The B1 bus, en route to Kingsborough Community College

THE COMMUTE: More about the anniversary tomorrow, but first an update regarding B1 bus service. Last Monday, I noticed a steady stream of college students, about 30 of them, walking a mile and a half from the Brighton Beach train station to Kingsborough Community College (KCC) a little past 9:00 a.m. I haven’t monitored B1 service in awhile, so I figured it was about time for an update. This past Wednesday, I decided to watch the buses arriving and leaving the station. I intended to get there for the morning peak. I know it gets very crowded just before 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. classes. However, I didn’t arrive until 9:15 a.m. Approximately eight buses left the station, just around 9:00 a.m. All of them were full or at least had a seated load. It seemed like service was running pretty well. I didn’t expect to find too many problems since it was already after 9:00 a.m. What I saw surprised me.

Major Findings

1. During the three hours I surveyed, between 9:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., B1 buses carried 1,920 passengers in the eastbound direction. Virtually all of them were bound for KCC. (This does not consider the B49, which also carries a considerable number from the Sheepshead Bay train station — at least another 1,000.)

2. Additionally, another 544 passengers were transported by yellow school buses from the Brighton Beach station, paid for by KCC. Some students also boarded the buses at the previous stop, Brighton 6th Street. That means the yellow buses transported more than 28 percent of the riders or possibly up to one third of the KCC students from the Brighton Beach station between 9:10 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.

3. The average MTA bus carried more than 58 passengers. (There are about 40 seats on the bus.)

4.  Although the major peak for 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. classes was over, there were mini-peaks all morning long whenever classes would change, making scheduling service exceedingly difficult.

5. Service was extremely irregular on the B1, but there were no horrendous waits of 45 minutes or longer. The longest waits were 26 and 24 minutes, between 11:00 a.m. and 11:26 a.m., and between 11:33 a.m. and 11:57 a.m.

6. Buses stopped every 3, 7, 6, 1, 0, 8, 2, 4, 3, 9, 9, 2, 14, 0, 14, 1, 7, 21, 0, 26, 0, 7, 24, 0, 13 and 0 minutes.

7. In other words, if you consider buses arriving in zero or within one minute bunched, eight of the 27 buses stopping or 30 percent were bunched.

8. Eighty-two passengers on six buses boarded through the rear door, apparently with the bus drivers’ consent  because, in all but one instance, the driver opened the rear door although no one had to get off.

9. Including the 14 yellow bus trips — assuming you could board the first arriving bus, which was not always the case — the average wait was only 3.67 minutes. MTA buses arrived, on average, every 5.14 minutes at this stop.

10. Many of the yellow buses arrived at the same time the trains arrived allowing many students to just get off the train and right onto the bus. Yellow buses would always wait for a train to arrive and all left with all the seats taken. (Previously, these buses would allow standees and make illegal U-turns at Brighton 6 Street, but that has changed. Buses also no longer stop within the college property increasing the walk by two blocks.)

11. That was not the case with MTA buses, which never waited for a train, even the special buses operating only between Ocean Parkway and KCC, one of which left with only 14 passengers, seconds before 76 riders got off the subway.

12. If the yellow buses were not operating, MTA buses would have to carry an average of 10 more passengers per bus. This would raise the average bus load from 58 to 68 passengers per bus with 15 buses having to carry more than 70 passengers per bus with a few carrying more than 90. Please keep in mind that this is during the off-peak. Passenger loads during the peak would even higher. (It would be very difficult for a single person to survey accurately during the peak due to multiple buses arriving and picking up at the same time.)

Conclusion Due to extremely high passenger volume, whereby up to 100 riders can disembark from a single train and appear at the bus stop within two minutes, and the fact that there are multiple peaks reflecting the change of classes, the MTA does not have an easy task. They do a decent job in transporting this many students, but many improvements can be made, and there is no excuse for such irregular service. Don’t forget that the wait times shown include the special Ocean Parkway buses. Therefore, other riders traveling to Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge have longer waits and more irregular service.

