Feb
05

The M12 Edition of “Why Does Planning Always Take So Long?”

By

Despite a rapidly growing population and future development centered around Hudson Yards, the MTA currently sends no buses down 11th Ave. and only the M50 up parts of 12th. That may change soon as DNA Info reports that the MTA is considering adding an M12 bus. The new route would journey from West 59th St. to Spring St. via 11th and 12th Avenues, the West Side Highway and Washington and Greenwich Sts. Sounds good, right? There’s a catch.

According to DNA Info’s report, the bus wouldn’t arrive to service these neighborhoods until the fourth quarter of 2013. That could mean early October or that could mean December, but no matter when, it’s still a really long time. To which I ask, what’s the hold up? Putting in a new bus route involves allocating some street space, installing a blue pole or two and rearranging operating schedules. With only two buses an hour scheduled for the route, rolling stock demands are minimal, and the area — due to receive the 7 line extension within the next year — needs the transit service.

This isn’t, of course, a problem unique to bus service. NYC DOT is holding yet another workshop on pedestrian safety for 4th Ave. in Brooklyn. These workshops have been endless with few improvements realized on the ground. Don’t even get me started again on how long it takes a Select Bus Service route to go from idea to reality. At some point, we have to realize that planning in New York is stuck. Whether its still fears over the second coming of Robert Moses or the weight we put on losing a few parking spaces, waiting 10 months for a new bus route obviously in demand — let alone years for SBS — is absurd. Fixing this process would be a huge boon to the city’s transportation landscape.



Categories : Asides, Buses

92 Responses to “The M12 Edition of “Why Does Planning Always Take So Long?””

  1. Someone says:

    Sounds like no one’s ever going to use the bus route anyway, if buses are going to be so infrequent. Couldn’t the MTA buy even more buses?

    • Mika says:

      The Q50 only runs twice an hour on weekends, and it’s usually pretty crowded all day. Not packed to the gills, but standing room only by the time it reaches Pelham Bay Station.

      • Someone says:

        Yeah, but this 2-bus-per-hour schedule is happening during rush hours. There’s not gonna be enough ridership if rush-hour runs are going to be so infrequent.

      • TP says:

        But in Manhattan people are less likely to stand around waiting for a bus for so long. They’ll just get to walking along their route until they reach their destination, or if they’re hoity-toity enough they’ll find a cab along their route. Honestly I don’t think 2 buses an hour during the daytime is even worth running. Run it more frequently or don’t run it at all.

        The only ridership this’ll attract will be elderly and disabled people. Once we get BusTime it’ll help though.

  2. John-2 says:

    Greenwhich & Washington streets? Wow, that’s going to be one seriously slow bus south of 14th Street — pretty much the downtown version of the M50 in terms of average speed.

  3. BBnet3000 says:

    Wouldnt it be better in terms of trying to spur ridership to be able to run the line all summer? I wouldnt think too many people would be willing to try a new bus line in November.

    • Matthias says:

      Especially if it only runs twice an hour. No one will stand out in the cold for that long.

    • Andrew says:

      Four months is not enough time to implement a new bus route from scratch.

      Ridership is generally lower (by a significant margin) in the summer than in the fall.

      And the MTA web site gives September 2013 as the start date, so unless that date has slipped, nobody will have to worry about waiting in the cold.

  4. BrooklynBus says:

    In 2001, I recommended the MTA extend the B83 1/4 mile along the Belt Parkway (about a 5 minute extension) to serve the Gateway Mall at Spring Creek. The MTA then took five years to study it and finally implemented it.

    By comparison the Southwest Brooklyn changes of 1978 which I authored at the Department of City Planning that changed 10 routes on the same day took only four years to implement and that was after two years of stalling by the MTA and implemented only after a lawsuit was initiated by the Natural Resources Defense Council requiring the MTA to make those changes.

    So who do you blame why the process takes so long? The MTA and no one else. Also, 30 minute headways violates their own service guidelines and guarantees the route will have light ridership.

    • ajedrez says:

      Actually, 30 minutes is the coverage headway in the city. But I agree it will draw low ridership.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        Isn’t that for off peak only?

        • Andrew says:

          No, it’s 30 minutes during the day and 60 minutes overnight.

          It won’t take much ridership to generate load-based increases. I could be wrong, but didn’t the M60 start up with similar headways? The M60 has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since and is about to get the SBS treatment.

          • BrooklynBus says:

            I guess they snuck in another revision to the guidelines. I remember when it was 10 minutes during peak and 20 minutes during off-peak and 30 for overnight. First they changed overnight to 60 and exempted Staten Island from the 20 minute daytime headways and 10 minute peak hour headways. Then they changed 20 minute base to a 30 minute base. Now you are telling me that the peak guideline is now 30 minutes.

            If they are able to change them at will without any governmental approval, they have totally defeated the purpose of having guidelines in the first place. Their only justification now is to cite them as a reason for service reductions since no route will ever have to have its service increased to every 30 minutes because of heavy loads. What a total joke these guidelines have become.

            • VLM says:

              A few thoughts/observations:

              What’s the point of having agencies like the MTA if changes such as these require governmental approval? The whole point of these agencies is to avoid the problem of non-experts making these sorts of changes.

              Plus, the MTA’s been able to change these guidelines through a rather public process as when they changed subway load guidelines. If you don’t like it, voice your concerns at the public meetings.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                That’s the whole point. Authorities like the MTA have been often criticized for having too much power and doing what they damn well please with public hearings being a sham. I don’t recall any public process when subway guidelines were changed other than the MTA announcing the changes one day. There certainly were no hearings when the bus guidelines were changed several times or even announcement of those changes that I recall othered than probably being buried in some documents.

                If you recall, it was City Council Person Carol Bellamy in the late 70s or early 80s who had legisation passed establishing the guidelines in the first place. They were not initiated by the MTA.

                Your so-called experts are not really experts. They make mistakes and poor decisions all the time. There needs to be oversight. I am not saying that every decision they make requires public approval because if that were the case, nothing woud ever change. They need latitude to plan but they cannot be left unchecked to always do the right thing.

                • Andrew says:

                  I have no idea what guidelines you’re referring to, but the ones actually in use are the ones newly adopted by the New York City Transit Authority in 1986, referred to in this New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/02.....trips.html

                  (Gene Russianoff hasn’t changed a bit!)

                  As far as I know, they’ve only been modified once, as part of this public process: http://www.mta.info/nyct/servi...../part1.htm (scroll down to “Revise Off-Peak Service Levels – Change Maximum Loading Guideline from No Standees to 10-18 Standees per Car”)

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    As far as you know they have been modified only once, is incorrect. Sorry, I can’t provide any sources now, but the guidelines have been modified several times before the recent change to subway guidelines. The original guidelines called for a minimum 15 minute rush hour bus guideline, a 20 minute base, and a 30 minute overnight guideline. The walking distance guideline was one quarter mile (interpreted as the walk to the closest bus stop).

                    The first change to the guidelines occurred when overnight service was cut from every 30 minutes to every 60 minutes. Then one quarter-mile to a bus stop was reinterpreted to a quarter-mile to a bus route without actually changing the guideline since it never actually specified “bus stop”.

                    Then Staten Island and other sparsely populated areas were exempted from the walking distance guideline. Again, I don’t know if the guidelines actually had to be changed when that happened.

                    More recently, the base headway was changed from 20 to 30 minutes, but peak hour headways remained at 15 with exceptions where the MTA claimed it was impractical. I have no idea when peak hour headways were changed from 15 to 30 minutes.

                    Think about it logically. I believe it was the City Council who insisted the MTA adopt guidelines in the first place. They also set standards for when public hearings were required such as a change affecting 20% of the riders or the route mileage woud trigger a hearing. These changes not initiated by the MTA. If the original peak hour guidelines called for 30 minute service, do you think anyone would have agreed to that because that is really not a guideline at all since virtually all routes operate more frequently than that?

                    Whenever the MTA wanted to make major reductions to service, they just altered the guidelines to allow it, prior to 2010. I’m not aware of any hearings, just notifications buried in staff summary sheets because there was never a provision that the MTA had to hold hearings or needed any permission to make those changes. Do you remember a hearing when the subway guidelines were changed and even if there was one and if 100% of the speakers were against it, the MTA could still make the change anyway because they are not bound by public hearings.

                    Of the two dozen or so people who spoke at the hearing to eliminate the B18 and reroute the B13, and replace the B40 and B78 with the B47, every single one who testified spoke against those changes and suggeste modifications, but the MTA ignored everyone and made the changes exactly as proposed.

                    • Andrew says:

                      As I mentioned elsewhere, my recollection is that the policy headway for buses has always been 30 minutes during the day and 60 minutes at night. Is it possible that I’m wrong? Of course – I’m working from memory.

                      Courtesy of Google, the current guidelines are right here – search for “Bus and Subway Policy Headways” to jump to the relevant page. A few pages up (search for “Local Bus Loading Guidelines”), you’ll see that it only takes 72 passengers per hour (36 per half hour) to warrant an increase in service over the 30-minute headway.

                      Some old bus schedules are also available through archive.org. For example, in April 2003 the B23 ran every 20 minutes through the PM rush, in September 2004 the Q79 ran every 30 minutes through the AM rush and 20 minutes through the PM rush, in September 2002 the M18 ran every 20 minutes through the AM rush and 30 minutes through the PM rush, and in September 2004 the M106 ran every 20 minutes through both rush hours. (This isn’t an exhaustive list – I picked four routes that I knew were fairly low-ridership, and this is what I found.) Clearly, as early as 2002, the guideline allowed headways of 20 and 30 minutes during rush hours. Unfortunately, archive.org doesn’t seem to have any schedules older than that.

                      The 2010 change in off-peak subway loading guidelines was one of the many service cuts proposed that year. Like all of the other cuts, it was fare game for comment at the public hearings.

                      No agency or authority is ever under any obligation to implement suggestions proposed by the public. The fact is that the MTA did revise some of the proposals based on public comment. (Haven’t you claimed credit for the increased PM span of B4 service to Knapp Street, as implemented in 2010? So how can you say that public comments are ignored?)

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      I believe you are wrong, because I do not remember the original rush hour guidelines as every 30 minutes. They were every 15. That does not mean that every single route had to operate at at least 15 minute intervals. There still could have been a few routes in the city with 20 minute headways because as the MTA would state, they are guidelines which we try to follow. That is not the same as a rule that they must follow.

                      That is quite different than saying the guideline is 30 and we can now plan rush hour routes to operate at 30 minute intervals which they are now doing.

