Archive for the 'Opinion' Category

Passengers prepare to board the Q35 at Riis Park Beach en route to Flatbush Avenue. Source: Ryan Janek Wolowski | Flickr

Passengers prepare to board the Q35 at Riis Park Beach en route to Flatbush Avenue. Source: Ryan Janek Wolowski | Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Regular readers of The Commute know that my favorite topic is the need for better bus routes. I have written about this on numerous occasions. We also often hear about reliability issues, a subject we have also addressed.

The big push now by the MTA, the mayor, and New York City administrators is to greatly expand Select Bus Service (SBS), conceived more than 10 years ago, and first arriving in Brooklyn last year on the B44. The MTA recently sponsored a discussion at the Transit Museum about their plans to greatly expand SBS. I did not attend because I heard their spiel many times before. That SBS makes service better for everyone. Buses travel faster and everyone benefits. Ninety-nine percent of the SBS riders love it. We can’t afford to build any more subway lines (except in Manhattan, of course), so this is the answer for the next generation. I knew there would be no opportunity to challenge these claims.

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All photos by Allan Rosen

All photos by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Last week, we discussed the switch to condensed and light (or thin) font along with the switch from uppercase to uppercase and lowercase lettering. While uppercase and lowercase lettering may increase sign legibility of the street name, legibility of the street suffix often suffers if a two-line format is used. The switch to uppercase and lowercase was well publicized, but the switch to narrow and / or thin font was not.

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Click to enlarge. All photos by Allan Rosen

Click to enlarge. All photos by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Last week, we took a brief look at the history of New York City’s street signage, which, traditionally, has been all uppercase. Several years ago, studies were conducted that showed, supposedly, that the use of upper and lowercase lettering is more visible than uppercase. Perhaps since we now live in an internet society, in which the use of uppercase letters is considered tantamount to shouting, we made the switch to lowercase.

I do not believe that upper and lowercase letters are easier to read. There are several disadvantages to using upper and lowercase letters as opposed to all uppercase. This is especially true when using sans serif fonts. Sometimes lowercase i’s can appear to look like lowercase l’s if there is too small a space between the dot and the base of the letter. There is also no distinction between a capital I and a lowercase l. For example, in the name “Illinois,” you have what appears to be three of the same letter adjacent to one another.

These are minor problems. The biggest problem with using upper and lowercase letters within a constricted space, such as on a small sign, is that some of the letters go above and beneath the guidelines, meaning that a smaller-sized font must be used, and smaller fonts reduce visibility. The most important factor in determining visibility of a sign is not that the letters are uppercase, or uppercase and lowercase, but the size and width of the fonts.

Given the same size fonts and font widths, I don’t doubt that uppercase and lowercase fonts are more visible. However, a straight change from uppercase to uppercase and lowercase is not what the DOT has done. They also have switched from a regular font to a condensed or narrow font, making the newer signs less visible than the older signs — not more visible as originally promised.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Reader Mike N. wrote to point out what he believes is a waste of NYPD resources: catching fare-beaters on the Voorhies Avenue side of the Sheepshead Bay subway station.

Do you know that since the token booth, which became a non-selling booth, was removed from the Shore Parkway entrance, police stand at the other entrance watching the TV monitors, and when someone jumps a turnstile (no high gates here) they then walk up to the platform and surprise them with a ticket.

Often there are two to three officers watching at one time. Yes, it’s a violation to avoid a fare, but wouldn’t it be more prudent to put gate-style turnstiles that can’t be jumped at all unattended stations?

This would 100% solve the fare avoidance problem…however, it would stop the sweet flow of $105 tickets into the MTA coffers. And why are there no policemen ever stationed at the unattended turnstiles? Wouldn’t it make more sense for public safety to have officers where the ‘eyes and ears’ of the booth clerks are absent? (I know…the booth clerks aren’t much help).

Briefly, rather than the practical use of officers to guard an unwatched, potentially dangerous entry (I do understand that they technically are watching, but nobody sees them, so they do not deter crime), the officers are used to generate revenue.

It doesn’t sound like Mike believes the problem is going after fare beaters – who should be caught for stealing from all taxpayers. But he thinks the problem can be solved more easily and those NYPD resources redeployed for something more useful. What do you think?

Is there an issue you’d like to sound off about, or a problem you want to shed light on? E-mail editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com and we’ll consider publishing it!

The oft-embattled, unfairly treated subway photographer. Source: Joshua Todd / Flickr

The oft-embattled, unfairly treated subway photographer. Source: Joshua Todd / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: However, it is all the same to the MTA.

In using the transit system in New York, there are rules one must follow. When they are not followed, there are and should be ramifications. The rules, however, need to make sense; the process for fighting summonses needs to be a fair one, and the punishment should fit the crime. However, not all the rules make sense, the process is not fair, and the punishment is not always just. Worse yet, you can be fined or even arrested for doing nothing wrong and not breaking any rule or law, yet you can also be found guilty! That is just wrong.

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Allan Rosen... fighting since 2011 for our buses to look like this! Source: Don Brown Bus Sales

Allan Rosen… fighting since 2011 for our buses to look like this! Source: Don Brown Bus Sales

THE COMMUTE: In Parts 1, and 2, we discussed how the MTA could make subway and bus service more attractive so that it is not the choice of last resort. There should not be standees on the trains near midnight, and local buses need to be more reliable, among other measures. Yet there are still other reasons why many refuse to use buses and subways. It has to do with little concern for customer service and a lack of honesty on the part of the MTA. This leads to general distrust of the agency, in spite of all the hard work they do to keep the system up and running.

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And Allan Rosen thinks we have problems. Source: The Indian Express / Google Plus

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.

Photo by Vickie P.

Photo by Vickie P.

And then when they finally emptied it, they took the can away as well:

Submitted by reader.

Submitted by reader.

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.

Source: Allen81 / Flickr

Source: Allen81 / Flickr

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?

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WeGo Bus in Niagara Falls. All photos courtesy of Allan Rosen

WeGo Bus in Niagara Falls. All photos courtesy of Allan Rosen

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.

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