The B44 SBS debuts along Nostrand Avenue. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The B44 SBS. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: During its first week of operation, the B44 SBS was widely criticized by former B44 Limited riders for eliminated stops, unreliable, overcrowded and delayed local bus service, inadequate public information regarding the route change and longer walks to SBS stops. I covered these criticisms in my SBS series (parts 1, 2, and 3).

MTA apologists refused to hold the MTA accountable, claiming that these initial problems would be overcome as the MTA would make needed adjustments quickly. That would result in a route that would be better utilized because it would be quicker and reliable, saving time for most riders. The problem I have is we will never know that for sure since only data that supports the MTA’s success story will be shared.

Due to the frigid weather and other commitments, I still have not yet had a chance to personally ride or observe the SBS in operation. However, there have been a few new developments. During the weeks following implementation, Brooklyn bus routes throughout the borough have had notices posted that the SBS operates along Rogers Avenue and not New York Avenue, giving travel advice for former limited riders. They were advised to take a transferring route or walk the extra quarter mile to Rogers Avenue for the SBS. Those signs should have been displayed before the horse left with the barn door open, and would have avoided needless confusion.

Also, there were rumors from a bus driver that the MTA would add three additional local runs to address problems of overcrowding at the February 2nd depot pick. However, schedule changes due to go into effect in April show no proposed adjustments to B44 service.

Where We Stand Now

Despite requests from Councilman Juumane Williams and Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, demanding the addition of the Avenue L SBS stop, and other complaints such as additional traffic problems, which I predicted more than a year ago, the only adjustments made by the MTA and DOT have been to place public information posters inside buses.

To all those who insisted the initial problems experienced during the first week would soon become a distant memory, you were wrong. Problems with this new service still persist as evidenced by a recent email from Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, which stated the following, in part:

“The MTA informed my office in a letter dated January 3, 2013 [Ed. — she meant 2014], that although it is in the process of monitoring this new service to evaluate any changes that need to be made, it has no plans to alter the route at this time. Because I do not believe this response adequately addresses the concerns of constituents like you, I sent the MTA a follow up letter to emphasize the importance of preserving an open dialog with neighborhood residents and B44 bus riders.”

Her response to the MTA included the following:

“…many community members were unable to attend the public meetings…or were unaware that the meetings were happening. Based on feedback I’ve received…it is my belief that many riders did not know that the new service was being implemented until it was operational…

“At local stops, riders have been experiencing very long waits for the bus, and buses tend to be very crowded; at the same time, they notice several select buses passing by that are apparently nearly empty. The wait times are particularly problematic as the weather gets colder.”

  • Community residents have also informed my office that they do not believe enough local buses are being dispatched as compared to the select buses.

  • Riders who purchase tickets for an express bus are not able to use them on the local bus if it arrives first, forcing them to wait longer for a select bus or necessitating that they pay their fare twice.

  • Buses are frequently arriving at stops in “bunches” instead of being spaced apart, as per their posted schedule.

Councilwoman Jacobs also asked the MTA to reassess the B44 SBS and make appropriate adjustments of the SBS and local service. She has started an online petition here.

More Is Needed

The public information notice installed on buses weeks after SBS implementation requests riders to walk an additional one quarter of a mile to Rogers Avenue or take a connecting bus route. What the MTA failed to address is that since there are no north / south bus routes between New York Avenue and Utica Avenue, many riders are already walking a half-mile from Albany Avenue to New York Avenue. Walking further to Rogers Avenue brings their total walk at one end of their trip to about three quarters of a mile, way over the walking guidelines to a bus. If they choose a connecting bus instead as the MTA suggests, they may now have to pay a double fare to complete their trip if they already need a transfer at the end of their trip.

Perhaps all northbound B44 service should be moved to Rogers Avenue — with the B49 rerouted to Ocean Avenue, north of Foster Avenue — to make the route simpler and minimize confusion. However, if that is done, New York Avenue service needs to be replaced with a new bus route either on New York Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, or Albany Avenue, or most likely on a combination of those streets since neither of those are through streets.

In order for such changes to be made, a comprehensive study of travel needs is required. That was my initial criticism of the B44 SBS back in 2010, that it was planned in a vacuum without considering serving alternative destinations like the Sheepshead Bay train station or Kingsborough Community College, or the need to reroute other bus routes such as the B49. The result is a glut of unneeded service along Rogers Avenue.

The MTA Is Capable Of Performing Comprehensive Studies

In response to a request from Co-Op City in the Bronx for better bus service, the MTA recently released a comprehensive 104 page study assessing travel needs for those residents. It is the most comprehensive bus study by the MTA I have ever seen without the use of consultants. It utilizes MetroCard and Bus Time data, as well as an online survey of residents. I confess that I did not read most of the study or review the results. However, on the surface, it seems like a study with this type of detail is needed in all areas of the city.

I did notice, however, in the survey part assessing satisfaction, the MTA asked a straight-forward question: “Are you very satisfied, satisfied, not satisfied or very unsatisfied with service?” None of this 1 through 10 confusing ranking nonsense their consultants employ. Did my criticism make a difference? Who knows? Not in their favor, the MTA finally acknowledged some trips require a double fare, but offered no proposed solutions.

Conclusion

The effectiveness of the B44 SBS needs to be analyzed utilizing the same type of detail that was employed in the Co-Op City study, considering the route as part of the entire bus system, analyzing the alternatives of restructuring other bus routes, double fares paid, walking distances encountered, etc. Simply declaring the B44 SBS a success based on ridership increases alone, and the fact that buses can make their trips in less time is very misleading. If the MTA can do a comprehensive bus study in the Bronx, they can do one in Brooklyn to assess the effectiveness of the B44 SBS.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

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.