                      I said public comments are often ignored and gave you one specific example how everyone’s comments were ignored and the MTA went through with theiir plans anyway. I didn’t state that they never listen to public comments. Please stop changing what I am saying.

                    • Andrew says:

                      The vast majority of bus routes in the city are scheduled based on the loading guidelines, not the headway guidelines (policy headways). The 30-minute policy headway is in place only for very-low-ridership lines – lines with less than 72 riders per hour passing through the most crowded point. Any bus line carrying more than that gets more frequent service.

                      (Have you looked through the guidelines yourself? Everything I just said is in the link I provided.)

                      Failure to implement every suggestion received is not the same as ignoring comments. Most suggestions are simply not feasible – if the hearing is for a fare hike, that’s because the agency has already determined that a fare hike is necessary, and while public comment can shape the nature of the hike, it can’t eliminate it entirely. Similarly, public comment shaped the details of some of the 2010 service cuts, but if every public comment had been implemented, there would have been no service cuts at all, which was hardly an option at the time.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      First of all, I don’t know how you found that link with the guidelines, I’ve often looked for them without any luck. You should be able to readily locate them on the MTA website which you can’t do.

                      I see nothing in the guidelines about numbers of people passing through the most crowded point, or as you once mentioned previously, having to be sustained for 15 minutes. Where did you get that from?

                      Let’s look at some hypothetical numbers for the proposed B84 scheduled at 30 minute headways. It would be classified as a feeder route serving the New Lots IRT. Let’s say in the peak AM hour two buses arrive at the station, each with 65 passengers. Let’s say there are only 5 passengers on one bus and 6 on the other bus on each of the two buses in the reverse direction because most of the stores at the Mall have not opened yet. That’s 141 divided by 4 or an average of 35.25 passengers per hour, less than the 36 required to increase service to every 20 minutes.

                      Now I’ve seen numerous buses with 65 passengers per bus flag riders at bus stops. So theoretically someone could be required to wait 60 or (or even 90 minutes for a bus if two buses bypassed his stop) and the MTA would still be operating within its guidelines. Now if that happens to someone do you think he would wait for the B84 the next time or find an alternate less direct route with more walking?

                      There needs to be something about peak direction of travel in the guidelines for them to make more sense, which I did not see, to avoid a scenario like I described.

                    • Andrew says:

                      First of all, I don’t know how you found that link with the guidelines, I’ve often looked for them without any luck. You should be able to readily locate them on the MTA website which you can’t do.

                      I ran a Google search and that link popped up. I don’t know how long it’s been there – I found it last week.

                      I see nothing in the guidelines about numbers of people passing through the most crowded point, or as you once mentioned previously, having to be sustained for 15 minutes. Where did you get that from?

                      It’s basic transit scheduling/planning. It’s discussed in any number of textbooks on the subject. The point is to ensure that there is adequate service for all of the passengers who wish to ride at the most crowded location.

                      I never said that anything had to be sustained for 15 minutes. I said that the loads at the peak load point are averaged over some period of time (15 minutes or 30 minutes or 60 minutes – based on this document it looks like NYCT averages over 30 minutes during rush hours and over 60 minutes at other times), since otherwise a single unusually crowded bus (perhaps due to bunching or due to a school dismissal or due to uneven arrivals on a connecting train line) would impose unnecessarily frequent service for the overall pattern of loading.

                      Let’s look at some hypothetical numbers for the proposed B84 scheduled at 30 minute headways. It would be classified as a feeder route serving the New Lots IRT. Let’s say in the peak AM hour two buses arrive at the station, each with 65 passengers. Let’s say there are only 5 passengers on one bus and 6 on the other bus on each of the two buses in the reverse direction because most of the stores at the Mall have not opened yet. That’s 141 divided by 4 or an average of 35.25 passengers per hour, less than the 36 required to increase service to every 20 minutes.

                      Now I’ve seen numerous buses with 65 passengers per bus flag riders at bus stops. So theoretically someone could be required to wait 60 or (or even 90 minutes for a bus if two buses bypassed his stop) and the MTA would still be operating within its guidelines. Now if that happens to someone do you think he would wait for the B84 the next time or find an alternate less direct route with more walking?

                      Are you seriously suggesting that loads in two different directions would be averaged together? That’s plainly absurd. It’s not how frequencies are determined anywhere.

                      In your example, the peak load southbound would be 65 per half hour, which according to the table calls for a headway just under 20 minutes. Northbound, service wouldn’t need to be as frequent, but since the same buses would be running back and forth, it probably would be.

                      Barring severe bunching, no single bus would carry even close to 65 people – and in the event of severe bunching, there’d be a second bus directly behind the first to accommodate any overload.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      I ran the search numerous times within the MTA website under a number of different subjects and came up empty each time. Don’t you think if the MTA is as transparent as it claims, there should be a simple link within its website either under Planning or Transparency that links to that document?

                      Their planning should not be a mystery but explained just like the model they are supposedly using to predict passenger travel times on SBS routes. Otherwise it appears they are hiding something even if they aren’t.

                      And if they are treating each direction separately in their guidelines, that also needs to be explained. One should not have to need a textbook to understand how the MTA plans. Everything should be out there for the people to understand unless the MTA considers us all as dummies incapable of understanding because they are the experts and only they can plan which they have stated at some public meetings I have attended. Statements such as “We do our own planning” as a response to suggestions made to them. (That came from MTA Planning not OP.)

                      Don’t assume that whenever buses are overcrowded it is due to severe bus bunching with the second bus being empty. If that were always the case, I could have not documented 14 buses in a row bypassing stops on the B1. (I’m not saying that would be the case on the B84.) But if the guidelines are so perfect and followed so meticulously, what I saw and which may still exist, would never occur.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Also, it is not clear when the criteria would necessitate more frequent service. Do the Maximum riders per hour (half hour) have to be exceeded or does the maximum load per trip have to be exceeded, or is it necessary for both criteria to be exceeded? I would guess it’s either or, but that also needs to be specified.

                    • Andrew says:

                      I ran the search numerous times within the MTA website under a number of different subjects and came up empty each time. Don’t you think if the MTA is as transparent as it claims, there should be a simple link within its website either under Planning or Transparency that links to that document?

                      I’m not sure how we got on this topic. I came across something that appears to include a summary of the guidelines in a Google search. I posted the link here and thought you’d be interested.

                      Their planning should not be a mystery but explained just like the model they are supposedly using to predict passenger travel times on SBS routes. Otherwise it appears they are hiding something even if they aren’t.

                      Perhaps that’s how it appears to you. To me it appears that they’re simply doing their jobs.

                      Here is a summary of the ridership modeling process as it existed in 2004, from the SAS EIS. This level of detail is required for an EIS but is otherwise overkill. The basic approach is probably the same, even if the details have changed. But unless you have TransCAD and the inputs to the model encoded in a format readable by TransCAD, you can’t reproduce their results – that’s the nature of modern day modeling.

                      You don’t ask for this level of detail in other areas. NYCT’s electricians don’t post on the web site their methodology for determining how to wire the lighting at a subway station, nor should they.

                      And if they are treating each direction separately in their guidelines, that also needs to be explained. One should not have to need a textbook to understand how the MTA plans. Everything should be out there for the people to understand unless the MTA considers us all as dummies incapable of understanding

                      Lovely rant.

                      If the purpose of loading guidelines is to schedule buses so that they adequately serve the demand, why would two sets of unrelated numbers be averaged together?

                      I’m shocked that an expert planner like yourself has no idea how loading guidelines work. Or – perhaps I’m not so shocked, and perhaps you’re not quite the expert you claim to be.

                      I had no trouble understanding the loading guidelines, even though all that’s included here are the summary tables.

                      because they are the experts and only they can plan which they have stated at some public meetings I have attended. Statements such as “We do our own planning” as a response to suggestions made to them. (That came from MTA Planning not OP.)

                      Good for them. That’s the appropriate response to someone, like you, who has spent years insisting that he can do their jobs better than they can.

                      Don’t assume that whenever buses are overcrowded it is due to severe bus bunching with the second bus being empty. If that were always the case, I could have not documented 14 buses in a row bypassing stops on the B1. (I’m not saying that would be the case on the B84.) But if the guidelines are so perfect and followed so meticulously, what I saw and which may still exist, would never occur.

                      Do you understand what an average is? The guidelines ensure that there are enough buses scheduled over a 30 or 60 minute period to handle the total ridership over that 30 or 60 minute period. They don’t ensure that buses run according to schedule, they don’t ensure that there are no sharp peaks in ridership, such as those generated by a large school dismissal, and they don’t ensure that bus drivers only flag stops when their buses are truly full.

                      Also, it is not clear when the criteria would necessitate more frequent service. Do the Maximum riders per hour (half hour) have to be exceeded or does the maximum load per trip have to be exceeded, or is it necessary for both criteria to be exceeded? I would guess it’s either or, but that also needs to be specified.

                      The two columns are mathematically equivalent, since what’s being measured is the average load over a half hour or an hour, not the load on an individual bus.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      “To me it appears that they’re simply doing their jobs.”

                      Yes, they are doing their jobs, but the question is are they doing their jobs well? If that were the case, we still wouldn’t be waiting for routing changes today that we needed 60 years ago such as a straightening of the B16 route to pass Maimonides Hospital which has expanded greatly within that time period.

                      The same was true of Coney Island Hospital until I had routes improved in 1978 to serve that hospital. But the MTA would not listen in the case of Maimonides.

                      The model is the way I remember it from 2003. It is a regional transportation forecasting model such as deciding whether it makes sense to build a Second Avenue Subway or not as the EIS states. It cannot be used for localized planning such as determining passenger travel times which include walk times, unless the model has been upgraded. We do not know that.

                      We also do not know if trips are based on a 13 year old 2000 census which it probably is. We do not know how accurate the model is. Yet the MTA insists that the proposed travel time savings from the proposed B44 SBS takes walking time into consideration. I say, prove it and show me how it does that.

                      Maybe trust us is good enough for you, but after seeing all the times the MTA has screwed up since it was created, that isn’t good enough for me. What happened to Jay Walder’s promise of transparency?

                      You say I don’t ask for this level of detail in other areas such as how electricians wire their lighting. That’s because I am not an electrician, but I am a planner.

                      Perhaps if there were more oversight in other areas as well, the South Ferry boondoggle would not have happened where billions were spent and then the station started leaking three weeks later. If the contract were correctly written and there had been sufficient contractor oversight, that would not have occurred.

                      After Sandy, it became apparent that the entire project was mishandled being built so far below sea level without adequate protection for a possible storm. The fact that the rebuild price exceeds the original price proves the initial design was deficient.

