The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: This week we are taking another look at the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). On Monday we discussed major problems thus far: confusion, not enough SBS stops, and inadequate service on New York Avenue. We discussed actions taken by some local elected officials. Yesterday we shared some rider and operator reviews gathered from an email, the media, and transit discussion groups on the internet. Today we will share a few more reviews and draw some conclusions.

Gold12th from Subchat shares:

“I have taken a couple B44 SBS trips now. If you are waiting for B44 local well, there is no hope when you see lots of B44 SBS passed by, one by one. They do look angry when they are waiting on B44 local bus forever.”

The Brooklyn Paper offered the following. Here is an excerpt:

“…several key parts of the service are not expected to come online until sometime next year.”

“Some of the new bus stops projecting out into the street remain unfinished, a few miles of dedicated northbound lanes along Rogers and Bedford avenues have yet to be painted, and the technology that will change red lights green as a select bus approaches has not been switched on yet.”

Channel 11 also offered reviews from those affected.

Here is an excerpt from Bill from Maspeth on Subchat.

“…They are going to lose so much time waiting for the local, it will be worth their while taking the SBS and walking the rest of the way.”

“I hear the same complaint from a co-worker in reference to Hylan Blvd. So many S79′s but so few S78′s. So folks get disgusted and walk farther…NYCT is trying to get the most production out of the workforce daily, especially the ones that have to follow a schedule every day. By having an SBS B44 they could be saving $$$ on operators’ daily pay since it requires a shorter amount of time to make a trip…Yes they save $$$ on the B44 SBS vs. the LTD…If anybody thinks SBS is costing NYCT more money, well I have a bridge to sell you!…I have a pretty good idea what the mindset is since I’ve been working for them long before many of you were even born.”

Interested Rider posted on NYC Transit Forums. An excerpt follows:

“The problem with the MTA is that they feel that they do not have to communicate with those of us who ride the system…There were no announcements about the meetings except on the buses and if they were so interested in the public then the meetings should have be held at venues that are located on the route itself…They said there were discussions with the community boards which unless your read the “City Record”,… you would never know if there was a community board meeting or what is on the agenda (The agenda is not posted on the internet)… In this multicultural and multilingual city, there were no postings in Chinese, Russian, Creole or Spanish to help explain what was happening on the route and to use the machines for boarding.”

“(Also there is) the double standard as Avenue X is a SBS stop but not Avenues L & R. This brings up the question as to why even though the three stops have schools and are transfer points for riders…”

“…wait till the first snow or ice storm and then try to get an artic. All service will be local but the mess with just the 40 ft. buses will impact negatively on the other major routes running out of the garage. The timing (why November) of the roll out, the way the schedules were done leads me to believe that the entire project was not well thought out but was just designed to take the federal money…”

“What disturbed me throughout this entire process is the Marie Antioinette attitude of the MTA personnel toward the riders and those of us who offered legitimate suggestions…It is like they are superior to us which I find offensive as the one in the heavens is the only one superior to us…”

“Yes, the B/44 SBS it will eventually work but my feeling remains that had the MTA listened to us from the beginning, it would have worked in a few months, not years…”

Conclusion

You are probably thinking, “Why has Allan chosen to print only the bad reviews and none of the good ones?” The reason is that there weren’t any good ones to find, other than from the bus driver who believes all the problems will be worked out in the end. Yes, some problems will be worked out, but not all. Some will like SBS and others will hate it. The MTA will declare it a huge success with some initial growing pains. The MTA will never do a fair analysis. They will continue to brag how much quicker the SBS is, ignoring extra walk times and riders who are forced to use SBS against their will, because of poor, unreliable and overcrowded locals with 25- to 40-minute waits becoming the norm.

Over time more riders will switch to the SBS and use of the local will decline because SBS service is excellent while local service is poor. Riders will end up walking a quarter-mile more when they get on and off the bus, although they won’t want to, but it still will be quicker than waiting for the local.

What needs to happen in order for SBS to be a success is:

  1. Needed Limited bus stops that were removed need to be returned and local service needs to be increased and be made more reliable. Riders cannot wait a year for more articulated buses to be delivered to increase bus capacity. One way to do this would be to operate two overlapping local services: one from the Bridge to Brooklyn College and a second from Fulton Street to Knapp Street, instead of both services starting at Flushing Avenue and terminating either at Avenue U or Knapp Street.
  2. The problem with some riders having to pay double fare because of SBS must be addressed. The MTA will dismiss this problem saying it affects only a very small percentage of riders. They will ignore the fact that even if the percentage is small, the actual number may be in the hundreds or thousands on a daily basis. No one should have to pay double fare because of a service change, which had been transit policy for more than 70 years until the service cutbacks of 2010.
  3. A branch needs to operate one additional stop to Kingsborough Community College from Emmons Avenue and Nostrand Avenue to make use of nearly empty articulated buses operating in the off-peak direction.

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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  • Allan Rosen

    Here is an additional complaint that I just linked in Part 2, but will post it here because it directly affects Sheepshead Bay. It is from SubChat.

    http://www.subchat.com/buschat/read.asp?Id=287570

    Posted by New Flyer #857 on Wed Nov 27 08:29:00 2013, in response to Nostrand and Ave Y, 7:50a.m., in the rain. . ., posted by New Flyer #857 on Wed Nov 27 08:18:41 2013.

    Text of the complaint:
    At 7:50a.m., this morning, Wednesday, Nov. 27, two Select-Bus-Service B44 buses crossed each other (one going northbound, the other southbound) at Ave Y and Nostrand. The total amount of passengers on both buses combined was 0 (zero).
    Meanwhile, many were standing at the local bus stops (both directions at the same intersection) in the rain needing service.
    Select-Bus-Service on the B44 needs to be completely retrofitted, or else eliminated. While I continue to believe that SBS should be a complementary service to existing transit (not a replacement of an entire line, such as the B44 limited), and does not need to follow existing services, the existing SBS service on Nostrand Ave should be adjusted so that those who live near extreme ends of the line (south of Ave U and north of Flushing) should be able to most benefit from SBS. That would mean having SBS make local stops in these sections, as the B44 limited used to do.
    If this cannot be arranged, the proposal of B44 Select-Bus-Service should be eliminated and, in the future, more common-sense proposals should be put into place.
    Select-Bus-Service should be used to complement the subway system and other existing transit. In Brooklyn this is best accomplished by an east-west SBS line, not a north-south one as is the B44.

  • snoreasaurusrex

    I have a feeling that a lot of the complaints and negative responses are actually coming from the car contigant. They don’t like the idea that some day they may be forced to park somewhere else due to the bus lanes. Another problem is that people are not well informed and have not used this service before so they act accordingly. They should be told that you don’t have to show the receipt to the driver when you get on and you can get on at any door. You just put the receipt in your pocket. This is called low information.

    • Allan Rosen

      I haven’t even discussed any negative responses from the car contingent. I’m sure they are out there, but much of the criticism thus far is from the local bus riders. I agree with you about passengers not being well informed but in time they will learn and that will make for a smoother operation.

  • guest

    Don’t understand why the MTA just doesn’t complete the 2/5 line down Nostrand Avenue. It would make things easier for everybody including themselves. Is this supposed to be the replacement for that? It’s a terrible idea if so.

    • Allan Rosen

      Money.

      • Guest

        If you’re being paid 250.00 a year, who has time for good ideas ?

      • Murry

        With a salary of 250.000.00 per year, who has time for good ideas

        • sonicboy678

          Okay, but even if there were considerable pay cuts for those currently making more than $100,000/year in the agency, how much would it pay for? I would bet it would be less than 1% of the total cost.

  • LLQBTT

    I’ve not ridden the SBS, but isn’t an issue that the Hasidic community will never permit any changes in their neighborhood and therefore the SBS can only run to Flushing? This severs the connection with the Williamsburg Bridge Bus Station and Marcy J M Z.

    • Allan Rosen

      I think you are misunderstanding something. The SBS does run to the Williamsburg Bridge Station, well at least half the SBS buses starting from Avenue U. The Knapp Street SBS ends at Flushing. The issue is that several local stops between Flushing Avenue and the Bridge were eliminated, so there is only the SBS without the local. If anything this hurts the Hassidic community because they have to walk further to the bus so I doubt they asked for the elimination of those stops. They might have even asked they be retained.

      • LLQBTT

        Thank you for the clarification. The B44 SBS design seems unusually complicated.

