Archive for the tag 'transit'

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

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round… Source: Lempkin / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Last week, we discussed the MTA’s recent attempts to fix problems with the local bus system such as newly-designed routes that suffer from the same problems plaguing the rest of the system. An example is the B67 extension to the Navy Yard, which is circuitous and not conducive to transferring to other bus routes since it terminates short of Williamsburg Bridge Plaza. It misses vital bus connections and operates with extremely poor headways of 30 minutes. Yet, the MTA visualizes routes such as this as a partial solution to fixing gaps in the routing structure.

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Source: bebo2good1 / YouTube

Source: bebo2good1 / YouTube

THE COMMUTE: Last August, I critiqued the 23-page MTA planning outline, entitled “Looking Ahead.” Last week, the MTA released the full report — a 142-page “MTA Twenty-Year Capital Needs Assessment 2015-2034.” Most of my previous comments still apply. I will try not to repeat myself. Rather than summarize this document or critique it as others have already done, here and here, I will just mention where this ‘Needs Assessment’ is deficient.

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Source: Brendan Ross / Flickr

Source: Brendan Ross / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: This past week the MTA unveiled a series of progressive initiatives, including additional restorations of service that were cut in June 2010. Prior to those service reductions, the media paid little attention to them. The headlines mainly revolved around the MTA’s plan to cut student fares. It wasn’t until years later, when the impacts were fully felt, that public outcry began and service restorations were made. The first round included the return of the truncated portions of the B4 and B64 — which were not replaced by other routes — earlier this year.

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Should performers sanctioned by the MTA be subject to arrest for drawing a crowd? Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTETwo weeks ago, I reported on the TWU’s concern for rider and employee safety. However, according to Channel 2 News, instead of focusing on some of the problems regarding safety, such as the accuracy of crime statistics — a major concern among the prospective mayoral candidates — the transit police are endangering rider safety by arresting and jailing riders overnight for infractions that are usually dealt with by handing out summonses.

Have you ever walked between subway cars at the terminal in Brighton Beach? Not only should that not be illegal because it is not dangerous, it can subject you to a $75 fine or, worse yet, land you in jail. So don’t do it unless your life is in danger. However, that is not even the worst of it. When questioned by Channel 2 News, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had the audacity to defend the arresting officers, calling this a good police practice. And this man was actually asked to run for mayor?

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Be prepared to start adding more money to your MetroCard. Source: itp.nyu.edu

THE COMMUTE: Subway, bus, and railroad fares, as well as tolls for bridges and tunnels operated by the MTA, are all higher. The new subway and bus fare went into effect yesterday while the higher railroad fare took effect on Friday.

The new fare and toll prices can be found on links from the MTA’s home page. The base subway and bus fare is now $2.50 for a one way trip. Weekly and monthly unlimited passes are also higher. Are these higher fares and tolls fair? No. Were they necessary? You will have to decide that for yourself.

As mayoral candidate John Liu stated at the recent mayoral debate on transit issues, transit needs an ongoing revenue stream. As candidate Bill Thompson stated, we need to fund transit fairly, it needs to be more affordable and existing dollars need to be spent correctly. And as candidate Tom Allon stated, we need to think of more creative financing.

I couldn’t agree more with those statements.

In a previous article, I also asked the question: What’s A Fair Fare? I highlighted the need for a time-based fare rather than one that is vehicle-based and the need for free transfers between local, limited Select Buses, whereby those transfers do not preclude you from receiving a second transfer to another local, express bus or subway. The MTA must also re-institute its longstanding policy that service changes will not result in the necessity of extra fares.

We cannot continue to raise fares and tolls every two years or more frequently — it is not a long-term solution, especially when New Yorkers already pay for a higher portion of transit costs through the fare than any other major city. Sooner or later our elected officials will have to recognize that. I really have nothing more to say on the subject.