                      “If the purpose of loading guidelines is to schedule buses so that they adequately serve the demand, why would two sets of unrelated numbers be averaged together?”

                      Because not everything the MTA does is logical. That’s why.

                      “I had no trouble understanding the loading guidelines..”

                      The guidelines could be interpreted in a number of ways. The number of passengers per hour does not necessarily have to be the number of passengers passing a specific point, (not everyone rides bus at the same time) although in this case they are so the two columns agree. I did not do the arithmetic beforehand to see that, so I thought that perhaps additional service is provided on routes with a higher turnover since those routes operate more slowly and generate more revenue than routes where there is low turnover and longer average trip lengths. That’s why I asked the question.

                      (The guidelines) don’t ensure that buses run according to schedule, they don’t ensure that there are no sharp peaks in ridership, such as those generated by a large school dismissal.

                      Then they are deficient. You are saying that because of a large school dismissal, it is quite alright for a bus to arrive and not stop every 2 minutes, while you have to wait for 30 minutes for a bus, although the guidelines may call for a 10 minute wait. Virtually every bus rider would disagree with you.

                      “Good for them. That’s the appropriate response to someone, like you, who has spent years insisting that he can do their jobs better than they can.”

                      No, that is an arrogant response not appropriate for a government agency. If I can’t do their job better than them, answer the following for me.

                      How come in my 1972 master’s thesis I made so many routing recommendations that were obvious to me back then, and they weren’t obvious to the MTA for another 15, 20 or 30 years and they were needed back then? And some won’t be obvious to them for another 20 or 30 years.

                      In 1972, I recommended the following: Extending the B61 to Long Island City; extending the B38 Dekalb Avenue route to Metropolitan Avenue; a through route on Ralph Avenue (B40/78 combo to form B47); combining Graham and Tompkins Avenue routes (B62 + B47 to form B43); a through 86th Street route in Brooklyn; and splitting the B75 into two routes. All of those were done many years later.

                      Why did it take them 5 years to extend the B83 along the Belt Parkway after I recommended it to them? Because they were not aware that buses could operate on the Belt Parkway with a DOT permit until I told them.

                      Why did they steal my idea to renumber Manhattan bus routes without thanking me or giving me any credit. Three weeks after I gave them the idea, they made the change after telling me it was a dumb idea. I suppose you would also say “Good for them” in that case also.

                      They have never been able to duplicate the success of the southwest Brooklyn changes which they implemented reluctantly after a lawsuit prompted them to action. If not for me those changes never would have been done.

                      But according to you, they don’t matter Because it happened almost 35 years ago, I have no right to brag about it today. I guess Columbus’s discovery of America doesn’t matter anymore because it happened over 500 years ago.

                    • Andrew says:

                      Yes, they are doing their jobs, but the question is are they doing their jobs well? If that were the case, we still wouldn’t be waiting for routing changes today that we needed 60 years ago such as a straightening of the B16 route to pass Maimonides Hospital which has expanded greatly within that time period.

                      The dense commercial 13th Avenue corridor is a greater traffic generator than Maimonides Hospital. I am quite skeptical that rerouting the B16 away from 13th Avenue would be beneficial.

                      The model is the way I remember it from 2003.

                      As I said, the link I gave you was from 2004. It’s now 2013. I think it’s reasonable to assume that what existed in 2004 was far more similar to what you remember from 2003 than to what exists now.

                      You know, if you had simply maintained contact with the planners as an interested party and had expressed genuine curiosity, you probably would have gotten a friendly response with details. Instead, you’ve maintained an antagonistic relationship, and they rightly tell you to stop bothering them.

                      Maybe trust us is good enough for you, but after seeing all the times the MTA has screwed up since it was created, that isn’t good enough for me. What happened to Jay Walder’s promise of transparency?

                      Which planning screw-ups did you have in mind (and how many of them were in the past 20 years)?

                      You say I don’t ask for this level of detail in other areas such as how electricians wire their lighting. That’s because I am not an electrician, but I am a planner.

                      But don’t you think they should post in great detail their methodology for determining how to wire the lighting, for the benefit of any electricians who might want to question their work? Isn’t that what you think transparency means? (It isn’t, by the way, but I’m just following your train of thought.)

                      Oh, by the way, you are not, at present, a planner. You were a planner, over three decades ago.

                      Perhaps if there were more oversight in other areas as well, the South Ferry boondoggle would not have happened where billions were spent and then the station started leaking three weeks later. If the contract were correctly written and there had been sufficient contractor oversight, that would not have occurred.

                      The new South Ferry terminal should have never been built, period. It was built because the feds offered money for new construction in lower Manhattan, the Staten Island politicians pushed for it, and the then-head of the MTA had an obvious edifice complex.

                      “If the purpose of loading guidelines is to schedule buses so that they adequately serve the demand, why would two sets of unrelated numbers be averaged together?”
                      Because not everything the MTA does is logical. That’s why.

                      I’ve already explained that loading guidelines are used by major transit agencies across the globe. They are not a magical formula invented by the MTA to obfuscate.

                      The point of loading guidelines is to make sure that bus service is frequent enough at each point on the line to accommodate everybody who wishes to ride at that point. Northbound buses are irrelevant to southbound riders and southbound buses are irrelevant to northbound riders. The guidelines are applied at each peak load point in each direction.

                      That a self-proclaimed expert planner such as yourself is having so much difficulty grasping this is quite revealing.

                      “I had no trouble understanding the loading guidelines..”
                      The guidelines could be interpreted in a number of ways. The number of passengers per hour does not necessarily have to be the number of passengers passing a specific point, (not everyone rides bus at the same time) although in this case they are so the two columns agree. I did not do the arithmetic beforehand to see that, so I thought that perhaps additional service is provided on routes with a higher turnover since those routes operate more slowly and generate more revenue than routes where there is low turnover and longer average trip lengths. That’s why I asked the question.

                      As I just said: The point of loading guidelines is to make sure that bus service is frequent enough at each point on the line to accommodate everybody who wishes to ride at that point.

                      Revenue, turnover, and average trip lengths have nothing to do with it. They are simply not relevant to the question of scheduling frequent enough service to accommodate the intending riders.

                      (The guidelines) don’t ensure that buses run according to schedule, they don’t ensure that there are no sharp peaks in ridership, such as those generated by a large school dismissal.
                      Then they are deficient. You are saying that because of a large school dismissal, it is quite alright for a bus to arrive and not stop every 2 minutes, while you have to wait for 30 minutes for a bus, although the guidelines may call for a 10 minute wait. Virtually every bus rider would disagree with you.

                      Loading guidelines are a scheduling tool to determine appropriate frequencies, and that is all. They are not guidelines to cure all of the world’s ills.

                      If I recall correctly, you observed that many of the buses bypassing your stop had empty space on board. That implies that sufficient service is being scheduled but that drivers of buses with empty space aren’t bothering to stop for you.

                      “Good for them. That’s the appropriate response to someone, like you, who has spent years insisting that he can do their jobs better than they can.”
                      No, that is an arrogant response not appropriate for a government agency. If I can’t do their job better than them, answer the following for me.
                      How come in my 1972 master’s thesis I made so many routing recommendations that were obvious to me back then, and they weren’t obvious to the MTA for another 15, 20 or 30 years and they were needed back then? And some won’t be obvious to them for another 20 or 30 years.

                      Perhaps because they’re not quite as wonderful as you think they are.

                      In 1972, I recommended the following: Extending the B61 to Long Island City; extending the B38 Dekalb Avenue route to Metropolitan Avenue; a through route on Ralph Avenue (B40/78 combo to form B47); combining Graham and Tompkins Avenue routes (B62 + B47 to form B43); a through 86th Street route in Brooklyn; and splitting the B75 into two routes. All of those were done many years later.
                      Why did it take them 5 years to extend the B83 along the Belt Parkway after I recommended it to them? Because they were not aware that buses could operate on the Belt Parkway with a DOT permit until I told them.

                      Or, perhaps, because there’s a lot more to planning than drawing lines on a map. Local communities need to be consulted, bus stops need to be established, funding sources need to be identified, etc.

                      Why did they steal my idea to renumber Manhattan bus routes without thanking me or giving me any credit. Three weeks after I gave them the idea, they made the change after telling me it was a dumb idea. I suppose you would also say “Good for them” in that case also.

                      Or perhaps the same idea had already been in the works, and the person you met was unaware of it.

                      They have never been able to duplicate the success of the southwest Brooklyn changes which they implemented reluctantly after a lawsuit prompted them to action. If not for me those changes never would have been done. But according to you, they don’t matter Because it happened almost 35 years ago, I have no right to brag about it today. I guess Columbus’s discovery of America doesn’t matter anymore because it happened over 500 years ago.

                      Did you really just compare yourself to Christopher Columbus?

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      “The dense commercial 13th Avenue corridor is a greater traffic generator than Maimonides Hospital. I am quite skeptical that rerouting the B16 away from 13th Avenue would be beneficial.”

                      Not really. Although the car traffic is heavy, the buses are lightly utilized except for school students. Ridership could actually go up if the route were moved to Ft. Hamilton Parkway. Anyway I wasn’t proposing to eliminate 13th Avenue service anyway. I am proposing to replace it with another route as part of a larger restructuring.

                      Of course, you would just argue that the MTA cannot afford the extra expense because all you do is defend the status quo. You know absolutely nothing about planning efficient and effective bus routes. Look at a map and see how the current B16 transfers with the B9. You will see that you must travel ten minutes extra or unnecessarily walk extra blocks to make a transfer in two of the four directions. Also, check out the indirect trip if you want to travel between the northern part of 13th Avenue and the southern part.

                      That is not an efficient use of the routing network and the reason why many just resort to taking a cab instead. And why was there never a direct route along 13th Avenue? It’s because until 1934, there was no bridge over the Sea Beach tracks and the bus and trolley routes were never changed when the bridge was built. And who fought for the building of that bridge? Was it the the City or the transportation company in charge of the buses and trolleys? No. It was a local businessman. You know, one of those NIMBY’s you hate so much. If he waited for the City or the BMT, there still might not be a bridge there today and you would argue one isn’t necessary because it doesn’t exist.

                      The fact is there are other places in the City where the routes have not changed to keep up with the needs, and as much as you hate to admit it, the need would even be greater if I didn’t fight for the southwest Brooklyn changes in 1978. Yeah, but that was so long ago, they don’t matter anymore. Right? Yet I don’t see you advocating establishing the pre-1978 routes, because the status quo is always okay for you. You are just against change unless it is proposed by the MTA because they are the only ones who know what they are doing. Ha Ha.