  • FormerSB

    I am a former SBer (Emmons Ave) and I currently live near Albany. I want to mention what they did their bus service, and your local Chucky Schumer helped them out a lot (maybe it is worth to talk to him). Albany and Brooklyn were both founded by the Dutch at the same time so why not make a comparison. Albany converted their main(Central Ave) busline to a BRT system. It is twice the length of the B44, and goes from the Hudson(Albany) to the Mowhak(Schenectady) (kind of like SB to the East River). Central Ave could be compared to Nostrand Ave (Parts are 2 lane, some are 4 lane). It is a busy corridor. Central Ave could not be widened, but they were able to tweak the traffic lights to sync with the buses at certain intersections. There are also bus jumper lanes(this may not be possible on Nostrand, we have right and left turn lanes at some intersections, but you have the dedicated bus lane now, which I think is CRAZY!!!. Sounds like a moneymaker for the city). I am going to give you some links if you are interested, maybe there could be ideas that could be incorporated. I’m surprised the two transit authorities don’t share ideas and technology. They both take money out of the same state till(maybe indirectly, they are authorities after all).

    http://www.cdta.org/iride_projects_detail.php?id=7

    http://www.cdta.org/news_detail.php?id=295

    google “cdta brt” for more.

    • Allan Rosen

      I wrote about CDTA here. http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2013/11/this-past-week-in-transit-news/

      I am not sure if you favor what they did in Albany or oppose it. BRT is not the same as SBS. Could you please clarify what you are saying and what you believe the two authorities should share.

    • Andrew

      I can’t comment on Albany’s BRT system, since I haven’t been to Albany in many years and have never ridden an Albany bus. But thanks for the information and the interesting read.

      The Bx12 has a “queue-jump” signal at the eastbound approach to the University Heights Bridge, as far as I know the only one in the city. It’s a nice feature, although I can’t think of many other places where it would be useful.

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “People who are hurt by SBS will tend to ride the B44 somewhat less often than they used to.”

    True only if they have a faster alternative than the B44 which is very unlikely. Former Limited riders who shifted to the local and now have much longer trips, may still not have a better alternative than the B44 will still be included in B44 ridership statistics.

    “Are you seriously suggesting that employment…increased by 17%…”

    I won’t speculate how much employment may have increased or decreased and if the M15 ridership increased by 12% as the figures indicate, does not by itself indicate success if riders merely shifted from the Third Avenue bus and the Lexington Avenue subway as is probably the case. Do you have any figures regarding how much time they saved by using the SBS (and that does not mean only that the bus made its trip faster from end to end)? Or how about the percentage of trips actually were new trips that were not made before or were shifts from taxi or private auto? I wouldn’t think so because the MTA did not collect those statistics that would be needed to accurately measure success or failure.

    “I never realized that the sign of true intelligence was keeping track of precise travel times every day and being prepared to give the exact mean and standard deviation of the trip time before and after SBS started.”

    So of course the MTA collected those statistics comparing travel times showing means and standard deviations of trip time. No, they only looked at ridership increases regardless of what other bus and subway routes those passengers came from, even if those increases had a zero effect on revenue. Their only other measure was how much time buses saved from end to end, repeatedly stating that passengers could save as much as 20 percent, although perhaps less than 1% of the passengers actually achieved those savings by traveling from South Ferry all the way to 126th Street by bus.

    “On a scale of 1 through 10, I always took 6 to mean slightly better than neutral.”

    And if you ask someone on the street what constitutes being satisfied with a service, he will answer: “Well if something is slightly better than neutral, that is good enough for me and I am satisfied.” Or a teacher will respond, “I am satisfied with your child’s performance. He is slightly better than my mediocre students.”

    Why make any improvements to bus service? After all 74% of bus riders are satisfied with it. That is better than a 6. It is a 7.4. That’s good enough for me.

    • Andrew

      Every piece of the transit system has some degree of elasticity of demand. I didn’t say that every single B44 rider who is hurt by SBS would stop riding entirely – I simply said that they would tend to ride the B44 somewhat less often than they used to.

      If you wish to claim that employment on the First/Second Avenue corridor increased by 17% over the Manhattan average, you’re welcome to present evidence, because that sort of employment growth is astronomical.

      If SBS on the M15 has attracted riders from other routes and other modes, what’s the problem? If the M15 is now providing riders with more useful transit service than they used to have and is simultaneously freeing up space on the overcrowded Lexington Avenue subway line, I think we’ve hit on a win-win. What exactly is your complaint?

      And if you ask someone on the street what constitutes being satisfied with a service, he will answer: “Well if something is slightly better than neutral, that is good enough for me and I am satisfied.” Or a teacher will respond, “I am satisfied with your child’s performance. He is slightly better than my mediocre students.”

      Why make any improvements to bus service? After all 74% of bus riders are satisfied with it. That is better than a 6. It is a 7.4. That’s good enough for me.

      I’m sorry, I have no idea what this is supposed to refer to. Who is saying that no improvements should be made to bus service? And how are you jumping from a percentage to (what I presume is) a response on a scale from 1 to 10?

      • Allan Rosen

        “If SBS on the M15 has attracted riders from other routes and other modes, what’s the problem?”

        The problem is that nowhere did the MTA mention where the additional trips might have come from. The implication was that all were new trips or trips previously made by car or taxi, when very few if any came from those modes. And Pratt used these additional trips to predict that wherever SBS is installed drivers will choose to leave their cars at home and switch to SBS, which is very unlikely.

        “And how are you jumping from a percentage to (what I presume is) a response on a scale from 1 to 10?”

        A 7.4 on a 1-10 scale is equivalent to to a 74% on a percentage scale of 0% to 100%. So if 74% of the passengers said they were satisfied with existing bus service, that would be pretty good, right? since the MTA only requires a rating of 6 (or a 60% if they were rating in percentages instead of a scale of 1 to 10) to be satisfied.

        At the same time you claim that most people hate buses and do not ride them because they are so slow and that’s why we need more SBS routes. You don’t see a contradiction there? How could most riders be satisfied with bus service and at the same time most riders hate existing local bus service because it is so slow?

        • Andrew

          I’m sorry, I don’t see any such implication, nor do I see why it matters in the broad scheme. SBS has improved the utility of the NYC transit system. It has improved mobility for New Yorkers. That is indisputably a good thing.

          A 7.4 on a 1-10 scale does not refer to 74% of anything.

          Anybody who doesn’t ride the bus is not counted as an unsatisfied rider, since only riders are counted as riders.

          • Allan Rosen

            “SBS has improved the utility of the NYC transit system. It has improved mobility for New Yorkers. That is indisputably a good thing.”

            Nowhere in any of the data presented by the MTA has that been proven. You measure improvement in utility of using the transit system by more people having quicker trips now than they had before. All the MTA considered was bus travel time, not passenger trip times, so we don;t know if the utility of the transit system was improved or not. Since SBS has increased the number of trips requiring double fare, at least on the B44, we can’t even say that mobility has improved either.

          • Andrew

            If riders aren’t finding the M15 more useful with SBS than they were without, then why did M15 ridership increase by 17% over the Manhattan bus average from mid-2010 to mid-2011?

          • Allan Rosen

            It is now almost 2014. How much longer are you going to quote 2 1/2 year old statistics? We do not know what the M15 is doing now. That was just one snapshot in time.

            Yes, dismiss routine 45 minute delays as if they don’t exist.

          • Andrew

            I am quoting statistics that cover the transition period from pre-SBS to post-SBS. When considering the impacts of a change made in late 2011, it is the single most important time period to consider. I would certainly be interested in seeing how the situation has changed in the ensuing years, bus the only relevant data I’m aware of that is readily available right now is 2012 ridership data.

            You have uncovered two instances of bad service on the M15 in recent months. That clearly implies that there’s still room for improvement in terms of M15 reliability, which I have never disputed. (I haven’t dismissed anything.) But you haven’t given an overall indication of how the M15 typically performs now, nor have you made the comparison to pre-SBS performance.

            (Also, bear in mind that any bus signed “next bus please” or showing signs for the wrong direction won’t show up on the public BusTime display. As far as we know, there may be additional buses, not shown, that happen to display erroneous signage or that are in the very process of being dispatched to fill a gap.)

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “I provided three links. The third was the TRB link which gives 75 as the crush capacity…”

    Why should I use a general link that provides 75 as crush capacity, when you provided another link specifically for an RTS bus which is where I made the count you are disputing as to accuracy? That link showed 80 as the crush capacity using legal waiting areas. Why would it be so difficult to see that all seats are occupied and to count 20 standees? Then watch as 20 more boarded through the rear door and 16 boarded through the front door.

    There were about 6 standing in the rear stairwell (2 on each stair) and about 8 in front of the white line in front. That would be 14 more than the crush capacity of 80 or 94 passengers. I admit that I could have been off by two. But you are insisting that the number was no more than 75.

    Why don’t you bring 96 of your closest friends to an empty bus that one of your many friends in the MTA could arrange and let us see if they can fit in the bus?

