuitive then you will get a higher response rate. That’s the key to getting any usable data.

    There are also more expensive analytics and web tracking solutions that can parse through customers’ information calls and contacts via any channel to find out what information they are seeking.

    Businesses rely on these tools to cut costs, uncover opportunities and grow revenues. Why not the MTA?

  • http://twitter.com/CarsickPhil Carsick Phil

    You share the woes of people in many cities around the world. Near monopolies, more data management and inconsistent transport policies plague so many of us. I decided to express my commuting blues in song 
    ► 4:58► 4:58www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ShuT-Y5AqQ

  • Allan Rosen

    What makes one vendor legal and another illegal?

    Just bought some overpriced flowers from someone with a very nasty attitude.  Truck was illegally parked and stand set up on sidewalk near corner where people cross.  No cash registers either to keep track of sales.  One of the guys was wearing a tag just below his chin and to the left saying Licensed Vendor and other stuff.  So is he now legal?  And if his prices were so high, I can imagine how much more they were asking in the stores.

    If the stores want to be patronized on Valentines Day, they shouldn’t triple their prices on Valentine’s Day.  Who is watching them for price gouging? When the price of products go up for Passover, everyone started screaming about it, and now it is not like it used to be.

  • Andrew

    Since you know Mr. Reddy and Mr. Seaton, I assume you called them before publishing this article to make sure that you understood the situation correctly.

    Yes? What did they tell you?

    • Allan Rosen

      And what exactly was I supposed to ask Mr. Seaton, if that was the comment he made to the press? And should I have confirmed with Mr. Reddy that he really did co-author the study?

      • Andrew

        You might have asked Mr. Reddy whether he had intended the paper to be a practical recommendation for his agency to adopt. I suspect that was not his intent.

        You might have asked Mr. Seaton whether his statement meant that the agency had ruled out the proposal or that the agency had simply not adopted it. I suspect the latter, since the paper only showed a possible approach for reducing operating costs, but it was based on a small number of bus routes and did not address the increased complexity of separate Friday schedules (see page 27 of the paper). The paper does not establish that the savings due to Friday service reductions would exceed the additional administrative costs. I’d rather pay to run a bit more bus service than necessary than pay even more to employ more schedulers to reduce bus service – wouldn’t you?

        • Allan Rosen

          What do you think the purpose of academia is?  To do worthless studies that have no practical applications? 

          Of course his intent was for it to be a practical recommendation for his agency to adopt.  Perhaps not immediately because further research needs to be done.
          Regarding Seaton’s response, there was no indication that the MTA would consider the recommendations. Of course, they cannot simply adopt the recommendations because they would need to do further research which Seaton gave no indication would be done.

          Of course, the paper could not state that the savings would not exceed the administrative costs since they didn’t take the research that far. But there is no reason to believe that over time it would because those are initial expenses as opposed to ongoing savings.

          Also, with computerized run cutting new schedules shouldn’t be that much of a deal but with the MTA, you don’t know what the story is or how efficient they are.  When schedules were manually created, they took three months to prepare.  I read on subchat that now that they are computerized, they take MTA schedulers one year to prepare.  Go figure.

          • Andrew

            What do you think the purpose of academia is?  To do worthless studies that have no practical applications?  

            Academic studies are generally not undertaken with the intent of short-term implementation. They present ideas to the academic and professional communities, which might or might not later be refined or implemented.

            This was a paper presented at a major transportation conference to improve the authors’ professional standing among transportation professionals.

            Of course his intent was for it to be a practical recommendation for his agency to adopt.  

            Have you ever presented a paper at a conference?

            Regarding Seaton’s response, there was no indication that the MTA would consider the recommendations.

            Nor was there indication that they wouldn’t. That was your assumption.

            Of course, the paper could not state that the savings would not exceed the administrative costs since they didn’t take the research that far. But there is no reason to believe that over time it would because those are initial expenses as opposed to ongoing savings.

            The administrative costs I had in mind were everything involved in the scheduling process – checking loads, writing schedules, assigning jobs to bus operators, printing the public schedules, etc. That takes place four times a year, not just once. The complexity of the scheduling process would increase by a third, four times a year, every year.

            Also, with computerized run cutting new schedules shouldn’t be that much of a deal but with the MTA, you don’t know what the story is or how efficient they are.  

            However long it takes (and there’s much more to designing schedules than run-cutting), this increases that time by a third.