                      “Instead, you’ve maintained an antagonistic relationship…”

                      And you have concluded without any information whatsoever, that that was my fault. I wouldn’t want you on any jury.

                      When you write very polite letters questioning their decision to cut the B4, and are promised the situation will be looked into and you will receive a response, then you do not get any response for months, what would you do? I wrote another polite letter and still received no response. Was I just supposed to drop the matter? I wrote another half dozen letters, all very polite requesting to know if the matter was indeed studied and if so why I was not informed of the results of their study, and still no response.

                      Then I’m promised that my SBS proposal change would be investigated and it would take three months, and no response is forthcoming. This time I do not remind them. Then I receive an e-mail from the head of the SBS program to take him off my list to receive links to my articles. Why do you think he did that? It’s because of the arrogance of Operations Planning that no one is more competent than they are and they do not need to know what anyone else thinks because they can do what they damn well please unless there is an uproar.

                      Why do I have a good relationship with Operations who have met with me personally on over a half dozen occasions to listen to my complaints, and arranging the meetings near my house sending some times as many as six people? Why does the current President and former President respond to my e-mails? So tell me am I the problem or is Operations Planning the problem?

                      “Which planning screw-ups did you have in mind (and how many of them were in the past 20 years”

                      I don’t have time to write a book now.

                      “Oh, by the way, you are not, at present, a planner. You were a planner, over three decades ago.”

                      True. I am retired now. By the way, I do not hear people referring to former Presidents of the United States as “former president.” They still call them “Mr. President.” By the same token, although I am not currently employed as a planner and have not been for 30 years, my interest in planning has not diminished, and I have been actively formulating plans and critiquing plans for the past 30 years. That makes me a planner. Where is it written that you have to be getting paid? Would you say a doctor who is volunteering his services in an impoverished country is not a doctor?

                      “But don’t you think they should post in great detail their methodology for determining how to wire the lighting, for the benefit of any electricians who might want to question their work? Isn’t that what you think transparency means? Isn’t that what you think transparency means?”

                      Okay. What does transparency mean?

                      “The new South Ferry terminal should have never been built, period. It was built because the feds offered money for new construction in lower Manhattan, the Staten Island politicians pushed for it, and the then-head of the MTA had an obvious edifice complex.”

                      Okay. Now I understand. The MTA is completely blameless. It was all the fault of the politicians and the Federal government who had no business offering the MTA money. Come on now. Don’t be ridiculous. If the MTA knew the station never should have been built, they never should have built it. Or is the truth, they did not know? If so they are incompetent. You don’t build something just because someone offers you money. Incidentally, that is the prime reason SBS is being built. because the Feds are also paying for it. So it doesn’t matter the process involved for picking the corridors. The Feds are paying for it so let’s just build them even if they are not necessary or will make things worse like on Woodhaven Boulevard.

                      We’ll just show whatever statistics we want to in order to claim success. Screw those cars. “No one in the City should own a car because we have an excellent mass transit system.” (That is a direct quote from the Assistant Transportation commissioner, by the way.)

                      “The point of loading guidelines is to make sure that bus service is frequent enough at each point on the line to accommodate everybody who wishes to ride at that point.”

                      But they aren’t always successful when you have to wait a half hour for a bus when one is passing every two minutes. Are they?

                      “That a self-proclaimed expert planner such as yourself is having so much difficulty grasping this is quite revealing.”

                      What can’t I grasp? There you go again with the insults. But you don’t even have the intelligence to understand when you are demeaning and insulting someone. Oh, was that an insult? I didn’t realize it because I would never stoop to your low level by insulting you. I’m sorry if I did.

                      “That implies that sufficient service is being scheduled but that drivers of buses with empty space aren’t bothering to stop for you.”

                      For me or anyone else for that matter. Incidentally many of them were following the dispatchers instructions not to stop.

                      So I guess the guidelines can’t cure all the problems. Oh wait a minute, you already said that. “They are not guidelines to cure all of the world’s ills.” So how did we get on this subject in the first place? It is because you made this statement. “The point (of the guidelines) is to ensure that there is adequate service for all of the passengers who wish to ride at the most crowded location.

                      Well, they obviously do not accomplish that satisfactorily and when I pointed that out, you just replied that they are not perfect. I agree, neither should they be expected to be perfect. That only means you need other strategies to ensure adequate and reliable service. The MTA tries but is largely unsuccessful as any rider will attest. So what I do not understand is why you keep returning to the subject of guidelines?

                      “Perhaps because they’re not quite as wonderful as you think they are.”

                      Now you are making no sense at all. Or are you being sarcastic? You are the one insisting they are so wonderful, not me. If you are being sarcastic, I guess that’s your way of admitting that I can do their job better than they can. If that is not true, what are you trying to say? Guess I am just too dumb to figure it out. I might as well insult myself before you do.

                      “Or, perhaps, because there’s a lot more to planning than drawing lines on a map. Local communities need to be consulted, bus stops need to be established, funding sources need to be identified, etc.”

                      And that takes 20 or 30 years? We are not seeking funding to build a subway line, for God sakes and it does not take 20 years to establish a few bus stops. I was able to get the ten southwest Brooklyn changes accomplished in four years which included two years of stalling by the MTA and I wasn’t even working for them at the time, so the task was even more difficult.

                      If they were as competent as me, they should have been able to make those ten changes in well under two years. So again, why should the half dozen or so changes I listed should have taken them up to 40 years?

                      “Or perhaps the same idea had already been in the works, and the person you met was unaware of it.”

                      Nice try, but the person I met with was the head of Operations Planning, the very same person who made the change three weeks later after telling me it was an unnecessary change. Incidentally, I had suggested the very same change 11 years earlier in a published letter to the New York Times.

                      Did you really just compare yourself to Christopher Columbus?”

                      I thought you would enjoy that.

                    • Andrew says:

                      Not really. Although the car traffic is heavy, the buses are lightly utilized except for school students. Ridership could actually go up if the route were moved to Ft. Hamilton Parkway. Anyway I wasn’t proposing to eliminate 13th Avenue service anyway. I am proposing to replace it with another route as part of a larger restructuring.

                      Of course, you would just argue that the MTA cannot afford the extra expense because all you do is defend the status quo. You know absolutely nothing about planning efficient and effective bus routes. Look at a map and see how the current B16 transfers with the B9. You will see that you must travel ten minutes extra or unnecessarily walk extra blocks to make a transfer in two of the four directions. Also, check out the indirect trip if you want to travel between the northern part of 13th Avenue and the southern part.

                      I don’t claim to be an expert in planning, but one thing I do know is that ignoring budgets doesn’t fly in the real world.

                      I’m also not the one who will have to personally explain to the bus riders who benefit from the current routes why I’m lengthening their trips and forcing them to make extra transfers. Even if there is a net benefit to your proposal – and I have no idea if there is – a lot of people will be hurt.

                      As for transferring between the B9 and B16, it’s four short blocks – not ideal but hardly the end of the world.

                      No. It was a local businessman. You know, one of those NIMBY’s you hate so much.

                      What are you talking about?

                      True. I am retired now. By the way, I do not hear people referring to former Presidents of the United States as “former president.” They still call them “Mr. President.”

                      First you compared yourself to Christopher Columbus. Now you’re comparing yourself to a former President of the United States. Impressive. What other company do you keep?

                      By the same token, although I am not currently employed as a planner and have not been for 30 years, my interest in planning has not diminished, and I have been actively formulating plans and critiquing plans for the past 30 years. That makes me a planner. Where is it written that you have to be getting paid? Would you say a doctor who is volunteering his services in an impoverished country is not a doctor?

                      sdasdad

                      Okay. What does transparency mean?

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....)#Politics

                      It doesn’t mean that everything that transpires inside the walls of 2 Broadway must be broadcast to the entire world.

                      “The new South Ferry terminal should have never been built, period. It was built because the feds offered money for new construction in lower Manhattan, the Staten Island politicians pushed for it, and the then-head of the MTA had an obvious edifice complex.”

                      Okay. Now I understand. The MTA is completely blameless. It was all the fault of the politicians and the Federal government who had no business offering the MTA money. Come on now. Don’t be ridiculous. If the MTA knew the station never should have been built, they never should have built it. Or is the truth, they did not know? If so they are incompetent. You don’t build something just because someone offers you money.

                      Does it look like I’m holding the MTA blameless? I explicitly criticized its head.

                      Incidentally, that is the prime reason SBS is being built. because the Feds are also paying for it. So it doesn’t matter the process involved for picking the corridors. The Feds are paying for it so let’s just build them even if they are not necessary or will make things worse like on Woodhaven Boulevard.

                      Or perhaps, just perhaps, SBS is being implemented to improve service. Because, in fact, that’s what it’s done.

                      I’ve seen no indication that the MTA is pursuing SBS on Woodhaven Boulevard – nor have I seen any indication that SBS on Woodhaven Boulevard would necessarily make things worse. I don’t see why a full SBS treatment would be necessary there, since I don’t think ridership is unusually heavy on the corridor. Bus lanes might be worth considering, especially during rush hours, because of the express buses that run along Woodhaven, but I doubt the other SBS components would be worthwhile.

                      We’ll just show whatever statistics we want to in order to claim success.

                      Off the top of my head, the M15 study looked at statistics like ridership, rider satisfaction, safety, change in travel time for bus riders, change in travel time for drivers, and traffic volume. And it did pretty well in all of them.

                      Screw those cars. “No one in the City should own a car because we have an excellent mass transit system.” (That is a direct quote from the Assistant Transportation commissioner, by the way.)

                      If that’s really the case, his boss might want to have a chat with him.

                      “The point of loading guidelines is to make sure that bus service is frequent enough at each point on the line to accommodate everybody who wishes to ride at that point.”

                      But they aren’t always successful when you have to wait a half hour for a bus when one is passing every two minutes. Are they?

                      If multiple buses in a row with empty space on board are bypassing your stop, it’s pretty difficult to claim that not enough capacity is being provided. The capacity is there, but the drivers aren’t stopping for you anyway. It’s a problem, but it’s not a problem of frequency.

                      Do you blame your dermatologist for a toothache?

                      “That a self-proclaimed expert planner such as yourself is having so much difficulty grasping this is quite revealing.”

                      What can’t I grasp? There you go again with the insults. But you don’t even have the intelligence to understand when you are demeaning and insulting someone. Oh, was that an insult? I didn’t realize it because I would never stoop to your low level by insulting you. I’m sorry if I did.

