It’s Time To Speak Up!


Click for more details. Source: PCAC.org

THE COMMUTE: If the elimination of the B4 in Sheepshead Bay has negatively changed your life, you can let the MTA know next Wednesday evening. The New York City Transit Rider’s Council will be holding its annual Bus Forum, April 25, where you can ask questions, or make comments and suggestions for Darryl Irick, senior vice president for the Department of Buses. There are more than one million different daily bus customers and 60 will be given the opportunity to speak for two minutes each. Isn’t public participation great?

Scott Stringer Spoke Up

It’s no secret that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wants to be the next mayor. During the past year, he has been making the rounds all over Brooklyn and in the other boroughs to get his name known. He has also spoken out loudly in favor of public transportation, something no other potential candidate has done thus far. Last December, he held a transportation conference. The same month he appeared in Manhattan Beach and, in March, he spoke before the Plumb Beach Civic Association. At that meeting, he agreed with me that Select Bus Service (SBS) is no panacea.

Stringer, this past April 17, addressed the Association for a Better New York, in which he supported the “X” subway, which would connect three boroughs utilizing the abandoned Bay Ridge LIRR right-of- way and expansion of Select Bus Service. He also criticized the MTA for cost overruns regarding the Fulton Transit Center and their lack of fiscal responsibility. He supports Gridlock Sam’s “Fair Plan.” He also made other funding recommendations, such as the restoration of the Commuter Tax, which was immediately shot down by suburban politicians and New Jersey Governor Christie. An excellent summary of Stringer’s speech can be found here and the entire speech can be found here.

While Stringer is to be commended for taking a pro-transit stance, what does it really mean? Nothing, really, because as mayor he will have no input into the mass transportation planning process, which is under the sole jurisdiction of the MTA. Remember Mayor Bloomberg’s promise for free crosstown buses if elected to a third term?

Stringer can only make a difference if he:

  1. can return control of the subway and buses to the city, or
  2. has the same clout as the current mayor, who was successful in getting the #7 line extended to stimulate development on the far west side and benefit the real estate industry.

However, one proposal was missing from his speech. It is what, as mayor, he could do to improve mass transit. That would be to increase the city subsidy to the MTA for providing reduced fares for seniors and students. This has remained unchanged in decades. This is why that would be fair:

First, the MTA only agreed in the 1970s to provide reduced fares if the city would make up the difference. The formula was complicated and the MTA always claimed it was being short-changed. Over the years, much of the city’s burden was shifted to the state, which has cut its assistance to the MTA in recent years.

Second, in most cities, they pay for school bus service. In New York City, school bus service — except for elementary school students and special needs children — is provided by the MTA and that service is substantial. At Kingsborough Community College and Leon M. Goldstein High School, for example, 12 additional buses are put on at school dismissal time. However, extra service is not only provided at the beginning and end of the day. Thousands of students arrive and leave between noon and 2:00 p.m. and all day long.

If not for the MTA, the Department of Education would have to provide all school bus service in the city, which would require the purchase of thousands of extra school buses, not to mention labor costs, fuel and maintenance that the city would have to pay for. Since the city benefits so much from the MTA providing services for them, shouldn’t they contribute their fair share of the cost for subsidizing losses incurred from school bus service and senior citizen reduced fares? They do that for the formerly privately-operated buses that the MTA assumed control over. It’s a lot easier for a politician to make recommendations that he will have no say in than in one that would fall under his or her domain.

I Spoke Up

In 2003, when the MTA first unveiled its plans for SBS, I suggested they order three-door articulated buses rather than the two-door variety to avoid longer dwell times at bus stops. Articulated buses can carry 50 percent more passengers than standard buses. Their response was that three-door buses were not structurally suitable for New York City streets and they would order buses with two doors.

They said the same thing in the 1970s regarding the two-door articulated buses — consumer groups pressured the MTA to buy these longer buses on heavily utilized routes to provide additional seating capacity. After years of refusing, the MTA finally relented. They were first placed on mid-Manhattan crosstown routes, the worst possible choice. That is because most trips on those routes are short and many people get on and off at each stop. It was not until after the buses arrived that the MTA realized that the depots that serve the routes for Manhattan’s avenues, where they were first intended to operate, could not handle the longer buses without extensive renovations.

When I took the 23rd Street crosstown bus that uses these buses, my trip from Sixth to 12th avenue took me 30 minutes with very little traffic and no waiting for the bus because the overcrowded bus spent five minutes at each bus stop loading and unloading. The reason for the overcrowding is that instead of providing 50 percent more seating, the MTA used these buses to cut costs, replacing five standard buses with only four articulated buses. This partially defeated the reason consumer groups asked for them in the first place.

Also, with less frequent service, many passengers using the crosstowns only for two or three blocks decided instead to walk, causing the MTA to reduce service further. I can still remember my transportation professor at Columbia University in 1972 telling us that you would never want to put articulated buses on a crosstown line. Is it any wonder that bus ridership is declining?

Last week, The New York Times announced that the MTA finally has begun to replace its two-door articulated buses with three-door buses as the older buses are being retired (The M15 SBS has already had them for awhile). This should speed service on Manhattan crosstown buses, which usually are slower than walking. It is a step in the right direction, although many years late. Articulated buses will finally be introduced to Brooklyn next year when they will be placed on the B44 SBS.

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

    Seriously. Changing the B4 bus screwed me personally big-time. Just yesterday, after the autism walk on the boardwalk (given publicity by Sheepshead Bytes, thanks SB), we wanted to go to the Sheepshead movie theater. How, from boardwalk&Coney Island Avenue? It was raining, mind you. Usually we walk, but the rain was increasing..

    Had the B4 bus been still going down Neptune, no problem, we walk to Neptune and CIAve, hop on B4.

       We talked about taking THREE buses (B68,B36,B44), but that’s silly. We wanted the afternoon show, not the midnight show  :)

       Finally took a car service. Thank you MTA.

        Doesn’t make a heckuva lotta sense to me that three buses go down Avenue Z (49 a little,36,4). None go down Neptune-Emmons.

    • Allan Rosen

      People miss the bus along Neptune, but I think having it not serve Knapp Street all day long and on weekends is more of a problem.  With an average of 6 to 12 passengers per bus, the MTA believed ridership was too low to maintain service.  But after they double the service on the B44 next year with Select Bus Service, they will also carry no more than 6 people along Emmons.  That’s why we have to fight for the B4, to show their hypocrisy and double standards.

      • Andrew

        Or perhaps offering frequent B44 service would attract more riders than the infrequent B4 ever did. (Not everyone has the same visceral reaction to the IRT that you do.) If not, it can be cut back later. I think it’s worth a try.

        The Knapp Street B4 was a failure. I’d like to see the off-peak B4 extended to the Sheepshead Bay station, but beyond that point the potential riders never found it attractive.

        • Allan Rosen

          Tell that to the people who depended on it.

          Also, what is the justification to offer a service level that will not carry more riders than the B4 did? Just you wait and see.

          • Andrew

            Very few people depended on it. The MTA is in the business of running a public transit system, not a taxi service. Resources spent here are resources that would have to be taken away from somewhere else.

            In other cities, service cuts leave entire neighborhoods without transit service. The service cut on the B4 left a neighborhood without off-peak east-west transit service. It maintained its north-south service 24/7. Nobody here is stranded; they just don’t have the off-peak east-west service that most of them never used.

            As you yourself state often, frequent services attract riders. Improving frequency on the B44 may attract new riders. Or it may not. If not, the locals can be cut back to Avenue U again. If there’s any time to try it out, it’s when SBS starts up.

          • Flatbush Depot

            Your third paragraph is sound. Second and first are questionable. Your use of “very few” is subjective. More on this stuff in my other post.

            Here is a question for anybody: Approximately how many people live in Sheepshead Bay, in the area south of Voorhies Ave and east of Bedford Ave?

          • Andrew

            I’m going by Allan’s “average of 6 to 12 passengers per bus.” That’s very low.

          • guest

            “In other cities, service cuts leave entire neighborhoods without transit service.”

            This isn’t any other city. This is New York.

            “The MTA is in the business of running a public transit system, not a taxi service.”

            I and many others would beg to differ with those absurd fares we all have to pay for sub-par service. This is the only major transit system in the world that has made no major improvements or extensions to it’s infrastructure in decades. As one example The MTA was supposed to complete the 2/5 to Voorhies 19 years ago. They haven’t even started. The MTA isn’t in the business of running anything except away to the bank with our money. They are crooks.  

          • Allan Rosen

            Why would the B44 warrant service at 6 people per bus when the B4 does not warrant the service?  That is my question. Answer that for me.

            And no, the locals could not be cut back to Avenue U because you would have to install pre-pay fare boxes at a dozen more stops. The SBS should terminate at Sheepshead Bay Station providing additional service on Avenue Z.  The few Knapp Street riders should be able to transfer to the SBS at Avenue Z and Nostrand without being penalized by not being able to take another bus or train for the same fare.