            When schedules were manually created, they took three months to prepare.  I read on subchat that now that they are computerized, they take MTA schedulers one year to prepare.  Go figure.

            Subchat? You sure have found reliable sources!

          • Allan Rosen

            If I have ever presented a paper at a conference is immaterial and I don’t appreciate the innuendo. 

            Just because schedules are written four times a year does not mean that the schedule on every route changes four times a year.  It is not uncommon for some  schedules to remain unchanged for three or more years.  If the savings are very great on certain routes, that could more than offset the additional administrative costs. But the MTA gave no indication they would even consider it. 

            And yes, I assumed the MTA would not consider the change when the response was it is not MTA policy. If they had any intention of considering it, Seaton would have stated, they will evaluate the findings and he gave no indication of such. My assumption is perfectly logical. I also said they might still decide to reduce Friday schedules.  It is the part about reinvesting those savings into the system that I am sure bothers them. 

            Just dismiss any source because you don’t agree with the statement.  IIRC, the person in Subchat was quoting something said by the MTA at one of the hearings. Why don’t you ask the MTA how long it takes them to produce bus schedules, if you doubt it takes them a year instead of three months.  Let us know how much time they saved by switching to computerized schedules? 

          • Andrew

            If I have ever presented a paper at a conference is immaterial and I don’t appreciate the innuendo.

            Innuendo? I’m simply suggesting that it doesn’t appear that you understand why people present papers at conferences.

            Just because schedules are written four times a year does not mean that the schedule on every route changes four times a year.  It is not uncommon for some  schedules to remain unchanged for three or more years.  If the savings are very great on certain routes, that could more than offset the additional administrative costs. But the MTA gave no indication they would even consider it.

            I didn’t say that every route changes four times a year. But there is a new pick four times a year, with associated costs (including the update process for the schedules for some fraction of the bus routes). Whatever those costs are, adding a fourth day-type increases them by about a third.

            And yes, I assumed the MTA would not consider the change when the response was it is not MTA policy. If they had any intention of considering it, Seaton would have stated, they will evaluate the findings and he gave no indication of such. My assumption is perfectly logical. I also said they might still decide to reduce Friday schedules.  It is the part about reinvesting those savings into the system that I am sure bothers them.

            There’s a pretty substantial cost to simply studying the issue to determine if it’s worth implementing. Why would Seaton commit his agency to a study that could easily be a waste of time and money? He didn’t say that it would never be considered. 

            Just dismiss any source because you don’t agree with the statement.  IIRC, the person in Subchat was quoting something said by the MTA at one of the hearings.

            You haven’t even linked to a post! This is hearsay of hearsay.

            If this is indicative of the quality of your research at work, I understand why Operations Planning didn’t want you back.

            Why don’t you ask the MTA how long it takes them to produce bus schedules, if you doubt it takes them a year instead of three months.  Let us know how much time they saved by switching to computerized schedules?

            I frankly don’t care. If you do, then please ask them yourself.

  • Allan Rosen

    “Why would any of this have been presented with the service cuts? All that was presented was a list of proposed cuts with a very brief justification and a projected dollar savings for each. That was the end result of the planning process, not the planning process itself. (Where were counts referenced?)”
    Because the MTA is claiming to be transparent. That’s why they have to explain the planning process, not just their conclusions.
     
    Here are some examples why it is needed, because the MTA distorts and lies.
    They stated that by elimination of the eastern portion of the B4, riders would be able to access the B36 within a quarter-mile. That distance was measured as the crow flies.  People do not fly. They also cannot jump over the Belt Parkway which only lets you cross it at one-quarter mile intervals.  So the actual walking distance to the B36 was not 1/4 mile but an average of 1/2 mile with some required to walk over 3/4 mile, clearly over their planning guidelines.
     
    They referenced passenger counts throughout their document. They stated more weekend riders would be inconvenienced than weekday riders, but when I presented weekday data to them, they relented and left some weekday service. They chose to maintain partial weekday service rather than weekend service although more weekenders were affected.  That needed to be explained.
    Their prediction that riders would just use the B36 instead, never materialized because B36 ridership dropped in the following year, rather than increasing to absorb riders from the B4. They went to car services instead, never again to be counted as part of MTA demand.
     