                      You seem to be having some trouble understanding how frequency is determined based on loads. I’m not a trained professional, and it took me all of 60 seconds to figure it out.

                      “That implies that sufficient service is being scheduled but that drivers of buses with empty space aren’t bothering to stop for you.”

                      For me or anyone else for that matter. Incidentally many of them were following the dispatchers instructions not to stop.

                      Then complain to your friend Mr. Irick. This has nothing to do with scheduled frequency.

                      So I guess the guidelines can’t cure all the problems. Oh wait a minute, you already said that. “They are not guidelines to cure all of the world’s ills.” So how did we get on this subject in the first place? It is because you made this statement. “The point (of the guidelines) is to ensure that there is adequate service for all of the passengers who wish to ride at the most crowded location.

                      That’s right. Loading guidelines are used to determine how frequently service should be scheduled to run. That’s all they do. That’s all they claim to do. They don’t claim to solve reliability problems. They don’t claim to make bus drivers stop for you.

                      Well, they obviously do not accomplish that satisfactorily and when I pointed that out, you just replied that they are not perfect. I agree, neither should they be expected to be perfect. That only means you need other strategies to ensure adequate and reliable service. The MTA tries but is largely unsuccessful as any rider will attest. So what I do not understand is why you keep returning to the subject of guidelines?

                      You’re the one who brought up guidelines in the first place!

                      “Perhaps because they’re not quite as wonderful as you think they are.”

                      Now you are making no sense at all. Or are you being sarcastic? You are the one insisting they are so wonderful, not me. If you are being sarcastic, I guess that’s your way of admitting that I can do their job better than they can. If that is not true, what are you trying to say? Guess I am just too dumb to figure it out. I might as well insult myself before you do.

                      “They” meaning your “obvious” routing recommendations.

                      “Or, perhaps, because there’s a lot more to planning than drawing lines on a map. Local communities need to be consulted, bus stops need to be established, funding sources need to be identified, etc.”

                      “Or perhaps the same idea had already been in the works, and the person you met was unaware of it.”

                      Nice try, but the person I met with was the head of Operations Planning, the very same person who made the change three weeks later after telling me it was an unnecessary change.

                      And I’m sure the head of Operations Planning knows in full detail every little project that everybody under him is working on.

                      Incidentally, I had suggested the very same change 11 years earlier in a published letter to the New York Times.

                      And I’m sure the head of Operations Planning reads every letter in the New York Times and remembers them all 11 years later.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      “I don’t claim to be an expert in planning, but one thing I do know is that ignoring budgets doesn’t fly in the real world. I’m also not the one who will have to personally explain to the bus riders who benefit from the current routes why I’m lengthening their trips and forcing them to make extra transfers. Even if there is a net benefit to your proposal – and I have no idea if there is – a lot of people will be hurt.”

                      You have absolutely no proof that a lot of people will be hurt. No one said anything about ignoring budgets. Just keep putting words in my mouth.

                      Any proposal that is not merely a service addition will hurt some. Yes, a few will be hurt, but many more will be helped. That is the entire idea behind good planning, to help the most while causing the minimal amount of inconvenience. Yet MTA planning causes unnecessary inconvenience to riders.

                      In 1977 and 1978, when I explained my proposals to the communities, yes and I explained the advantages as well as the disadvantages (and this proposal was among the ones presented), four out of the six community boards approved the proposals.

                      The other two abstained. None voted against. The proposals they didn’t like were dropped. And before we developed any proposals, we first met with them to hear their problems and concerns. The result? As set of very successful changes.

                      That is how the MTA should plan. Instead, they do their planning in secret without first asking the communities what they want. Then they come to them with proposals, some good and some bad and give them a choice to accept it or leave it.

                      Occasionally they will throw them a small bone. The result? Usually opposition to the MTA’s plan with a mediocre plan forced down their throats or no changes being made at all.

                      “As for transferring between the B9 and B16, it’s four short blocks – not ideal but hardly the end of the world.”

                      Not the end of the world but an additional five or ten minutes of unnecessary travel time. (By the same token, the B44SBS will only save the average passenger six minutes and look how much more effort that change requires.)

                      The MTA In fact, on my recommendation, actually held a hearing to move the B16 to 60th Street in 2004 to avoid those four blocks because they turned down my recommendation for a straight Ft Hamilton Parkway route.

                      Community Board 12 rejected that proposal because the MTA did not present the correct reasons for the move. Do you know what CB 12′s counter-proposal was without any prodding from me? Exactly what I originally proposed and again the MTA would not hear of it, so nothing changed.

                      “(No. It was a local businessman. You know, one of those NIMBY’s you hate so much.) What are you talking about?”

                      A local businessman named Dominic Sabatino fought to get the 13th Avenue bridge built in 1934.

                      “First you compared yourself to Christopher Columbus. Now you’re comparing yourself to a former President of the United States. Impressive. What other company do you keep?”

                      The point was that no one is diminishing Columbus’ accomplishments because of its lasting effects just because it occurred over 500 years ago. Yet you insist on minimizing my accomplishments of a mere 34 years ago which have also had lasting effects improving transportation for thousands every day. What other changes has the MTA made that resulted in only one written complaint and improved service for so many people?

                      And what does “sdasdad” mean?

                      “(Transparency) doesn’t mean that everything that transpires inside the walls of 2 Broadway must be broadcast to the entire world.”

                      No one said that it should be. But planning guidelines and how the MTA does its planning and uses its model should not be a closely guarded secret either. More people are interested in planning and the resulting service than they are in how the MTA does its electrical wiring. For that reason, the MTA owes the public some explanations. When questioned, clear not conflicting answers need to be given and necessary information needs to be posted on the website with easy to find links.

                      Trust us because we are the professionals and we know best is not a satisfactory answer because they have been caught in too many lies and distortions. That is what transparency is all about.

                      “Or perhaps, just perhaps, SBS is being implemented to improve service. Because, in fact, that’s what it’s done.”

                      It’s being implemented to save operating costs. Pure and simple. It may have improved service also, but we cannot know for sure without adequate studies which have not been performed.

                      “I’ve seen no indication that the MTA is pursuing SBS on Woodhaven Boulevard – nor have I seen any indication that SBS on Woodhaven Boulevard would necessarily make things worse. I don’t see why a full SBS treatment would be necessary there, since I don’t think ridership is unusually heavy on the corridor. Bus lanes might be worth considering, especially during rush hours, because of the express buses that run along Woodhaven, but I doubt the other SBS components would be worthwhile.”

                      DOT has already requested and perhaps already received funds for a Woodhaven Boulevard full SBS treatment. (I provided links in one of my Sheepsheadbites articles showing the project number.) And I definitely know it is not necessary and would make things far worse for auto and truck traffic, having driven the route daily for 9 years.

                      “Off the top of my head, the M15 study looked at statistics like ridership, rider satisfaction, safety, change in travel time for bus riders, change in travel time for drivers, and traffic volume. And it did pretty well in all of them.”

                      I don’t recall change in travel time for bus riders to include walking time to and from the bus stops. I also remember nothing about traffic volume. I do remember most of the passengers surveyed were SBS riders and a statement that among local riders, they were evenly split if SBS was an improvement or not. Not a very glowing endorsement.

                      “If that’s really the case, his boss (the head of DOT) might want to have a chat with him.”

                      It’s her and her boss and she has the same beliefs. I read that article and it is very favorable towards the Commissioner, but I don’t buy it entirely. I’ve personally seen many DOT painting screw-ups that had to be redone and she is constantly trying to slow down traffic, and does little to remove bottlenecks that cause traffic jams such as the ridiculous merge from two lanes to one when leaving the FDR and entering the Brooklyn Bridge causing necessary 15 minute delays. She is definitely not pro-automobile. She is rebuilding the Belt Parkway bridges to prevent future roadway widening although traffic has increased ten-fold in the past 50 years and there is no mass transit alternative either so there has to be planning for future traffic needs which there isn’t. Under her leadership, the Belt will always be chronically congested.

                      If my “obvious” routing recommendations weren’t as wonderful as I thought they were, the MTA would not have eventually implemented some of them 20 or 30 years later. So they had to agree, but it took them at least 20 years to see the light. So you really have no argument here at all.

                      “And I’m sure the head of Operations Planning knows in full detail every little project that everybody under him is working on.”

                      You will say anything to deny that he outright stole my idea right three weeks after calling it dumb. The chances that someone on his staff was working on the exact same idea I suggested is one in a million and very highly improbable.

                      “And I’m sure the head of Operations Planning reads every letter in the New York Times and remembers them all 11 years later.”

                      No he didn’t have to remember it for 11 years, only for 3 weeks. And the above comment just shows how far your ridiculous reasoning goes by just refusing to admit the very obvious.

                    • Andrew says:

                      All of the SBS implementations thus far, and all of the planned SBS lines, help far more people than they hurt.

                      The number of people who will save time with the B44 SBS far outnumbers – probably by several orders of magnitude – the number of people to have to walk four short blocks (about four minutes for most people) to transfer from the southbound B16 to the eastbound B9 and from the westbound B9 to the northbound B16.

                      I have nothing against businessmen. Why do you claim that I hate them?

                      If SBS is being implemented to save operating costs, then it’s not working, since increased ridership requires increased service. Next month alone, the M15 SBS is slated to get an increase of 4.4% revenue miles on weekdays, of 17.7% on Saturdays, and of 2.1% on Sundays, to keep loads within guidelines.

                      Here is the one-year M15 SBS progress report. The results start on page 15. The vast majority of M15 SBS riders have the exact same walk time as they did in the M15 Limited days, since the SBS stops at all but the lowest ridership limited stops. Traffic impacts are discussed on pages 20 and 21. Local riders aren’t affected by most of the SBS features, so I wouldn’t expect them to have strong opinions about SBS, positive or negative.

                      The DOT Commissioner understands that her job is to serve all New Yorkers, not only the ones inside cars. Some motorists aren’t accustomed to this and find it upsetting that she doesn’t devote 100% of her efforts to them.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      “All of the SBS implementations thus far, and all of the planned SBS lines, help far more people than they hurt.”

                      Possibly correct, buy it only your opinion. I have not seen any impartial studies that say that. The MTA (like most any other organizations) picks and chooses statistics that prove the points they want to prove.

                      “The number of people who will save time with the B44 SBS far outnumbers – probably by several orders of magnitude – the number of people to have to walk four short blocks (about four minutes for most people) to transfer from the southbound B16 to the eastbound B9 and from the westbound B9 to the northbound B16.”