    “I can’t say what methodology was used in 1975 to cut service, but the current methodology of applying loading guidelines was only developed in the late 1980′s.”

    So I will tell you what methodology was used in 1975. You can save the most in operating costs by cutting service on the most heavily utilized routes which are also the most profitable routes. You cut service on any route with 2 minute headways to 4 minute headways. You do not look at how much revenue you will lose by cutting half the service on the most crowded routes. Instead you justify your decision by claiming that after the changes “passengers will only have to wait two more minutes for a bus.”

    Of course since it was an MTA decision it wasn’t perfect, but without passenger counts it was the best decision they could have made at the time. (I will save you the trouble of replying.)

    Okay, so now schedules are based on “loading guidelines” which is why we have 94 or 96 passengers crowding onto a local bus during the off-peak. Yeah, that all makes sense to me.

    “Counting everyone who could potentially ride the B1 is absurd.”

    So answer this question then. Since it doesn’t make sense to count riders on the yellow buses when determining B1 service levels, why wasn’t there adequate service on the B1 in the first place based on “loading guidelines” before the yellow buses started operation?

    It was because the college was forced into doing something because students could not fit into the number of B1 buses provided and that was due to the fact they were always late because of the overcrowding since the running time never allowed for enough dwell time. Running time only considered traffic and normal dwell times of 30 seconds,not dwell times of several minutes at a single stop.

    The college could not have so many students consistently arriving 30 minutes late for class, and with the MTA refusing to operate additional buses, they started their own service. Of course that meant fewer passengers on the B1, so service had to be adjusted accordingly. Now those students are no longer part of the demand which is what you suggest. The yellow buses would not exist in the first place if the MTA did their job. I agree that NYC should be chipping in more to provide school service if in fact it is a money losing operation which I even find hard to believe with crowded buses in both directions during middays due to the school students.

    • Andrew

      Which do you think is more authoritative, an anonymous post on an Internet message board or the Transportation Research Board’s Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual? I don’t know what they taught you in 1972, but I’d go with the TRB.

      Who said anything about “using legal waiting areas” – and what’s illegal about the rear stairwell? Federal law prohibits standees in front of the white line, but I’m not aware of any law, federal or otherwise, placing the rear stairwell off-limits.

      How do you know that all seats are occupied? Even on a crowded bus, there are usually some “empty” seats – because of people sitting in adjacent seats who don’t quite fit or because of unoccupied window seats or simply because the nearby standees don’t feel like sitting. If you’ve been assuming that any bus with standees has all seats occupied, you’ve been overestimating loads across the board.

      Loading guidelines, as I have explained many times, are an equitable means of allocating operating funds across the city by periodically adjusting service frequencies on each route to reflect ridership at the peak load point. They do not (and cannot) guarantee that no bus is ever overcrowded. If checks (undertaken every two years) reveal that ridership on the B1 at the peak load point has gone up to the extent that the average bus over any given half hour exceeds the loading guideline, then more service will be scheduled in the next round of schedule revisions. Do you have a better means of equitably allocating operating funds across the city?

      • Allan Rosen

        Okay, so you give me three links to prove your point that 96 passengers could not have been aboard the bus, and when I prove to you that the bus could hold 96 passengers, you now state that the link wasn’t reliable and I should have used another one which was not exclusively for RTS buses. Sorry, if the link was no good, you shouldn’t have posted it. Since it specifically for an RTS bus, it is more reliable than a general link for a 40 foot bus posted by TRB.

        “what’s illegal about the rear stairwell?”

        If it was acceptable to stand in the rear stairwell, there wouldn’t be signs not to stand there, or automatic announcements to move out of the area and the bus drivers wouldn’t ask passengers who stand there to move. It is not a legitimate standing area and I highly doubt that space is included as a proper space to stand for the purposes of considering capacity.

        ” If checks (undertaken every two years) reveal that ridership on the B1 at the peak load point has gone up to the extent that the average bus over any given half hour exceeds the loading guideline, then more service will be scheduled in the next round of schedule revisions.”

        First of all, ridership varies daily depending on how often the yellow school buses are arriving. They might not have the same number of buses every day and the times they arrive could vary since I doubt they operate according to any schedule. So the MTA counts on the B1 could vary according to the day the counts are taken since the MTA does not measure total demand. The day counts are taken may not be a typical day.

        Even if it is typical, enrollment has been increasing every six months, so the MTA is always behind. If service is increased in April to meet January demand, and enrollment increases again in September, the demand will always be heavier than the demand measured by the MTA, so the buses will always be overcrowded.

        • Andrew

          You haven’t proved anything of the sort. Whether the crush capacity is 75 or 80, it isn’t 96.

          I’m sorry you don’t realize that some sources are more reliable than others.
          Standing in the rear stairwell is discouraged, due to the obvious safety hazard if the doors open unexpectedly. Furthermore, on some buses, I believe that leaning against the rear door can automatically engage the brakes. But it is not and has never been illegal. Not every request is rooted in law.

          I asked if you had a better idea than loading guidelines, and you haven’t presented one. You’ve only objected to the periodic nature of the checks and the small sample size, both of which are simply an matters of practicality. BusTime along with MetroCard swipe records will generate a much more robust sample.

          • Allan Rosen

            “You haven’t proved anything of the sort. Whether the crush capacity is 75 or 80, it isn’t 96.”

            I certainly have proved it. Eighty passengers does not include passengers in the stairwells. Whether it is illegal to stand in the rear stairwell or not is immaterial. Since it is not safe to stand there, it is fairly obvious that the crush capacity of 80 would not consider passengers in either stairwell. As I stated before if you add 8 passengers to each stairwell area, you have 96 passengers.

            As far as not all the seats being taken, which you raised before, you do have a point with the low floor buses where many seats remain empty because of passenger refusal to walk up the stairs to reach the back of the bus. For short trips many will choose to stand in the front rather than walk to the back for a seat. When I do my counts I often see empty seats with standees. I do not automatically assume that if there are standees, all the seats are automatically taken. Also, some are standing just because they are waiting to get off.

            On the particular high floor RTS bus we are discussing, no more than 3 passengers got off and all the seats were indeed taken. If there were one or two empty seats, then the count would be 94 instead of 96. And I did count 20 standees plus 36 boarding at Brighton Beach Avenue and Coney Island Avenue.That makes 96.

          • Andrew

            It’s pretty clear that crush capacity doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          • Allan Rosen

            It doesn’t really matter if you define crush capacity as 80 or 96, does it? What matters is that buses were grossly overcrowded during the off-peak with the average bus carrying many more passengers that should be carried per the service planning guidelines which the MTA keeps secret, as it does its planning. Trust us. we know what we are doing is their motto.

          • Andrew

            I’ve linked to NYCT’s loading guidelines in the past. They are not kept secret. Those loading guidelines apply to hourly or half-hourly averages, not to individual buses. The existence of occasional overcrowded buses does not itself imply a need for more service. If average loads are above guidelines, then, yes, more service is warranted, in conjunction with the next round of frequency adjustments for the line in question (roughly once every two years). Why do I get the feeling that I’ve explained this to you already?

            Your repeated insistence that you have seen buses carrying in excess of a crush load places your entire counts in doubt.

          • Allan Rosen

            If the loading guidelines are not kept secret, why are they not easily available on the MTA website? Or if they are available, they are so well hidden that they are nearly impossible to find. Could you find out where they are from you friend in Operations Planning?

            I wasn’t talking about “occasional overcrowded buses.” The average bus during the three hour off-peak period I surveyed carried 58 passengers. That’s about 50% above a seated bus load which is what the guidelines state. Also, low floor buses have almost 10 fewer seats than an RTS. And we have to wait two years for the next frequency adjustments when the enrollment grows every six months. Is there any wonder the buses are always overcrowded with students?

            You can try to raise all the doubts you want regarding the validity of my counts. If anyone believes you is another question.

          • Andrew

            If the loading guidelines are not kept secret, why are they not easily available on the MTA website? Or if they are available, they are so well hidden that they are nearly impossible to find. Could you find out where they are from you friend in Operations Planning?

            http://www.mta.info/mta/compliance/pdf/1269d.pdf – pages 26-31

            I’ve posted this link before. I found it on Google in the first place. If you lose it again, I’m sure you can find it on Google as well. As technologically inept as I am, I’ve figured out how to conduct basic Google searches.

            (If your only objection is to the layout of the MTA website, I don’t think I disagree with you there.)

            I wasn’t talking about “occasional overcrowded buses.”

            I was making a general point about how loading guidelines are used.

            The average bus during the three hour off-peak period I surveyed carried 58 passengers. That’s about 50% above a seated bus load which is what the guidelines state. Also, low floor buses have almost 10 fewer seats than an RTS.