    Similarly, they predicted that B71 riders would just walk an extra quarter mile to and from the B65.  That neve happened either. Why would someone making a half mile or mile trip walk an extra half mile?  It would be quicker to just walk the entire mile which is what people did. (Now you will say that they are healthier for it.) They also never explained why you would eliminate a route that showed a 29% increase in ridership during the previous five years.
     
    You can’t just say we are the experts, trust us because we make the right decisions which is what the MTA does.  You must explain what went into your planning process. You also cannot make ridiculous travel assumptions which are not borne out in time.

    • Andrew

      Because the MTA is claiming to be transparent. That’s why they have to explain the planning process, not just their conclusions.

      Explaining the planning process for all of the 2010 cuts would have filled several phone books.

      Not only would you not have read them, but you probably would have complained about the waste of resources in writing those books.

      • Allan Rosen

        Here you go again speculating, but that is only a problem when I speculate, not when you do.

        They didn’t have to explain everything. I don’t remember all the specifics now, but in one case all they needed was one more column to make things clearer. Proposals were grouped in such a manner to make certain deductions impossible. I privately discussed this with the head of OP after the hearing and he told me that they had the information I was requesting  but didn’t include it because “they didn’t want to use any more paper.”  If another 20 pages were needed to make the document clearer, that is what they should have done.

        You criticize the quality of my research when you’ve never seen any of it, but you wouldn’t dare criticize the quality of OP’s research.

        • Andrew

          They didn’t have to explain everything. I don’t remember all the specifics now, but in one case all they needed was one more column to make things clearer. Proposals were grouped in such a manner to make certain deductions impossible. I privately discussed this with the head of OP after the hearing and he told me that they had the information I was requesting  but didn’t include it because “they didn’t want to use any more paper.”  If another 20 pages were needed to make the document clearer, that is what they should have done.

          That would have been a waste of paper and a waste of money. The books were distributed to everybody who attended a public hearing, and their purpose was to explain what changes were being proposed. Justifications are nice, and these books included far more backup material than I’ve ever seen in a book of proposed service cuts.

          You are never satisfied with what OP puts out. If what you ask for here had been included, I’m sure you would have complained that something else was missing. Meanwhile, you can’t even be bothered to read what’s already out there.

          You criticize the quality of my research when you’ve never seen any of it, but you wouldn’t dare criticize the quality of OP’s research.

          I’ve seen the quality of your research right here on this blog. You make sweeping assumptions based on incomplete facts and you refuse to accept that maybe, just maybe, your assumptions are not justified. You fail to check resources that are publicly available before making assumptions, and even when presented with documents that prove your assumptions false, you steadfastly stick to your assumptions.

          If that’s how I did research, I’d be fired.

          • Allan Rosen

            “That would have been a waste of paper and a waste of money. The books were distributed to everybody who attended a public hearing, and their purpose was to explain what changes were being proposed. Justifications are nice, and these books included far more backup material than I’ve ever seen in a book of proposed service cuts.”

            False. There were no books distributed at the public hearings. Everything was available on line.  So there would have not been any waste of paper. 

            But when you state that the walk to the nearest bus route is 1/4 mile, you need to state how you determined that. When the 1/4 mile is determined as the crow flies and the actual distance is really 3/4 of a mile as was the case with the B4, your entire justification for your proposal is now in question. And it really makes a lot of sense to create a situation where you can only transfer in one direction but not in the other as they did with the B4 terminus which could easily have been avoided.

            Yes, the back-up was more than was provided historically, but never before were there cuts of this magnitude. It is not enough to just state the proposal if your justifications are questionable and your “facts” are misleading.  Trust us we are the experts is not enough justification.

            You can’t say you took into account whether ridership has been historically increasing or decreasing when making your decision to discontinue a route and at the same time eliminate a route which increased in patronage by 29% during the previous five years when the general trend was downward as was the case with the B71.  And you don’t give unrealistic travel options as viable alternatives as the MTA did.

            “You are never satisfied with what OP puts out. If what you ask for here had been included, I’m sure you would have complained that something else was missing. Meanwhile, you can’t even be bothered to read what’s already out there.”

            I am not satisfied because what they put out is loaded with errors. What in the service cuts book did I not bother to read?

            “I’ve seen the quality of your research right here on this blog. You make sweeping assumptions based on incomplete facts and you refuse to accept that maybe, just maybe, your assumptions are not justified. You fail to check resources that are publicly available before making assumptions, and even when presented with documents that prove your assumptions false, you steadfastly stick to your assumptions.”