Related posts

  • Kriston Lewis

    I agree that there should be a study, but the petition has some errors:

    The restoration of numerous limited bus stops, including but not limited to: The Avenue L and Nostrand Avenue stop adjacent to Andries Hudde Junior High School, Nostrand Avenue and Empire Boulevard, Nostrand Avenue and Beverly Road, Nostrand Avenue and Tilden Avenue, Stops between Kings Highway and the Flatbush/Nostrand Junction, Nostrand Avenue and Avenue R…

    Empire Boulevard is still an SBS stop. Beverly Road was never a limited stop, and neither was Tilden Avenue, those shouldn’t be added.

    • Allan Rosen

      You should advise the Assemblywoman.

      • Andrew

        She should look these things up before making a fool of herself.

  • Allan Rosen

    Just read this disturbing news on Subchat about a passenger using the B44 SBS fare machines at DeKalb Avenue. Seems like the machine withdrew all the money from her MetroCard and woudn’t give her a receipt. She told the bus driver what happened when she boarded, but the Eagle team boarded later and gave her a summons anyway. Now she has to lose a day’s work to fight the ticket. Says she will never ride a bus again.

    http://www.subchat.com/buschat/read.asp?Id=289679

    I have also read that the all the fare machines at Church Ave southbound have not been functioning for several weeks.

    • Andrew

      No, she doesn’t have to lose a day of work. She has the option of contesting by mail. She is choosing to contest by mail.

      (Look at the writing style. Do you consider this poster one of Subchat’s more coherent posters?)

      I once had an unlimited MetroCard invalidated by a bus farebox – and I knew quite well that I couldn’t jump the turnstile when I reached the subway without risking a fare evasion summons.

      • Allan Rosen

        Do you actually think she has a chance in the world by mail without any proof? Have you ever tried to contest a PVB fine by mail. Unless you are very lucky, you will automatically be found guilty, no matter what your evidence is. I was found guilty several times even when I appeared in person, once for violating a No Parking sign that was posted on a different street from where I parked, and other time, the hearing officer actually told me at I should not have driven to a crucial medical appointment without a front license plate.

        You are very naive if you think the courts that are there to collect money care at all about justice and what is fair.

        • Andrew

          She is choosing to contest the ticket in person. <a href="http://www.subchat.com/buschat/read.asp?Id=289686“>Her husband says so himself: “Yeah,they do have a mail in to contest quote on the back of the ticket..but I know her..and she not in anyway afraid of confrontation..believe me..she going down there.”

          I’m not sure why you’re bringing in the PVB. The PVB has nothing to do with bus fare evasion summonses. (And, by the way, I did once fight a parking ticket by mail, and the ticket was in fact dismissed.)
          New York State requires front license plates. That requirement holds not only for unimportant trips but also for crucial trips, medical and otherwise. If for whatever reason your NYS-registered car was lacking a front license plate, you could have reached your appointment the same way that anybody who doesn’t own a car might reach a crucial medical appointment, such as transit or car service or (in an emergency) ambulance. The hearing officer was correct: you should not have driven a NYS-registered car lacking a front plate, to a crucial medical appointment or to anything else, and in doing so you risked getting a ticket.

          • Allan Rosen

            I never stated that there wasn’t a mail in option so quit putting words in my mouth again. I said she didn’t stand a chance in hell of winning by contesting it by mail. Because you got off once, means everyone can get off with a mail plea. Anecdotes again?

            And for your information, I realized the plate was missing just as I was leaving for the appointment. There was no time to call car service and be assured I would get there before they closed. Transit? Forget about it. I would have been an hour late.

            I could understand if I was driving without a left side mirrorwhich could be considered dangerous. But a missing front plate is not required for cars registered in many other states and driven in NYC. And yes, those cars get summonses also occasionally. He could have made an exception under the circumstances.

          • Andrew

            I never stated that there wasn’t a mail in option so quit putting words in my mouth again.

            Your words: “Now she has to lose a day’s work to fight the ticket.” I pointed out that she, in fact, doesn’t, and you objected.

            And for your information, I realized the plate was missing just as I was leaving for the appointment. There was no time to call car service and be assured I would get there before they closed. Transit? Forget about it. I would have been an hour late.

            I could understand if I was driving without a left side mirrorwhich could be considered dangerous. But a missing front plate is not required for cars registered in many other states and driven in NYC. And yes, those cars get summonses also occasionally. He could have made an exception under the circumstances.

            If you showed up at a parking meter and realized that you left your wallet at home, would you have expected exemption from a parking ticket? Of course not.

            Neither you nor I nor your hearing officer wrote the law. New York State doesn’t have the authority to determine license plate requirements for vehicles registered in other states, but it does have the authority to determine license plate requirements for vehicles registered in New York. You took a risk, and you lost. Sorry.

    • feduprider

      I hope she sues the MTA for millions and wins. Bunch of crooks. Disgusting.

  • BronxSteve

    I don’t know that I trust the Assemblywoman any more than the MTA. Two of her assertions are ludicrous:

    1. “Riders who purchase tickets for an express bus are not able to use them on the local bus if it arrives first, forcing them to wait longer for a select bus or necessitating that they pay their fare twice.”

    Yes, but this is endemic to the whole concept of SBS. You’ve got to decide which bus you want and stick to it.

    2. “Buses are frequently arriving at stops in “bunches” instead of being spaced apart, as per their posted schedule.”

    Duh. This is true of every bus line in the City, perhaps in the world.

    • Allan Rosen

      The assertions are not ludicrous if they are true and they are. Just because they also apply to other SBS routes does not make them less valid. It makes them more valid and as more SBS routes are created more passengers are affected and something needs to be done. Double fares will also become more prevalent as new SBS routes go on line.

