Here’s an idea that should have been left on the drawing board: Howard Roberts, president of New York City Transit, wants the city’s bus riders to fill out rider report cards as well. With over 200 bus lines servicing the city, this seems like a colossal waste of money and resources.
“We plan to begin distribution of our report cards to the bus system sometime in the spring,” Roberts said at last Thursday’s City Council hearing.
I can understand why the MTA may want to have report cards for the subway lines. As the City Council noted, it certainly looks good as a PR move, and it helps the MTA prioritize the perceived problems with the system. But do we really need to grade the bus lines?
In an effort to save the MTA time and money, let me help them out with the New York City bus system: The New York City buses aren’t very good because they’re not reliable. Since the city hasn’t figured out that dedicated bus lanes are the way to go, buses are subjected to the whims of traffic. Right off the bat — and this is the number-one problem — they don’t really stick to the schedules posted in stations.
Next, they stop way too frequently. I can understand the idea that buses should provide transport for those who may not be able to walk to the subway, but is it really necessary for some buses in Brooklyn to stop four times in seven blocks? Is it really necessary for the M104 to stop at 82nd, 84th, 86th, 88th, 91st and 93rd Sts.? Buses seem to take forever because they stop everywhere. The MTA should either implement more express bus services along every north-south avenue in Manhattan or cut out half of the bus stops.
Third, buses seem to bunch. Waiting ten minutes for a bus to arrive only to find two of them at once, as is common on Madison and Fifth Aves. where multiple bus routes roam the streets, is annoying and inefficient. Loading passengers on buses should be more efficient, and bus spacing should be better maintained.
Finally, the MetroCard readers on buses are pretty confusing. Many people, used to swiping in the subways, don’t know what to do when confronted with a bus reader, and their inability to follow directions slows up the loading process. With a pre-board payment set up and dedicated bus lanes, the MTA could avoid this problem. With contactless smart card technology, as the buses in Washington, D.C., use, paying and board is as easy as a wave of the hand.
So there you go. I guarantee that every bus rider report card will come out with similar complaints. Does the MTA really need to spend more cash on a program that will just return results that we all know already?