                      Again. Only your opinion. When I state mine, you ask for proof or links. But I guess you do not need to provide proof because your opinion is always correct.

                      “I have nothing against businessmen. Why do you claim that I hate them?”

                      But you do hate NIMBY’s. (I do too but that does not mean they should be ignored as you would if you were in charge. They may have a valid point occasionally.) The reason I lumped businessmen and NIMBYs into the same category, is that you always stand up for the establishment, politicians excluded whom you also hate). I have never seen you agree with any anti-MTA or DOT statement anyone makes. You always side with the agencies, though you don’t agree with everything they do.

                      “If SBS is being implemented to save operating costs, then it’s not working…”

                      Yes it is. You are doing exactly what the MTA is doing, showing only the statistics that prove your point. The way to determine if operating costs are being saved or not is to look at the statistics for the SBS as well as the local. IF SBS miles, in fact increased as you state, what happened to the local service? Did it also increase or did it decrease more than the SBS increased so that the total M15 operating costs decreased? We don’t know without knowing those statistics also. Show me those and I might agree with you that they are not succeeding in saving operating costs.

                      Judging from complaints I have heard that local riders are now waiting two and three times longer than they did before SBS, I would guess that local service has been much reduced. It is also less reliable now with some complaining that 3 or 5 SBS’s pass before one local.

                      That forces many local passengers who do not want SBS to walk extra blocks to and from SBS stops? Is the MTA measuring their total trip time? No, they aren’t, so we don’t know how many are being helped or hurt by the SBS. We only have partial statistics, the ones the MTA wants us to see.

                      “Traffic impacts are discussed on pages 20 and 21.”

                      Again, the information presented is not complete enough to draw proper conclusions. First and Second Avenues do not operate in a vacuum. The reduced capacity probably shifted some traffic to Third an Lexington Avenue worsening congestion there. Where are those statistics? That is not to say that if that did happen, SBS should not have been implemented. All I am saying is that your study data needs to be objective and you do that by collecting and showing all the necessary data.

                      “Local riders aren’t affected by most of the SBS features, so I wouldn’t expect them to have strong opinions about SBS, positive or negative.”

                      Not true. Local riders are much affected when local service deteriorates as a result of SBS, as many have alleged. Remember they weren’t overly enthused about SBS, being evenly split if they favor it or not.

                      “The DOT Commissioner understands that her job is to serve all New Yorkers, not only the ones inside cars. Some motorists aren’t accustomed to this and find it upsetting that she doesn’t devote 100% of her efforts to them.”

                      When did I ever state she should devote 100% of her efforts to motorists? Quit making up your own misstatements and accusing others of saying that. Of course she needs to serve everyone, motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, etc. But she also has to be fair.

                      Pedestrian plazas and widening sidewalks are okay where they are justified. I wasn’t opposed to the Broadway plazas. I questioned the data that was shown to prove they were justified.

                      I don’t oppose bike lanes per se. I do oppose them if you are helping a small percent of the population, say 1,000 people, and making things much worse for 10,000 others by taking away a lane of traffic and adding 15 minutes to their trip.

                      I also oppose putting in a bike lane against a communities wishes if they have legitimate reasons to oppose it as happened in my neighborhood.

                      Canarsie opposed a bike lane on two side streets just because they didn’t want outsiders using their streets, not for safety reasons or because of increased traffic congestion. That is not a legitimate reason to oppose a bike lane because the streets belong to all of us, but unfortunately, they prevailed. If widening a sidewalk because it is severely overcrowded helps more people than it hurts, I am all for it.

                    • Andrew says:

                      No, Allan, SBS has been tremendously popular and quite beneficial. Of course, you are entitled to ignore the facts, but they’re still the facts.

                      The B44 (local and limited combined) carries 12.5 million riders per year. Let’s conservatively say that only one-fifth of B44 riders will benefit from SBS. (In fact, most limited riders will benefit.) That’s 2.5 million riders per year. Total ridership on the B16 is only 2.1 million riders per year, and even if we naively assume that every single one of them makes the four-block transfer to or from the B9, they are still outnumbered by B44 SBS beneficiaries. (And in fact, a small fraction of B16 riders transfer to or from the B9.)

                      Again, I don’t hate businessmen, and I don’t always side with anyone.

                      Total M15 ridership has gone up since SBS started. From July 2010 to July 2011 (SBS started in October 2010), total M15 ridership was up 12%. That implies a likely need for more service overall on the M15. Have you looked up the upcoming headway changes? On weekdays, the M15 SBS is gaining 4.4% in revenue miles while the M15 local is losing 2.6%. On Saturdays, the SBS is gaining 17.7% while the local is losing 3.4%. On Sundays, the SBS is gaining 2.1% while the local is losing 10.9%. On every day except Sunday, the SBS is gaining significantly more than the local is losing (and Saturday more than offsets Sunday). If SBS were chasing people away from the M15, I’d agree with you, but in fact it’s been attracting a lot of riders.

                      Yes, people have reported anecdotes of long waits for the local. I can personally report having experienced long waits for the local long before SBS started up. I can also personally report having experienced long waits for the SBS. But that’s all irrelevant. If you have any data showing that reliability on the M15 local has declined significantly since October 2010, please share it.

                      Did you look at figures 14 and 15? Traffic volumes increased at six of the ten reported locations and decreased at only three (at the tenth, Houston and 2nd, volumes were essentially unchanged). If anything, traffic shifted to 1st and 2nd, not away.

                      The Broadway plazas were undoubtedly justified, regardless of traffic impacts, because it simply did not make sense to cram the vast majority of street users – the pedestrians – into two narrow sidewalks, leaving the many traffic lanes in between for the small minority of motorists. However, eliminating the three-phase signaling at Herald Square – one phase for 34th, one phase for 6th, and one phase for Broadway – has greatly improved northbound traffic flow. It used to back up to 23rd every day. Now it doesn’t. Why? Because the green phase for 6th at Herald Square doesn’t need to be cut short to leave time for a conflicting green phase for Broadway. The Broadway plazas are a major improvement for pedestrians and motorists alike.

                      I challenge you to name one single bike lane, anywhere in the city, that adds 15 minutes to anybody’s trip.

                      Every single bike lane installed under Sadik-Khan was done with community approval (most often, the community has requested the bike lane in the first place). That wasn’t the case for the Weinshall administration.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Yes. Some people love SBS and others hate it. It is just not accurate to state it has been tremendously popular. What is your basis for that conclusion? The MTA’s biased surveys that even admits local riders are not overly enthused about SBS? My friend rides as many as ten different buses a day and she hates SBS. I’m not ignoring any facts. You are just making them up as you go along and want everyone to accept what you state as true.

                      You state that most Limited B44 riders will benefit from SBS. How do you arrive at that when something like 22 limited stops are being eliminated?  Any limited rider walking from Avenue S or Quentin Road to Avenue R as well as all passengers currently boarding at Avenue R will now have to rely on the local for a longer trip and it will operate less frequently. And that’s only three bus stops. Yes some Limited riders will save time, but they will save only an average of six minutes. That is not very much when you consider missing a bus can cost you ten minutes.  

                      No current local riders will benefit from the SBS and all of them will be hurt by it. You accuse me of ignoring The facts, but you just make yours up. And I just spoke to the CB 15 Chairperson last night who informed me that the MTA told her it is now too late to add additional stops. 

                      You conclude from your M15 ridership and service numbers that it has been a huge success. As I stated, you and the MTA cannot look at these numbers in a vacuum. Do you have any numbers that show even one person got out of his car to ride the SBS? Of course you don’t. Where do you think these new riders came from? Well, a few trips are new. If it is quicker to get somewhere, people will be encouraged to make a trip they wouldn’t otherwise. I’ll grant you that. But I would also state that that doesn’t account for the bulk of the additional trips which are probably not new at all. They are people who formerly took the subway and switched to the bus because now it is only slightly slower for them than the train and they are trading comfort for time. Others are switching from 3rd/Lex to First and Second because the trips are quicker. 

                      The M15 may be moderately successful, but success has been over exaggerated by incomplete data. There have been no O/D surveys or questions asked how trips were previously made or if this trip would have not been made without SBS. You need those surveys and questions to determine success or failure. I don’t see any of that data in the First year progress report. Do you?  Running emptier trains and having to provide additional bus service to accommodate those passengers is not cost efficient and that is probably what happened from the M15 SBS. 

                      You ask me if I have any data on SBS local reliability?  Do I have the resources to collect that data? But if I was in charge I would make damn sure that data was collected. 

                      Your notion that an increase in traffic volumes means that more traffic was diverted to First and Second Avenues is erroneous. How could a street with reduced capacity carry more traffic?  It’s just not possible. Higher traffic volumes just means that traffic is moving more slowly because of increased congestion. That means that some motorists are being inconvenienced which also has to be factored in determining success or failure. 

                      You state that the Broadway Plazas are “undoubtly” justified. They may be justified but I wouldn’t say “undoubtly”. Last year summer when I was in Midtown, crosstown traffic in the upper 40s was at a standstill and it appeared to me that the plazas may have been a factor. Traffic looks good around Herald Square, but that is only one point. I didn’t like the study area that was chosen when the data was initially presented and I still don’t like it now. Just like SBS, you need complete data in order to draw accurate conclusions. 

                      “I challenge you to name one single bike lane, anywhere in the city, that adds 15 minutes to anybody’s trip.”

                      A lane of traffic was removed on First and Second Avenues for the bike lane. Traffic, other than buses is moving slower. Is there before and after data showing how long it previously took to drive from Houston to 125 Streets before the bike lane and how long it takes now to make that trip? Can you say for sure that the trip by car or taxi does not take 15 minutes longer? 

                      “Every single bike lane installed under Sadik-Khan was done with community approval (most often, the community has requested the bike lane in the first place). That wasn’t the case for the Weinshall administration.”

                      Perhaps true, but Sadik-Khan has also refused to demolish or move bike lanes put up by Weinshall that the community was never informed of and never wanted. Those still exist despite widespread disapproval. 

                    • Perhaps true, but Sadik-Khan has also refused to demolish or move bike lanes put up by Weinshall that the community was never informed of and never wanted. Those still exist despite widespread disapproval.

                      Which ones are those exactly?

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Ignore the paragraph I wrote about traffic volumes on First and Second Avenues. I just reread that page of the report. It states that changes in traffic volumes and speeds has been minimal so it would not take 15 minutes longer to travel between Houston and 125th Street on those streets. But where is the data for Third and Lex. How do we know that traffic on those streets were not negatively affected?