      If you want to criticize her for something, criticize her for mistakes she made regarding bus stops and for criticizing the MTA for meetings at night. Would she have preferred daytime meetings? That would have affected more working people who couldn’t attend. They could have had meetings on weekends I suppose, but some people also work on weekends. How many meetings did she want them to have?

    • Andrew

      Your first point is actually incorrect. SBS receipts are valid on local buses (I just used one last week and nobody batted an eyelash). This is the case on the M15 and the B44, and I believe also on the Bx12 and Bx41. Try it yourself if you don’t believe me.

      It wasn’t as much of an issue when SBS buses had blinking lights and could be seen from blocks away. And it won’t be as much of an issue once BusTime goes live in Brooklyn.

      As for your second point, you are absolutely correct. Bus bunching is not a unique problem to SBS or to New York. In fact, I suspect that it has been decreasing under SBS, but we will see when the wait assessment numbers are released.

      • BronxSteve

        Thanks for clarifying. Re point 1, if you are right, then the Assemblywoman and Allan Rosen are wrong too, and they should be corrected as well.

        • Andrew

          I’ve corrected Rosen in the past. I guess he forgot or something.

          • Allan Rosen

            I didn’t forget anything. You are the one who is incorrect. I’ve already stated that six days before this post as I wrote below. The local bus driver is under no obligation to except an SBS receipt. The language on the MTA website is ambiguous at best. The B44 SBS is a different route from the B44 because it operates on different streets. So the words not good on another route applies.

          • Andrew

            Any B44 local bus driver who fails to accept an SBS receipt is violating the instruction of a superior. B44 local drivers have been instructed to accept B44 SBS receipts. It’s not something they’re doing out of the goodness of their own hearts.

            You are grasping at straws. I’ve told you what the actual practice is, yet you continue to ignore me based on a contrived reading of a statement that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

            The practice started in October 2010 on the M15, and it hasn’t stopped yet.

          • Allan Rosen

            Where is your proof that drivers have been instructed by their superiors to accept SBS receipts? Until you can provide a verifiable source or some documentation, I do not believe you. If what you are saying is true, then there is no excuse for the MTA to not make this explicitly clear on their website. You cannot have official policies and unofficial policies. That is just not right.

      • Allan Rosen

        No you are incorrect. I already proved to you in the past that official MTA policy is that local drivers do not have to accept SBS receipts if they don’t want to and the fact that the Assemblywoman has received complaints proves it is not a universally accepted practice. You are planning by anecdote again.

        Also you have no proof that bus bunching has decreased. In fact, it it were so, why are more people complaining now about it than before the B44 SBS was implemented?

        • fdtutf

          “Also you have no proof that bus bunching has decreased.”

          It’s possible that that’s exactly why Andrew used the words “I suspect” and said that the wait assessment would show the actual results. I’m just throwing that out there as a possibility.

          • Allan Rosen

            Wait assessment does not show the impacts of bus bunching. It is not foolproof. A wait of longer than five minutes is treated the same as a forty minute wait. There has to be a better way to measure bus bunching.

          • fdtutf

            Of course, none of that speaks to my point, which was that Andrew never claimed to have proof that bus bunching had decreased.

          • Allan Rosen

            It does speak to the point because you stated that the wait assessments when they came out would show if bus bunching decreased. I stated that those numbers don’t measure the severity of bus bunching so you woudn’t know if it decreased or not because it would not show if buses were delayed longer, but only show the number of buses delayed over five minutes. If there are more frequent longer delays like up to 40 minutes as many have complained, wait assessment numbers would not tell you that.

          • fdtutf

            Number one, that wasn’t me, that was Andrew.

            Number two, you complained that Andrew didn’t have proof that bus bunching had decreased, but he never claimed to have such proof *now*. Your initial reply to him didn’t say anything about whether wait assessment would show problems with bunching or not.

          • Allan Rosen

            I didn’t mention the problems with wait assessment because Andrew and I already duscussed those problems in a previous thread and he admitted that the methodology was far from perfect. So for him to say now that wait assessment numbers would tell us if bunching has decreased is really disingenuous.

            Wait assessment numbers may very well conclude that the amount of bunching has decreased, but that doesn’t say anything regarding the severity of the bunching, which is what many believe has worsened.

          • fdtutf

            The point is that you’ve shifted ground. You initially accused him of not having proof that bus bunching had decreased, which he never claimed to have. Now you’re yammering about wait assessment.

            I’m only hammering you on this because it’s typical and needs to stop.

          • Allan Rosen

            I have not shifted ground at all. He stated that he suspects bunching has decreased. I responded that he has no proof and that wait assessments when they come out will not answer the question. The reason I responded the way I did is whenever I make a statement that I suspect something is true, his response is always “where is the proof?”. So why am I not allowed to respond in a similar fashion?

          • Andrew

            Wait assessment is a measure of regularity, which is the flip side of bunching.
            Of course it’s not foolproof. Very little is. Is there a different quantitative measure of regularity that you think is better, or are you going to rely solely on anecdotes?

          • Allan Rosen

            Some sort of median wait time would be a more adequate reflection of the impact of bus bunching. Treating a five minute wait te same as a forty minute wait just slants the statistics and minimizes the true effects of bunching.

          • Andrew

            “Some sort of median wait time” would also not reflect 40 minute waits, unless a majority of the waits were over 40 minutes long, which I assure you is not the case on the B44 (local or SBS). And “some sort of median wait time” is not comparable over different times of day and different routes.

            Try again.

          • Andrew

            Nah, whatever gives you the idea that by “I suspect” I mean “I suspect”?

        • Andrew

          Pardon? What did you “prove” to me? Every driver on the B44 and M15 (and probably Bx41 and Bx12) locals has been instructed to accept SBS receipts.
          You provided a link to a statement that SBS receipts are not valid on other routes. So, for instance, you can’t use your B44 SBS receipt on the B4 or on the B36. But you most certainly can use it on the local. Ask any B44 driver if you doubt me.