            When service is frequent, the guidelines don’t require a seated load. And the guidelines don’t distinguish between low floor buses and RTSes.

            Going with your numbers (which I question, but for now I’ll accept them for the sake of argument), the B1 carried 1,920 passengers over three hours, or an average of 640 passengers per hour, with an average headway of 5.14 minutes (11.67 buses per hour).

            Per the guidelines, the average headway for this load should be between 4 and 5 minutes (if the scale is linear between rows on the loading guideline table, 4.24 minutes, or 14.14 buses per hour). That’s a 21% increase over what you observed. If (as I suspect) the actual loads are somewhat lower than you claim, then the need for additional service is also lower.

            A headway of 5.14 minutes would be appropriate for an hourly load of somewhere between 400 and 516 (497 riders per hour if, again, the scale is linear).

            And we have to wait two years for the next frequency adjustments when the enrollment grows every six months. Is there any wonder the buses are always overcrowded with students?

            Does Kingsborough give NYCT projected enrollment numbers in advance?

            You can try to raise all the doubts you want regarding the validity of my counts. If anyone believes you is another question.

            The transit professionals I know know what crush loading means and aren’t quite as quick as you are to cast doubt on the Transportation Research Board.

          • Allan Rosen

            I don’t recall casting doubt on TRB. And as I remember, the questions regarding crush loading had to do with of they consider passengers in the stairwells as part of crush loading. The question wasn’t what a crush load is but if in fact a bus could hold 96 passengers which you questioned and I disproved by telling you I once counted 110 passengers (including about 30 children) board an empty New Look bus through the front door. I don’t believe there was any significant difference between what a New Look could carry as opposed to an RTS.

            I believe Kingsborough does provide enrollment numbers several weeks in advance, but that would of course be too late for the pick.

            I will look at the guidelines when I get a chance. Thanks for the link which should not require a Google search when your mantra is “transparency”. You would have to know they do exist and what to call them to do the search in the first place. And that isn’t very transparent is it?

            Your estimate of a needed 21% increase in service per the guidelines seems fair. Since the problem may be reliability, not capacity, it is possible that the guidelines are being met in fact.

          • Andrew

            I don’t recall casting doubt on TRB. And as I remember, the questions regarding crush loading had to do with of they consider passengers in the stairwells as part of crush loading. The question wasn’t what a crush load is but if in fact a bus could hold 96 passengers which you questioned and I disproved by telling you I once counted 110 passengers (including about 30 children) board an empty New Look bus through the front door. I don’t believe there was any significant difference between what a New Look could carry as opposed to an RTS.

            I can almost understand not including passengers in the front stairwell in the crush capacity, but even that is a stretch. There is absolutely no possible reason that passengers in the rear stairwell would not be included.

            The guideline load of an IRT subway car is 110. I doubt you actually saw 110 people on a New Look bus. Sorry.

            I believe Kingsborough does provide enrollment numbers several weeks in advance, but that would of course be too late for the pick.

            Much too late. If Kingsborough provided enrollment estimates six months in advance, that might be worth something. (To be fair, I don’t know if NYCT asks for them.)

            I will look at the guidelines when I get a chance. Thanks for the link which should not require a Google search when your mantra is “transparency”. You would have to know they do exist and what to call them to do the search in the first place. And that isn’t very transparent is it?

            If your objection is that the website I’d crummy, I agree, but that’s not what transparency means.

            I’m not sure what you find so difficult about a Google search – it’s easier than wading through menu upon menu on a website.

            Your estimate of a needed 21% increase in service per the guidelines seems fair. Since the problem may be reliability, not capacity, it is possible that the guidelines are being met in fact.

            The problem may be both, or there may well be a negative feedback loop.

          • Allan Rosen

            if the driver has to ask passengers to move out of the rear stairwell which he does in order to be able to see the rear view mirror, that would be enough reason not to count that area as part of capacity.

            I doubt it if Kingsborough knows its enrollment more than a few weeks in advance.

            Transparency means being forthright and not hiding things. Many things are hidden on the MTA website without links. You have to know something exists and then do a Google search for it. That isn’t very transparent. They have also known to not be transparent at meetings by withholding information also.

          • Andrew

            It appears that you don’t know what the terms “crush load” or “transparency” mean.

          • BrooklynBus

            So what are your definitions of those terms?

          • Allan Rosen

            “I doubt you actually saw 110 people on a New Look bus”.

            I didn’t “see” 110 people on a New Look bus. As I stated, the bus was empty and I counted all of them enter through the front door one by one. Is that so difficult to believe? Unless there was a trap door underneath the bus allowing people to sneak off the bus, they were all still in the bus when I finished counting. As I stated, there were many children probably under 10 years of age. Probably most of them sat on their parent’s lap. So if you don’t count them, the number was still in the upper 90s consistent with the number I counted on the RTS bus on the B1.

            By contrast, the low floor buses seem to be able to hold much fewer passengers. I doubt it if you can get more than 75 in those buses, 80 absolute tops.

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “What gives you the idea that they are not doing anything to address the bus bunching issue”

    Could it be that buses bunch on all routes approximately 30% of the time? Yes, they do try to alleviate it by taking buses out of service for the first mile of the route or by skipping stops for the first mile and a half as on the B1 and B49. Those are good techniques provided that there is another bus to pick up the load. The problem is that often there isn’t, but buses are taken out of service anyway leading to 30 minute waits or more for some.

    One of the advantages with the loop I created around Sheepshead Bay Station for the B4 is that when two buses arrive eastbound at Neptune Avenue and Shore Boulevard, and one of them is 15 minutes late, it is very easy to regain 10 of those minutes by transferring passengers desiring Sheepshead Bay station from the bus that is late to the one that is not late. Emmons Avenue bound passengers could save 10 minutes and the late bus could regain 10 minutes.

    That is not being done. Just two weeks ago I spotted buses #376 and #476 following each other around the loop which was totally unnecessary. One of them had to be 20 minutes late for that to happen.

    And if bus lanes are the answer to bus bunching, why is it still so pervasive on the M15 and the B44? Let’s check Bus Time right now at 1:12PM to see how the M15 is doing. Okay? Look I see local Bus 5642 at 40 Street going south and the local ahead of him (Bus 5631) at South Ferry.

    Let’s also look at the SBS. Well there is bus 1267 at South Ferry and the bus behind him #1240 at 45 Street. That means there is not a single southbound M15 or M15 SBS bus between 40th Street and South Ferry. What would you say the wait for a bus is? The schedule says there is a 47 minute running time from 34 St to South Ferry. That means that local passengers waiting at 40th Street have been waiting for a bus for 50 minutes!

    Yes, the bus lanes are working real well to keep buses running on schedule and you cannot even blame it on the Queensboro Bridge this time.

    Yes we already know that 99% of SBS riders and 90% of local riders are satisfied with the M15 SBS service because they ranked it a 6 or higher on a 1 to 10 scale. .

    We will see how much Bust Time helps. I sure hope it does.

    • Andrew

      You write this as though there is some simple means of eradicating bus bunching. That’s simply false. As I said last week, bus reliability is a hard problem.

      No, SBS hasn’t eliminated bus bunching on the M15, but nobody ever claimed that it would. Has it reduced bus bunching? I don’t know, maybe there’s a clue hidden in Figure 8. (Or you could just look in the very comment you responded to, where I cited the wait assessment numbers.)

      • Allan Rosen

        I never said eradicating bus bunching is simple. There you go making up things again. I said they are doing very little to solve a long standing problem which is prevalent throughout the system even on routes with little traffic and 20 minute headways.

        You stated over and over again how SBS and the exclusive lanes has made service more reliable which means that there is less bus bunching. Now when I choose a random moment and find a huge 45 minute delay, you suddenly do a turn around stating you never claimed the SBS reduced bus bunching. I have no idea what those assessment numbers are supposed to mean.

        Also, you keep referring to that 2011 report when it is now almost 2014. Will that one moment in time serve as the conclusive evidence how successful the M15 SBS is?

        • Andrew

          It certainly looks to me like quite a bit is being done, especially on the busiest routes, where the bang-for-the-buck is greater.

          The only way to determine if a change has improved reliability is to perform a before-and-after analysis of data. Are you afraid of a before-and-after analysis? Wait assessment is defined quite clearly on the previous page: “The wait assessment results refer to the percentage of the observed intervals between buses which are no more than the scheduled interval plus 3 minutes during peak (7 AM – 9 AM, 4 PM – 7 PM) and plus 5 minutes during off-peak (9 AM – 4 PM, 7 PM – 12 AM).” The higher the wait assessment, the more reliable the service.