          • Flatbush Depot

            This again. What is your hangup with extra service on “Z” when so much more of those people are within walking distance to a subway while the people in Plumb Beach are nowhere within walking distance to a subway and would either have to deal with a local bus route operating every 10-20 minutes (B4 or a similar replacement) to the (B)(Q) or a local bus route operating every 10 minutes (B44 local) to the B44 SBS to the (2)(5) when they could instead just take a B44 SBS directly to the (2)(5) and have a fast and reliable connection to the subway, which they currently do not have?

            It seems to me that the B44 warrants the service because it picks up a lot more people than the B4 thanks to ridership on other sections of the route, so MTA has no problem with it going past “X” to Knapp St (especially since it will only take 3-5 minutes to make a one-way trip on this section of the route) even though the ridership is currently low down there, because it knows that the B44′s ridership down there is/will be more sustainable and have more growth potential than that of the B4′s due to the B44′s superior headways on all sections of the route and the fact that they know they would not even save pennies if they truncated the B44 SBS to “X” or “Z”. Maybe the people down there will embrace the B44 SBS due to its new payment system and reliability. The line is already supposed to run frequently, it just gets messed up right now because it makes too many stops and suffers from your other typical local/limited bus problems.

            And what about the people from other neighborhoods who patronize and work in the commercial venues and nursing homes in that area but may well avoid the B44 right now due to the typical local/limited bus problems it currently suffers from? There goes your source of ridership aside from the local residents. Again, and anybody can answer this question, approximately how many people live in Sheepshead Bay south of Voorhies Ave and east of Bedford Ave?

            Not all local stops need to be replaced by SBS stops if the local is truncated. The northern terminus of the B44 local will still be Flushing Ave, so there will be no local B44 service north of Flushing, and the B44 SBS will only make stops at Flushing, Hewes, Taylor, and Bridge Plaza. On the southern end, the only B44 local terminus that makes sense, other than Knapp Street, is “X”, not “U”. If they truncate it to “X”, the B44 SBS needs an extra stop at “Z” and “Z” only. No stop between Knapp and Nostrand on Shore Pkwy/Emmons Ave is needed because the maximum walking time to/from the nearest SBS stop for somebody in that area will be 5 minutes.

          • Andrew

            The B4 was unable to attract more than a few riders per bus. Perhaps a more frequent B44 will prove attractive enough to bring in more riders, or perhaps not. Now is the time to try. If not, fare equipment can be installed at the additional stops.

            (Contrary to what you’ve claimed, what’s done on day one is not set in stone – if there are problems, they can be corrected. On the Bx12, a stop at Sedgwick Avenue was added. On the M15, additional machines were installed at 14th St. and I think the machines were turned around at stops where they were too close to the curb. If adjustments are needed on the B44, they will be made.)

            I don’t see the benefit to bringing the B44 to the Sheepshead Bay station – it would directly duplicate the B36, and it would leave Plumb Beach with only local service up Nostrand.

          • Flatbush Depot

            To @Andrew_J_C:disqus : The number of riders the B44 SBS could pick up down there depends heavily on the number of people that live south of Voorhies and east of Bedford. I would like an estimate if possible, from somebody, anybody…

            Also I doubt it will get to the point where they will install fare machines at every stop, even if they do go as far as to truncate the local. That would just make little sense and they will not do it on the north end of the B44 despite the fact that they are keeping all local service truncated to Flushing Ave. An extra SBS stop at “Z” makes a lot of sense if certain provisions are made so that the buses can move quickly on that stretch of Nostrand despite making stops at “Z”, “X”, and “U” rather than just “X” and “U”.

            Allan’s claims that the MTA tends to set things in stone is sound. It varies from situation to situation, but MTA will definitely push back often before making changes, based on what I have seen.

          • gustaajedrez

            According to the MTA’s own numbers, about 2,300 people depending on it during the weekends.

            As for frequency attracting customers, by that logic, they could’ve increased service on the B4 to attract riders as well. The Brighton Line is closer and easier to access than the Nostrand Avenue Line, so they could’ve ran additional short-turns to the subway station during rush hour.

            As for having 6-12 passengers per bus off-peak, that actually isn’t too bad. I’m sure it’s better than at the other end in Bay Ridge, which got to keep their service. And in any case, it’s a fairly short section, so it’s not the end of the world. As much as I would love to see every bus have a seated load or more throughout the entire day, I know that’s not realistically possible, so we have to accept that some routes won’t carry as well as others. Now, if it were running every 5 minutes and carrying 6-12 people, then yeah, I could see a reduction, but if it’s already running every 20 minutes off-peak, how much more can you realistically reduce it?

          • Allan Rosen

            As I stated elsewhere, the 6 to 12 was for the eastern end.  It might have been higher for midday more towards Ocean Parkway.  After all buses had a nearly seated load in both directions around 2:30 PM on a weekday at Ocean Parkway.

            The thing is Operations Planning can do whatever it wants without justifying or explaining their decision.  Although 2,300 people were inconvenienced on weekend, the same report showed that 2,100 people were spared by them not eliminating it entirely on weekdays.  So the question is why didn’t they keep weekend service instead, instead of the partial weeday service?  Most probably because it was assumed that the weekend trips were discretionary.

            I was on the bus once and it was full of kids going from Bensonhurst to play in a sodftball field in Sheepshead Bay, a trip they made once a month. Just a small example of a few people who were inconvenienced that you wouldn’t expect.

        • Flatbush Depot

          Can we please not get into this annoying discussion about the Junction and the (2)(5) again? We have already been over it a billion times.

          This is it in a nutshell for Plumb Beach residents: The B44 SBS is going to be the line you want to take (instead of the B4 or whatever service takes you to the (B)(Q)) if you want to get to a subway ((2)(5)) to go to Park Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, or Manhattan because for such trips you just want to get to whichever subway is easier to reach, if you are not one of these people who is concerned with avoiding the Junction. I doubt a significant number of people even are. Al has not brought it up in a while, I had a long discussion about it with him a while back, so no need to get into it again. If he does not directly mention his ‘visceral reaction to the IRT,’ which he may not even have, then there is no need to get into it again.

          The B44 SBS will be the faster subway feeder for most because the trip from first stop to Junction will take no longer than 16 minutes to complete, there will only be four stops between the two points, and the travel times will be more predictable and well-defined than those on most MTA bus routes due to the infrequent stops, off-board fare collection, and lack of traffic jams along the B44 SBS corridor.

          But take note that I wrote subway feeder. The B44 SBS will be better for getting people to a subway than the B4, but the B4 is still the bus you need if you want direct east-west service so that you can get to neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, parts of Bensonhurst, or Coney Island or Brighton Beach. A good number of people are inconvenienced by the reduction of the B4 because no other line that the B44 transfers to takes you as far as the B4 does or covers various areas covered by the B4.

          But the annoying thing about the B4 is its infrequency. If I miss a bus and the next bus is not due for 15-20 minutes there is usually no way in the world I will stand there waiting for the next one. If the bus route is that infrequent I will not even stop at the bus stop to look at the schedule or stand there for one second waiting; I will just start walking and board a bus if I see it.

          This is something that varies from culture to culture and from age group to age group, but most people I know, who are people of all ages from teenagers to people in their 50s, will not deal with long waits for infrequent bus lines like the B4. Most people I know will look at me like I am nuts if I tell them we are going to stand here waiting 15 minutes for a bus to go somewhere. This includes scenarios involving no transfers, like Bruce B’s situation in which he and his friends would have just walked to Neptune to take the B4 if it were still going to Knapp St daily.

          Maybe he and his friends would not mind it, but I and most people I know would not deal with it. I dealt with infrequent (again, 15-20 minute headways middays, late evenings, and weekends), unpredictable, unreliable bus lines in the northwest Bronx for 20 years, it pissed me off that service was (and still is) the way it was/is, and living in neighborhoods that were not conducive to transit use pissed me off because I prefer transit over driving. For myself and most people I know, buses that only operate every 15-20 minutes (mind you, this is just on paper because we know what kind of deviation goes on with the buses every day) are not conducive to transit use either. Some think they are still needed; I personally avoid them like the plague due to past frustrations.

          With that said the answer to the B4 problem is to put a similar east-west service reaching as far as Bay Ridge on Emmons Ave/Shore Pkwy South that everybody finds conducive to transit use. That means the service levels will have to be at least 5-8 minutes rush hours and 8-12 minutes all other times, period. I have said this many times before and have come up with solutions of my own, but according to Al none of them are winners, and at this point I lack the motivation to continue trying to come up with solutions to the B4 problem. Please do not bring up the silly and archaic argument about the (B)(Q)(2)(5) again and just acknowledge that even though the B44 SBS will be the better subway feeder, an east-west bus route similar to the B4 but with significantly better service levels is needed for people who want to go to those neighborhoods in southwest Brooklyn that the B4 services as well as surrounding areas. Peace.