          I never claimed to have proof that bus bunching had decreased. I said that I suspect that it has decreased. Unlike some people, I have no objection to identifying speculation as speculation.
          Neither you nor I have any idea how many people complained before or after implementation of SBS, and complaint-counting is not a sound planning methodology in any case.

          • gustaajedrez

            Then why doesn’t the MTA use less ambiguous language to clarify that SBS receipts can be used on the locals?

          • Allan Rosen

            Because it is not official policy and they do not want to encourage it, even if most drivers accept them.

            It’s sort of like an admission that SBS isn’t running the way it should run if they acknowledge it is okay to take a local when SBS is delayed. They want you to believe it runs well and taking a local when you want SBS is never necessary.

          • Andrew

            Nonsense. For somebody going only one or two SBS stops, especially off-peak, it may easily make more sense to take whichever bus comes first, if the expected wait time for the SBS is greater than the time savings it would bring.

            (Is it an admission that the B train isn’t running the way it should if I hop on the Q to go from Sheepshead Bay to Kings Highway? Of course not.)

          • Andrew

            I’m afraid you’ll have to ask them for the definitive answer.

            If I had to guess, I’d say that they possibly don’t want to encourage a practice that lends itself to easy forms of fare evasion.

            Or maybe it’s simply not in the official tariff, since it wasn’t originally planned to be a valid form of fare payment for the local – it was permitted starting in 2010 in response to complaints on the then-new M15 SBS.

            But if you’re looking for the definitive answer, you’re asking the wrong person. Sorry.

  • sonicboy678

    Big problem with this SBS: most northbound buses are still practically dumping at Flatbush Avenue and never recover (I’ve seen the bus pick up a considerable number of passengers after Flatbush Avenue only a few times, regardless of the weather).

  • Andrew

    I’m not sure what’s most surprising.

    That an assemblywoman doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Or that you choose to quote her words as if she does? Or that a bus service improvement intended to improve travel times by reducing the number of bus stops has, in fact, reduced the number of bus stops? Or that people who have lost their bus stops are upset that they’ve lost their bus stops? Or that the information about connecting buses is targeted at people who are already riding those buses, but are still transferring at New York Avenue rather than at Rogers Avenue? Or that you still claim an understanding of survey techniques that you still obviously don’t have? Or that the basis for planning is data, not isolated anecdotal complaints? Or that you are commenting on a report that you haven’t read? Or that, 2.5 months in, you still haven’t found the opportunity to ride the service for yourself, yet you still have no shortage of commentary on it?

    • feduprider

      You accuse the author of not riding this route. Based on your statements, it’s clear you certainly haven’t.

      • fdtutf

        What “accuse”? The author of this piece said IN THIS PIECE that he still hasn’t ridden the B44 SBS yet. It’s the first sentence of the third paragraph.

        • Allan Rosen

          Andrew does “accuse”. He claims I could not possibly write a meaningful an objective report through third hand evidence because his riding of the route on one occasion qualifies him as an expert, making all his comments more valid than mine.

          • fdtutf

            He’s right about your inability to write a meaningful report based on third-hand evidence. But he didn’t “accuse [you] of not riding this route,” because that’s something you had already acknowledged. That was my point.

          • Allan Rosen

            How is he right about my inability to write a meaningful report based on third hand evidence? Point out one factual error I made. If you can’t, you both have no right to make statements like that just because you do not want to hear the truth.

          • fdtutf

            Lack of factual errors does not, per se, make a report meaningful.

            There’s no substitute for observing actual conditions, especially in a situation where the actual conditions are readily available to you. It isn’t as if you were writing about the buses in Tokyo. You’re attending only to complaints, which necessarily means you’re getting a one-sided view of the service, and you haven’t gone and looked at it yourself.

          • Allan Rosen

            Even if I do observe the route at one location or take one trip on it, what I would learn is just a photograph in time. The day may not be typical or what I observed may not happen everyday. Yes, it would add to the article. But it doesn’t make third hand reporting any less meaningful when it is based on numerous experiences by those who ride the bus everyday. Notice that I didn’t say the complaints were typical for an average rider. It may very well turn out that most riders are in favor of SBS and like it. All I am calling for is a fair comprehensive study to determine if in fact that is the case which until now I did not think Operations Planning had the capability of doing. The Bronx Study proves they are capable of looking at more factors than they have thus far studied when evaluating other SBS routes. I am merely asking that they go into similar detail when evaluating SBS. Also, that doesn’t mean doing a one shot study after six months or a year. It means periodically coming back to reevaluate te route

          • fdtutf

            “Notice that I didn’t say the complaints were typical for an average rider. It may very well turn out that most riders are in favor of SBS and like it.”

            Exactly, and yet you’ve now posted FOUR columns about how terrible it is on the B44, which you still haven’t even ridden!

          • Allan Rosen

            I have posted four columns detailing problems with the B44 SBS which need to be corrected and I will keep posting until those problems are addressed. The fact that I haven’t ridden it myself is immaterial. It doesn’t negate the problems others have experienced which are very widespread and not temporary and isolated and were not fixed within a few months or simply would go away by themselves as Andrew and others predicted.

            All that is news and needs to be reported. Just because you, Andrew, and the MTA would rather I just ignore those problems and believe whatever lies and distortions the MTA puts forth is just not going to happen. When and if they finally address and correct the problems will be reported on also.

          • fdtutf

            ” It doesn’t negate the problems others have experienced which are very widespread and not temporary and isolated…”

            How do you know the problems are widespread? You’re relying on anecdotal second-hand (or even third-hand) reports, so you don’t.

