Archive for the tag 'opinions'

Source: bjoele / Flickr

Source: bjoele / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: The major news is the new state budget, which includes a $30 million raid on transit funds approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It could have been worse. The original proposed budget requested $40 million of transit funds to be used instead, to pay off the debt for MTA bonds, a responsibility of the state, not the MTA.

As reported in 2011, the governor is “No Friend of Transit.” Equally disturbing is MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast’s statement to the press that “Our needs are being met” in this Daily News article. Gene Russianoff of the Straphanger’s Campaign also criticized Prendergast for not taking a stronger position against the raid.

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A familiar sight: Next bus please! (Source: afagen/Flickr)

THE COMMUTE: By now you have heard that subway ridership in New York City has reached a 65-year high. Why has nothing has been said about local bus ridership? It is because as subway ridership keeps rising, local bus ridership is on the decline, only stabilizing in recent years.

It is too early to tell if the trend has reversed, or if increasing numbers of riders are choosing the subway but not the bus. Many are willing to walk extra and take indirect subway trips to Downtown Brooklyn to avoid a bus because the train is quicker and more reliable. You are also less likely to encounter a major subway delay than a major bus delay. I believe you have about a 10 percent chance of experiencing a major subway delay of, let’s say, 30 minutes or more. It is more like a 33 percent chance for a major bus delay. You can expect at least a 10-minute bus delay about half the time. Yes, those are my less-than-scientific estimates. Feel free to disagree.

The MTA will acknowledge that subways are quicker and more reliable. They attribute the slowness of buses entirely to traffic and the recent slight increases in bus ridership to Select Bus Service (SBS). They are now pushing SBS at full speed, aiming for seven new routes within the next five years although the jury is still out on the B44 SBS. This link has more of a description of how the new funding will be spent and a link to the source materials is provided at the bottom. The MTA would also have you believe that these SBS routes and a few new local bus routes operating at 30-minute intervals is all the MTA has to do to keep up with future needs.

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Source: _chrisUK/Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: Since the snow and ice evaporated, most drivers probably assumed maneuvering along city streets would be trouble-free. But now they have to deal with another aggravating upshot generated by this year’s severe weather — a plague of potholes. They’re not nearly as harsh as the 10 plagues God smite on the Egyptians in Exodus, but the proliferation of gaps and fissures in the pavement are, nonetheless, plentiful and problematical.

Under ordinary conditions the city’s roads are rough enough, but after two months of wicked weather and frigid temperatures, those thoroughfares have taken a licking and keep on cracking, creating one final winter souvenir — an obstacle course that scars our streets. Drivers who don’t avoid those fissures typically experience unnerving jolts or, worse, costly vehicle damage.

The only roads likely to be worse than our pothole-peppered streets may be those pitted with bomb craters in war-torn Afghanistan.

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Source: Francisco Daum / Flickr

Source: Francisco Daum / Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: It’s time to change — the time.

Daylight Saving Time (DST), the seasonal hourly change, commenced at 2:00 a.m. this past Sunday. Clocks, watches and other timekeeping devices, including computers and home video units, had to be reset one hour ahead — essentially shifting an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening until the first Sunday in November.

For those of you directionally dazed when it comes to fiddling with your timepieces, just remember — you ‘spring’ forward and ‘fall’ back.

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The F train rumbles into the Smith-9th Street station. Source: Emily Kay Bachman / Flickr

The F train rumbles into the Smith-9th Street station. Source: Emily Kay Bachman / Flickr

Allan Rosen is on vacation this week. Filling in for him is John Rozankowski, Ph.D., a long-time community activist with a keen interest in mass transit issues, who has contributed to Sheepshead Bites in the past.

THE COMMUTE: Once again I have the pleasure of filling-in for Allan Rosen, who is on vacation again. Isn’t he the lucky one? I’m John Rozankowski, author of “Bring On the Express – Nighttime.”