          • Andrew

            I agree, the B44 certainly isn’t very useful for east-west travelers (although it does connect to the B36).

            But given how few people rode the off-peak B4 in the past, it doesn’t look like there’s much demand for east-west service. Bringing that service back under a different name won’t help. While running more frequent service would attract more total riders, it would result in even fewer riders per bus, making the new service even more costly than the old B4 was.

            If the B36 can afford to send selected buses south on Nostrand instead of north, then that would provide former B4 riders with east-west service at lower cost. But the B36 probably needs all of its buses up north, so I don’t think that will work.

          • Flatbush Depot

            “While running more frequent service would attract more total riders, it would result in even fewer riders per bus, making the new service even more costly than the old B4 was.”
            But fewer riders per bus will probably happen with the B44 SBS as well. The difference is that the B44 SBS will still be cheaper to run than the B4. Although on paper the increase in service on the B44 SBS is not going to be huge. The limited already serves Knapp Street every 3-4 minutes during the early AM rush. DOT/MTA said the B44 SBS will operate every 3 minutes during rush hour and every 7.5 minutes during off hours (do not know if this includes all day weekends, but I know it includes weekday middays at least). The schedules on MTA.info will tell you the current service levels on the B44 limited, so you can get your comparison there.

          • Allan Rosen

            The only way you could tell if there is a demand for east-west service or not is to study the frequency of trips made by car services which the MTA totally ignores.  Perhaps as someone suggested on another forum if the B4 was restructured to run on 86th Street instead along with the B1 and Bay Ridge Parkway service restructured, there would be demand for east-west bus service.  If at least if the B4 was reliable with 15 to 20 minute headways, more people would have used it, but not when they have to wait 30 to 40 minutes one third or half the time they use it because of bus bunching and no attempt by the MTA to regulate service.

            Remember, before I created the B1 in 1978 to operate from Brighton Beach to 86th Street, there was no demand for that service either because travel was so inconvenient requiring three buses and doublebacking to make that trip.  Today, you could never get that route instituted with the MTA policy of neutral cost service improvements and cutbacks which only serves to destroy the system, rather than building up ridership and making the system more convenient to use.

          • Andrew

            Or they can try running the B44 as planned and see what happens. If the ridership develops, great! If not, cut back the local and install more SBS fare machines.

            For most of the off-peak period that the B4 doesn’t run to Plumb Beach, it’s on a 30 minute headway. So 6-12 passengers per bus means 12-24 passengers per hour. How many additional potential riders do you realistically think took car services along the B4 route?

            As I’ve told you again and again, the current policy of only allowing cost-neutral changes (with SBS as a notable exception) was adopted in response to the fiscal crisis that began a few years ago. Until the MTA finds additional funding to increase service, that’s the way it has to be. And when that does happen, I certainly hope that the new services are not necessarily replicas of what was cut in 2010, much of which (including the east end of the B4, in my opinion) should have been cut a long time ago.

          • Allan Rosen

            People will patronize the SBS to get to the Junction during rush hours, but most will not at other times.

          • Flatbush Depot

            You do not know that Al.

          • Andrew

            Why not?

          • Allan Rosen

            Because many do not view the Junction as safe to get off or to wait for a bus especially when there are few people around.

            Also, I do not know what type of arithmetic you are doing.  When I was talking about 6 to 12 per bus I was talking rush hours in Plumb Beach, not middays when it doesn’t run to Plumb Beach.  When it used to run every 20 minutes along Bay Ridge Parkway before the cuts, it got a decent load like 20 per bus.  In fact, the portion along Neptune that was cut carried 35 in one direction and 25 in the other at 2:30 PM.  That was what convinced Operations Planning not to cut the route entirely, after I pointed that out to them. Since the bus now runs every 30 minutes instead of every 20, if it carries only 12 per bus instead of 20,  who would you blame for that?

            As I’ve told you before, the cost neutral policy was in effect in 2001 when there was a surplus.  It is nothing new.

            You don’t care that the B4 was cut because it doesn’t affect you.  The fact that cutting it violates the planning guidelines by requiring a walk of 3/4 mile to an east-west route doesn’t matter to you either.  And don’t tell me they have access to the B44 because that does you no good if you have to go east-west, and transferring to the B36, B3, B82, B11 and B6 does not give you access to much of Brooklyn and necessitates making a second transfer and an extra fare.  Not to mention that taking the B44 to the B6 to get to Bensonhurst is much more indirect than the B4.

          • Allan Rosen

            First of all, there is no way a bus can get from Avenue X and Nostrand to Knapp and Emmons in 3 to 5 minutes.  It’s more like 8 minutes.  Also, if you can justify a bus every 3 minutes on a segment that will carry about 6 per bus, you can also afford to increase B4 service which has the same number of riders, from every 20 minutes to every 10 minutes, so riders would want to take it.

            Let’s say there are many workers living in East Flatbush and Canarsie who travel to the nursing homes in Plumb Beach.  Yes, the SBS will save them 10 or maybe more minutes. But will the trip be any quicker than if they took a bus to the Brighton Line and were able to transfer to a B4 that ran every 10 minutes? I don’t believe that would be the case.  It would make more sense to add B4 service like one or two buses between the Station and Knapp if you can’t afford to improve service on the entire line.

            Regarding Avenue Z, whenever a Brighton train pulls into the Station in the afternoon, between 30 and 80 people line up for the B36.  The MTA used to run shuttles to Nostrand and U so there was never a problem.  Now you can get stuck waiting 15 or 20 minutes for a B36 since that service was cut many years ago.  That’s why there are also so many car services lined up there, because the people do not want to wait.  When the B4 does not run, they don’t have a choice but to take car service. 

          • Flatbush Depot

            How is a B44 SBS going to take 8 minutes to get from Knapp/Shore to Nostrand/”X” if it only makes one stop between these two points? Pull out from Knapp/Shore when light turns green at Knapp/Emmons or shortly before it turns green. Make right turn on Emmons Ave. Signal at Coyle is usually green. Pull into stop at Emmons/Nostrand. It took me one minute at most to get from the first stop to the second stop. Now sit here for 30 seconds at most waiting for the signal to change if it is red. Now it is green. Make right turn on Nostrand Ave. Say it takes me about 15 seconds to get from Emmons to Shore Pkwy because I see that the signal is red and there is no need for me to rush. Signal at Shore Pkwy is usually red. Now sit here for about 30 seconds waiting for the signal to change. 2:15 passed. Now I have 2:45 to get from my present position at Nostrand/Shore Pkwy to Nostrand/”X”. Remember I have no stops to make to pick up people, so I move just like any private vehicle. 2:45 is plenty of time for me to cover 5 long blocks. By the way it takes a vehicle moving at a constant speed of 25-30mph an average of about 20-25 seconds to cover a long block (3 short blocks) without making any stops. Now tell me something I do not know that will refute all of this.

            Now then. Why would somebody from East Flatbush or Canarsie take a crosstown bus to the (B)(Q) to the B4? Now you suddenly want them to make two transfers instead of one? How is it any faster to take, say, the B35 from Church/Utica Aves to the (B)(Q) to the B4 to Plumb Beach? That trip would take 43 minutes to complete assuming *no wait time* for any bus or train. The B35 is supposed to get from Utica to Nostrand in 12 minutes around this time of day. The B44 SBS will probably take 21 minutes to get from Church Ave to Knapp St around this time of day. Assume no wait time for either bus and your trip is 33 minutes. May only be 10 minutes shorter, but let us not forget that there are fewer transfers to make and that the B35 and B44 SBS still are/will be more frequent than the (B)(Q) and B4 running every 10 minutes. The more transfers are made, the more time and uncertainty is added to the trip. Nostrand moves well everywhere except around Flatbush Ave, so I can expect the B44 SBS to be as reliable as a subway line. The main reason for the B44 LT’s unreliability right now is the fact that it makes too many stops, and a lot of the stops are in locations that compound the impact of traffic congestion on the B44. The stops on Lee Ave and the Glenwood Rd stop are the biggest culprits.

            Adding service to the B4 so it operates every 10 minutes east of Sheepshead Bay station is a step in the right direction, but not for the people that travel between East Flatbush/Canarsie and Sheepshead Bay. It is good for the residents of Sheepshead Bay. But even then they still might not be so quick to come back to the B4 unless MTA goes out and announces that they are adding service. Then you might still have people that say something along the lines of, “if I miss a bus and have to wait 10 minutes for the next one, I will not have it and I will stick to my car services.” I dealt with buses running every 10 minutes (if they were running on time) during rush hours for 20 years; I sure as hell do not want to deal with them again. If I had a bus 5 minutes later rather than 10 I would have avoided being late for school, rushing to school, and having to regain my bearings.