          • Allan Rosen

            There have been dozens of negative posts on the Internet. A half dozen negative letters printed in local papers, and at last count 93 negative comments on the online petition (and 250 signatures). When you consider that most people only complain when they get pretty angry, I woud call that fairly widespread.

            Also, it may not be that difficult to address many of those complaints. One or two added stops, a few more locals, better maintenance of fare machines, and enforcement of traffic regulations may resolve most of the complaints.

          • fdtutf

            You would? I wouldn’t without knowing more about the situation. The only valid way to assess satisfaction with anything is to do a proper survey with proper sampling techniques, etc. That’s not what you’re doing. You’re cherry-picking stuff off the Internet that supports your preconceived view.

          • Allan Rosen

            I would what?

            No, I didn’t do a proper survey with proper sampling techniques because I don’t have those resources. However, that is exactly what I am proposing the MTA do. So what is your problem, that I am cherry picking? Why aren’t you complaining when the MTA cherry picks? They do it all the time.

          • fdtutf

            “When you consider that most people only complain when they get pretty angry, I woud call that fairly widespread.” That’s what I was responding to. Sorry that wasn’t clear.
            I wouldn’t expect you to do a survey yourself, of course; I understand that you don’t have those resources. However, in such cases, most of us are wise enough not to express ourselves as to what public opinion is on a given matter.
            And in relation to the ridership on the B44 (SBS and local), 93 negative comments and 250 signatures seems rather small. We don’t know whether dissatisfaction is widespread or not, particularly not based on such a small (and one-sided) sampling of opinion.

          • Allan Rosen

            I never meant to indicate that most B44 riders were not satisfied. Yes, this could be a small number when you consider the thousands of riders who use the route daily. My point is that their concerns are still significant and should not be ignored. You can always make the route better and within my criticisms I mentioned many ways to do that.

          • Andrew

            You could also look at how many people are actually using the item in question.

            Ridership has gone up by a huge margin on the other SBS corridors. and I expect that ridership will also go up on the B44 corridor. (Note to Allan: This is merely my expectation. I don’t have proof of it, since I am unable to prove something that hasn’t happened yet. I may be right and I may be wrong – we’ll see when the 2014 ridership numbers are published.)

          • Andrew

            If you admit that “most people only complain when they get pretty angry,” then how can reach any conclusion from complaints? You have no idea how many people find the service much better than what it replaced.

          • Allan Rosen

            The conclusion you reach is that there is room for improvement. Even if say 51% of the riders are happy and 49% are unhappy? Why be satisfied? How about trying to make it much better which some changes could do?

          • Andrew

            I’m sorry, what’s with this mythical 49-51 split you keep citing? And when have I ever objected to making changes?

          • Allan Rosen

            You have stated that you suspect more people benefit than are hurt by SBS. I responded that coud be the case but we will never know without adequate data which te MTA is not collecting because they are not considering walking times. That is where the mythical split comes in.

            As far as making improvements, you have criticized every proposed improvement I and others suggested from better and earlier signage to route changes, to more locals, to adding stops, etc. You’ve always insisted that the route will work just fine as initially designed. Now you state you have never objected to making changes. Backtracking again?

          • Andrew

            I have said that there is most likely a net improvement in service. SBS on the M15, for instance, was enough of a net improvement that it generated an off-the-charts 12% increase in ridership against a backdrop of a 5% decline in Manhattan bus ridership – and, believe me, there were plenty of complaints about skipped stops.

            I most certainly never claimed that “the route will work just fine as initially designed” (do you have a source for that?). On the contrary, I’ve repeatedly stated that there was an opportunity for improvements following the initial rollout, and I’ve pointed each time to a specific change made on the Bx12 a few months after its SBS rollout.

            On November 6, 2011, I pointed out the initial set of SBS stops is not set in stone, and that specifically a Sedgwick Avenue stop was added to the Bx12 SBS.

            Yet on December 12, 2011, you gave this stern warning: “The time to ask for an additional SBS stop at Avenue R is now — not after the Limited is discontinued. An additional stop was added at Avenue D at the request of the Flatbush community. The MTA is willing to listen to you now; they might not later. You have been warned.” And I responded that “They’ll listen to you both now and later (witness the Sedgwick Avenue stop on the Bx12 that was added to SBS several months after service started up, as I’ve pointed out to you already). That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get exactly what you want, either now or later.”

            Then on April 24, 2012, you claimed that “the locals could not be cut back to Avenue U because you would have to install pre-pay fare boxes at a dozen more stops” – to which I responded that “Contrary to what you’ve claimed, what’s done on day one is not set in stone – if there are problems, they can be corrected. On the Bx12, a stop at Sedgwick Avenue was added. On the M15, additional machines were installed at 14th St. and I think the machines were turned around at stops where they were too close to the curb. If adjustments are needed on the B44, they will be made.” And also: “Or they can try running the B44 as planned and see what happens. If the ridership develops, great! If not, cut back the local and install more SBS fare machines.”

            And again on September 7, 2012, I stated that “On most of the B44, proposed SBS stops are spaced similar to local (not express) subway stations. I agree that the spacing between Flatbush and Avenue U is somewhat wider, and if it proves to be a problem, additional stops can be added (much as Bx12 SBS got a new stop at Sedgwick Ave. when its omission proved problematic). Nothing’s set in stone – a stop has already been added at Newkirk/D.”

            That’s five times that I stated quite explicitly that there’s room to make adjustments, so why are you claiming that I’ve said the exact opposite?

          • Allan Rosen

            Yes, there is room to make adjustments, but that doesn’t mean they will be made. I was correct in that stern warning regarding Avenue R. Look at all the stops tat were requested to be added after implementation, like a half dozen. The MTA did not automatically add them. In fact, they rejected all the proposed additions including Avenue R. They even rejected the request for an Avenue L stop. It took a follow-up letter, three elected officials and a petition to get that change. So your statement “They will listen to you both now and later” is just untrue. Communities had to fight for changes, not merely request them.