          • Allan Rosen

            I agree that more is being done to combat bus bunching now than in the past, How you conclude that “quite a lot is being done, especially on the busiest routes” without any proof is beyond me.

            I went back and took a closer look at the wait assessments. Tell me if I misread anything, The wait assessments do not measure deviations from the schedule. Instead they measure deviations in bus intervals, so if all buses are consistently 10 minutes late, they are all considered to not be deviating from the scheduled intervals.

            Also, during the off peak if buses are scheduled at 10 minute intervals and are off schedule by 50% or 5 minutes, they are also considered not to be deviating from their scheduled interval.

            Also, there seems to be great fluctuation in the wait assessment numbers. The Limited Assessment for the first half of 2010 is actually higher than the SBS assessment for the second half of 2010, meaning the Limited was more reliable. Then for the first half of 2011, the wait assessment takes a dramatic leap upward for the SBS. Unless there is a good explanation for this, we have no way of knowing if this is just some abnormal fluctuation and the wait assessment did not drop again in the second half of 2011. If these assessments are indeed conducted every six months, where are the others for 2012 and 2013? Why should anyone believe that a single high number was typical?

            Any valid survey gives the dates when the survey was conducted. I did. There are always some daily fluctuations. The MTA could have hit a lucky day. You need to average three days for more accurate results. Did the MTA do that? If so, I must have missed that.

            If I could choose two days at random and get 45 minute delays on a part of the route both times, excuse me for being skeptical regarding MTA data. Perhaps more recent counts were not as favorable, so therefore they were not released to the public? Ya think that could be possible? Na.

          • Andrew

            I agree that more is being done to combat bus bunching now than in the past, How you conclude that “quite a lot is being done, especially on the busiest routes” without any proof is beyond me.

            Dispatching informed by BusTime? SBS?

            I went back and took a closer look at the wait assessments. Tell me if I misread anything, The wait assessments do not measure deviations from the schedule. Instead they measure deviations in bus intervals, so if all buses are consistently 10 minutes late, they are all considered to not be deviating from the scheduled intervals.

            That’s correct. Wait assessment is a measure of service regularity. Especially on frequent lines, riders care about headways, not about absolute arrival and departure times.

            http://www.humantransit.org/2009/06/mundane-things-that-really-matter-defining-on-time.html

            Also, during the off peak if buses are scheduled at 10 minute intervals and are off schedule by 50% or 5 minutes, they are also considered not to be deviating from their scheduled interval.

            For the purposes of wait assessment, it doesn’t matter if they are off schedule. All that matters is how many observed headways are within a given threshold of the scheduled headway. That threshold is 5 minutes off-peak and 3 minutes peak.

            Also, there seems to be great fluctuation in the wait assessment numbers. The Limited Assessment for the first half of 2010 is actually higher than the SBS assessment for the second half of 2010, meaning the Limited was more reliable. Then for the first half of 2011, the wait assessment takes a dramatic leap upward for the SBS. Unless there is a good explanation for this, we have no way of knowing if this is just some abnormal fluctuation and the wait assessment did not drop again in the second half of 2011. If these assessments are indeed conducted every six months, where are the others for 2012 and 2013? Why should anyone believe that a single high number was typical?

            I assume the fall 2010 numbers were low due to the usual irregularities during the roll-out of a major service change.

            This report was published in November 2011. It does not include data not yet available in November 2011. The authors of the report were not prognosticators.

            The M15 SBS wait assessment numbers, it turns out, did drop significantly in late 2011 and 2012 (could this be connected to bus bulb construction?), but they still have been consistently higher than for the old Limited.

            Any valid survey gives the dates when the survey was conducted. I did. There are always some daily fluctuations. The MTA could have hit a lucky day. You need to average three days for more accurate results. Did the MTA do that? If so, I must have missed that.

            I have no idea. Ask them, not me. The semiannual wait assessment report does include a comment about statistical significance, so it does seem that the compilers understand statistics (which is a lot more complex than you make it out to be – I certainly don’t claim to understand it myself).

            If I could choose two days at random and get 45 minute delays on a part of the route both times, excuse me for being skeptical regarding MTA data. Perhaps more recent counts were not as favorable, so therefore they were not released to the public? Ya think that could be possible? Na.

            A sample size of two is meaningless.

            More recent counts were not included in a report published over two years ago. They are readily available on the MTA website, among the Board documents. (You do read or at least skim those documents, I hope?) They were last released in September:

            http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/130916_1030_transit-bus.pdf – skip to pages 332-335

          • Andrew

            I agree that more is being done to combat bus bunching now than in the past, How you conclude that “quite a lot is being done, especially on the busiest routes” without any proof is beyond me.

            Dispatching informed by BusTime? SBS?

            I went back and took a closer look at the wait assessments. Tell me if I misread anything, The wait assessments do not measure deviations from the schedule. Instead they measure deviations in bus intervals, so if all buses are consistently 10 minutes late, they are all considered to not be deviating from the scheduled intervals.

            That’s correct. Wait assessment is a measure of service regularity. Especially on frequent lines, riders care about headways, not about absolute arrival and departure times.

            http://www.humantransit.org/2009/06/mundane-things-that-really-matter-defining-on-time.html

            Also, during the off peak if buses are scheduled at 10 minute intervals and are off schedule by 50% or 5 minutes, they are also considered not to be deviating from their scheduled interval.

            For the purposes of wait assessment, it doesn’t matter if they are off schedule. All that matters is how many observed headways are within a given threshold of the scheduled headway. That threshold is 5 minutes off-peak and 3 minutes peak.

            Also, there seems to be great fluctuation in the wait assessment numbers. The Limited Assessment for the first half of 2010 is actually higher than the SBS assessment for the second half of 2010, meaning the Limited was more reliable. Then for the first half of 2011, the wait assessment takes a dramatic leap upward for the SBS. Unless there is a good explanation for this, we have no way of knowing if this is just some abnormal fluctuation and the wait assessment did not drop again in the second half of 2011. If these assessments are indeed conducted every six months, where are the others for 2012 and 2013? Why should anyone believe that a single high number was typical?

            I assume the fall 2010 numbers were low due to the usual irregularities during the roll-out of a major service change.

            This report was published in November 2011. It does not include data not yet available in November 2011. The authors of the report were not prognosticators.

            The M15 SBS wait assessment numbers, it turns out, did drop significantly in late 2011 and 2012 (could this be connected to bus bulb construction?), but they still have been consistently higher than for the old Limited.

            Any valid survey gives the dates when the survey was conducted. I did. There are always some daily fluctuations. The MTA could have hit a lucky day. You need to average three days for more accurate results. Did the MTA do that? If so, I must have missed that.

            I have no idea. Ask them, not me. The semiannual wait assessment report does include a comment about statistical significance, so it does seem that the compilers understand statistics (which is a lot more complex than you make it out to be – I certainly don’t claim to understand it myself).

            If I could choose two days at random and get 45 minute delays on a part of the route both times, excuse me for being skeptical regarding MTA data. Perhaps more recent counts were not as favorable, so therefore they were not released to the public? Ya think that could be possible? Na.

            A sample size of two is meaningless.

            More recent counts were not included in a report published over two years ago. They are readily available on the MTA website, among the Board documents. (You do read or at least skim those documents, I hope?) They were last released in September:

            http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/130916_1030_transit-bus.pdf – skip to pages 332-335

          • Guest

            I agree that more is being done to combat bus bunching now than in the past, How you conclude that “quite a lot is being done, especially on the busiest routes” without any proof is beyond me.

            Dispatching informed by BusTime? SBS?

            I went back and took a closer look at the wait assessments. Tell me if I misread anything, The wait assessments do not measure deviations from the schedule. Instead they measure deviations in bus intervals, so if all buses are consistently 10 minutes late, they are all considered to not be deviating from the scheduled intervals.

            That’s correct. Wait assessment is a measure of service regularity. Especially on frequent lines, riders care about headways, not about absolute arrival and departure times.

            http://www.humantransit.org/2009/06/mundane-things-that-really-matter-defining-on-time.html

            Also, during the off peak if buses are scheduled at 10 minute intervals and are off schedule by 50% or 5 minutes, they are also considered not to be deviating from their scheduled interval.

            For the purposes of wait assessment, it doesn’t matter if they are off schedule. All that matters is how many observed headways are within a given threshold of the scheduled headway. That threshold is 5 minutes off-peak and 3 minutes peak.

            Also, there seems to be great fluctuation in the wait assessment numbers. The Limited Assessment for the first half of 2010 is actually higher than the SBS assessment for the second half of 2010, meaning the Limited was more reliable. Then for the first half of 2011, the wait assessment takes a dramatic leap upward for the SBS. Unless there is a good explanation for this, we have no way of knowing if this is just some abnormal fluctuation and the wait assessment did not drop again in the second half of 2011. If these assessments are indeed conducted every six months, where are the others for 2012 and 2013? Why should anyone believe that a single high number was typical?