            I see what you are saying about the B36 and Ave “Z”. Well where are most of those B36 riders getting off? Cannot be Ave “Z” itself since the densest block on “Z” is Ocean Ave. Nostrand has to be the place where most of the people get off, but I find it a little weird that people who board the (B) in Manhattan or Downtown Brooklyn would take the (B) to the B36 rather than transfer to the (Q) to Ave “U” for the B3. Seems like a (B) and (Q) would be bound to meet up at Church Ave or Kings Hwy.

            The (2)(5) go to the same places in Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan as the (B)(Q) and more and pretty much take the same amount of time to get from the Junction to places served by the (B)(Q)(2)(5) as the (B)(Q) take to get from Kings Hwy, “U”, or Sheepshead Bay to places served by the (B)(Q)(2)(5). The (2)(5) also run more frequently and give you more flexibility. You miss a (5) at Flatbush and want to get somewhere as quickly as possible, you can take a (2) to a (4). You miss a (2), you can take a (5) to a (3). Coming back the other way you can take either a (2), a (5), a (4) to a (2), or a (2) to a (5). Right now it makes little sense to use the B44 to get to/from the (2)(5) if you live south of Kings Hwy because it takes too long to get to/from the (2)(5). Even then, one reader said on this blog a year ago that some people have given up on the B36/(B)(Q) and use the B44/(2)(5) instead.

            If the people that live around Nostrand/”U” and Nostrand/”X” notice the B44 SBS, I guess it is up to them whether they wish to use it (knowing that the payment system is obviously faster and seeing more of these buses come up the road, and they are Artics so they are much roomier than the buses used by any other bus line in the whole borough, let alone the neighborhood) and the (2)(5), making the transfer at the Junction, or continue to deal with the B36/B3/B4/car services and the (B)(Q). It would help if MTA went and announced to them all the perks, such as fewer stops and off-board fare payment so that they could know what to expect, then they might be a little quicker to make the change so they no longer deal with the crowds on the (B)(Q) and B36 and B3. But a subway line is a subway line and a bus line is a bus line, so hopefully they will realize that they now (after the B44 becomes SBS) have an additional reasonable bus/subway line to use and do not have to be confined to the crosstown buses and (B)(Q). Most people that live in the outer boroughs do not enjoy this multiplicity of useful subway services. I do not. There is only one train I can use if I want to go anywhere, and it is much more difficult for me to get from this line to another line than it is to get from the (B)(Q)(2)(5) to another line (you already have four right there, so most of the time there is no other line to even get to!).

          • Flatbush Depot

            Clarification: In the third to last paragraph, I said “Nostrand has to be the place where most of the people get off.” I meant to say that most of them (B36 riders) probably get off at the stops along Nostrand Ave, at “Z”, “Y”, “X”, “W”, “V”, and “U”. I was not referring to Nostrand/”Z” alone. In that case (where most are getting off at the stops along Nostrand), the B44 SBS/(2)(5) are essentially accomplishing the same thing as the B36/(B)(Q). If I take a (Q) from Union Square to Sheepshead Bay and then a B36 from Sheepshead Bay to Nostrand/”Y” and then walk to my residence at Batchelder/”Y”, it is not much different from taking a (5) from Union Square to Flatbush Ave and then a B44 SBS from Flatbush Ave to Nostrand/”X” and then walking to my residence at Batchelder/”Y”. Travel times will be marginally different.

          • Allan Rosen

            I would guess that few are getting off at Avenue U and not that many at Ave V. Avenues W, X, Y and Z as well as stops on Z at Bedford and approximately East 28th are the busiest. You are also asking B36 riders who board at Avenues Z, Y, and W to first walk to Avenue X to make their trip on the B44 SBS and you assume they woud prefer the 2 and 5 to the B or Q. That extra six minutes walking in addition to what they are walking already to get to the bus also needs to be factored in and is not something people will want to do in poor weather.

            I’ll address your other points tomorrow.

          • Flatbush Depot

            To @164b88b5feda652c00faa544c6ebc3f8:disqus :

            Well if the (2)(5) take them closer to where they want to go but the (B)(Q) do not (and there are several major destinations served by the (2)(5) but not the (B)(Q), like Grand Central, Penn Station, and Borough Hall), then there is no way to avoid extra walking because they might as well do the extra walking to the B44 SBS stop on the Sheepshead Bay end since if they use the (B)(Q) they will have to do the extra walking on the other end. They could make transfers between trains, but that brings us right back to time and uncertainty and finding your way through long passageways and crowds of people.

            I factored in the walking time. It only creates a difference of 6 minutes at most between a trip made with the B36 and (B)(Q) and the B44 SBS and (2)(5). My estimates are that the trip on the B44 SBS to Flatbush Ave will be 16 minutes from the first stop, 14 from the second stop (Emmons), 11 from “X”, 9 from “U”, and 5 from Kings Hwy. It is true that several or most people will not want to walk so much in poor weather. I agree with that.

            Each route has trade-offs. The B44 SBS will take longer to reach, but its travel times will be more predictable and well-defined. It will move faster and will be more comfortable to ride. The B36 is easier to reach, but it stops every 2-3 blocks, has less capacity, longer dwell times at each stop, and more variables to deal with. Also some people might stop at stores on Nostrand on the way to/from their residences, so depending on where the store they want is, they might as well utilize one of the SBS stops rather than the nearest bus stop.

            I am curious as to how busy Bedford and East 28 are; there are no apartment buildings near those stops and just a couple of small stores and private houses. If you wanted to send the B44 SBS down “Z” and have it make stops at Bedford/”Z” and Nostrand/”Z” just for that, then I am not quite sure what you were trying to accomplish. Although the Nostrand/”Z” stop does make sense to me since it could be very effective due to the fact that it would serve the dense housing east of Nostrand along “Z”. We know it cannot make too many stops because it is SBS and an inordinate number of extra stops would defeat the purpose, so with that in mind, what would sending the B44 SBS to Sheepshead Bay station have accomplished? You would have been better off simply proposing an additional stop at Nostrand/”Z”, which would have been significant enough to cut the walking times. How could Bedford/”Z” or East 28/”Z” be much busier than Emmons/Shore Pkwy/Nostrand Ave or Knapp St/Shore Pkwy if there is denser housing and in general more going on down there than at those two stops on “Z”, and that area is not within walking distance to a subway, when even Bedford/”Z” is?

            Although “X” to Shore Pkwy/Emmons is a very long distance between stops, I do not think 8 minutes (I consider this the maximum for people who use stops on Nostrand, assuming there is no SBS stop at Nostrand/”Z”) is something to cry foul about when in exchange for that you have no local/limited bus problems to worry about, and you are just 3-4 bus stops from the subway. The stops are far apart, but the dwell times are low and the SBS bus will move more or less like a private vehicle.

          • Flatbush Depot

            “…might as well utilize one of the SBS stops rather than the nearest stop.”

            Meant to say “rather than their home local bus stop,” not “rather than the nearest stop.”

            Also in the long post I meant that if you miss a (2) to Brooklyn you can take a (3) to a (5), not a (2) to a (5). But you could take a (2) to a (5) if the (2) and (5) hit Franklin Ave/Eastern Pkwy simultaneously or if you want to get to Flatbush/Nostrand Aves a little faster and the (2) and (5) hit Nevins St/Flatbush Ave simultaneously. Coming from Flatbush/Nostrand Aves you could also take a (5) to a (2).

            Got a bit anally retentive with the technicalities.

          • Flatbush Depot

            The more I think about it, the more I think Nostrand/”Z” should be a SBS stop. I tend to think there is too much going on right there for it to be ignored, and based on my observation the signal is red half the time as vehicles traveling along Nostrand are approaching it, so if they put the northbound stop on the southeast corner of Nostrand/”Z”, the bus will probably arrive at the stop while the signal is red, a decent amount of time before the signal becomes green again, and will pick up a good number of people while waiting for the signal to change. So only one minute or 1.5 minute at most would be added to northbound trips. Southbound stop would probably be on the southwest corner because I get the feeling that the SBS buses would be more likely to hit a green signal rather than a red signal at “Z” while moving south on Nostrand. Also I think a lot of vehicles (including B36 buses) make the right on “Z”, so putting the stop on the southwest corner lessens traffic conflicts there.

          • gustaajedrez

            The B4 has its merits, though. It only takes 13 minutes from the first stop to the subway station, and it offers both a local and express service.

            In any case, as for how many people live south of Voorhees Avenue and east of Bedford, check this out: http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map

            It looks like about 8,000-10,000 people or so live in the area you described (3 of the census tracts are partially in the area you described, and only one is fully in that area)

          • Flatbush Depot

            Thanks Champ. Finally got an answer. ;-)

            I agree with you about the B4. I know I sound like a broken record, but I personally simply cannot deal with such infrequent lines. You know me. Especially if there are other [more] useful travel options.

