MTA representative Andrew Inglesby responding to a request to add Avenue R as an SBS Bus Stop. Photo by Allan Rosen

MTA representative Andrew Inglesby responding to a request to add Avenue R as an SBS Bus Stop. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Since the elimination of B44 Limited service and initiation of the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) on November 17, 2013, bus riders using the Avenue R stop as well as some who previously walked along Nostrand Avenue from Quentin Road or Avenue S to take advantage of the faster Limited service, have been forced to rely on slower local bus service. It is not only the slower service that they find annoying, but the excessive waits for local buses they have been experiencing, up to 45 minutes.

A few riders had the opportunity to express their thoughts on the matter directly to the MTA this past Tuesday, as they met with Andrew Inglesby, assistant director of Government Affairs for MTA New York City Transit. Operations Planning and Road Operations also represented the MTA. Organized by Councilman Chaim Deutsch, the event was held from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. at the northbound Avenue R B44 local bus stop. In addition to Deutsch, Colin Mixson of his staff, and a half dozen invited bus riders, Councilman Alan Maisel and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein were also in attendance and quizzed those representing the MTA.

The attendees wanted to know why there is no SBS bus stop at that location when the closest SBS stops are a half-mile away at Avenue U and at Kings Highway, distances that are too great for many to walk. They claimed more people would use an Avenue R SBS bus stop than use the recently created SBS stop at Avenue L, which was requested by Deutsch and Councilman Jumaane Williams as well as Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs.

Inglesby, who claimed the number of transfers at Avenue L greatly exceeded those transferring from the two bus routes on Avenue R, disputed that. This reporter stated that not only riders near Avenue R would use an SBS bus stop, but passengers currently boarding at Avenue S and Quentin Road would also walk over to an SBS stop at Avenue R if one were created there. Also, that transferring passengers from the B100 should be counted along with B2 and B31 passengers.

Inglesby responded that even if transferring passengers from all three bus routes were counted, it still would not exceed the numbers of passengers transferring from the B9 at Avenue L. He also stated that of all the bus stops checked that were not SBS bus stops, passengers transferring at Gates Avenue and at Avenue L were the highest, and those stops already have been added. Other reasons precluding turning the current northbound local stop into an SBS stop is a residential driveway situated directly in front of the bus stop, which would have to be lengthened if converted to an SBS bus stop.

Responding to a question of why the nearside of the intersection could not be used instead, Inglesby cited trees as an obstacle to buses opening their doors. Weinstein stated that she is aware of other bus stops where there are trees. When asked about SBS buses arriving three at a time, Inglesby stated that the MTA was quite aware of service irregularities on the route and that they are working to address them. He also stated that additional local buses have been added to the route twice, once several weeks after inception, and again last April. When asked why the MTA website still shows a local bus schedule dated November 17th, 2013, he responded that he would look into that.

Not ready to give up, Deutsch requested a six-month trial for a new SBS stop to see how it works out and how many use it as well as another public hearing, whereupon bus riders could sound off about how they feel about the SBS and local bus service. Inglesby responded that the MTA does not do trials and is concerned about how to best serve the majority of its riders, which is the entire purpose behind the SBS service, which 97 percent of its riders approve. Inglesby was referring to initial passenger surveys of the M15 SBS in Manhattan. Official statistics regarding the B44 SBS have yet to be published.

Another public hearing was not ruled out and Inglesby stated it was not within his jurisdiction to recommend any additional bus stops. If Deutsch would like to take the matter further, he should write to the president.

I arrived at the bus stop one hour early and recorded arriving locals and SBS buses passing by. I will share my observations a week from today in the next Commute.

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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  • fdtutf

    The current B44 local schedule on the MTA Web site is dated June 29, 2014.

    This is not a correction; I’m just letting you (Allan) know that a new schedule has been posted now.

    • sonicboy678

      That’s still bad, however. Apparently, it took the MTA far longer to finally update the one bus schedule than it should have; this, however, is certainly not an isolated incident.

    • Allan Rosen

      Thanks for letting me know, but I bet it was a result of this meeting and Mr. Inglesby’s intervention. I checked on the day this article was submitted which was four days before publication and it still had not been posted. Good to know he kept his promise and did look into it.

