Archive for the tag 'select bus service'

The glorious, old Penn Station, before it was demolished to make room for the hideous monstrosity we know today. Source: Wikipedia

The glorious, old Penn Station, before it was demolished to make room for the hideous monstrosity we know today. Source: Wikipedia

THE COMMUTE: Much of what I was taught in school was either useless or not true. I spent several years studying algebra, which I actually liked, but only had occasion to use it about six times in the 46 years since I graduated high school. Meanwhile, no one ever taught me stuff I need to know in life, such as how to pick a fresh mango. The fruit lady near where I used to work would reject a half a dozen mangoes before choosing the perfect one for me. I should have asked her for her secret.

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“This MTA budget not only lacks accountability, but is also most certainly not elementary, my dear Dr. Watson!” Source: The Gentleman Blog

THE COMMUTE: This can only happen in government. Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that he is making $358 million more available for the MTA in next year’s operating budget. The following week, the MTA announces it is deciding how to spend the new $40 million it will be receiving, while other analysts are claiming the amount is closer to $20 million. Just as the governor’s “new” money can disappear in only one week, so can the additional monies raised by a fare increase. Is it any wonder why transit riders and taxpayers are so frustrated?

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Thomas F. Prendergast, new MTA chairman and former president of MTA New York City Transit (center) speaks to the press. Source: Patrick Cashin for the MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: It was announced on Friday that, after 100 days without a permanent chairman, the former head of New York City Transit, Thomas Prendergast, who had been sharing the responsibilities with Fernando Ferrer, has been named the sole MTA Chairman and CEO. That is good news. We finally have someone who knows the system. We don’t have to give on-the-job training to a real estate mogul, someone whose primary credentials are finances (i.e. the past two chairmen), or a former transit head from another city. We all know that New York is not like any other major city and its transportation system and needs are unique. Continue Reading »

The Jackie Gleason Bus Depot. Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTE: Governor Andrew Cuomo, who I once said was “not a friend of public transit“ after he cut MTA funding, now has increased MTA funding by $358 million in the 2013/14 fiscal year budget. The question is what will the MTA do with this money? There are several alternatives. The MTA could:

  1. Return subway service crowding guidelines to what they were prior to the 2010 service cuts, thereby increasing subway service and reducing overcrowding.
  2. Restore all the 2010 bus service cuts. Some cuts may have been justified, but the MTA data presented at the time never conclusively proved that was the case. Routes with low ridership were eliminated, such as the B71 in Park Slope, when there were no suitable alternatives.
  3. Finally restructure the bus system to reflect land use changes made during the past 70 years. In many areas, needed bus route changes were never made because the MTA claimed they could not afford the added operational costs. Changes — such as the ones I mentioned here. I say “claimed,” because the MTA never considered increased revenue that would result from improved services, always assuming that additional service would not result in additional ridership or revenue.
  4. Provide new bus routes or extensions at minimal 30-minute service levels, attracting very new few riders.
  5. Provide managerial increases to managers who have not received a raise in five years and also not insist on a zero wage increase contract for the TWU.

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THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, we discussed why it is too late to change the proposed B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). In Part 2, we discussed why the B44 SBS is different from the other SBS routes. In this final part we will answer the question posed above. It is not such a simple question to find an answer for.

If you go to the MTA home page on the weekend, you first have to find and click on the “MTA Home” tab. It is in small print in the upper right hand corner in dark grey on a black background and not very obvious. During the rest of the week this step is not necessary. Next, you must click on the tab “MTA Info” in the top center. Then you click on “Planning Studies” on the left side of the page. Following that, you click on “Select Bus Service.” Then, on “Current and Planned SBS Routes.” And finally, on “Nostrand Ave SBS.” That’s six transfers. Couldn’t the MTA have made finding information about SBS on the web a bit easier instead of it being so cryptic?
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THE COMMUTE: (Here is Part 1 from last week). The B44 is different from other Select Bus Service (SBS) routes because the SBS will not take the same route as the local. It will utilize Rogers Avenue northbound instead of New York Avenue, making it more difficult to access Kings County Hospital. It will also provide a glut of northbound bus service on Rogers Avenue while cutting New York Avenue service by 50 percent.

Another difference is that it will not use all articulated buses as the M15 and Bx12 do, or all standard length buses as the S79 and S78 do. The B44 SBS will use the longer articulated buses, but the locals will continue to use the standard length buses, as last proposed. Wouldn’t that mean there should be more locals than SBS buses on the B44? The MTA does not think so.

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THE COMMUTE: According to Theresa Scavo, chairperson of Community Board 15, the MTA stated that it is now too late to request additional stops to the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) because maps have already been printed. She made that announcement at this month’s Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) meeting. She also stated that the board is still fighting the reduction in available parking spaces. However, that is the least of the problems this route will cause.

If it is too late to add an SBS stop at Avenue R, a likely assumption would be that it is also too late to change the route as I recommended back in 2011. I suggested that the southern portion of the B44 SBS terminate off-route at the Sheepshead Bay station instead of at Knapp Street and Voorhies Avenue, using Avenue Z to get to the station supplementing B36 service.

Whether you agree with me or not is not really important now. What is important is that I received assurances from the MTA Project Director Ted Orosz at the last B44 SBS Workshop that he would investigate my suggestion and get back to me in three months. He also stated that if they agreed that it was feasible to do, and it was something the community wanted, they would change their plans. He never investigated it, nor got back to me as promised.

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A screenshot of the MTA’s BusTrek website, currently under development by the City College of New York’s MTA Intern Team. Click to enlarge

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.

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MTA New York City Transit employees load subway cars onto flatbed trucks for transportation to the Rockaway Peninsula. Source: MTAPhotos / Flickr

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.

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Democracy was in action at Sheepshead Bites’ Transit Town Hall last year, where the B4 and SBS were discussed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen every day. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

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.

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