THE COMMUTE: For those who don’t know Yiddish, a “shonda” means a crying shame. That’s the only way I can think of describing the above picture showing an Adopt-A-Highway segment strewn with weeds and litter. It puts the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and Community Board 15 (CB 15) to shame, although I doubt that the community board is at fault. I could only wonder that if this is a highway beautification zone, how high would the weeds be and how much more litter would have accumulated if CB 15 had not paid to have this site “beautified.”
Archive for the tag 'nyc dot'
THE COMMUTE: In early 2012, we reported on confusing Department of Transportation (DOT) parking and traffic regulations and on confusing and outdated signage mentioning the taxi stand on Brighton Beach Avenue. That stand is not even listed in DOT’s database of taxi stands so apparently they are unaware of its existence.
In January 2013, DOT — realizing the problems with existing signage that were causing unnecessary confusion — unveiled a new format for parking regulatory signs, which shortly thereafter began to make their appearance in Manhattan. A consultant was hired who devised what you see here.
The first half of the conference addressed safety, both for transit employees as well as passengers. It is an issue that has been in the headlines recently and is a major concern for both parties.
The union implied that the number of passengers falling onto the tracks is increasing, stating that four people fell just during the past week. They did not mention their heavily criticized plan to slow down trains to make the subways safer. This issue was also not addressed further by the panelists.
Union officials mentioned that in 2010, there were the most service cuts ever, and also the most incidents of employee assaults. The question asked was: Is there a correlation between the 2010 service cuts and the rise in incidents of employee assaults?
The event was well-attended and the conference was run well, with time limits respected. There were some microphone issues, and the table was barely long enough to accommodate all seven panelists, with Thompson (seated at the far left) remarking about how little table he had.
Comptroller John Liu commented on bus schedules not being realistic. Although traffic is probably considered in developing schedules, I agree that many schedules are unrealistic. Insufficient consideration is given to heavy passenger loadings and to wheelchairs, both of which delay buses. If the schedule does not necessarily allow for it, a bus can lose up to 15 minutes or more on a single trip if more than one passenger in a wheelchair needs to be accommodated.
In response to the recent school bus driver strike, the moderator suggested that the MTA take over yellow school bus operations without any mention of the financial ramifications that it would cause. MTA workers are paid much more than school bus drivers and no revenue is obtained from the passengers, so such a move could be detrimental to the MTA’s finances without an increase in the city’s contribution to the MTA.
This was stated as a matter of fact — as something that just needs to be done. No candidate addressed that issue. There was little interaction between the panelists other than a slightly heated discussion between two participants regarding allowing non-medallion taxi street hails.
THE COMMUTE: Last Friday I attended a discussion held at the City University of New York with mayoral hopefuls Sal Albanese, Tom Allon, Adolpho Carrion (Allon and Carrion are both seeking the Republican nomination), Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, and Bill Thompson all in attendance. Former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, also seeking the Republican nomination, was not in attendance. The big question is: Why? This article sheds some light why he was not present.
The candidates answered most of the questions rather than sideswiping the issues, as we all too often see in political debates. One exception was the very first question about groping attacks on women in which the candidates used their time to make their opening remarks instead. The other questions asked of the panel were:
- Is there a correlation between the 2010 service cuts and the rise in incidents of employee assaults?
- New York City currently funds mass transit with .2 percent of its budget. As mayor, would you increase that funding amount to one percent?
- How would you reduce New York City’s carbon footprint?
There was a greater interest in improving and expanding bus service than subway service. Three candidates were in favor of building light rail and only Liu mentioned expanding the subway system in the long term. There was also much interest in ferries and the need to pay more attention to the outer boroughs.
THE COMMUTE: Regular readers of “The Commute” know that one of my favorite topics is bus bunching, because it has always been the number one concern of bus riders and very little is done to combat it. That may be changing. Most likely you have already heard about BusTime, but chances are you have not heard about BusTrek.
BusTime is the new GPS bus tracking system already in effect on the B61 (Columbia Street and Lorraine Street) and B63 (Fifth Avenue) routes in Brooklyn, and in all of the Bronx and Staten Island. It has been heavily publicized by the MTA as the way to know when the next bus is arriving. I have criticized the MTA because it will only be available to those who use smart phones, which excludes many seniors. The MTA scrapped plans to also install displays at bus shelters, informing passengers of the next arriving bus, as other cities such as Chicago do.
THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, I discussed the various Select Bus Service corridors presently in operation and how their success or lack thereof has not been adequately measured. In Part 2, I mentioned one corridor — Flatlands Avenue / Avenue P — that has not been selected where I believe there is significant potential for it to work well. I also discussed other corridors where it will just be a poor substitute for needed rail lines.
This is not a series against SBS. It works on Fordham Road, may work on Hylan Boulevard after it is fully implemented, and would work, if implemented where it is needed, on Flatlands Avenue. In Manhattan, the reaction has been mixed. It will not work well when not implemented in conjunction with necessary local bus reroutings. In the Nostrand Avenue corridor, the B44 SBS will result in a glut of unnecessary bus service on Rogers Avenue.
Alternate Side Parking rules will be suspended today, February 11, to facilitate snow removal and on Tuesday, February 12, and Wednesday, February 13, in observance of President Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday and Ash Wednesday.
Payment at parking meters will be in effect throughout the city on these days.
THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, I discussed what is wrong with Select Bus Service (SBS). Other than the case of Merrick Boulevard in Queens where it was defeated, SBS is being forced down our throats, whether we want it or not. As I stated last week, SBS has its place as part of a total transportation strategy, which includes the construction of new rapid transit lines and restructuring the bus system to make it more effective, neither of which the MTA is doing.
Restoring a few bus lines, adding a few new ones, and creating some SBS corridors is not a transportation strategy for future generations, nor does the overly expensive and prolonged construction of East Side Access and Fulton Transit Center — which will benefit a very small percentage of city residents and even fewer Brooklynites — encompass all needs. The MTA has stated in the past that until those projects and the Second Avenue Subway are completed, there will be no other major mass transit capital expenditures for system expansion. In other words, no new mass transit lines anywhere.
THE COMMUTE: Last week, I mentioned how the benefits of Select Bus Service (SBS) have been exaggerated and the disadvantages minimized, and how the MTA continues to push forward with additional proposed routes without performing proper evaluations of existing routes. I have also written several times about why the Nostrand Avenue corridor is the wrong choice for SBS. The issue goes much deeper than just the removal of a few parking spaces. That is not the reason I oppose it. SBS, or Bus Rapid Transit as it is called elsewhere, has its place as part of a coordinated transportation policy. However, in New York, we have no such policy. SBS is mostly being used as a substitute for not constructing new subway lines or reactivating existing rights of way. In this first part of a three-part series, I discuss SBS in greater detail.