            Frustrating thing for me was that there were times when I would actually take the Bx7 or Bx20 to the (A) train from the edge of Riverdale, rather than walk to Broadway/231 for the (1) to go to midtown. I did this thinking I would gain something since the (A) makes fewer stops than the (1), but I gained nothing since the buses made too many stops, nullifying the faster speed of the (A) compared to the (1). Not to mention the fact that the wait times royally sucked, especially with the Bx20. Broadway Bridge sometimes guaranteed problem even for [Bx20] buses that did not have to deal with the stupid traffic in Washington Heights.

          • Allan Rosen

            You are not the only one who can’t deal with infrequent service.  You are among the majority. That’s why except for overnight service, original service guidelines called for a maximum 20 minute headways.  However, when the MTA wanted to make more cuts, they just changed those guidelines without consulting anyone or getting anyone’s approval, from 20 minutes to 30 minutes.  That defeated the entire purpose of the guidelines.  That’s why I long ago proposed that they should be required to get legislative approval to alter the guidelines.

          • gustaajedrez

            This is directed at Allan: I actually think it should be raised to have a bus every 60 minutes. Some routes really have very little ridership, but are needed for network coverage (like say, the S55/S56 on the South Shore of SI). Rather than risk them being cut completely, reducing the frequency might improve performance enough to justify keeping the route. Aside from that, a lot of suburban agencies run routes every hour, and I don’t think city limits should affect how service is run (i.e. An area of comparable density and demographics in Nassau County would likely get 60 minute service, but yet a similar area in say, Queens or SI gets 30 minute service just for being within the city limits)The problem lies in the fact that the MTA doesn’t want to look at the routes and see if there are ways that they can be improved so that the service warrants 20 minute headways on their own. Some routes would actually perform decently if the MTA were willing to invest money into an extension (like say, the S54 to the St. George Ferry Terminal instead of ending in the middle of nowhere). For the rest, well, if there’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing you can do, but often that isn’t the case.

          • gustaajedrez

            The B4 takes 13 minutes to get from its terminal to the Sheepshead Bay station, and you have the (B) express as well, instead of being on the (2) or (5), which both run local until Franklin Avenue.

            As far as frequency goes, if frequency attracts ridership, then why not run more frequent B4 service between the station and Plumb Beach?

          • Allan Rosen

            Response to post above. The reason 20 minutes was originally chosen as the maximum midday headway was because it was felt that people would not be willing to wait longer for a bus.  When it was changed to 30 minutes without any explanation other than they wanted to cut more service without violating the guidelines that logic went out the window.  I agree that there is nothing wrong with 30 minute headways if people could count on them.  The problem is that even at every 30 minutes, the buses will still bunch and you couldl end up waiting an hour.

            In Staten Island where there is a single boarding point like the ferry, a 60 minute headway may even make sense if riders know when the bus is coming. On a route where ridership is evenly distributed along the entire route and everyone does not board at one point, a 60 minute headway just doesn’t work for a local bus.  I think it could work for an express route connecting major centers where there may be demand like JFK to Bay Ridge or Sunset Park to Flushing for example.

        • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 Adam Moreira

          You’re ignoring something else, however—the Belt Parkway acting as a barrier in terms of commuting distance. With the B44 SBS coming, restoring the B4 should be considered with the expected savings in reduced bus operators needed…and the new artics are a bit more fuel efficient than the older models, getting about 3.6 mpg.

          • Allan Rosen

            To Flatbush Depot:

            You said it would take 3 to 5 minutes from Knapp /Shore to X. I said 8. Maybe that is a little much, but 3 is impossible. Five would be average and that assumes no cars in the bus lane or double parked cars. Don’t forget that cars can make right turns from the bus lane and the bus will have to merge sometimes.

            Regarding your point about two transfers not being faster than one transfer, you may be correct. But I don’t think the SBS will be as fast as you think or that many will use it because they will not be willing to walk a half mile to get to the closest stop. They will end up adding stops at Avenues R and L because people will complain. It will only be successful if they cut down on the locals which will be overcrowded giving riders no choice but to walk further to the SBS.

            Incidentally I just came from the Bus Forum and one of the chief complaints especially from seniors is that they cannot walk to the SBS stops.

          • Flatbush Depot

            I have studied traffic behavior avidly. I know these things that you are describing and 5minutes is the maximum going northbound, with 3 being the maximum southbound, because there are no signals on Shore Pkwy between Nostrand and Knapp and it takes seconds to travel from Nostrand to Knapp on that service road. It is not impossible and I make these statements while accounting for double parked cars and cars in the bus lane. The only way you can prove the impossibility to me is to lay out the second by second or minute by minute behavior of a private vehicle traveling between the two points or shoot a video with a minutes:seconds clock on it. That also goes for how fast or slow you think the B44 SBS will be. Otherwise I do not follow you.

          • Flatbush Depot

            I mean that goes for how fast or slow you think the B44 SBS will be on its entire route. Generally speaking people will not want to walk a half mile. Agreed. But in Plumb Beach the B44SBS will be very accessible, and for the most part the heaviest stops will be served by the B44 SBS. Hell, only a handful of people use the bus at “L” and “R” and I once rode one (limited) that had no people to pick up or drop off at “R”, and I already know that large numbers of people get on/off at “U”, Kings Hwy, and Flatbush Ave and that the locals will not have that difficult a time handling the remaining passengers that board at the local stops and local/SBS stops.

          • Flatbush Depot

            And as for the thing about the long walks to bus stops, you cannot make progress by bending over backwards to please everybody. And as for the thing about the Junction, approximately how many people have told you that they do not like being at the Junction [when making bus-subway transfers] and when was the last time they told you this? I already know Sharon aka Brightonr68 screamed about it on several occasions, so no need to bring him up. This is not the 70s or 80s. People change. New people move into neighborhoods. Younger people who live in These areas go to Brooklyn College and Midwood High School and are around the Junction every day.

          • Flatbush Depot

            They frequent the Junction and have no problem with it. And over time the previously held aversion to the Junction disappears. This is not the 70s or 80s and the Junction is not Broadway Junction or Downtown Jamaica. Even Downtown Jamaica is not that bad. I reiterate that anything can happen anywhere, just like the shooting that happened around the Avenue “U” a couple of years ago, just like the shooting murder/robbery than happened in my neighborhood recently and forces me to wait for the bus to go home so that my family does not get worried about me walking around the scene of the crime, which I was doing up until the crime occurred.

          • Flatbush Depot

            And just like when I boarded a Manhattan bound Q at Newkirk or “H” a few years ago and some kids shouted “YOOOO DIS NIGGA WEARIN SOME BULLWINKLE SHIT” when I got on the train and was wearing a Bullwinkle t-shirt. And somehow all that glitters is gold because the (B)(Q) trains are Beverley Hills compared to the (2)(5) and are soooo much safer than the (2)(5). That ain’t gonna stick for long because again, people change, times change, and attitudes change. Beggars go where they want too, asking people for money anywhere including Sheepshead Bay Rd and Flatbush/Nostrand Aves.

            If the B44 SBS is as fast as I think it will be and people know they no longer have to be confined to one pair of [very crowded] transit vehicles but continue to use them for whatever reason, that is their problem. Again in other neighborhoods there is no such thing as “a subway line they do not want” because most neighborhoods do not have a multiplicity of easily accessible subway lines around

          • Flatbush Depot

            Most people just care that they can get to a subway line, period. And the funny thing is that even in the 70s and 80s the Junction was not so bad according to my father who was living in Brooklyn and attending Brooklyn College at the time.

            Anyhow. If the B44SBS ends up being a slow piece of garbage (meaning the travel times are a certain amount of time longer than I estimated) like the Bx12 east of Fordham Plaza, the M34 on its entire route, and the M15 except on First Ave, and/or they add more stops and the additional stops slow it down too much, then I have no hope for the bus system unless I/we/others go on a mission to make it like that in some countries in Europe and South America. Too bad this is not possible for the moment due to other obligations. That is annoying.

          • Allan Rosen

            Yes, the bus could make it southbound in 3 minutes, if he breaks the law and does 40 mph on the service road.

            If only a handful of riders use Avenue L and R, the bus wouldn’t add much time if it stops there. Right? And it would mean that riders boarding or alighting the local at Avenue K, Avenue L, Avenue M, Quentin Road, Avenue R, and Avenue, Avenue S would now be able to utilize the SBS.

  • Guest 562115099123

    “They were first placed on mid-Manhattan crosstown routes”

    You sure? Also, what time period are you describing? Your article is very unclear and poorly written.