            Funny that you seem to be the only one who has a problem with the quality of my research. If you can prove I made a mistake, I definitely admit it.  But you rarely can. I’ve only conceded only a few points.

            You on the other hand don’t concede any.  Whenever I successfully argue one of your points, you change the point being argued so it is impossible to win when the target keeps moving. I’ve shown you this over and over again.

            Funny, you have no problems with the quality of OP’s research, only with mine.  Did you ever read how I ripped apart their service cut analysis in Ned’s first article about me almost two years ago? http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2010/03/former-transit-brass-criticizes-latest-cuts/ My complete report is no longer on line so that link is dead.

            Their customer satisfaction survey which I also criticized was very misleading.  I don’t make criticisms for nothing.  And when they do something well I compliment them.

          • Andrew

            False. There were no books distributed at the public hearings. Everything was available on line.  So there would have not been any waste of paper.

            They were available online and they were also distributed in print at the public hearings. I have a copy.

            But when you state that the walk to the nearest bus route is 1/4 mile, you need to state how you determined that. When the 1/4 mile is determined as the crow flies and the actual distance is really 3/4 of a mile as was the case with the B4, your entire justification for your proposal is now in question. And it really makes a lot of sense to create a situation where you can only transfer in one direction but not in the other as they did with the B4 terminus which could easily have been avoided.

            The purpose of a public hearing is to present proposed changes to the public and to solicit public feedback. The requirement is merely to explain what the proposed changes are, not how they were selected. To help inform the discussion, the MTA opted to also present a skeletal justification of each. They were not intended to spell out all of the details.

            I am not satisfied because what they put out is loaded with errors. What in the service cuts book did I not bother to read?

            I’m sure you read that one cover to cover!

            You asked why East Side Access includes 23,000 square feet of retail space. I suggested (three times) that you look at the project documents posted on the MTA website. (Have you looked yet?)

            Funny that you seem to be the only one who has a problem with the quality of my research. If you can prove I made a mistake, I definitely admit it.  But you rarely can. I’ve only conceded only a few points.

            Much of what you post is based on pure speculation! You saw a picture of a small bench and concluded that platform seating is going to be reduced by 40%. You can’t believe that a pilot program could have possibly been discontinued because it hurt more riders than it helped, instead making up stories about impossible added trains. You latch onto soundbites instead of doing any in-depth reading or thinking.

            If you consider yourself a serious researcher or journalist, you’d verify your conjectures as facts before posting them, or, if you’re really stuck, you’d at least identify them as conjecture.

            You on the other hand don’t concede any.  Whenever I successfully argue one of your points, you change the point being argued so it is impossible to win when the target keeps moving. I’ve shown you this over and over again.

            When have I done this?

            Funny, you have no problems with the quality of OP’s research, only with mine.  Did you ever read how I ripped apart their service cut analysis in Ned’s first article about me almost two years ago? http://www.sheepsheadbites.com… My complete report is no longer on line so that link is dead.

            You ripped nothing apart. I don’t know who SignalWatcher is, but he’s correct.

            Their customer satisfaction survey which I also criticized was very misleading.  I don’t make criticisms for nothing.  And when they do something well I compliment them.

            I’m not an expert on surveying techniques, so I didn’t comment. But are you an expert on surveying techniques, or do you just make things up based on what feels good?

          • Allan Rosen

            No books were distributed at the Brooklyn hearing or they ran out.

            “The purpose of a public hearing is to present proposed changes to the public and to solicit public feedback.”

            That answer doesn’t respond to my question of them giving erroneous walking distances to the nearest bus route.

            “I’m sure you read that one cover to cover!”

            Actually, I did read the Brooklyn part cover to cover. That was all I was interested in and all I wrote about.

            I didn’t ask why East Side Access includes 23,000 square feet of retail space.  I merely questioned if it was a wise choice to make given the added costs and time involved to finish the project.

            I’ve already pointed out several times how you change the subject being discussed.  I have not time now to reread all the converstations back and forth, but I will point it out again in the near future I am sure.