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      To Ben:

                      Specifically the one on Oriental Blvd in Manhattan Beach that the Community Board has been trying to get removed for the past 7 or 8 years. They have even asked that it just be moved one or two blocks away. They would support that change. Sadik-Khan has steadfastly refused to do that insisting it stay where it is.

                    • Andrew says:

                      Yes. Some people love SBS and others hate it. It is just not accurate to state it has been tremendously popular. What is your basis for that conclusion?

                      I would say that a 99% satisfaction rate, combined with significant ridership gains, is an indication of pretty strong popularity. Even if you question the number 99% – perhaps you think it was only 98% or 97% or 95% or 85% – that’s still quite strong.

                      The MTA’s biased surveys that even admits local riders are not overly enthused about SBS?

                      On the M15, local riders still have the local. Local riders are largely unaffected by SBS; it’s the limited, not the local, that was replaced by SBS. I would expect local riders to be largely indifferent to SBS, and indeed that’s what the customer satisfaction studies showed among M15 local riders.

                      Why do you say that the survey is biased? Is it because you have evidence that the survey was conducted in a fashion that biases the results, or is it merely because the results of the survey contradict your preconceived notions?

                      I realize that you, personally, are not terribly concerned that buses in New York operate as slowly as they do, but many other bus riders disagree with you, and many many New Yorkers avoid buses as much as they can because they are so slow.

                      My friend rides as many as ten different buses a day and she hates SBS.

                      And that proves what exactly?

                      I’m not ignoring any facts. You are just making them up as you go along and want everyone to accept what you state as true.

                      You’re ignoring the facts presented in this progress report, because they don’t agree with your preconceived notions.

                      You state that most Limited B44 riders will benefit from SBS. How do you arrive at that when something like 22 limited stops are being eliminated?

                      Within the current limits of limited service – between Avenue U and Flushing Avenue – the limited makes 18 stops in each direction (inclusive) and the planned SBS will make 11 stops. Most current B44 Limited riders use the stops that are being retained as SBS (ignoring the shift from New York Avenue to Rogers Avenue), and they will benefit from faster trips. Yes, riders at the other seven stops will have to either walk further or take the local, but that doesn’t doom the entire project to failure, just as it didn’t doom the Bx12 or M15 to failure.

                      Any limited rider walking from Avenue S or Quentin Road to Avenue R as well as all passengers currently boarding at Avenue R will now have to rely on the local for a longer trip

                      (Or walk to Avenue X or Kings Highway, depending on exact starting point, physical agility, and personal preference. Once BusTime goes live in Brooklyn, the real-time location of the next local is another factor that some might also consider.)

                      and it will operate less frequently.

                      Frequency is determined based on peak loadings. You’ve been insisting that the local will be carrying more riders; if that’s really the case (and I doubt it is), then the local will operate more frequently.

                      And that’s only three bus stops. Yes some Limited riders will save time, but they will save only an average of six minutes. That is not very much when you consider missing a bus can cost you ten minutes.

                      The Brighton express only saves six minutes from end to end, and less for riders who board at the intermediate stops. Would you suggest running the B train local, so that riders at local stops don’t have to wait as long?

                      Personally, I wouldn’t sneeze at a six minute improvement – not on the B train and not on the B44 bus.

                      No current local riders will benefit from the SBS and all of them will be hurt by it.

                      How will all local riders be hurt by SBS? Aside from changes in headway due to ridership changes, local riders will largely be unaffected.

                      You accuse me of ignoring The facts, but you just make yours up.

                      Allan, I’ve given you my sources. What are yours?

                      And I just spoke to the CB 15 Chairperson last night who informed me that the MTA told her it is now too late to add additional stops.

                      It’s never too late to add additional stops. It may be too late to add additional stops before the service starts up, but if there are problems with the initial arrangement, changes can be made. The Bx12 had an SBS stop added several months after the service started.

                      You conclude from your M15 ridership and service numbers that it has been a huge success. As I stated, you and the MTA cannot look at these numbers in a vacuum. Do you have any numbers that show even one person got out of his car to ride the SBS? Of course you don’t.

                      The M15 serves communities with very low car ownership rates. I wouldn’t expect much of a shift from cars, simply because few M15-candidate trips are made by car in the first place.

                      Where do you think these new riders came from? Well, a few trips are new. If it is quicker to get somewhere, people will be encouraged to make a trip they wouldn’t otherwise. I’ll grant you that. But I would also state that that doesn’t account for the bulk of the additional trips which are probably not new at all. They are people who formerly took the subway and switched to the bus because now it is only slightly slower for them than the train and they are trading comfort for time. Others are switching from 3rd/Lex to First and Second because the trips are quicker.

                      And what’s wrong with that? If people find that the M15 SBS is now the best way to make trips that they used to make by other means, then SBS is making it easier to travel around the city by transit.

                      The M15 may be moderately successful, but success has been over exaggerated by incomplete data. There have been no O/D surveys or questions asked how trips were previously made or if this trip would have not been made without SBS. You need those surveys and questions to determine success or failure. I don’t see any of that data in the First year progress report. Do you?

                      The success of SBS on the M15 is plainly apparent from its significant ridership growth. While I’d be curious to see the breakdown between riders who wouldn’t have traveled at all before SBS and riders who have shifted from other modes and other transit routes, SBS has clearly been successful in any case. SBS has attracted a large number of riders to the M15 – these people are finding the M15 useful where they hadn’t before.

                      Running emptier trains and having to provide additional bus service to accommodate those passengers is not cost efficient and that is probably what happened from the M15 SBS.

                      I thought you were of the opinion that SBS is being implemented solely to decrease operating costs, not to improve service for the riders. But now you’re saying that SBS is proving attractive to so many riders that it’s increasing costs.

                      So which is it? SBS is bad because it’s only being done to save money without regard for the riders, or SBS is bad because it’s helping the riders but it’s costly? Make up your mind.

                      In any case, the Lexington Avenue subway has a serious overcrowding problem. If SBS has been attracting ridership away from an overcrowded subway line, that’s another point in its favor.

                      You ask me if I have any data on SBS local reliability? Do I have the resources to collect that data?

                      In other words: no, you don’t have any data. So why do you keep repeating that the M15 local has gotten less reliable with no data to support your claim?

                      But if I was in charge I would make damn sure that data was collected.

                      Good news! In a few months, BusTime will be active in Manhattan, and any developer who wishes to tabulate reliability statistics based on the open BusTime feed can do so. Pre-SBS data won’t be available, but at least the M15 local can be compared to other Manhattan local bus lines.

                      Your notion that an increase in traffic volumes means that more traffic was diverted to First and Second Avenues is erroneous. How could a street with reduced capacity carry more traffic? It’s just not possible. Higher traffic volumes just means that traffic is moving more slowly because of increased congestion. That means that some motorists are being inconvenienced which also has to be factored in determining success or failure.

                      No, your understanding of traffic engineering is erroneous. The traffic volume is the total number of cars past a point in a given time period. As for how it’s possible that volumes and speeds weren’t significantly changed, the status report answers that question straightforwardly: “Traffic flow was maintained despite the reduction of moving lanes along many stretches due to better traffic organization, including reducing illegal parking, and providing turn lanes in the bus and bike lane designs.”

                      You state that the Broadway Plazas are “undoubtly” justified. They may be justified but I wouldn’t say “undoubtly”. Last year summer when I was in Midtown, crosstown traffic in the upper 40s was at a standstill and it appeared to me that the plazas may have been a factor.

                      Midtown Manhattan crosstown traffic has been extremely slow for at least half a century. It’s suddenly the plaza’s fault?

                      But you missed my point entirely. I explicitly said that “The Broadway plazas were undoubtedly justified, regardless of traffic impacts” (yet you went on to object based on a supposed traffic impact!). Given how many pedestrians are in the Times Square area and how little space they had, pedestrian plazas would have been appropriate even if they had had a major negative impact on traffic flow. Even before the plazas were installed, pedestrian traffic was ten times greater than vehicular traffic, and if increasing capacity for the 91% came at the expense of the 9%, then so be it.

                      In the end, it turns out that it didn’t.

                      Traffic looks good around Herald Square, but that is only one point. I didn’t like the study area that was chosen when the data was initially presented and I still don’t like it now. Just like SBS, you need complete data in order to draw accurate conclusions.

                      Have you read the actual evaluation report, or are you relying on the very brief summaries in the media? The report includes lots and lots of data, collected from various sources,

                      “I challenge you to name one single bike lane, anywhere in the city, that adds 15 minutes to anybody’s trip.”

                      A lane of traffic was removed on First and Second Avenues for the bike lane. Traffic, other than buses is moving slower. Is there before and after data showing how long it previously took to drive from Houston to 125 Streets before the bike lane and how long it takes now to make that trip? Can you say for sure that the trip by car or taxi does not take 15 minutes longer?

                      You later retracted this example, since the M15 report explicitly contradicts it. But I’m amused that, when I asked you to name a bike lane that added 15 minutes to anybody’s trip, you named a bike lane and then told me to disprove that it added 15 minutes to a trip. Sorry, that’s not the way arguments work. You’re claiming that bike lanes are so terrible, so it’s up to you to prove that they’re terrible.

                      If you think that the removal of a lane, on a wide avenue with multiple other wide avenues to the west and a wide highway to the east, automatically leads to a 15 minute increase in travel time by car, your understanding of traffic engineering is overly simplistic and highly flawed.

                      But I’m still awaiting your next example.

                      Ignore the paragraph I wrote about traffic volumes on First and Second Avenues. I just reread that page of the report. It states that changes in traffic volumes and speeds has been minimal so it would not take 15 minutes longer to travel between Houston and 125th Street on those streets. But where is the data for Third and Lex. How do we know that traffic on those streets were not negatively affected?

                      If changes in traffic volumes on First and Second were minimal, then why would Third and Lex have been affected in any measurable fashion?

                      Perhaps true, but Sadik-Khan has also refused to demolish or move bike lanes put up by Weinshall that the community was never informed of and never wanted. Those still exist despite widespread disapproval.

                      I stand by what I said: “Every single bike lane installed under Sadik-Khan was done with community approval (most often, the community has requested the bike lane in the first place).” Sadik-Khan has been far more responsive to community requests than any DOT Commissioner I can recall. If Weinshall installed a bike lane that the community didn’t want, then the blame belongs squarely on Weinshall’s shoulders.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Local riders are affected by SBS. Many have complained that since SBS started, local service has deteriorated. That’s why only half the local riders approve of SBS. It will be much worse on the B44 SBS since 22 limited stops have been removed which will force many limited riders onto the local.