    “the MTA used these buses to cut costs, replacing five standard buses
    with only four articulated buses. This partially defeated the reason
    consumer groups asked for them in the first place.”

    When has NYCT *NOT* done this? This is standard procedure. This is not an issue.

    • Allan Rosen

      If I remember correctly, articulated buses started arriving in the late 70s or early 80s, maybe later.  They were placed on selected Manhattan crosstown routes.  After several depots were renovated or rebuilt, additional buses were placed on several north-south routes. Later they arrived in the Bronx and Queens.  Not sure about Staten Island, but they never came to Brooklyn.

      Don’t know what the original policy was because it wasn’t specifically stated.  Several years ago the MTA began stating publicly, that when a route receives articulated buses, 4 artics replace 5-40 foot buses.  Although capacity is still increased, buses arrive less frequently.  With prevalent bus bunching, actual additional waiting is worse. 

      Most people won’t wait 10 minutes for a crosstown bus unless they are going from one side of Central Park to the other side because they can walk three or four avenue blocks quicker than waiting and riding on the bus with the slow traffic.  In a rain, they might wait.

      • Guest 562115099123

        Never mind about the first comment – thought you were talking about three-door artics in modern times.

        Yes, the policy is pretty standard. Many people don’t understand that converting a route to artics is usually not about increased capacity but rather about reducing the number of vehicles required.

        I disagree about the crosstown buses. Many people ride them because they don’t want to walk, not because they are in a hurry.

        • Allan Rosen

          It’s true about someone who has a problem walking, that they will wait for the bus no matter what.  But for those who have a choice, many only take the bus on Crosstown routes if they see one coming.  Because they are so slow, you can easily predict if your wait will exceed 5 or 10 minutes depending on traffic.

          People will also get off a block earlier if they see heavy traffic ahead.  Before there were free bus-subway transfers, people made different choices.

          There is no law that you have to reduce the number of buses when converting a route to artics.  That was purely an MTA decision. It slows the buses because dwell times are increased which also should have been a consideration. 

          As I stated, the original purpose of these buses was just to provide seats for standees and encourage bus use.  That was before any guidelines which bases rush hour service on having standees on heavily used routes.

          • Andrew

            Wrong. The original purpose of these buses was to reduce operating costs. Running them at the same frequency as the standard buses they replaced would have increased operating costs.

            NYCT had loading guidelines in 1997.

          • Allan Rosen

            That was not the purpose why consumer groups asked for them in the 1960s. And if the MTA wanted them to reduce operating costs, why did they refuse to buy them for so many years?

          • Andrew

            The MTA in the 1990s was not responding to consumer groups in the 1960s.

            I have no idea why artics weren’t used earlier than 1997 – you’ll have to ask someone who was involved in those decisions. Two 1983 models, a MAN and a Neoplan, were tested, as was a 1993 Neoplan, so it was probably a matter of finding a model that met the TA’s unusually stringent structural standards.

      • gustaajedrez

        No, there aren’t any artic routes in SI.

        As for the comment below, you also have to consider that having a seat encourages bus use as well, especially on crosstown lines. I mean, would you wait 10 minutes for a bus just to stand when you could just walk that distance for almost no additional effort? I mean standing at the stop for 10 minutes + standing on the bus for 10 minutes vs. just a 15 minute walk, and you save yourself $2.25 (but even if you have a transfer, it’s still not worth it). At least if you get a seat, it’s somewhat worth it because you get to relax for 10 minutes.

        • Allan Rosen

          Pretty much exactly as I was saying.  But the MTA doesn’t view the situation from the rider’s perspective. They have no idea regarding the psychology involved when deciding whether to ride a bus or not and worse, they don’t care. 

          When I was in Operations Planning and tried to explain to my boss that in nice weather someone is more likely to walk, while if it’s raining, they are more likely to take a bus.  He looked at me as if I was crazy and asked me what study I was basing my conclusions on and where was my data that enabled me to come to that conclusion. This is the type of people you are dealing with. No common sense.

          They only see things from their perspective regarding what it costs to provide service. If they can save money by eliminating a bus, that is their only interest.  They don’t relate fares collected to operating costs.

          • Andrew

            Almost anybody who can walk, but takes the bus if it’s coming, has a free transfer or an unlimited. Increasing headways by 25% on a frequent bus line has a very small impact on paid ridership. It has a greater impact on unpaid ridership, but unpaid ridership doesn’t contribute to fare revenue.

            The savings in operating costs far exceeds the loss in fare revenues.

          • Allan Rosen

            The fact is MTA management has no regard for its riders. (I’m not saying this about operating personnel.). If the MTA is so concerned about improving efficiency which is what you are implying by your statement, why are they not concerned that the 2010 service cutbacks lowered efficiency on many routes? They were only concerned with saving money not improving efficiency and Operations Planning told me that themselves.

          • Andrew

            The fact is that you didn’t respond to anything I said.

            I didn’t say anything about improving efficiency. The MTA’s goal in 2010 was to reduce costs, not to improve efficiency. (If it costs me $10 to manufacture a widget, and I sell 100 widgets a day at $8 each, I lose $200 per day. It I cut my sales to 50 widgets a day at the same price, but my cost goes up to $11 per widget, I now lose $150 per day. Even though efficiency has dropped, I’m saving money.)

            So let’s get back to the question at hand. Not many people would pay $2.09 for a short, easily walkable ride. Those who would (people carrying heavy packages, people who have difficulty walking, people avoiding bad weather) are not very sensitive to a 25% increase in (typically very short) headway. Most of the potential riders who take the bus only when they see it coming are riding the bus for free.

            Bringing frequencies back up to what they were pre-artic would attract riders but would attract virtually no fare revenue.

            (Artics are typically used on lines with very short headways, so the additional wait time is very small. Once headways exceed 10 minutes, artics are scheduled the same as standard buses.)

            The increase in running time is a bigger issue, but it’s mostly impacting the longer-distance riders. The third door should help somewhat. By the way, three-door buses have been running on the Bx12 and M15 (local as well as SBS), and I think on a few other routes (I rode one on the M60 last summer), since mid-2010. I guess the New York Times didn’t notice.

          • gustaajedrez

            This is is response to Andrew’s post below: You don’t necessarily know how much latent demand there is. You could have somebody say “Well, I’m going to my doctor’s appointment in Bensonhurst, but I’m not going to wait 20 minutes for the B4, but if it were increased to run every 10 minutes, I’d take it”. Since they’re not transferring to the subway, that’s the difference between $2.25 in the MTA’s pocket or $0.

          • Allan Rosen

            The problem isn’t so much the 20 minutes if riders knew that the bus would come when it supposed to. The problem with a 20 minute headway is that there is a 30 to 50 chance that you will get stuck waiting for 40 to 45 minutes for a bus when with a 10 minute headway, most likely you will get a bus in under 20 minutes. For an infrequent route like the B4 that rarely runs into traffic congestion, a 40 minute wait is inexcusable.

            When I designed the B4 in Sheepshead Bay, I thought when buses did bunch the MTA would discharge passengers onto the following bus who were going to the Station and could operate straight on Emmons saving 10 minutes, getting back on schedule, but they never did that.

          • gustaajedrez

            You know what happens when you assume. ;)

            In any case, if the passengers are in a hurry, I think there’s a pedestrian bridge by East 14th Street that goes right to the subway station.

            I think it might be a good idea if the B4 actually took that routing full-time. You’d be able to keep service along Neptune Avenue, and buses wouldn’t have to loop up and down to serve the subway station.

      • Andrew

        The late 70s or early 80s? Your chronology is off – by two decades!

        NYCT’s first order of articulated buses was in 1997. For the first few years they ran only on Bronx routes – first the Bx1 and Bx2, then a variety of other Bronx routes (Bx4, Bx5, Bx9, Bx12, Bx15, Bx19, Bx22, Bx39, Bx40/42, Bx41, Bx55). In 2000 they spread to Manhattan, first on the M79, then the M86, then the M23, M101/102/103, M14, and M15. They sometimes appear on other lines, depending on bus availability at the depots. They’ve never been assigned to the other boroughs, although last summer I caught one on the M60 in Queens (same depot as the M15), and they often run elsewhere as subway shuttles.

        I’d suggest that your experience on the M23 might possibly have been an anomaly. The scheduled running time for your trip never exceeds 14 minutes.

        There was never any plan to replace standard buses one-for-one with artics. Artics cost more to purchase and cost more to operate, and the ridership guidelines recognize that more people can fit onto an artic than onto a standard bus.

        No doubt, increasing headways and running times does discourage ridership, especially for short trips. But I’ve always assumed that most crosstown trips (on the M79 and M86) are across the park. Is that not the case? As for waiting 10 minutes, headways on the M79 and M86 are shorter than 10 minutes most of the day. (Artics are typically used on very frequent services, so that the loss in frequency doesn’t add much to actual wait times.)