          • Andrew

            Allan, you claimed on February 10 that I’ve “always insisted that the route will work just fine as initially designed.” I never insisted anything of the sort; in fact, I’ve said just the opposite, multiple times.

            Of course the MTA didn’t automatically add anything. Adding stops helps some people but hurts other people, and it takes some time to gather a bit of data and carry out a quick analysis. Did you seriously expect the MTA to instantly comply with a request without first determining whether the proposed change would help or hurt the line’s overall ridership?

            Nothing has been outright rejected – as the MTA’s letter states, “We continue to monitor operations along the entire B44 route and will update you about any service changes.”

            Jacobs’ letter included six requests for new SBS stops. Three (Empire Boulevard, Beverly Road, Tilden Avenue) had never been limited stops in the first place. “Stops between Kings Highway and the Flatbush/Nostrand Junction” is a duplicate of “Nostrand Avenue and Avenue L” (the only stop between Kings Highway and the Junction that had been a limited stop). The last was Avenue R. So the six requests were really only two serious requests, of which one has been granted.

          • Allan Rosen

            I never expected the MTA to automatically make changes. I expected them within two months which wasn’t done. No changes were made as a result of the Assembywoman’s first letter. It was only after a follow-up letter and a petition did they take action. I don’t call that too responsive.

            As far as Empire Blvd not being a former Limited stop. You are incorrect. It was a Limited stop as well as an SBS stop. The Assemblywoan was wrong but so were you. So before you call her a fool for not checking checking her facts first, I suggest you first look into the mirror.

          • Andrew

            I don’t see how two months from the beginning of a brand new service is possibly enough time to gather meaningful data and analyze it.

            Yes, of course, you are correct about Empire, which I somehow often mentally confuse with Eastern Parkway (and I even used the Empire Boulevard stop a week and a half ago). That doesn’t change my point, which is that, of the six supposed requests, there were only two actual requests for limited stops to be restored as SBS stops, of which one was granted.

          • Andrew

            On one occasion? That’s funny. And when have I claimed to be an expert?

        • Andrew

          Thank you. It was a simple statement of fact as presented by the author himself.

      • Andrew

        Only about two dozen times since it started up, plus maybe half that number on the local in the same time frame.

    • Allan Rosen

      I’m not sure what’s most surprising.

      That instead of criticizing the MTA for not fixing broken fare boxes for two weeks is perfectly okay or that when a passenger needing to take a bus for a required medical appointment is wrong because she expected a receipt and got her money taken away from her instead. Or that when she explains the situation to the bus driver and he allows her on board, she receives a $100 fine anyway. Or why she swore she would never take another bus again because she now has to lose a days work to explain herself. Or why now she has to lose a days pay to try to get her money back from the fine and what she lost on her Metro Card, you still take the MTA’s side and criticize her and an Assemblywoman who is doing her job and fighting for her constituents.

      No, I don’t find that surprising at all. I would expect that from an MTA apologist who claimed no drivers would be inconvenienced and all required bus adjustments would be made within two months, and all criticism would cease. When none of that is the case, and all my predictions from over a year ago regarding this route have come true.

      • Allan Rosen

        I certainly do have an understanding of survey techniques since I have conducted several successful surveys at Environmental Protection, City Planning, and at the MTA. I was actually hired by the MTA to see that a screwed up sabatoged study got straightened out which was successfully done under my supervision. How many surveys have you conducted?

        And I certainly can comment on a study that I haven’t fully read. I wasn’t commenting on any specific recommendations, but just made a general comment regarding the level of detail? What is wrong with that? I’m sure you read every word of a study before offering your comments. That’s why you missed some ifthe points in the Pratt Study.

        Yes, criticize me although you can’t find anything wrong with the article. Criticize the Assemblymember for doing her job. Criticize the riders for their meaningless comments that the MTA is free to ignore. Criticize a bus rider for wanting to fight an unfair summons in person. BUT DON’T YOU EVER DARE CRITICIZE THE MTA. That would be just wrong.

        • Andrew

          Congratulations, your stellar understanding of survey techniques landed you a planning position at the MTA that lasted from 1981 to 1981! Of course you can comment on a study that you haven’t read, but why would you?
          I understood the Pratt study quite well. <a href="http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2013/12/the-7-line-extension-and-a-push-for-brt/#comment-1194998462“>As I said a month ago, “The Pratt report states, as a premise, that new subway lines in these areas are unlikely to be built, due to the extremely high cost of construction. It nowhere states that new subway lines should not be built; rather, it is advocating an approach for transit expansion in the likely event that new subway lines are not built.” Your stellar reading comprehension skills magically transformed a premise into a position.

          As for your last paragraph: calm down.

          • Allan Rosen

            I already explained to you why my planning position lasted just under two years, not from 1981 to 1981. Because the TA insisted I work in a diesel infested depot with a case of asthma. I had to take a deep breath of fresh air to walk up one flight of stairs, hold my breath until I got to the next open window to take another breath and run up another flight of stairs. No one shoud have to work under those conditions. I was forced to choose between my health or my career and I chose the former. What would you have done?

            Of course, say I am exaggerating, or call me a liar. Or the 20 other employees who were also getting sick and submitted written proof for me to present to the boss. We know the MTA was right and I was wrong.

            Had that situation not occurred, and I was able to keep my job, I guarantee you the bus system today would be vastly improved. If I chose my career over my health, the bus system would also be vastly improved with me heading te Planning Department

          • Allan Rosen

            But I would proably be dead by now if I made that choice.

