Archive for the tag 'buses'

MetroCard machine don't want your money

Heads up to anyone who might be riding the subway late tonight with a MetroCard that’s low on funds — you better have some cash on you, just in case.

All MetroCard vending machines will experience an outage because of a system upgrade on Saturday, October 25 from 2-6am, during which time no credit or debit card purchase will be accepted. You can still use cash, though.

The MTA says they expect the system to be back up and accepting cards no later than 6am.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

THE COMMUTE: New Yorkers must wait until 2023 for the completion of East Side Access, a project that will improve LIRR access to Manhattan, free up trackage at Penn Station to improve rail service to the Northeast Bronx, but degrade LIRR service for Brooklynites. It is a project first conceived in the 1950s and will have taken 70 years to complete by the time it opens. Its budget, originally $4.3 billion, now exceeds $10.8 billion. The scaled back Fulton Transit Center, a project costing $4.2 billion $1.4 billion is also way behind schedule and should finally be fully completed in December of this year.

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Click to enlarge

THE COMMUTE: In parts 1 and 2, we specifically discussed routing deficiencies in Brooklyn and hinted at similar deficiencies in Staten Island and Queens that are even more severe. This week, we will discuss…

Routing Problems In Borough Park And Bensonhurst Go Back To The 1940s!

There has been a need for through Fort Hamilton Parkway and 13th Avenue routes since the 1940s. Instead, one route fulfills the need for two. However, there was an obstacle that prevented a through 13th Avenue route. There was no bridge over the Sea Beach cut at 62nd Street until 1937, which separated the two portions of 13th Avenue. A trolley line operated over the former B1 route along 86th Street, 13th Avenue and Bay Ridge Avenue to access the ferry to Manhattan since the 1890s. The B16 bus route was added in the early 1930s along Fort Parkway and 13th Avenue to Ocean Avenue, a logical route back then. Israel Zion Hospital, a small institution located at 49th Street and 10th Avenue, did not require a north-south bus route. However, during the last 70 years it has greatly expanded, serving all of southern Brooklyn and changed its name to Maimonides Medical Center. Still, it has no north-south bus service.

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An old bus map, clearly a relic from the Cenozoic era. Photo by Allan Rosen

An old bus map, clearly a relic from the Cenozoic era. Photo by Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

THE COMMUTE: Last week, we discussed bus routing inefficiencies in Sheepshead Bay. I am going to venture a guess that Sheepshead Bay residents have a need to leave the area on occasion (although Ned may disagree) and are interested in routing deficiencies in our adjacent neighborhoods.

The Bus Routing System Was Never Planned

Many of the routing problems exist today because the bus system just incrementally developed over time by route combinations and extensions and absorption of former trolley lines. This is what caused today’s inefficient and indirect bus routing. In fact, while doing research for my Master’s thesis, I learned that when the B21 was created in 1946, bus riders protested in front of Coney Island Hospital on the first day, that the new route did not meet their needs.

Yet it remained in place for 32 more years, and if not for me it may have still been in existence today, 68 years later not serving our needs. More likely, had it not been incorporated into the present B1 and B4, it would have either been discontinued without a replacement or else become a shuttle route between Ocean Parkway and Kingsborough Community College, thus reducing mobility even further.

Other areas still have non-functioning routes, such as the B21. That is because the MTA does not do comprehensive bus studies, because the ones they have done in the past failed due to their unwillingness to compromise with communities. It was always the MTA’s way or the highway. Only recently have they restarted that effort with studies in Co-Op City and Northeast Queens at the behest of local elected officials.

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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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Source: Wikimedia Commons

A B44 bus was taken out of service last Monday after a rider claimed to spot bedbugs on a fellow passenger.

According to the Daily News:

The bus was sent back to the depot so it could be “treated” by the MTA’s pest-control contractor, but no bedbugs were found in the vehicle, said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. He could not say where the Brooklyn bus was along the route, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay, when the frenzy struck.

The paper reports that the Monday bug sighting prompted a mass exodus of riders off that bus.

It’s just one of the latest spottings in a rash of bedbug related incidents at the MTA. The Daily News, which is serving as the city’s preeminent outlet for bedbug reports, says that there have been at least 21 incidents in recent weeks, including three sightings on the Q train was well as in the locker rooms of N and Q line motormen.

Local pols are calling on the MTA to notify riders of possible infestations within 24 hours of a sighting.

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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Photo by Allan Rosen

Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Street signage is as old as New York, first appearing on the sides of buildings, usually in white letters on a dark blue background. It also appeared early on in rural areas at intersections atop a small pole in a crisscross fashion in white on blue or with black lettering on a white background. All signs were in uppercase block letters and were meant to be easily read by pedestrians and by drivers and passengers in slow-moving or stopped vehicles.

The signs affixed to the buildings were gradually replaced by signs on poles, placed at right angles in heavily populated areas. (That probably explains how the Gravesend sign in the lead picture escaped DOT’s eye in 1970.) As more vehicles used the roadways, more signs were affixed to the taller street lights to be more easily seen from larger vehicles such as trucks and buses.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, some street signs also displayed the street name you were on in a little oval above the name of the intersecting street. Some cities also showed the address numbers on the block under the street name. That never really caught on in New York City.

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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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