        • Allan Rosen

          The MTA is not in the business of making widgets. They provide a public service which cannot be profitable most of the time. That’s why it is not privately run, because if it were, there would only be service where there is very heavy demand.  Just because someone already paid his fare on the previous vehicle does not mean you don’t need to provide service for him to complete his trip and only consider those who pay board that vehicle.

          So you are saying that when consumer groups were asking for artics for 25 years, it was okay to ignore them by giving excuses like they didn’t want to carry a separate inventory for a different type of bus.  But it was okay to order them when the MTA realized they could cut service by buying them.  Has anyone even analyzed if it was even worth buying the two-door artics since as you say they cost more to buy and operate, and increase dwell times and therefore running time as well?  And we all know about the strict structural standards the MTA uses.  I guess that’s why we bought the Grummans.

          • Andrew

            There’s no question here of providing enough service to meet the demand (replacing 5 40-foot buses with 4 60-foot buses still yields a 20% increase in capacity, assuming capacity is proportional to bus length), nor is there a risk of leaving trips incomplete (since you specifically spoke of people who prefer to walk rather than wait for the bus). I’m responding to your critique that the MTA only considered the cost of running artics at pre-artic headways and not the fare revenue that frequent service attracts: in this case, the fare revenue is negligible, since the only riders who would be attracted by a headway reduction (e.g., from 5 minutes to 4) are non-paying riders.

            The MTA is tasked with balancing comfort and cost – it’s always possible to give more people seats, but at added cost. Proposing increased comfort without addressing the additional cost isn’t a very useful suggestion. Artics provided the opportunity to increase capacity by 20% (or by 50% when headways are 10+ minutes) while still cutting costs. So what are you complaining about?

          • Allan Rosen

            The only objection I have with artics is that when they are very heavy, they significantly increase dwell time slowing travel time significantly.  So in addition to waiting slightly longer for a bus, your trip also takes longer.  This is not a problem when the bus is not overly crowded. 

            Also, increasing headways from 4 to 5 minutes does not sound like much, but that assumes buses run on schedule.  The way they really operate there is like a 50% chance they will bunch and 4 minute or 8 minute bunched headway becomes a 5 or 10 minute bunched headway.  If 3 buses come at once there is a 15 minute wait.  And bunching isn’t limited to routes with frequent service.  I would often see the B4 with a 20 minute headway bunch two at a time.

          • Andrew

            As for the Grummans – the strict structural standards came in response to the Grumman incident!

            No, the increased dwell times don’t override the cost savings of artics. Sorry.

        • http://www.facebook.com/aemoreira81 Adam Moreira

          @164b88b5feda652c00faa544c6ebc3f8:disqus is correct; the MTA tested out an articulated bus in the mid-1980s, on what is now the current X1 route (then the X13), manufactured by M*A*N*. The problem is that artics are not deployed in Brooklyn or Queens, especially on lines like the B6, B41, B44, B46, an B82—all of which are in the top-20 of ridership in the system.

          (In Queens, that is—as of this posting—artics will be placed on the Q44 beginning this week or next.)

          • Andrew

            No, @164b88b5feda652c00faa544c6ebc3f8:disqus is not correct. The MTA had two test artics in the early 1980′s and one in the early 1990′s, but the first production order was in 1997.

            Were they initially placed on “selected Manhattan crosstown routes”? No, they were initially placed on a variety of Bronx routes.

            “Later they arrived in the Bronx and Queens”? No, they started in the Bronx, and they still haven’t arrived in Queens.

            By the way, ridership numbers aren’t particularly relevant. Density of riders, or headways, are more interesting. Artics make sense on lines that are very frequent, where the 25% increase in headways is small in absolute terms.

          • Allan Rosen

            If frequency is the only criterion, why did my transportation professor teach us that they should never be placed on crosstown routes but on line-haul routes like First Avenue where the average trip length is longer like around 2 miles?  (He was assuming only 2 doors.) I don’t think more than 30 percent of crosstown riders travel across the Park or ride more than a half mile. 

  • TITANIUMDX

    Close all the bus lines and take car service.
    There is no need to be dealing with or riding with animals.

    The link below, is a small example of what I’m talking about:

    • Allan Rosen

      Do you have any ideas about how many cars it would take to accommodate all the people who use buses each day?

    • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

      I’m so glad to hear you’re so rich. I’ll keep that in mind.

    • ES

      That video was terrible.

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  • LLQBTT

    They move at such a glacial pace (the MTA AND their buses), and MTA is obstinate and stubborn.  So they spend all this $ on new buses and do nothing to improve the routes, frequencies, quickness or anything else about the bus service.  So now we have these nice new buses doing the same thing the old buses do, bunch, dwell, creep along and so on.

    Maybe they’ll solve this seemingly impossible equation in another 45 years or so…

    • Allan Rosen

      Place the blame where it belongs with Operations Planning and the Office of Management and Budget, not with the Operating people who are doing the best they can with the cards they are dealt.  The MTA is not a monolith.

  • Bigfish

    BRING BACK THE  B4  BUS ROUTE FULL TIME AND ON WEEKENDS TOO…..I NEED IT TO GET TO AND FROM THE   B / Q TRAIN  I HAVE TO BE IN WORK AT 7AM  IN MANHATTAN…. AS OF NOW I DON’T HAVE A WAY TO GET TO THE   B / Q TRAIN THAT EARLY IN THE MORNING!

    • Flatbush Depot

      If you live east of Bedford Ave and the (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6) trains (more importantly the (2)(3)(4)(5) and most importantly the (2)(5)) run near your job, then the B44 SBS will fix your problem.

      • Andrew

        The B44 Limited, while slower than the future SBS, is still useful in getting to the 2/5 trains.

        @396a61d52603d7a2eb4adfced03b4158:disqus, where in Manhattan do you work? Chances are, the 2 or 5 train will get you there too.

        • Flatbush Depot

          You call a half hour bus ride from Knapp/Shore or a 17-minute bus ride from “U” to Flatbush/Nostrand Aves (and these are the travel times if the buses are running on time) useful when other buses (even the B4 if you just missed one but it is running on time) currently get you to to the (B)(Q) much faster? This is pushing it a bit Andrew.

    • Allan Rosen

      Sign the petition being circulated by the Plumb Beach Civic Association.

  • Flatbush Depot

    And just like when I boarded a Manhattan bound Q at Newkirk or “H” a few years ago and some kids shouted “YOOOO DIS NIGGA WEARIN SOME BULLWINKLE SHIT” when I got on the train and was wearing a Bullwinkle t-shirt. And somehow all that glitters is gold because the (B)(Q) trains are Beverley Hills compared to the (2)(5) and are soooo much safer than the (2)(5). That ain’t gonna stick for long because again, people change, times change, and attitudes change. Beggars go where they want too, asking people for money anywhere including Sheepshead Bay Rd and Flatbush/Nostrand Aves.

    If the B44 SBS is as fast as I think it will be and people know they no longer have to be confined to one pair of [very crowded] transit vehicles but continue to use them for whatever reason, that is their problem. Again in other neighborhoods there is no such thing as “a subway line they do not want” because most neighborhoods do not have a multiplicity of easily accessible subway lines around

    • Allan Rosen

      They really need to revitalize the Junction area. The mall is not enough. It looks like crap there. They need a business association if they don’t have one. Yes crime happens everywhere, but it’s people’s perceptions that influence their choices not actual crime rates. They hear of one incident there and avoid the area.

      By the way Beverly Hills does not have an “e”, nor any other Beverly. Only Beverley Road does.

      • Flatbush Depot

        You responded to a duplicate post I made. It was a duplicate of one of a series of posts I made in response to your post from yesterday. I did not mean to post a duplicate or make it look like this duplicate was a direct response to your article. Sorry that I made a series of posts further up on the page approximately 11-12 hours before I made this one; I was using an iPad and it was behaving a little strangely, so I had no choice but to make a series of short posts when I wanted all the text to go in one long post. Thank you for the spelling correction.

        If people’s perceptions influence their choices to the point where they still want to use very crowded transit vehicles to travel somewhere when they instead can use less crowded, more frequent transit vehicles to travel to the same place in the same amount of time and they know all of this themselves, then that is their problem. I am talking about after they make the B44 SBS if it is as fast as I think it will be.

        I agree with you about revitalizing the Junction. They will get to improving it eventually. They [gradually] are. Destroying the McDonald’s and Popeye’s would be a great step towards accomplishing this. I think they already destroyed the White Castle, which is great. One down, two to go. They are building a gym in the area, right in front of the Avenue “H” exit from the subway station. Here goes your link discussing that construction project: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2012/01/16/retail-investors-pay-10m-for-flatbush-properties/

        Construction is going on right now by the way.