            As far as the customer satisfaction survey, you don’t have to be a statistician to see how the questions were slanted so that most people would indicate they are satisfied.  They did this by asking very few service related questions about the trip being taken and concentrated on questions like if their MetroCard worked properly or if the seats were wet or if the bus had any dents.  They knew beforehand that most of the problems regarding buses are that they are slow and late or overcrowded, not that the A/C is broken or the farebox is broken, and that they would get high marks by asking those types of questions so that’s what they did.

            And since when does reaching 50% mark indicate success?  The ten point scale used for a phone survey is also unnecessarilty confusing.  You also don’t need to be a statistician to see that.

          • Andrew

            Actually, I did read the Brooklyn part cover to cover. That was all I was interested in and all I wrote about.

            Wow. I hate to break it to you, but New York City Transit is responsible for two modes of transit service in five boroughs, not just one mode in one borough.

            You have written about the subway changes, which were covered separately from the Brooklyn bus changes. You’ve also written about bus changes in the Bronx and Manhattan.

            I didn’t ask why East Side Access includes 23,000 square feet of retail space.  I merely questioned if it was a wise choice to make given the added costs and time involved to finish the project.

            So you weren’t interested in actually finding out the answer, which you can probably find in the project documents. You were only interested in making a rhetorical point.

            As far as the customer satisfaction survey, you don’t have to be a statistician …

            So you’re no more an expert on surveying techniques than I am.

          • Allan Rosen

            “Wow. I hate to break it to you, but New York City Transit is responsible for two modes of transit service in five boroughs, not just one mode in one borough.
            You have written about the subway changes, which were covered separately from the Brooklyn bus changes. You’ve also written about bus changes in the Bronx and Manhattan.”

            Sarcasm is your specialty isn’t it? The facts are that I read extensively about the bus changes in Brooklyn and wrote about them because that is where my interests lie. Got a problem with that?

            I also did not do a critique of the bus changes in the other boroughs. You are trying to mislead by stating that I wrote about changes in Manhattan and the Bronx.  While I did mention a change or two in those boroughs, and quoted sources when I did mention them, I certainly did not critique them like I did the Brooklyn changes, and it was not necessary for me to read those parts of the document. 

            As for Brooklyn subway changes, I did not discuss those extensively, since others have done that.  I never came out against switching the M from Brooklyn to Midtown, or the elimination of the W, but I did criticize the MTA for reducing service in the Montague Street tunnel, so it wasn’t necessary to read the entire MTA justification for making those changes.

            Never said that I knew more statistics than you, but I am able to spot a misleading survey when I see one.

          • Andrew

            I also did not do a critique of the bus changes in the other boroughs. You are trying to mislead by stating that I wrote about changes in Manhattan and the Bronx.  While I did mention a change or two in those boroughs, and quoted sources when I did mention them, I certainly did not critique them like I did the Brooklyn changes, and it was not necessary for me to read those parts of the document.

            You wrote a long article insisting that former Bx20 riders have to pay an extra fare to get to the A train, since they now have to ride the Bx10 to the Bx7 to the A. In fact, they can all ride the Bx10 to the 1 train to the A, on a single fare.

            Reading the Bronx section of the book, or even just opening and glancing a Bronx bus map, would have made that glaringly obvious. But you couldn’t be bothered. Instead, you took the words of a pandering elected official and ran with them.

            Reading the entire book would have given you a sense of the magnitude of what was going on and how the Brooklyn bus changes fit into the broader picture. For someone who includes “former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning” as a credential at the end of each article, you have remarkably little interest in the city’s transit system as a whole.

            As for Brooklyn subway changes, I did not discuss those extensively, since others have done that.  I never came out against switching the M from Brooklyn to Midtown, or the elimination of the W, but I did criticize the MTA for reducing service in the Montague Street tunnel, so it wasn’t necessary to read the entire MTA justification for making those changes.

            Perhaps, if you had read the book, you would have realized that, before the cuts, train loads through the Montague tunnel were lighter than loads at any other CBD access point in the system, and that removing the M still left plenty of spare capacity on the R. There was also ample spare capacity on the 2, 3, 4, and 5 to pick up former M riders who chose to divert to the IRT.

            This is basic, basic stuff. I liked the Montague M too, but it was a big waste of money.

            Never said that I knew more statistics than you, but I am able to spot a misleading survey when I see one.

            I’m not talking about statistics. I’m talking specifically about survey design. If you don’t know anything about survey design, why do you pretend that you do?

            It didn’t seem misleading to me, but I didn’t try to read more into it that was there.