            I assume the fall 2010 numbers were low due to the usual irregularities during the roll-out of a major service change.

            This report was published in November 2011. It does not include data not yet available in November 2011. The authors of the report were not prognosticators.

            The M15 SBS wait assessment numbers, it turns out, did drop significantly in late 2011 and 2012 (could this be connected to bus bulb construction?), but they still have been consistently higher than for the old Limited.

            Any valid survey gives the dates when the survey was conducted. I did. There are always some daily fluctuations. The MTA could have hit a lucky day. You need to average three days for more accurate results. Did the MTA do that? If so, I must have missed that.

            I have no idea. Ask them, not me. The semiannual wait assessment report does include a comment about statistical significance, so it does seem that the compilers understand statistics (which is a lot more complex than you make it out to be – I certainly don’t claim to understand it myself).

            If I could choose two days at random and get 45 minute delays on a part of the route both times, excuse me for being skeptical regarding MTA data. Perhaps more recent counts were not as favorable, so therefore they were not released to the public? Ya think that could be possible? Na.

            A sample size of two is meaningless.

            More recent counts were not included in a report published over two years ago. They are readily available on the MTA website, among the Board documents. (You do read or at least skim those documents, I hope?) They were last released in September:

            http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/130916_1030_transit-bus.pdf – skip to pages 332-335

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “If local drivers have been directed to accept SBS receipts, then local drivers are required to accept SBS receipts, period.”

    No not “period”, “comma”. That’s a mighty big “if.” You do not even know that for a fact. Some local drivers have refused to accept the receipts, and the ones who accept them could be dong it on their own because they know it is the right thing to do.

    It does not stand to reason that you have one rule for the drivers, but you dont post that on the website so passengers would know. Again, how many SBS passengers are afraid to take the local because the believe their receipt will not be accepted? You cannot answer that question. And please don’t ask me to survey all SBS stops to ask passengers if they believe their SBS pass is accepted on a local bus to “prove” my claim..

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “The demand for B44 service to Kingsborough is a lot lower than the demand for subway connections to Kingsborough.”

    There is no demand for B44 service to Kingsborough now because the service doesn’t exist. That does not imply that it wouldn’t be very well utilized if it did exist. Just because there still would be more transferring from the subway to the bus than the numbers who would choose to use the B44 SBS directly does not negate the validity and usefulness of the route. You will never know without trying. But you are not willing to make the small investment in public information and writing of schedules.

    But you have no problem with a failed attempt to combine the B37 and the B70 where the same amount of publicity is involved. And you support all the cuts including the ones where the MTA showed the buses were operating less efficiently (such as the B48) after the cuts than before them and where those cuts had to be restored due to public outcry and additional monies spent on needless publicity which would have not been necessary had the routes not been cut in the first place.

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “No one is seriously turned off by 100 feet”

    Go there and watch. When a B1 bus is waiting, there is no reason to walk 100 feet further to the B49, and that is exactly what happens. If the terminals were switched, most passengers would not bypass a B49 to possibly save a net travel time of three minutes on the B1 by walking further risking that the bus may close its doors by the time they get there and there wouldn’t be enough time to get back to the B49 because it could also leave and they would then miss two buses.

    No one has to stand on a cold windswept Sheepshead Bay station. Both Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach have electronic signs. The problem at Brighton Beach is that you could still make it up the stairway after the display changes to the other platform if you walk fast enough as many students do. The timing is set as it should be, for a leisurely walk up the stairs. You don’t have that problem at Sheepshead Bay which is what I was saying.

    “People are unhappy with bus service.”

    You also support the MTA statistic from their 2013 customer satisfaction survey that 74% of bus passengers are either satisfied or very satisfied with bus service. So which one is it? Passengers like their bus service or they hate it? Or are you going to give a lengthy explanation explaining the difference with being happy as opposed to being satisfied?

    • Andrew

      The situation you bring up only arises if both buses are boarding simultaneously and are both picking up small loads. (If loads waiting to board either bus are large, there’s no risk of both buses pulling out right away.)

      The Voorhies Avenue mezzanine, where the northbound B49 stops, is outdoors and exposed to the elements. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody wait there for a train rather than going straight up to the platform. At Brighton Beach, on the other hand, the “waiting area” for the express is on board the train itself, with heating or air conditioning and plenty of seats. The display at Brighton Beach showing the track for the next express departure is manually controlled by the dispatcher.

      A large number of New Yorkers simply avoid buses like the plague because they are so slow and unreliable. They are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with their bus service since they don’t use the bus in the first place. It’s a serious problem and it calls for serious, targeted efforts to improve bus speeds and reliability.

      • Allan Rosen

        “If loads waiting to board either bus are large, there’s no risk of both buses pulling out right away.”

        So if under that situation you have a choice of which bus to board, there is still no incentive to walk the extra hundred feet. The only time the incentive is there is if a B49 is boarding and there is no B1 boarding.

        I’ve often waited halfway up the stairway at the Voorhies Avenue end where I was protected from the elements and had enough time to walk up the rest of the stairway after I heard the train coming.

        “A large number of New Yorkers simply avoid buses like the plague because they are so slow and unreliable. They are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with their bus service since they don’t use the bus in the first place. It’s a serious problem and it calls for serious, targeted efforts to improve bus speeds and reliability.”

        Are are continuing to talk out of both sides of your mouth. So let me summarize what you have stated.

        1. A large number of New Yorkers hate buses because they are slow and unreliable.

        2. 74% of bus riders are satisfied with their bus service.

        3. Those who avoid buses are neither satisfied or unsatisfied with bus service. This is clearly an impossibility because according to the MTA you can only be satisfied or unsatisfied. (There is no such thing as being neither satisfied or unsatisfied, because if that were at all possible, that is what a 5 or 6 rating would have meant.) And since you fully support the MTA survey in its methodology, how could you possible believe that it is possible to be neither satisfied, nor dissatisfied?

        4. “It’s (slowness and reliability) a serious problem and it calls for serious, targeted efforts to improve bus speeds and reliability.”. I am assuming you mean by creating more SBS routes.

        5. “SBS hasn’t eliminated bus bunching on the M15, but nobody ever claimed that it would. Has it reduced bus bunching? I don’t know…”

        You are really starting to sound like a politician now. You really can’t see all your contradictions?

        • Andrew

          So if under that situation you have a choice of which bus to board, there is still no incentive to walk the extra hundred feet. The only time the incentive is there is if a B49 is boarding and there is no B1 boarding.

          If a rider has a mild preference for the B49, the only situation in which the 100 feet makes a difference is if both buses are boarding and neither one is picking up a large load. Only in that situation is there a risk that, while walking from the B1 to the B49, both buses will pull out.

          If either bus is boarding a large load, there is no risk of both buses pulling out, so it’s safe to try to catch the B49. And, obviously, if only the B1 is boarding, or only the B49 is boarding, or neither one is boarding, then it makes no difference which is closer.

          As I said, the reason subway riders have a general preference for the B1 is simply that it’s a straighter, faster, more reliable trip to the subway.

          I’ve often waited halfway up the stairway at the Voorhies Avenue end where I was protected from the elements and had enough time to walk up the rest of the stairway after I heard the train coming.

          Only a tiny fraction of the bus riders transferring to the subway can fit halfway up the stairway!

          Are are continuing to talk out of both sides of your mouth. So let me summarize what you have stated.

          1. A large number of New Yorkers hate buses because they are slow and unreliable.

          Not “hate” – they simply refuse to use them or avoid them like the plague.

          2. 74% of bus riders are satisfied with their bus service.

          Not my statement.

          3. Those who avoid buses are neither satisfied or unsatisfied with bus service.

          No, that’s not what I said. I said that, in a survey of bus riders, people who do not ride the bus cannot possibly be counted as satisfied or unsatisfied or anything else, for the simple reason that they are not surveyed.

          This is clearly an impossibility because according to the MTA you can only be satisfied or unsatisfied. (There is no such thing as being neither satisfied or unsatisfied, because if that were at all possible, that is what a 5 or 6 rating would have meant.) And since you fully support the MTA survey in its methodology, how could you possible believe that it is possible to be neither satisfied, nor dissatisfied?

          I have nothing to say here. I’m just quoting this because it’s so funny.

          4. “It’s (slowness and reliability) a serious problem and it calls for serious, targeted efforts to improve bus speeds and reliability.”. I am assuming you mean by creating more SBS routes.

          That’s certainly one approach. It’s not the only one. For example, I’ve also mentioned the use of BusTime data for better dispatching and better scheduling and better planning.