            And regarding the Pratt Study, my reading comprehension skills are just fine. I stated they could have looked into ways of bringing construction costs down instead of merely accepting it as a given, and dismissing subway construction or loked into operating mass transit on existing unutilized or underutilized rights of way instead of declaring BRT the only option.

          • Andrew

            You are welcome to study whatever you’d like to study, but you’re hardly the first to look into the issue, it would take a massive (i.e., unlikely to be feasible) drop in construction costs to make new subway construction a viable candidate for more than a small number of lines.

            Nobody declared BRT the only option. The Pratt report simply made the case that BRT can provide a lot of bang for the buck, and presented a number of potential BRT corridors worthy of further study.

          • Allan Rosen

            No I am not the one who should have looked at lowering construction costs. That should have been the job of Pratt. You don’t eliminate the alternative with the greatest benefits just because you prefer to investigate another one. That is not sound research.

          • Andrew

            I don’t see your name here. Sorry, you don’t dictate what research projects the Pratt Center takes on.

          • Allan Rosen

            No it isn’t, but I know what objective research is and when someone is following a pre-determined agenda for whatever reason. For some reason Pratt decided tat the focus of the study would be to recommend specific BRT routes. When they realized that BRT woud not be feasible on four of the routes, they agreed to consider the possibility of SBS.

            Even so parts of their BRT routes are not feasible and they didn’t bother to acknowledge that exclusive lanes were not feasible for part of the route. And contrary to your assertion that they really only recommended general corridors for further study, they recommended specific streets to implement either BRT or SBS. There was a program on either Channel 13 or 25, I forget which where someone referenced the Pratt Study and said exactly what I said that the Pratt suggested 8 routes for BRT or some BRT features. Nothing about BRT corridors.

          • Andrew

            Again, it’s not up to you. The research topic is a valid one, even if it’s not one that you’re personally interested in.

            Select Bus Service (SBS) is the NYCDOT/NYCT brand name for BRT. It’s not a different thing.

            I am sure that the researchers have identified potential streets for the services to run on, but the goals are corridor-level goals, and I doubt they’d object if there were some small shifts prior to implementation. If there’s a distinction you’re trying to draw, I have no idea what it is.

          • Allan Rosen

            SBS and full featured BRT are not synonymous. The Pratt study even outlines the differences on Page 15. They also recommend BRT in corridors where full BRT is not even possible, and scaled down BRT or SBS in their second tier of corridors where they recognize full BRT would not be possible.

          • Andrew

            You sure do think highly of yourself, don’t you! With a resume like that, I can’t understand why transit agencies and consulting firms across the globe haven’t been jumping to hire you as an Expert Planner for the past 33 years.

          • Allan Rosen

            Maybe because I haven’t been marketing myself to other agencies because I wasn’t interested in leaving New York. In fact, when I was hired by my boss for my final 12 years at the MTA, he told me that he searched through 100 resumes, and chose me because he liked my resume the best. That was for a job I didn’t even apply for.

            Why aren’t you sticking up for the MTA that they were correct in not addressing the health problems at the depot? After all, isn’t the MTA always correct? Why don’t you say they had higher budgetary concerns than the health of their employees?

  • Jacobs’ Staff Member

    I am staff member at Assemblywoman Jacobs’s District Office,
    so hopefully I can shed some light on some of the points raised by commenters.

    First off, to give credit where credit is due, the petition was actually written by a community advocate, L. Rickie Tulloch, although our office worked closely with him in developing and publicizing it after he approached us about a partnership.

    Thanks to those of you who brought to our attention the apparent misinformation about the bus stops listed in the petition. Our main priority is
    listening to constituents; this is information we got from them and passed
    along to the MTA several months ago, well before the petition was written, so
    we are certainly surprised that the MTA did not correct us. We will make any
    necessary adjustments.

    Finally, the point about the public hearings that was made in our email to the MTA needs to be put in context. As stated in the email, this point was raised in response to a letter the MTA sent our office indicating that it had no plans to make any changes to the B44 bus line and emphasizing that it had followed protocol by holding public hearings, no one had brought these issues to their attention at that time, etc. While we do believe that a few weekend meetings could have encouraged greater community participation in the planning process, the main point here is that, no matter when public hearings are held, there will always be people who are unable to make it or unaware they are happening; we feel it does a disservice to the community for the MTA to use the outcomes of public hearings as a justification for taking subsequent community concerns into consideration, particularly when the hearings are – in general – attended by such a limited segment of the population in the area.

    Check out the comments in the petition if you need further clarification about the problems people are experiencing – they speak for
    themselves.

    • Jacobs’ Staff Member

      minor correction to my post:

      * justification for NOT taking subsequent community concerns into consideration, particularly when the hearings are – in general – attended by such a limited segment of the population in the area.

    • Allan Rosen

      Yes, Andrew read those 85 complaints and dismiss all of them as insignificant isoated complaints. Yes, “the basis for planning is data.” but that doesn’t mean you only collect data to prove what a success SBS is. It means you don’t dismiss their coments by stating they didn’t raise those points at the meetings prior to the implementation of service.

      The MTA has had over two months to make needed adjustments and has done absolutely nothing other than an overdue public notice.

      One long time rider of 30 years stated she never seen service so unreliable since SBS was introduced. I believe her before I would believe that you “suspect” bunching has been reduced.

      And I will continue to report on the B44 SBS even if it disturbs you and your friends at Operations Planning.

      • sonicboy678

        Just this morning, I took SBS bound for Flushing Avenue after having literally missed a bus probably headed for WBP. There was another bus directly behind it headed for Eastern Parkway. I don’t know if the schedule was secretly updated, but I see absolutely no real purpose for having SBS to Eastern Parkway.

        • Andrew

          Eastern Parkway? The B44 SBS doesn’t even stop at Eastern Parkway. Perhaps the sign was set to the wrong reading.