  • Allan Rosen

    To Andrew:

    Of course I understand that people present papers at conferences to increase their standing in the professional community. That doesn’t mean it is the only reason. They could actually expect their recommendations to be taken seriously. If their paper has no practical applications as you imply, it couldn’t be a very good paper in the first place. You have no reason to assume that the paper was just an academic exercise and they had no intentions for it to be applied practically when they specifically suggest that savings be reinvested in the system.

    “Whatever those costs are, adding a fourth day-type increases them by about a third.”

    If that is the case, the MTA wouldn’t bother having a separate Christmas and New Year’s Day schedule which is less than a Sunday Schedule. Thanksgiving may also be included, but I am not sure of that.
     
    “If this is indicative of the quality of your research at work, I understand why Operations Planning didn’t want you back.”

    There you go again with the insults. If I were able to find the link I would.

    • Andrew

      Of course I understand that people present papers at conferences to increase their standing in the professional community. That doesn’t mean it is the only reason. They could actually expect their recommendations to be taken seriously. If their paper has no practical applications as you imply, it couldn’t be a very good paper in the first place. You have no reason to assume that the paper was just an academic exercise and they had no intentions for it to be applied practically when they specifically suggest that savings be reinvested in the system.

      If Reddy had specifically wanted his paper to have been applied at his own agency, he would have submitted it internally. He presented it at a conference because he thought it might be of interest to other planners. The paper wasn’t specific to NYCT.

      I didn’t say it had no practical applications. 

      If that is the case, the MTA wouldn’t bother having a separate Christmas and New Year’s Day schedule which is less than a Sunday Schedule. Thanksgiving may also be included, but I am not sure of that.

      Holidays are always going to be picked separately. Writing special schedules for those picks is additional work but the pick has to take place regardless. (Many bus lines probably run their regular Sunday or Saturday schedule on those holidays.) Running separate Friday schedules adds another type of day to the pick process, and unless the operating savings are substantial enough to cover the overhead (and more – it would be pretty embarrassing to cut Friday service for a net savings of zero or nearly zero), it doesn’t make sense to go any further.

      There you go again with the insults. If I were able to find the link I would.

      Even if you had the link, you do realize that not everybody on Subchat is 100% reliable all the time, I hope.

      • Allan Rosen

        “If Reddy had specifically wanted his paper to have been applied at his own agency, he would have submitted it internally. He presented it at a conference because he thought it might be of interest to other planners. The paper wasn’t specific to NYCT.”

        How do you know he also didn’t submit it internally? Portions of the paper were New York City specific and there were recommendations specifically for New York City.  That’s why it is perfectly logical to conclude he wanted the paper applied to his own agency.

        You may not have stated that it had no practical applications, but that was the implication of Seaton’s statement, that it was only an academic exercise.

        “Holidays are always going to be picked separately.”

        Yes, if there is a separate schedule for them.  If a Saturday schedule is used, the Saturday operators work that day. If there were no separate schedule for Xmas and New Years and a Sunday schedule was used instead, then Sunday operators would work those days. There would be no separate pick.

        Similarly if there was a special Friday schedule, there would be a Friday pick. I really don’t see what point you are trying to make. Of course if the operating savings were not enough to cover the overhead for a separate Friday schedule for a route, it should have the same service for all five days.

        The point of the paper was that there are routes where the riding patterns are so different that changing schedules for just those routes would result in a 18% savings.  They never said all routes should have a separate Friday schedule.

        They also said more research was needed but somehow you are automatically concluding that the overhead would be so great that there would be no savings at all.  They based their conclusions on a detailed study.  You are basing yours off the top of your head.

        • Andrew

          How do you know he also didn’t submit it internally? Portions of the paper were New York City specific and there were recommendations specifically for New York City.  That’s why it is perfectly logical to conclude he wanted the paper applied to his own agency.

          I have no idea if he submitted it internally. Unlike you, I didn’t make a post on a blog based on an assumption that he did or that he didn’t. You did. That’s why I suggested that you contact him. You refused.

          He used a sampling of New York City bus routes in his analysis because that’s the information he had easiest access to.

          You may not have stated that it had no practical applications, but that was the implication of Seaton’s statement, that it was only an academic exercise.

          Seaton was simply clarifying that Reddy represented himself, not his employer, at the conference. It’s a fairly standard disclaimer. He never said that Reddy’s proposal would never be considered for adoption.