          5. “SBS hasn’t eliminated bus bunching on the M15, but nobody ever claimed that it would. Has it reduced bus bunching? I don’t know…”
          You are really starting to sound like a politician now. You really can’t see all your contradictions?

          Do you really not understand the distinction between elimination and reduction? Have you bothered to look at those wait assessment numbers yet?

          • Allan Rosen

            “Not “hate” – they simply refuse to use them or avoid them like the plague.”

            Tell that to all the people standing in crowded buses.

            “No, that’s not what I said. I said that, in a survey of bus riders, people who do not ride the bus cannot possibly be counted as satisfied or unsatisfied or anything else, for the simple reason that they are not surveyed.”

            But you also stater, “A large number of New Yorkers simply avoid buses like the plague because they are so slow and unreliable. They are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with their bus service since they don’t use the bus in the first place.”

            Of course, you have nothing to say when I made this statement: “This is clearly an impossibility because according to the MTA you can only be satisfied or unsatisfied.”

            I am not the only one who criticized the interpretation of the MTA’s 1-10 scale. Ben Kabak also stated that a rating of 5 and 6 should be considered as “Not satisfied nor dissatisfied.” If they did that, their numbers would have had some reliability. But you supported the MTA ‘s interpretation that in a survey of bus riders it was not possible to be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. You had to be either satisfied or not satisfied. So using what type of logic could you state “They are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with their bus service since they don’t use the bus in the first place.” Why should non-bus riders be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. They could be dissatisfied with it and therefore don’t use the buses, or they could be satisfied and still prefer to take another mode or as you said, they could be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, meaning its barely acceptable but they would rather not use it. It’s only the bus riders who did not have the option of stating neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and that’s what invalidated the survey.

            I certainly do understand the difference between elimination and reduction. It’s just that the wait assessment numbers and methodology do not provide a convincing case that bunching was actually reduced. A bus that arrives 6 minutes later than the scheduled interval is given the same weight as a bus that arrives 35 minutes later than the scheduled interval. Plus the numbers are nearly three years old and no dates were provided when the surveys were taken, so there is no way to check if the days checked were typical or not. There also is no margin of error given.

          • Allan Rosen

            Also,

            2. “74% of bus riders are satisfied with their bus service.”

            “Not my statement.”

            That was the MTA’s statement in their 2013 customer satisfaction survey. And since you fully supported their methodology and agreed with that survey, it is a statement you fully agree with so you can’t say that it is not your statement. Or do you no longer agree with the MTA’s methodology?

          • Andrew

            When and where did I fully support their methodology?

          • Allan Rosen

            Okay, so other than your problems with on time performance, is there any part of the customer satisfaction survey you havea problem with?

          • Andrew

            I do not know much about survey methodology, and I prefer to leave the discussion to those who have a better understanding. I am personally uncomfortable relying on absolute results of satisfaction surveys at all, as opposed to changes from one year to the next, but my own personal discomfort may stem from a lack of complete understanding rather than from an intrinsic shortcoming of surveys.

            That’s why I’ve refrained from responding to any of your comments on the MTA’s satisfaction surveys, aside from my asking you what your background is in market research (and based on your answer, it doesn’t appear to be any stronger than mine).

            I’m not sure what any of this has to do with OTP.

          • Allan Rosen

            You state now that you are uncomfortable with these surveys, but often quoted the statistic that 99% of M15 SBS riders and 90% of local riders were satisfied as partial proof that SBS was working great.

          • Andrew

            The stated satisfaction rate with the M15 SBS was so astoundingly high that, even if it was overstating reality by a whopping 10 or 20 percentage points, it still illustrates a very high level of satisfaction, especially when backed up by the major ridership growth.

          • Andrew

            “Not “hate” – they simply refuse to use them or avoid them like the plague.”

            Tell that to all the people standing in crowded buses.

            Annual bus ridership is less than half of annual subway ridership. There are a lot of transit riders in New York City who simply won’t touch buses, since they’re too slow and unreliable for their needs. As subway ridership grows year after year, bus ridership has been consistently dropping.

            “No, that’s not what I said. I said that, in a survey of bus riders, people who do not ride the bus cannot possibly be counted as satisfied or unsatisfied or anything else, for the simple reason that they are not surveyed.”

            But you also stater, “A large number of New Yorkers simply avoid buses like the plague because they are so slow and unreliable. They are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with their bus service since they don’t use the bus in the first place.”

            Of course, you have nothing to say when I made this statement: “This is clearly an impossibility because according to the MTA you can only be satisfied or unsatisfied.”

            Sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about here. A survey of bus riders does not gauge the opinions of people who don’t ride buses. That is all I am saying.

            I am not the only one who criticized the interpretation of the MTA’s 1-10 scale. Ben Kabak also stated that a rating of 5 and 6 should be considered as “Not satisfied nor dissatisfied.” If they did that, their numbers would have had some reliability. But you supported the MTA ‘s interpretation that in a survey of bus riders it was not possible to be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. You had to be either satisfied or not satisfied.

            I did? When did I say that?

            I certainly do understand the difference between elimination and reduction. It’s just that the wait assessment numbers and methodology do not provide a convincing case that bunching was actually reduced. A bus that arrives 6 minutes later than the scheduled interval is given the same weight as a bus that arrives 35 minutes later than the scheduled interval. Plus the numbers are nearly three years old and no dates were provided when the surveys were taken, so there is no way to check if the days checked were typical or not. There also is no margin of error given.

            Wait assessment is a measure of service regularity. it’s not some new-fangled thing that was invented for SBS – it’s been around since 2000. It’s not a perfect measure by any means, but it does a decent job of measuring what it’s intended to measure. Like you, I’d prefer to see more granularity – a minor fail and a massive fail are treated equally, but that’s a shortcoming of any pass-fail measure.

            The numbers are 2.5 years old because they are in a report that was published over two years ago, a report which outlined how a three-year-old SBS project was performing in comparison with its predecessor.

          • Allan Rosen

            “Annual bus ridership is less than half of annual subway ridership. There are a lot of transit riders in New York City who simply won’t touch buses…”

            That doesn’t prove anything since the mileage, capacities and coverage areas provided by subways as opposed to buses varies greatly. I will grant you that given the choice, more will prefer subways over buses especially for long trips, but there is a population that prefers buses over subways because they do not have to walk stairs, may be more likely to get a seat, or perceive them as safer, and would never set foot on a train.

            Also, subways are not always faster. Last year one evening I had to travel from 42 Street to 23 Street on 7th Avenue. We saw a bus coming and decided to take it. We got off at 23rd Street in about 5 minutes. Chances are if we took the train in five minutes we still would have been waiting for the train after descending the stairs.

            Now you say you disagree with the MTA’s interpretation of their 1-10 scale? That’s news to me. Do you realize that considering a 5 and 6 as “neither satisfied or dissatisfied” rather than not allowing that option invalidates the entire survey, because percentage points could vary by 20% or so depending on what proportion of the satisfieds are indeed a “6″.
            I would suspect the numbers of 5s and sixes to be very high.

            If you disagree with the MTA’s methodology, why do you so frequently refer to their surveys when trying to prove your points?

            How long do you think the MTA will use an old survey as proof positive that SBS is working? They need to do periodic retesting and make that information readily available, not by having to read hundreds of pages buried in executive reports that you have to search by date.

          • Andrew

            That doesn’t prove anything since the mileage, capacities and coverage areas provided by subways as opposed to buses varies greatly. I will grant you that given the choice, more will prefer subways over buses especially for long trips, but there is a population that prefers buses over subways because they do not have to walk stairs, may be more likely to get a seat, or perceive them as safer, and would never set foot on a train.

            I’m not suggesting that people largely prefer subways over buses for trips that make sense by subway. That shouldn’t be surprising. The problem is that for trips that don’t make sense by subway, lots of New Yorkers still avoid the bus – either they use other modes, like driving, or they take a circuitous trip by subway, or, worse yet, they forego the trip entirely. In other words, the near-absence of fast, reliable bus service in New York City reduces mobility.

            Despite the generally wide coverage of the Underground and commuter rail services, London has seen huge growth in bus ridership since 2000, in large part due to efforts taken to reduce traffic congestion (e.g., congestion pricing), to implement bus lanes on busy streets, and to generally make bus service faster and more reliable. Bear in mind, also, that bus stops in London (as in most of the rest of the world outside the U.S.) are much more widely spaced than ours. At this point, bus ridership in London is significantly higher than Underground ridership.

            Also, subways are not always faster. Last year one evening I had to travel from 42 Street to 23 Street on 7th Avenue. We saw a bus coming and decided to take it. We got off at 23rd Street in about 5 minutes. Chances are if we took the train in five minutes we still would have been waiting for the train after descending the stairs.