If you want to read more about what this new fare hike means to you, I suggest you read Ben Kabak’s article on Second Avenue Sagas.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Chicago’s version of Bus Time on its bus shelters. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: I previously wrote about the MTA’s bias against buses and their preference for the subways. Legible bus maps for all boroughs were not available until the early 1980s. Buses were harder hit than subways in the 2010 service cutbacks. However, perhaps the most obvious example is that, for 40 years, little has been done to solve the pervasive problem of bus bunching, the bus rider’s chief complaint.

Bus tracking systems have been promised since 1980 to remedy this problem. In fact, a trial system was installed around that time in the then-newly constructed Queens Village depot but was quickly dismantled due to union objections that “Big Brother” was watching. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) was more powerful back then and the MTA didn’t want to antagonize them, fearing a strike.

That system was not GPS-based and was referred to as a bus locator system — and it worked! It let managers know where buses were within a quarter-mile so they could be better regulated. Plans were underway to expand it system-wide to minimize bus bunching.

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Source: (vincent desjardins) / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: About a week before Hurricane Sandy, I got a delightful surprise in the form of an email from a senior MTA executive who worked at the Chicago Transit Authority earlier in his career complimenting me on my series, “A Tale of Two Cities: Chicago and New York.” [Part 1, Part 2]. He also corrected my erroneous hypothesis that, at one time, the Loop had more than two tracks. It appears that there were provisions for additional tracks, but they were never constructed.

Sometimes when you criticize, complain, or try to make suggestions, you get the impression that no one is listening, especially when facing a large bureaucracy. It is easy to forget that these bureaucracies are not objects, but human beings.

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In 2009, some riders dressed up to ride the nostalgia train. Hubba-hubba. (Photo by Allan Rosen)

THE COMMUTE: It’s time to take a break from cleaning Superstorm Sandy’s remains out of your basement. It’s time to forget your problems and take a brief, cheap vacation into the times of yesteryear by riding the Nostalgia Train.

Yes, the MTA has brought back this popular feature of the holiday season every Sunday from Thanksgiving to Christmas. You can board at the Second Avenue Station in Manhattan, where the train has a 20-minute layover making it easy to conveniently walk between cars to see the different cars in operation, and read and photograph all the old time advertisements.

You can also board at Queens Plaza or any station in between on the M line, where it operates. The train, however, does not linger at Queens Plaza. You have to get off and go to the Manhattan-bound platform for the trip back unless you are on the final trip of the day. In that case, you would have to take the E or the R back to Manhattan and transfer to a Brooklyn-bound train there.

In past years, there have been jazz bands and riders dressed in period costumes. This is a great family event and a fun time is had by all, those who remember riding these trains with the wicker seats and incandescent light bulbs and those for whom this is a new experience. Whatever you do, do not wait until the last minute. Since these trains only operate once a year and are maintained by volunteers, they are not in the best operating condition and can break down with some trips being canceled. So allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy this yearly event for the price of a subway fare. Next year it will cost more, and if you want to ride these old trains during other times of the year on other routes, other than from Grand Central to Yankee Stadium, you can expect to pay at least $40 per person for trips arranged by the New York Transit Museum.

So take advantage of this bargain while you can. You will find everyone in a festive holiday mood speaking to each other, unlike your typical morning commute. Here is the schedule and more details about the train.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Source: Antonio Martínez López / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Last week, I wrote that fewer than 50 people showed up at the Brooklyn fare hike hearing, held the same day as the nor’easter, which possibly explains the low turnout. However, how do you also account for the low turnouts in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens?

Approximately 120 people, including myself, attended the Manhattan hearing, held in an auditorium that could have accommodated at least 10 times the number of participants. Only approximately 30 attended the Bronx hearing. The Queens hearing was so sparsely attended, that there was a break before the 8:00 p.m. concluding time to allow for more speakers to arrive.

Even the elected officials seemed to boycott these hearings. In the Bronx, only Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of Riverdale spoke. In the Manhattan, former mayoral aspirant Scott Stringer — who has now decided to enter the race for NYC Comptroller instead — testified. This is a marked contrast to the 2010 service cut hearings, which were so widely attended by the public and elected officials that many intending speakers, such as Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, left after two or three hours waiting their turn. That Brooklyn hearing concluded at 11:30 p.m. So what happened this time?

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