      • Andrew

        Could be. Alternatively, it could be a result of the new bus pick that went in on June 29, when lots of online schedules were updated.

        • sonicboy678

          Which, if you ask me, is poor timing with updating a schedule.

        • Allan Rosen

          The MTA stated that buses were added a few weeks after implementation and again in April. If that is true, it had nothing to do with the June 29th pick or the schedule changed a third time. Anyway you look at it the posted schedule does not correspond with what the MTA claims they were running.

          • Andrew

            What you see on the website isn’t a timetable dated April that somebody forgot to post back then. It’s a timetable dated June 29, the effective date of the current pick, when many bus timetables were updated. My guess is that the April change was overlooked but that the June change would have been posted in any case.

            But if it makes you happier to take credit, be my guest.

          • Allan Rosen

            I am not trying to take credit for anything. I am just making the point that the MTA stated they added local buses several weeks after implementation when there is no proof they actually did that. Second, they are also claiming to have added local service again in April, and there is no proof they did that either. Once could have been overlooked. I just find it odd that it could have been overlooked twice. Something just doesn’t seem kosher here.

          • Andrew

            I am not trying to take credit for anything.

            Your language: “Thanks for letting me know, but I bet it was a result of this meeting and Mr. Inglesby’s intervention.” (Granted, you’re sharing the credit with Mr. Inglesby.)

            I am just making the point that the MTA stated they added local buses several weeks after implementation when there is no proof they actually did that.

            Perhaps you’re making that point now, but this is the first I’m seeing it. The point you were making on Wednesday was that the June 29 schedule was posted online because of the meeting, which I think is unlikely.

            Your new point is a strange one – where on earth would you expect to encounter that sort of proof?

            Second, they are also claiming to have added local service again in April, and there is no proof they did that either. Once could have been overlooked. I just find it odd that it could have been overlooked twice. Something just doesn’t seem kosher here.

            What was overlooked twice? Only the April schedule change was mistakenly not posted. The November/December increase wasn’t by schedule (it’s pretty obvious that there wasn’t enough time for that) – it was through wildcats on top of the base schedule.

          • Allan Rosen

            The MTA stated that because of complaints regarding inadequate local service, they added additional local trips a few weeks after impementation and then again in April. Now they released a new June schedule.

            As usual, the MTA is only telling half the truth. They did not add trips as they stated if you compare the November 2013 schedule to the June 2014 schedule. What they did was rearrange trips adding 12 trips a day from Avenue U, but they also cut Knapp Street local trips by 14 from 72 to 58. Local buses now leave Knapp Street every 16 or 20 minutes during the morning rush hour. There are only 11 local buses between 6 and 9 AM leaving Knapp Street.
            Before SBS, there were 35 Limited buses leaving Knapp Street during that time period. That is a two thirds cut in service for those using local stops south of Avenue U since SBS. So they are helping some while hurting others.

            They also stated they would be adding some local trips from Knapp

          • Allan Rosen

            They also stated they would be adding some local trips to the Bridge when the SBS was running, which they never did. That would have allowed transferring riders from Myrtle Avenue to ride to Bridge Plaza for one fare without having to walk to Flushing to make a transfer. That is why I don’t trust the MTA and I don’t automatically believe everything they tell us, because it is never the complete story but only what they want you to hear, which is sometimes misleading.

          • Andrew

            The MTA stated that because of complaints regarding inadequate local service, they added additional local trips a few weeks after impementation and then again in April. Now they released a new June schedule.

            As usual, the MTA is only telling half the truth. They did not add trips as they stated if you compare the November 2013 schedule to the June 2014 schedule. What they did was rearrange trips adding 12 trips a day from Avenue U, but they also cut Knapp Street local trips by 14 from 72 to 58. Local buses now leave Knapp Street every 16 or 20 minutes during the morn ing rush hour. There are only 11 local buses between 6 and 9 AM leaving Knapp Street.

            Before SBS, there were 35 Limited buses leaving Knapp Street during that time period. That is a two thirds cut in service for those using local stops south of Avenue U since SBS.