            I didn’t say that subways are always faster, especially for short trips.

            Now you say you disagree with the MTA’s interpretation of their 1-10 scale? That’s news to me. Do you realize that considering a 5 and 6 as “neither satisfied or dissatisfied” rather than not allowing that option invalidates the entire survey, because percentage points could vary by 20% or so depending on what proportion of the satisfieds are indeed a “6″.
            I would suspect the numbers of 5s and sixes to be very high.

            As I said on Sunday: “I do not know much about survey methodology, and I prefer to leave the discussion to those who have a better understanding.” As far as I can tell, your understanding is no better than mine.

            How long do you think the MTA will use an old survey as proof positive that SBS is working? They need to do periodic retesting and make that information readily available, not by having to read hundreds of pages buried in executive reports that you have to search by date.

            If you’re asking whether the MTA will update its one-year progress report to reflect three years worth of data, I strongly suspect not – it wouldn’t be a one-year progress report anymore. Performance data should be and is collected periodically, as a matter of course.

          • Allan Rosen

            And that performance data should be readily available. Not by first knowing it exists, then having to manually search through hundreds of pages of board documents to find it as well as knowing which date it was published. That is not being transparent. Also, you don’t produce studies and reports just for propaganda purposes. You do it on a regular basis to let the public know how you are doing and you make that information readily available.

          • Andrew

            As I’ve said, if you wish to argue that the MTA should have a better website, I will agree with you completely. But publicly available information is still publicly available information, much as you’d like to deny it.

            A before-and-after study compares performance before and after a change. It is not a before-and-after-and-after-and-after study.

            There are many performance metrics that are collected on a regular basis. They are publicly available. I have shown you where you can find them. Are you going to look at them or are you going to continue to insist that they don’t exist?

          • BrooklynBus

            How are tey publicly available? First you have to know that they exist, know how to ask for them in a Google search, know which Board document they are in, then search through hundreds of pages to find them? If you know a quicker way, please share.

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – continued from Part 1

    “What data that I provided?”

    I used the reference of 80 passengers capacity for an RTS Bus.

    “Since when is it illegal for a bus to travel with passengers in the rear stairwell?”

    Most if not all the buses have signs for the rear stairwell to be kept clear. There are even automatic announcements to move away from the rear doors on some buses. Also, drivers ask that passengers standing near the rear door not block the rear view mirror.” Are you going to ask me to reference a particular law?

    “Crush loads, typically loads above 150 percent of a buses’ seating capacity…”

    That statement is a general one and probably applies to buses with four seats across and a narrow aisle. That is no what we have in NYC so more standees are allowed before it would be considered crush capacity. Fifty to sixty passengers per bus would hardly be considered crush capacity which is 75 or over.

    “Not True”

    I am not going to look up where I stated that but it was not in reference to your claim that I stated there are no morning and evening peaks for KCC. You must have misread or misinterpreted something or I wasn’t very clear.

  • Allan Rosen

    @Andrew – Continued from Part 1

    “The revenue from one additional passenger is negligible.”

    What are you talking about? Who said there would only be one additional passenger resulting from the improvements I proposed? I said that the MTA would not even acknowledge that there would even be one new passenger resulting from my proposed improvements. In fact there would be hundreds or thousands of new passengers daily resulting from a north south bus route to directly serve destinations such as major traffic generators such as Maimonides Hospital. There is no bus route that provides this service. Of course you will say that none is necessary because one doesn’t exist and the West End Line is only a few blocks away. But I don’t hear you calling to discontinue other existing bus routes that serve hospitals where there are nearby subways? You aren’t calling for the undoing of the bus route changes I made in 1978 to serve Coney Island Hospital because of the Brighton Line? All you do is support the status quo and whatever service the MTA is currently running. When they propose discontinuation, you support that too. So how much does the MTA pay you again?

  • Avrohom Becker

    I take the B44 on Nostrand and Empire Boulevard every Monday.

    During the weeks prior to 12/09/13,I noticed construction taking place by the bus stop.

    During the week of 12/09/13,I noticed something different about the place,one of those differences being,a newly erected bus station.

    However,I didn’t notice the select service machines.

    I went over to the bus station,and if there were people using the machines,I didn’t take notice.

    Besides,I was in hurry.

    Yes,there were some small signs on the buses themselves,but I never pay attention to those.

    Anyway,I proceed to get onto the bus,and notice that it is packed to the rim.

    To my surprise,I see nobody paying in front of me.

    I step up into the bus,and see a sign next to the driver which says,”No Pay On Board”.

    For all I know,that could mean that the bus fare is free for that particular bus.

    (The bus drivers must have noticed this,because in the weeks following,I noticed messages handwritten on some of the signs,stating that people should pay OFF THE BUS.)

    I rode the bus.

    It stopped at Kings Highway.

    To my surprise again,I see 2 officers coming on board,inspecting people for tickets.

    One of the officers comes up to me and asks me for mine.

    I tell him that I didn’t know that I need one.

    He tells me to get off of the bus with him.

    He then proceeds to explain to me what I did wrong.

    He writes up a summons and hands it over to me.

    I ask him when this program was implemented.

    I tell him that I take the B44 every week.

    I tell him that this week has been my first exposure to the program.

    He tells me that this has been going on for a month.

    I tell him,that I don’t agree,but that even if that were the case,that would make the program fairly new.

    I request for him to let me off the hook.

    He tells me that he has to do his job.

    In the weeks following,I have inquired as to why the Bus Drivers weren’t asking anybody to show their tickets.

    How were people who didn’t know anything about the program supposed to be informed?

    What if they didn’t notice the small signs on the buses?

    How is the sign in front of the driver supposed to help?

    I have since learned that their were “supposed” announcements which took place,though there were different opinions on the timetable.

    One driver told me 3 weeks.

    Another one told me a week and a half.

    Either way,I wasn’t privy to any of these announcements.

    Even if they were only taking place for only a week and a half,I should have heard them,as I take the bus every week.

    One driver suggested that perhaps,I only came across the regular buses,and ended up missing the time period. However,this cannot be the case,as the Select Service Buses are the only buses that stop in these areas.

    I had tried to find out the exact date that the machines were installed on Empire and Nostrand,but have been receiving the runaround.

    I have also been trying to find out the exact dates that these “supposed” announcements and warnings took place,but have been getting the same results.

    I recently went to my hearing.

    While in the waiting room,I watched the names of the people waiting being called out.

    I watched a Woman call out a name.

    Not even one moment goes by before she starts raising her voice,in a tone of impatience.

    She does all this with an arrogant look on her face.

    I thought to myself,anyone but her.

    Unfortunately,I got the Woman who’s attitude closely resembles that of Judge Judy,if you get my drift.

    She had made up her mind from the moment she had heard that I sat down on the bus without inquiring.

    I explained that this was the first week of service,that I hadn’t received any prior warning,that I had been trying to get information.

    She kept asking me if there was anything else,in that impatient,arrogant tone of hers.

    She finished off with the following.

    “You’re telling me that you got on the bus and just sat down without inquiring? That’s all I need to know. I have everything i need.”

    So everything else I said just got thrown down the toilet.

    I had more things to discuss,including my amendment rights to due process,but she had already made up her mind at that point.

    I now have to pay a $100 fine,though I can appeal.

    However I don’t see any point in appealing,because the appeal process is a joke!

    First off,I can only appeal once I’ve paid the fine!

    Secondly,I am not allowed to present any new evidence.

    So in conclusion,for accidentally not paying $2.50,I have to pay 40 times the amount of $2.50.

    Someone’s sure getting rich off of this,and it sure aint the customers.

    • Allan Rosen

      You say you use the bus every week. That can’t be true. The service started on 11/17. Summonses started on 12/8. http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2013/12/keep-your-receipts-mta-to-deploy-fare-evasion-team-on-b44-sbs-on-december-8/

      You didn’t use the bus for several weeks, not one week. The installation of the fare machines were completed a few days before. However, the one at Empire Blvd may have been there for several weeks. But why does that matter? The machines aren’t placed near where the buses actually stopped so it is easy to see how you could have missed them. There needs to be additional signage on the bus shelters and the signage needs to be clearer and larger.

      I have been writing about SBS for two years, about a dozen articles. If you had been a regular reader or had gone to a Community Board Meeting, you would have been aware. The judge could have given you a break and I think they should have been more lenient during the first few weeks. Now you know.

      • Avrohom Becker

        I do take the bus every week,though,it is possible that I may have skipped a week,two max.

        I wish that I had seen your articles a bit sooner.

        Anyway,I thank you for your efforts in bringing awareness,regardless!

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