          • sonicboy678

            I’m serious. It even stopped at the B49 stop and discharged. I have footage of the bus saying B44 Eastern Parkway. I just didn’t get the discharge to conserve battery life.

          • Andrew

            Strange (and I’m not doubting you). I can’t imagine why an SBS bus would terminate at a location that isn’t even an SBS bus stop.

      • Andrew

        If a line with an average weekday ridership of 40,000 generates only 85 complaints, that’s a sign that somebody’s doing something right.

        Nobody is dismissing comments. That is a red herring.

        “One long time rider” is not data. Try again.

        You can report on whatever you like. It doesn’t disturb me, and my friends at Operations Planning find your posts hilarious. Keep up the good work!

        • Allan Rosen

          85 written complaints from a single Assembly district which covers only a small portion of the route. 400 have thus far signed the petition. Yes those are the angry ones. Those who are skightly inconvenienced are just accepting the change. The riders up north are not that happy either and probably never saw the petition.

          I will check out that riders complaint when I get a chance.

          If 85 complaints are a sign of doing something right, then my introduction of the revised B1 in 1978 must have been a great job. Although I eliminated 3/4 mile of the old route with no replacement, only one written complaint was received.

          I do intend to keep up the good work!

          • Andrew

            How many people are happy with the service? How many people were unhappy with the service before November? You don’t know, and you don’t know.

            It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that any service change that reduces service at some stops is going to be unpopular, especially in the initial months, among the people who use those stops. The question, which cannot be answered by looking at complaint tallies, is whether the overall improvement to service outweighs the localized losses. I do not have an answer to that question, and neither do you.

            If you seriously believe that only one person was unhappy with your change to the B1, I have a bridge to sell you.

          • Allan Rosen

            I didn’t say unhappy. I said one written complaint. Yes keep twisting my words. I had ten routes changed. The MTA had over 100 complaints by changing only one route.

            The undisputed fact was all the changes that I caused to be made were hugely successful. The only parts that didn’t work out we’re the MTA’s changes to my plan like insisting the B11 operate to Rockaway Parkway and the B36 operate on Mermaid Avenue, both of which didn’t last. All my changes are still operating today, 35 years later. There were no petitions or letters from elected officials to make changes.

            The B44 SBS will eventually work out after the MTA makes changes to get it right. I got it right the first time without the needless expense to keep rewriting schedules. Tell that to your friends at Operations Planning.

          • Andrew

            You mean that you’re only aware of one written complaint. I’ll bet you also got zero emailed complaints. You do realize, of course, that many more people these days are willing to take the trouble to write an email or fill out an online petition than to compose a paper letter and put it in the mail?

            You really do think highly of yourself!

          • Allan Rosen

            I certainly do because I was responsible for the most comprehensive bus changes since the 1930s or perhaps in NYC history. Those changes benefit thousands of riders every single day. All written bus complaints at that time were forwarded to East NY to prepare a response. The gentleman who gave me that information was in charge of responding to those letters. I believe he gave me complete information. Yes, and if e-mail existed back then, since it was easier to communicate back then, there also might have been many complimentary letters by grateful passengers whose trips were made far easier.

            I’m sorry. I am not allowed to speculate. Only you are allowed to what could have been. So let me state a fact. When we presented our proposals to CB 13 in Coney Island, one longtime critic stated that in his 20 years of hearing nonsense proposals put forth by the city, this was the first sensible proposal he has seen and he supports it whole heartedly. In fact none of the six Boards voted down any of the proposals. It’s just too bad the MTA only saw fit to implement only 25% of them. Still, the changes were massive in scope.

            Just imagine the positive affects if all of them had been implemented. Yes, I certainly have a right to think highly of myself when you consider by contrast, the MTA meets with opposition whenever they put forth routing proposals to the communities, and my proposals received none.

          • Andrew

            I certainly do

            I guess humility isn’t one of your virtues.

          • Allan Rosen

            I am just telling it like it is.

    • Andrew

      Thanks for the comments.
      First off, if the Assemblywoman has not yet ridden the B44 SBS, I strongly suggest that she do so, so that she has the opportunity to see first-hand how it runs and so that she can talk to a cross-segment of the riders.

      The primary point of SBS is to speed up service on busy bus lines, and one of the ways that’s done is by reducing the number of bus stops. While the people who use the stops that are no longer served by SBS are obviously hurt by this change, the other people riding the bus past them are helped. It’s a tradeoff, and the benefits and disbenefits need to be weighed for each one. Simply adding every stop that everybody asks for is a very bad idea.

      It is not the MTA’s place to “correct” your request. You may request whatever you wish to request. But the better informed your requests are, the more likely they are to be taken seriously.

      There were many public meetings and hearings over the years leading up to B44 SBS implementation, and of course comments were also being accepted by letter and email. It was an extremely public process. The MTA was certainly not keeping its SBS plans secret, and it’s been in the press for years. Anybody who was taken completely by surprise when it started was simply not paying attention. The MTA has certainly not been ignoring public comment since the service started, but it takes time to analyze the impacts of permanent changes, and the third day of the service is perhaps not the best time to be requesting them. Now that the service is several months in, you’ve probably seen that some changes are being made.

      • sonicboy678

        Unfortunately, one of the problems with the service has literally resulted in very few passengers for a considerable stretch.

  • Pingback: Sheepshead Bites » Blog Archive MTA To Change B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) Following Pressure From Local Pols » Sheepshead Bay News Blog

  • Pingback: MTA Incompetently Operating B44 And B36 Buses: Part 1 Of 2 | MetroTransitBlog - MTA News, alerts, and real-time bus & train info. | MetroTransitBlog – MTA News, alerts, and real-time bus & train info.