In his State of the MTA speech on March 3, 2008, MTA CEO Lee Sander said:

“The MTA network’s 55 miles of underused middle track on elevated subway lines also represent a tremendous opportunity that we must exploit. These lines, primarily in Brooklyn and the Bronx, might enable additional express services to be operated, shortening travel times between these boroughs and the Manhattan core.”

Ridership has been surging to heights unknown since the early 1950s and spreading throughout the daytime hours. On many lines, rush hour is really all-day and most of the evening. Most lines are running at capacity and trains are crushingly overcrowded.

More express service is the only feature that can make subway travel more bearable and more attractive. It’s more than saving time. It’s more than reducing the tedious boredom of too many stops as it is at night. Express service redistributes passenger loads more efficiently with benefits both to riders and the operators.

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Photo by Roman Kruglov

BETWEEN THE LINES: New Yorkers warmly embraced a balmy weekend that likely thawed their chilled bodies and spirits. However, the forecast isn’t pleasant and looks like we’re in for Frigid Winter, Part Two. [Ed. – It was snowing all morning. We need this like we need holes in our heads.]

No sooner did Mother Nature tease us with a brief respite, with temperatures topping 50 degrees for three consecutive days, than we were alerted to a cold air mass heading south that will return temperatures below-freezing by mid-week.

Temperatures reached a high over the weekend not seen since it was a 55 on January 5, 2014 the day before the mercury nose-dived to a record low five degrees and frequently remained below freezing for the next six weeks.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Source: Stephen Nessen / Flickr

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Source: Stephen Nessen / Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: With possibly the worst storm of the season, packed with heavy snow, sleet and rain racing up the East Coast, flights were grounded and government offices to the south of the city closed, but late last Wednesday Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Education (DOE) decided that public schools would open the following day. Hours earlier, severe winter storm warnings and advisories had been issued from Georgia to Maine, with thousands of school districts closed ahead of the storm’s leading edge. But New York City parents went to bed dazed and confused, because public school students were expected to be in school Thursday morning.

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The Fab Four -- John, Paul, George and Ringo -- arrive in America at JFK. Source: Wikipedia

The Fab Four — John, Paul, George and Ringo — arrive in America at JFK. Source: Wikipedia

BETWEEN THE LINES: This past Sunday night, February 9, marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” A record 73 million Americans — more than a third of the U.S. population and considerably higher than the first Super Bowl TV audience three years later — tuned in. Some were habitual viewers of the popular weekly variety show. A sizable segment, no doubt, watched just to see what the fuss about four British lads was. But many viewers, largely pre-teen and teenage girls, were a legion of keyed up devotees, aware of the ruckus since the Liverpool quartet’s contagious pop songs became Top 40 radio staples in the weeks before their groundbreaking, two-set performance.

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Bring On The Express


Source: Bill Sweeney / Flickr

Source: Bill Sweeney / Flickr

Allan Rosen is on vacation this week. Filling in for him is John Rozankowski, Ph.D., a long-time community activist with a keen interest in mass transit issues, who has contributed to Sheepshead Bites in the past.

THE COMMUTE: Frequently, when the subject of express service is discussed, MTA officials love to point out that other cities don’t have it. When the F train was re-routed to 63rd Street and the V train took over its original run via 53rd Street (2001), MTA spokesperson Paul Fleuranges indicated this and added that “New Yorkers are spoiled (by express service).”

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The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTEOn Friday, Mayor Bloomberg and the press took a ride on the 7 extension to 34th Street, although the line is still six months away from completion. He was hoping to have it finished before he left office. He failed, but received the press coverage he desired.

The M42 bus branch to 34th Street was discontinued in 2010 due to a lack of ridership. So what do we do when there is inadequate demand for bus service? We build a new subway instead, of course. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

The subway was not extended to meet existing demand but to stimulate real estate development for the Hudson Yards project. The mayor pointed out that was how it was done in the old days. First you built the rapid transit line, and that encouraged development. Not the other way around, building subways as a response to development. The subway was not extended for the benefit of subway riders, like the Second Avenue Line, which will relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue line. It was extended to help Bloomberg’s millionaire developer friends get even richer.

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