THE COMMUTE: Last week, I began discussing why the MTA is responsible for transit being the last resort for many while at the same time asking residents to leave their cars at home and choose transit. We discussed unnecessary crowding on the subways, and extra long waits for buses. I left off by giving an example of how, after waiting an unusually long period for a bus, the MTA makes you wait even longer by instructing drivers with one or two standees to not stop to pick up intending passengers.
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It’s not the first time we’ve asked that question, and the answer we’ve gotten in the past from readers and local officials is “No.”
Yet, following the mid-July meeting between Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Department of Sanitation Borough Superintendent Joe Lupo, in which the pol said Lupo agreed “immediate action needs to be taken,” it seems the only action taken so far is the removal of a handful of public litter baskets.
There’s this one at Avenue Z and East 17th Street that we were keeping an eye on. It was overflowing the day Cymbrowitz had his meeting, and despite the “immediate action” it stayed overflowing for nearly a week, with debris blowing into the intersection.
And then when they finally emptied it, they took the can away as well:
And while people who would normally litter continue to litter, those who are responsible are the ones burdened by the removal of these trash cans.
“Had to carry doggy poop for blocks because apparently their solution to the overflowing garbage situation was to remove the garbage can,” the reader who submitted the above photo said.
We also noticed fewer cans on Sheepshead Bay Road.
Now, we have shown in the past that removing a bin can lead to less litter on a corner, but more pickups would have the same effect without inconveniencing anybody.
And before we hear this “budget cut” nonsense, it’s worth noting that except for one year, the budget of the Department of Sanitation has increased every year for the past five years. Womp womp.
THE COMMUTE: It’s a last resort, because the MTA makes it that way.
It’s just another example of MTA hypocrisy. Tell people to leave their car at home and use mass transit whenever possible, yet do little to make transit more enticing, such as opening closed station entrances. Most passengers use mass transit because they have no other choice. If your trip is too far for it to be comfortable to walk or cycle, your remaining choices — if you don’t have access to an automobile — are cab or car service, of if you do, the car or a bus. Taxis are prohibitively expensive for one person making a long trip. Express buses are limited in their destinations and are also not cheap. If parking is scarce near your destination or is prohibitively expensive, then the subway and or local, limited or Select Bus Service (SBS) are the only choices left. It is the choice of last resort for most. Few make the decision to leave their car at home if parking is not a problem. Why?
THE COMMUTE: Continuing from last week, the fare in Toronto was $3 a ride with transfers. Seniors pay $2. There are discounts when purchasing multiple tokens and tickets as well as weekly and monthly plans. We chose the $11 daily pass, which, by the way, is transferable after the first person is no longer using it. The pass can be shared by more than one person on weekends. We used four trains and at least six different streets cars so we got our money’s worth.
THE COMMUTE: I recently came back home from a week-long vacation in Niagara Falls and Toronto, Canada. I also stopped off on the way back in Albany and Kingston, New York. I will spare you the hundreds of photos and videos of Niagara Falls, and will concentrate only on the transit- and transportation-related aspects of the trip.
THE COMMUTE: On June 23rd, I wrote how there were unacceptable gaps in bus service on the B1 and B49 at the same time on a recent Sunday afternoon. Wondering if this was just a fluke or a regular occurrence, I decided to check Bus Time on the previous Sunday, June 22, after I boarded a B1 bus eastbound at Coney Island Avenue without any wait and noticed a second B1 right behind it. This is what I uncovered.
Oh, the struggles of life in Sheepshead Bay. A beautiful waterfront. A glut of mass transit options. Prideful mom-and-pop businesses lining the commercial streets.
Sounds like hell, right? That’s the way some residents make it sound. If I had a nickel for every time a reader has told me we need one corporate franchise eatery or another – Starbucks! Outback Steakhouse! Red F’ing Mango! – I’d have enough nickels to give up this journalism racket, open up a 7-Eleven, a shove taquitos down everyone’s face-hole while yelling “ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? ARE YOU?!”
The latest is this open letter by Sheepshead Bay resident DJ Alex Edge to Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer. Edge has just finished up Meyer’s book, “Setting the Table” and it made him hungry for a “beautiful cheese drenched Shake Shake [sic] double.” But Manhattan is oh-so-far. Forty freakin’ minutes!
Rather than take the hike to the bland, corporate Disneyland that is Manhattan, Edge goes for the more dignified approach. He begged… and gave the finger to Sheepshead Bay’s existing dining options.
I am not sure why but my neighborhood is pilfered with hundreds of sushi joints, Turkish shish kebab eateries, and Russian dens filled with lavish French delicacies. Even though I am from the part of the world that enjoys a good plate of caviar, I am a simple fellow Danny. One who enjoys a great burger that’s cooked just right. A burger that’s served with a generous amount of fries, a perfect smidgen of sauce and a smile that’s ripped right out of the pages of your hunger inducing book.
Hey, man. I’m all in agreement that the Bay would benefit from more variety, but our Russian dens and Turkish eateries are the tops, and the sushi joints… well, at least they’re cheap.
Anyway, Edge goes on to provide three reasons why Shake Shack should set up shop in Southern Brooklyn sooner rather than later. Which, quite honestly, are mostly good reasons for almost any business to be getting into the game down here:
- Coney Island. The same iconic Coney Island that has been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. As much as Coney Island recovered from the destruction, imagine the impact you can have on the community when you build the ultimate family destination for delicious food. The number of jobs such an enterprise would create. The amount of positive PR and feedback it can generate for your brand and the area in general.
- Frozen Custard. As I’m sure you know Danny, frozen custard was invented in Coney Island by two smart fellows, Archie and Elton Kohr. What better way to honor the memory of these two beautiful geniuses than by slinging frozen custard in the land of it’s forefathers.
- The Timing. Yes, Danny as you can tell by now I read your book carefully. The timing for this is perfect. Where 20 years ago something like this would never be possible, the amount of people who crave a better product in our area is huge. I see it every day. The sad sunk in faces of young couples consuming sushi. A family of four pretending to love a gyro. Come on. We all know a gyro doesn’t come close to the satisfaction of a burger.
I don’t know, man. I like my gyros. And the sushi… well, at least it’s cheap.
What do you think? Does Sheepshead Bay need a Shake Shack? Or would we do better to see a homegrown burger joint come into its own and take over the rest of the city?
THE COMMUTE: While recently attending Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s site visit at Avenue R and Nostrand Avenue, in an attempt to convince the MTA to convert the current local bus stop into a local bus stop that would accommodate Select Bus Service (SBS) buses as well, I took the opportunity to arrive one hour early to once again observe B44 SBS and local service. Last April, I documented a wait of 37 minutes for the local and 16 minutes for the SBS at the tail end of the morning rush hour at Avenue Z as well as extensive bus bunching with multiple buses arriving one after the other.
The staff of Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean wishes all its readers a happy and safe Independence Day, a.k.a., the holiday Ned likes to refer to as “the day the colonies outgrew their British britches and threw on some American denim.”
Whatever you may end up doing today — and from the look of the weather outside, going to the beach does not appear to be any of those things — please take a moment’s pause to consider the freedoms we Americans enjoy, particularly in contrast with other not-so-free nations, and let us be grateful to those who have sacrificed so much in order to ensure that we remain free.
Just a few reminders: On July 4, all subways, buses and the Staten Island railway operate on a Saturday schedule. There will be no alternate side of the street parking today, and no meters.
Stay safe and Happy Fourth everyone! We’ll be back on Monday.
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.