Archive for the tag 'the commute'

The B44 SBS debuts along Nostrand Avenue. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The B44 SBS. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: During its first week of operation, the B44 SBS was widely criticized by former B44 Limited riders for eliminated stops, unreliable, overcrowded and delayed local bus service, inadequate public information regarding the route change and longer walks to SBS stops. I covered these criticisms in my SBS series (parts 1, 2, and 3).

MTA apologists refused to hold the MTA accountable, claiming that these initial problems would be overcome as the MTA would make needed adjustments quickly. That would result in a route that would be better utilized because it would be quicker and reliable, saving time for most riders. The problem I have is we will never know that for sure since only data that supports the MTA’s success story will be shared.

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Weird anti-jay walking propaganda. Source: Wikipedia

Weird anti-jay walking propaganda. Source: Wikipedia

THE COMMUTE: This column focuses primarily on buses and subways, although we also cover issues of interest to motorists. We have discussed air travel several times, as well as transit in other cities. One subject we have not touched upon is the pedestrian. We all are pedestrians at one time or another, unless you use a scooter to get around. We have ignored pedestrians thus far because websites such as Streetsblog vehemently advocate for the rights of pedestrians and cyclists while other than chat groups, there are few if any sites advocating for bus or subway riders.

Pedestrian Safety

During the past several weeks, there has been a surge of pedestrian deaths on the Upper West Side as well as a bicycle fatality in Harlem. In fact, it seems like every day we hear of another vehicle going out of control or a pedestrian death somewhere in the city. So what is going on and what is the city doing in an effort to curb pedestrian deaths? Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan for Vision Zero, which would reduce pedestrian deaths. The plan includes more cameras, which I have no problem with, as long as safety remains the prime focus and not revenue. When anticipated revenue from cameras becomes part of following year’s budget, then we have a problem.

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A passenger languishes in frigid conditions while hoping to board a B1 or B49 bus. Source: Dav1d / Flickr

A passenger languishes in frigid conditions while hoping to board a B1 or B49 bus. Source: Dav1d / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: The ongoing problem of the B1 and B49 bypassing intending passengers while school is in session, which I have mentioned many times before, took no vacation during the recent Polar Vortex. I know I sound like a broken record, but I will continue complaining until something is done. The reason this practice continues is because passengers just accept it as normal operating practice and do not complain. Others believe their complaints will fall on deaf ears, so what’s the use? However, complaining does get results. The MTA, like other agencies and companies, use complaints to measure how they are doing.

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Polly Trottenberg, the city's new DOT commissioner.

Polly Trottenberg, the city’s new DOT commissioner. Source: Transportation for America / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: On the day before he took office, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was appointing Polly Trottenberg as Transportation Commissioner. She replaced the controversial Janette Sadik-Khan who held the position for the past six years.

Trottenberg was the under secretary for policy at federal DOT for the past year and assistant secretary for policy for the three years prior. She was a former aide to U.S. senators for 12 years. She worked for Charles Schumer and Daniel Moynihan, and Barbara Boxer of California (who graduated from the same Brooklyn high school as Marty Markowitz four years earlier). You can read more of Trottenberg’s resume here and here.

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The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round... Source: Lempkin / Flickr

Source: Lempkin / Flickr

THE COMMUTEThe Commute is now three years old. A year has past since we reflected on 2012. We looked ahead to 2013 and asked if the MTA will start allowing transfers between local, limited and SBS routes as well as a second transfer by the time the B44 Select Bus Service launches. That, of course, did not happen.

Select Bus Service (SBS) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

However, SBS was the biggest story of the year for Sheepshead Bay as Brooklyn’s first SBS route began operation on November 17.  We followed that story with three more about SBS where we looked at initial reviews in three parts: 1, 2, and 3.  Earlier in the year, we did another three-part series about SBS: Part 1,  and Parts 2 and 3 where we asked What Happened to Democracy? We even looked at Bus Rapid Transit in the Capital District upstate.

Keep reading The Commute’s year-end wrap up.

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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Source: MovieClips

Source: MovieClips

THE COMMUTE: Last week, Sheepshead Bites reported on legislation being considered by the City Council to lower the speed limit on city residential streets narrower than 60 feet wide from 30 mph to 25 mph. It is a compromise to legislation proposed by City Councilmember David Greenfield to lower the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph. The City Council is currently revising the language of the law, which they hope to enact before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office.

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Photo by Lucas Berrini / Flickr

Photo by Lucas Berrini / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: This is the fourth year the MTA has performed a customer satisfaction survey in this format. I criticized past surveys for faulty methodology, not asking enough questions related to service, and too many about the riding environment. Rather than summarizing statistics as I did last year, I will make a few observations since there is little change since the previous survey. You can read my past reviews from 2012, 2011 and 2010 because those criticisms still apply to this year’s survey, which is still mostly meaningless.

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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 COMMUTE: This week we are taking another look at the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). On Monday we discussed major problems thus far: confusion, not enough SBS stops, and inadequate service on New York Avenue. We discussed actions taken by some local elected officials. Yesterday we shared some rider and operator reviews gathered from an email, the media, and transit discussion groups on the internet. Today we will share a few more reviews and draw some conclusions.

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The B44 SBS debuts along Nostrand Avenue. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The B44 SBS debuts along Nostrand Avenue. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Yesterday, in Part 1, we provided some media coverage from NewsChannel 12 and NY 1 showing rider frustrations with the new B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). That is not to say that everyone is unhappy about it. As I predicted, those traveling long distances who can make use of the SBS stops will save time and be pleased. You can never please everybody. The question remains: Will more riders be helped or hurt by this new service?

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