        And here goes your link for their business association: http://flatbushjunctionbid.com/

  • Flatbush Depot

    Wherever possible, they should construct either busways elevated above the road or busways that form medians on the road. That would probably be cheaper and faster to build than a rail line, the ROW would not need to be as wide as that of a rail line, and not nearly as much noise would be produced as that produced by elevated trains. I started thinking about this for one section of the B44 SBS, along Nostrand between Emmons and Flatbush Aves.

    The buses would travel on the same roads as everybody between the first stop and Shore Pkwy/Nostrand Ave, then north of Shore Pkwy they would go up onto an elevated structure over Nostrand Ave. Then at the Junction they would return to street level to go up Flatbush and Rogers Aves and into the bus lanes. At that point there may be less of a need for the separate elevated ROW or median ROW thanks to the synchronicity of the signals on one-way streets and the bus lanes. Something extra should be done about the lanes though. Physical separation of the curbside/offset bus lanes needs to be considered.

    But the reason why I am focusing on the elevated structure between Emmons and Flatbush is that it would enable the bus to operate like a subway on the two-way street even if it made the stops at “Z”, “R”, and “L”. The only problem (aside from NIMBYism, though that is a silly problem) is that it would look quite odd to have an elevated structure basically looming over your house if you live over there by Gerritsen/Nostrand or to have the elevated structure right in front of your face when you look out the window if you live on one of the floors of an apartment building that is adjacent to the road of the ROW.

    If they wanted a median ROW they would definitely have to eliminate parking or widen the road and narrow the sidewalk north of “X” or “V”.

    An elevated busway should be considered for Flatbush and Utica Aves as well. Nothing else, perhaps not even banning parking on the southbound side of Flatbush Ave between Farragut Rd and Nostrand Ave, will help the B41 with the traffic problems it experiences especially on the southbound approach to Nostrand Ave.

    • Allan Rosen

      Sorry, but I don’t agree with you especially for Nostrand because it is narrower between Gerritsen and Avenue V.  It make more sense for Utica which is wider and has mostly automotive uses and little residential.  But if it is so cost effective and so much cheaper than a subway, why did AirTrain cost $3 Billion?

      • Flatbush Depot

        How much is the SAS costing and how long did AirTrain take to complete? If you create an elevated busway you are not dealing with rails or electrification.

      • Flatbush Depot

        Putting this here so you do not have to go sifting through the other posts. This is a response to your other short post.

        In this situation where two-way streets are involved and the lights are not as easy to synchronize as they are on one-way streets, the travel time is not affected by the number of people boarding at those stops. The travel time could be affected by the number of additional stops made, period, because just making a stop and sitting there for even less than 10 seconds makes the difference between making it through a green signal and having to sit at a red signal for 20-30 seconds. Or two red signals.The narrowness of Nostrand north of “V” except between Gerritsen and Kings, the double parking on roads that only have one lane in both directions, and the way the signals behave around Gerritsen are also factors. The B2 and B31 on “R” make very good service during the week for people trying to reach the subway and have relatively few variables to deal with since they are both short. On “L” you have the B9 and B44 local, so if you miss one you can either see the other one down the road or just walk to “H” for the (2)(5). I do not have a problem with such a walk and most people I know do not, including most of my friends that are in their 30s and 40s.And like I said there tend not to be significant numbers of people waiting for the B44 at “R” or “L”, especially on weekends when there are sometimes no people at either stop. The B36 needs more relief than the B2/B9/B31, and if you add stops at these locations when they are already relatively well-served by transit, you make the trip on the B44 SBS longer for people further south and they are less willing to leave the B36/B4/B3, which have more problems than the B2/B9/B31. Or they stick with their car services, which we do not want since we are trying to encourage transit use.You said a median busway or elevated busway would not work on Nostrand due to its narrowness between Gerritsen and “V”. Well what about having the busway between “V” or “X” and Voorhies Ave? Preferably an elevated one so there are no complaints about parking which would be compromised if they instead went with a median busway. Then an Ave “Z” stop could definitely be added without even thinking about traffic signals, people would have even more of a reason to leave the B36 since it would be easier to access the B44 SBS, and thus the B36 (and (B)(Q)) would be further relieved by the B44 SBS (and (2)(5)).About the 3 minutes…well you have to cover four long blocks from “X” to Shore Pkwy. Assuming no reds the driving time is 100 seconds (25×4), or 1:40 (minutes:seconds). An extra 30 seconds for red signals between Nostrand/”X” and Shore Pkwy/Nostrand (after the left turn) seems pretty reasonable to me, so 2:10. Dropping off passengers takes less than 10 seconds, 2:20. Then there are 8 short blocks (2+2/3 long blocks) to cover. Well there are no signals or stop signs and this is a one-way street, so call it exactly one minute or less since you can drive at a steady 25-30 there. 3:20. Close enough.

      • Flatbush Depot

        Re-posting since I copied and pasted from another text box and it ignored my spacing.

        In this situation where two-way streets are involved and the lights are not as easy to synchronize as they are on one-way streets, the travel time is not affected by the number of people boarding at those stops. The travel time could be affected by the number of additional stops made, period, because just making a stop and sitting there for even less than 10 seconds makes the difference between making it through a green signal and having to sit at a red signal for 20-30 seconds. Or two red signals.

        The narrowness of Nostrand north of “V” except between Gerritsen and Kings, the double parking on roads that only have one lane in both directions, and the way the signals behave around Gerritsen are also factors. The B2 and B31 on “R” make very good service during the week for people trying to reach the subway and have relatively few variables to deal with since they are both short. On “L” you have the B9 and B44 local, so if you miss one you can either see the other one down the road or just walk to “H” for the (2)(5). I do not have a problem with such a walk and most people I know do not, including most of my friends that are in their 30s and 40s.

        And like I said there tend not to be significant numbers of people waiting for the B44 at “R” or “L”, especially on weekends when there are sometimes no people at either stop. The B36 needs more relief than the B2/B9/B31, and if you add stops at these locations when they are already relatively well-served by transit, you make the trip on the B44 SBS longer for people further south and they are less willing to leave the B36/B4/B3, which have more problems than the B2/B9/B31. Or they stick with their car services, which we do not want since we are trying to encourage transit use.

        You said a median busway or elevated busway would not work on Nostrand due to its narrowness between Gerritsen and “V”. Well what about having the busway between “V” or “X” and Voorhies Ave? Preferably an elevated one so there are no complaints about parking which would be compromised if they instead went with a median busway. Then an Ave “Z” stop could definitely be added without even thinking about traffic signals, people would have even more of a reason to leave the B36 since it would be easier to access the B44 SBS, and thus the B36 (and (B)(Q)) would be further relieved by the B44 SBS (and (2)(5)).About the 3 minutes…well you have to cover four long blocks from “X” to Shore Pkwy.

        About the 3 minutes…well you have to cover four long blocks from “X” to Shore Pkwy. Assuming no reds the driving time is 100 seconds (25×4), or 1:40 (minutes:seconds). An extra 30 seconds for red signals between Nostrand/”X” and Shore Pkwy/Nostrand (after the left turn) seems pretty reasonable to me, so 2:10. Dropping off passengers takes less than 10 seconds, 2:20. Then there are 8 short blocks (2+2/3 long blocks) to cover. Well there are no signals or stop signs and this is a one-way street, so call it exactly one minute or less since you can drive at a steady 25-30 there. 3:20. Close enough.

  • gustaajedrez

    I’m sure if you wanted to, you could’ve actually proved that. Just look at the ridership data on rainy days vs. sunny days or something like that.

    But yeah, that is pretty stupid.

    • Allan Rosen

      The pedestrian bridge is a long block from Neptune Avenue.  People from Plumb Beach would not be willing to walk from Neptune then up and down the stairs and over the bridge. But it would be better than no service at all to Plumb Beach during middays, but not possible now since the route was moved to Avenue Z.  It is primarily used by students from Bay Academy.  Most people around Emmons take the B49 to the subway, rather than using the bridge.

  • gustaajedrez

    I’m sure if you wanted to, you could’ve probably looked at day-to-day ridership and looked for spikes on rainy days. (Of course, it’s common sense, but I’d be tempted to do it just to prove my point)

  • gustaajedrez

    I’m sure if you wanted to, you could’ve probably looked at day-to-day ridership and looked for spikes on rainy days. (Of course, it’s common sense, but I’d be tempted to do it just to prove my point)

  • gustaajedrez

    I’m sure if you wanted to, you could’ve probably looked at day-to-day ridership and looked for spikes on rainy days. (Of course, it’s common sense, but I’d be tempted to do it just to prove my point)

  • gustaajedrez

    I’m sure if you wanted to, you could’ve probably looked at day-to-day ridership and looked for spikes on rainy days. (Of course, it’s common sense, but I’d be tempted to do it just to prove my point)

  • gustaajedrez

    I already posted this. Apparently there is some kind of glitch with my computer.

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