            I don’t have the November 2013 schedule handy, so I can’t confirm your count, but you’ve told us many, many times that you believe that there’s too much B44 service at the south end of the line. You also expressed concern over crowding on the local further north.

            Now that they’ve reduced service at the south end of the line and increased service further north, you’re still complaining.

            Some people are just hard to please, I guess.

            So they are helping some while hurting others.

            Of course! Any major bus service change will hurt some people. If the goal were to never, ever, under any circumstances hurt anyone, there wouldn’t be any service improvements either.

            The point of SBS was to improve service for most riders, not to improve service for every single one.

            They also stated they would be adding some local trips to the Bridge when the SBS was running, which they never did.

            I find that very hard to believe. Even before SBS, the local didn’t run to Broadway during the hours that the Limited operated. There was never a plan for the local to operate to Broadway, except overnight, when the SBS doesn’t run.

            If you think that someone at the MTA told you that there would be local service north of Flushing, then you misunderstood.

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  • Monte

    Do you see how empty that SBS 44 bus is , and it is a double bus……..is it necessary? I have waited on Ave Z and Nostrand going towards Sheepshead Bay and at least 2 SBS 44 buses pass pretty empty before a local B44 bus arrives.

    • Allan Rosen

      I already discussed this in a previous article. The double buses are necessary further north on the route especially when school is in session, but they are nearly empty south of Avenue U with an average of under 6 passengers per bus. I suggested an extending alternate buses to Kingsborough College on school days to make better use of of the double length buses, but the MTA just dismissed that idea out of hand.

    • Mistah George

      Those artic buses are specifically designated for the SBS. Every SBS line has them except the S79.

  • Subway Stinker

    Councilman Deutsch, do not vote in favor of changes to Alternate Side Rules. Although I own a car, I also care about dirty streets, and our neighborhood is very dirty. We are a community of slobs. Do not make it worse by letting autos block the streets until they get swept by the mechanical brooms, multiple times if needed. The proposed revision will be abused.

  • Carl

    The MTA could place the B44 northbound SBS bus stop at the southwest corner of Nostrand Avenue/Avenue R where no residential driveways are at. The B44 local route could also be moved to that location as well. The former B44 local stop at the northwest corner could then be utilized for parking spots in order to relocate some of the additional parking spaces from the southwest corner.

    • Allan Rosen

      The farside of the intersection is the northeast corner which has one driveway at 50 feet from the corner. The nearside of the intersection (southeast corner) has trees which the MTA clais would interfere with the rear door.

      • Carl

        CORECTED:The MTA could place the B44 northbound SBS bus stop at the southeast corner of Nostrand Avenue/Avenue R where no residential driveways are at. The B44 local route could also be moved to that location as well. The former B44 local stop at the northeast corner could then be utilized for parking spots in order to relocate some of the additional parking spaces from the southwest corner. I looked again at the Google Map and I guess they would have to remove about three to four trees.

        • Allan Rosen

          I never heard of removing trees for bus stops.

          • Andrew

            https://www.nycgovparks.org/pagefiles/53/Tree-Planting-Standards.pdf

            (I guess the standards have changed in the past 33 years.)

            While there are certainly plenty of preexisting tree pits in bus stops, there appears to be a deliberate attempt to apply the latest standards where feasible, especially on SBS. (The new bus bulbs north of the Junction do have plenty of trees, of course, but they’re a good distance from the curbline, where they won’t interfere with the boarding or exiting process.)

          • Allan Rosen

            But you didn’t answer the question. Have trees been removed to place SBS stops or were they just placed where there were no trees? It has nothing to do with any standards being changed.

          • Andrew

            But you didn’t answer the question.

            Pardon me for not answering a question on Thursday that you didn’t ask until Friday.

            Have trees been removed to place SBS stops or were they just placed where there were no trees?

            I have no idea. If I had to guess, I’d say that stops were preferentially placed where there were no trees, but where that wasn’t feasible, trees were removed. But that’s just a guess.

          • Allan Rosen

            Excuse me! I just thought you knew something and weren’t just guessing since you snidely stated that standards have changed in the past 33 years to imply that I don’t know what is going on today and you do. Obviously that isn’t true. Thanks for clarifying that.

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