Below is my raw data. I am omitting the last two digits of the bus numbers whose operators allowed passengers to board through the back door so they do not get in trouble. They did the correct thing although it is against the rules. Back door boarding enabled them to carry more passengers, lower dwell time, thereby speeding up service, and shorten wait times, thus improving service. Since the passengers all had transferred from the subway, fare revenue loss was zero or minimal. The only downside is that there is no record of those passengers, so patronage is underestimated. However, does that really matter when the MTA does not even follow their own guidelines because planning service levels guidelines call for a seated load during non-peak hours.

The average B1 bus leaving Coney Island Avenue between 9:08 a.m. and 12:08 p.m. bound for KCC carried 50 percent more than a seated load.

See footnote below.*

* I did not count the passengers disembarking because except in one instance where they numbered 10, only zero to about 3 passengers got off the bus. (In the case where they numbered 10, the number on the arriving bus was reduced to reflect that.)

(Ocean Parkway service in bold. Yellow buses in italics.)

Time

Riders Waiting

MTA Bus #

Yellow Bus #

Pass. On Arriving Bus

# Pass Boarding in Front Door

# Pass Boarding in Back Door

# Pass. on Leaving Bus

# Pass. Left Waiting

9:10

50

50

9:11

50

9419

65

5

70

45

9:12

45

45

9:13

55

916

39

16

9:17

16

4875

65

Bus did not stop

65

50

9:18

50

4866

65?

Bus did not stop

65?

50

9:18

50

4858

65?

Bus did not stop

65?

50

9:18

50

5119

50

24

75

23

9:21

23

902

44

44

6

9:24

6

5079

33

6

39

0

9:25

21

9569

20

21

41

0

9:25

0

9407

37

0

37

0

9:30

0

0

9:31

15

15

9:33

20

9896

33

20

53

0

9:35

0

9125

30

0

30

0

9:35

15

15

9:38

15

916

39

39

0

9:39

19

4858

 

32

19

 

51

0

9:40

0

953

39

39

0

9:42

2

9568

40

2

 

42

0

9:49

12

12

9:51

47

50**

65

11

14

90

22

9:54

30

30

10:00

36

95**

25

20

16

61

0

10:02

7

9407

7

7

 

14

7 left waiting for yellow bus

10:02

7 waiting + 76 got off subway

902

44

44

39

10:03

60

10:04

80

10:05

102

953

39

39

63

10:11

76

5107

0

Bus did not stop

0

76

10:14

80

9191

80

Bus did not stop

80

80

10:16

80

95**

50

20

20

90

40

10:16

40

9570

5

19

24

21

10:16

21

9488

1

7

8

14 left waiting for yellow bus

10:18

14

916

39

39

0

10:27

51

902

44

44

7

10:30

12

9569

67

4

71

8

10:31

20

5111

45

20

65

0

10:39

42

9403

30

42

72

0

10:49

44

902

44

44

6

10:49

6

953

6

6

0

10:56

13

4944

Next Bus Please sign

65?

1

65?

12

11:00

12

4859

42

12

54

0

11:00

1

9691

29

1

30

0

11:04

54

916

39

39

15

11:09

66

902

44

44

12

11:14

20

9488

76

Bus did not stop

76

20

11:20

25

11:23

45

Seeing the crowd, some decided to start walking to the 1 1/4 miles to KCC

11:26

53

5155

7

53

60

0

11:26

3

9419

75

3

80

0

11:26

0

9569

60

Bus did not stop

60

0

11:33

26

4859

25

26

51

0

11:43

15

11:44

28

11:46

36

11:49

52

907

12

37

44

15

11:54

19

11:57

19

48**

60

6

6

72

7

11:57

12

5018

40

12

62

0

12:00

22

12:06

47

908

6

34

 

40

13

12:10

51

94**

70 after 10 got off

11

12

93

28

12:10

30

51**

35

14

14

63

2

12:14

2

2

Tomorrow: Questions the MTA needs to answer, and the 35th anniversary of the Southwest Bus Route Changes.

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).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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