          “Holidays are always going to be picked separately.”

          Yes, if there is a separate schedule for them.  If a Saturday schedule is used, the Saturday operators work that day. If there were no separate schedule for Xmas and New Years and a Sunday schedule was used instead, then Sunday operators would work those days. There would be no separate pick.

          Very, very wrong. If a holiday falls on a Tuesday, then bus operators who have Tuesdays off still have the day off, even if service runs on a Saturday or Sunday schedule.

          In the pick process, operators pick their weekday, Saturday, and Sunday jobs, and also pick jobs for upcoming holidays.

          Similarly if there was a special Friday schedule, there would be a Friday pick. I really don’t see what point you are trying to make. Of course if the operating savings were not enough to cover the overhead for a separate Friday schedule for a route, it should have the same service for all five days.

          Picks aren’t done route-by-route. If any route has a special Friday schedule that has to be picked separately, then all routes have to have Fridays picked separately.

          The point of the paper was that there are routes where the riding patterns are so different that changing schedules for just those routes would result in a 18% savings.  They never said all routes should have a separate Friday schedule.

          The abstract explicitly calls for “Implementing separate Friday schedules systemwide.”

          They also said more research was needed but somehow you are automatically concluding that the overhead would be so great that there would be no savings at all.  They based their conclusions on a detailed study.  You are basing yours off the top of your head.

          Again, I’m not assuming anything. Read page 27 of the paper, especially points 3 and 4.

          • Allan Rosen

            Here is how you go changing the subject:

            First you stated: “If Reddy had specifically wanted his paper to have been applied at his own agency, he would have submitted it internally.”

            Then when I asked you how do you know he didn’t?  You responded: “I have no idea if he submitted it internally.”  That directly contradicts what you just previously stated. Then you move the subject to a different discussion, so there is no coming to a conclusion.

            “Again, I’m not assuming anything. Read page 27 of the paper, especially points 3 and 4.”

            3 and 4 on Page 27 just says they are not sure of the actual savings and more research is necessary, it doesn’t conclude that the additonal overhead would negate any cost savings which is what you are implying.

            “He (Seaton) never said that Reddy’s proposal would never be considered for adoption.”

            But he never said that it would be and more important, even if it would, he did not indicate that the MTA would use the savings to reinvest in the system which is what the study recommended.”  And that was what the article was really about, the need to reinvest savings back into the system, not to continually cut service as the MTA has been doing.

          • Andrew

            Allan, I didn’t publish an article on a blog – you did. You claimed that Reddy submitted a suggestion to his agency, except that there was no evidence that he did. You even declined to contact him directly to ask, as I suggested.

            As I’ve said several times already, the overhead for this change would be considerable, and my sense (which could be wrong, of course) is that it would approach, if not exceed, the savings. Furthermore, the cost of carrying out a thorough evaluation would also be considerable. Before spending that money, somebody has to decide, based on professional judgment, whether it’s likely to bear fruit.

          • Allan Rosen

            It really is a moot point if Reddy formerly wrote a cover letter to his agency requesting a response which I assume is what you are talking about by arguing if he in fact submitted it to his agency or not.  The facts are that the study was performed with the cooperation of Operations Planning and Charles Seaton commented on it. So can the agency deny not knowing the existance of such a study?  Of course not. So why does it matter if Reddy formerly submitted the suggestion or not which you are making such a big deal about insisting that it is necessary for me to ask him the question.

            “Before spending that money, somebody has to decide, based on professional judgment, whether it’s likely to bear fruit.”

            And that is all I was asking in the first place, not that the MTA immediately move forward and have separate Friday schedules.  But that is not the response that Seaton gave.  He just said it wasn’t MTA policy. The implication of saying that is that the MTA would do nothing further, although they didn’t specifically say that, but it is a logical conclusion. 

          • Andrew

            Who said anything about a cover letter? The authors performed a study on their own time for a transportation conference. There is no indication in the paper or in the Daily News article that the authors ever proposed it to NYCT for implementation.

            The Daily News decided to report on the paper. Naturally, they asked the MTA press office if there were any plans to implement it. Seaton responded that there were no such plans.

            That’s all. The rest is in your imagination.

      • sonicboy678

        You do realize that you talked about Friday schedules being a fourth option, then contradicted yourself by talking about a present fourth option. You must be a troll.

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