                      The survey is biased because all the questions that should have been asked were not asked. Questions were asked to solicit certain responses.

                      Buses need to be speeded up and SBS does that. However, the increased walking distances and extra time it takes to walk those distances were not considered.

                      Last week I took the S79. It saved me around three minutes, but I had to walk 8 blocks to my stop which cost me about 8 minutes. I could have changed for the S78 if I wanted to wait 10 to 15 minutes for it. So there was no net benefit for me.

                      My friend hates SBS because as part of her job she has to lug a cart with her. She either has to drag the cart extra blocks to use the SBS or has to wait longer for the local. SBS is not friendly to the elderly and those with baggage. SBS works best for young healthy people who travel long distances who have nothing heavy they are carrying. Most of the bus population does not fit that category. I might not have collected data to show that local service has deteriorated, but I’ve heard it quite often.

                      I’m not ignoring any of the facts in the progress report. You are ignoring all the facts omitted from the progress report which are just as important.

                      “Within the current limits of limited service – between Avenue U and Flushing Avenue – the limited makes 18 stops in each direction (inclusive) and the planned SBS will make 11 stops.”

                      The 2011 report says 37 limited stops along the entire routes will be reduced to 15. That’s a reduction of 22 stops. The only stop I am aware of that has been since added is the one at Avenue D. That means a great number of limited passengers will now switch to the local especially since transferring between the two will prevent a second transfer for the same fare and less than half the riders use an unlimited.

                      Do you really think anyone who gets on at Avenue R after walking a quarter-mile to that stop will walk over another half mile to Kings Highway or just under another half mile to Avenue U (not Avenue X) to get the the SBS? That is an additional ten minute walk for a fast walker to save only six minute for an average 2.3 mile trip.

                      Really now? That makes a lot of sense. And that is in good weather. When its cold, hot, wet or snowy or windy virtually no one wants to walk even a quarter-mile to a bus, certainly not three quarters of a mile. They will just overcrowd the local which will end up bypassing riders while the SBS will be half empty.

                      They are not planning to run artics on the local, at least not initially. I wouldn’t expect extra local service. The MTA will tell the people to wait a year until additional artics can be secured.

                      It’s not the six minute improvement I am criticizing, but the effort that is being put into this project to get that six minutes. That’s what I am questioning. Is it worth it?

                      The Brighton express already exists. No effort is required to save that six minutes.

                      “How will local riders be hurt by SBS?”

                      See my article tomorrow on Sheepsheadbites.

                      “And what’s wrong with that? If people find that the M15 SBS is now the best way to make trips that they used to make by other means, then SBS is making it easier to travel around the city by transit.”

                      Taking people out of the subway and putting them on buses is less cost efficient. That’s what’s wrong with that. Given the MTA’s financial situation, they can hardly afford to provide service that is more inefficient.

                      The survey could have at least asked the question if the trip was previously made by subway so we could see if that was the case or not.

                      “Midtown Manhattan crosstown traffic has been extremely slow for at least half a century. It’s suddenly the plaza’s fault?”

                      The day I saw it, and I do not know if that day was typical, it was at a standstill and that included 49th Street which was supposed to be a through street. I never seen it that bad.

                      When I looked at the data, I don’t remember seeing data on crosstown streets.

                      “Have you read the actual evaluation report, or are you relying on the very brief summaries in the media? The report includes lots and lots of data, collected from various sources”

                      Yes, I looked at the report the last time we discussed this. Yes, the report contains lots of data, and I commented last time that it is very suspicious that 10th, 11th and 12th Avenue were omitted from the study area. Could it be that the traffic moved to those streets so that’s why it was not shown?

                      Logic dictates that the study area should either have been river to river, or Park Avenue to 9th Avenue. But 9th Avenue to the East River is not logical unless they were trying to hide something. That’s what it seems they were doing.

                      “No, your understanding of traffic engineering is erroneous. The traffic volume is the total number of cars past a point in a given time period.”

                      Your understanding of traffic engineering is erroneous. The the number of cars passing a point in a given time period is meaningless without considering speed. The number of cars passing a specific point could be very low, because the traffic is exceedly light or because it is exceedingly heavy. If ten cars pass a particular point in one minute on one street when they are moving at 30 mph and ten cars pass a particular point on another street at 10 mph, would you say both streets carry the same volume of cars and those situations are equal?

                      “If changes in traffic volumes on First and Second were minimal, then why would Third and Lex have been affected in any measurable fashion?”

                      Because traffic seeks the least congested route. If capacity was reduced on First and Second Avenue, the traffic either moved to neighboring streets increasing congestion there or it just disappeared.

                      Since no one switched to buses (as you admit), the likelihood that it just disappeared is very unlikely. Anyway it
                      was DOT’s duty to present those numbers
                      which they did not so we could see the complete picture. (Just like they should have done for 10th, 11th and 12th Avenue when evaluating the midtown plazas.) Just saying traffic was unaffected on First and Second Avenue is not sufficient when it could have become significantly worse on neighboring streets.

                      “If Weinshall installed a bike lane that the community didn’t want, then the blame belongs squarely on Weinshall’s shoulders.”

                      Sadik-Khan is also responsible for bike lanes put in by her predecessor. She is
                      not blameless.

                    • Andrew says:

                      Local riders are affected by SBS. Many have complained that since SBS started, local service has deteriorated.

                      Really? Many? How many thousands?

                      As you know, service frequencies are determined by loading at the peak load point. If the SBS improvements have attracted some former local riders to SBS and local ridership has dropped, then it’s pretty likely that local frequency has dropped in response.

                      That could be used as an argument never to improve any service anywhere, for fear that the newly improved service might attract riders away from other services, and those other services would then lose frequency as a consequence. It’s not a particularly good argument, in my opinion, but you’re welcome to make it if you find it compelling.

                      That’s why only half the local riders approve of SBS.

                      If I’m asked to evaluate a service I don’t use, I’m not going to give it a stellar score, nor am I going to give it a dismal one. I’ll give it a middling score. Which is what M15 local riders gave the M15 SBS, which they don’t use.

                      If they thought SBS was bad, they would have consistently given it low scores. That’s not what they did.

                      It will be much worse on the B44 SBS since 22 limited stops have been removed which will force many limited riders onto the local.

                      If that were truly the case, then the increased ridership on the local would trigger greater frequencies, and local riders would be better off!

                      The survey is biased because all the questions that should have been asked were not asked. Questions were asked to solicit certain responses.

                      I don’t know the precise questions asked, and neither do you. And if the result were a 55% approval rate, I might be curious about the polling technique, since poor polling practices could easily yield an error of 5 percentage points. But the approval rate was 99%! It would take a pretty absurd question for a 99% approval rate to mean anything but a rousing success.

                      But transportation planners are more interested in revealed preference than in stated preference, so it’s surprising (or perhaps it’s not) that you keep dwelling on this issue. Total M15 ridership was up 12% from July 2010 to July 2011, compared to a 5% decline in overall Manhattan bus ridership. That’s pretty darned good.

                      Buses need to be speeded up and SBS does that. However, the increased walking distances and extra time it takes to walk those distances were not considered.

                      Of course they were, and your repeating this claim over and over again doesn’t change that fact. Most of the limited stops are now SBS stops – only the least used ones didn’t make the cut. A large majority of riders formerly served by the limited are now served by SBS, at the same exact stops, give or take a block (since some stops were shifted a bit).

                      Yes, former users of the limited stops that weren’t converted to SBS now have to choose between walking a bit further or riding the local, but relatively few fit into that category. The time they lose (by either walking or taking the local) is more than offset by the time saved by riders at the busier stops.

                      Last week I took the S79. It saved me around three minutes, but I had to walk 8 blocks to my stop which cost me about 8 minutes. I could have changed for the S78 if I wanted to wait 10 to 15 minutes for it. So there was no net benefit for me.

                      How on earth do you know that it saved you “around three minutes”? And have you asked the riders who travel between Bay Ridge and the Staten Island Mall (and there are many) how they feel about the service?

                      S79 SBS has only been running for seven months, so it’s still a bit premature for a full blown evaluation. But the evaluation should be based on real data, not a single anecdote.

                      My friend hates SBS because as part of her job she has to lug a cart with her. She either has to drag the cart extra blocks to use the SBS or has to wait longer for the local. SBS is not friendly to the elderly and those with baggage. SBS works best for young healthy people who travel long distances who have nothing heavy they are carrying. Most of the bus population does not fit that category. I might not have collected data to show that local service has deteriorated, but I’ve heard it quite often.

                      How incredibly selfish and short-sighted!

                      Most able-bodied New Yorkers avoid buses like the plague because they are so dreadfully slow. On some of the busiest, most frequent routes, the MTA has bifurcated the service, with some buses continuing to make closely spaced stops and others making fewer stops but making better speed. The faster version – SBS or limited – has generally proven quite popular in most places that it’s been offered. It has attracted riders who otherwise avoid buses. At the same time, those who appreciate the closer stop spacing still have the local. And the relative frequency of each version is determined by actual ridership.

                      But that, apparently, is not enough for you. You want all buses to make closely spaced stops. All those people who appreciate the faster SBS or limited? Too bad for them – they can go back to wasting time on the local, or perhaps not riding the bus at all.

                      And the groundswell of political support for bus service that’s come along with the new ridership base? I guess you don’t want that either.

                      I’m not ignoring any of the facts in the progress report. You are ignoring all the facts omitted from the progress report which are just as important.

                      You’ve ignored every single fact presented in the progress report, since they all contradict your preconceived notions.

                      The 2011 report says 37 limited stops along the entire routes will be reduced to 15. That’s a reduction of 22 stops. The only stop I am aware of that has been since added is the one at Avenue D. That means a great number of limited passengers will now switch to the local especially since transferring between the two will prevent a second transfer for the same fare and less than half the riders use an unlimited.

                      As I said: “Within the current limits of limited service – between Avenue U and Flushing Avenue – the limited makes 18 stops in each direction (inclusive) and the planned SBS will make 11 stops.” Compare the list of proposed stops to the stops shown on the existing bus map. The rest of the stops that the SBS will skip are the local stops at the far north and south ends of the route, where limiteds now make local stops.

                      Despite the free transfer, I have never heard of anyone who actually transfers between SBS (or limited) and local. Millions of riders are about to get a major service improvement, and you’re seriously worried about the possibility that somebody might need to make a second transfer on top of the local-to-SBS transfer, even though virtually none make even the local-to-SBS transfer alone on the M15 or Bx12?

                      (In the other direction, it isn’t even an issue – assuming the M15 precedent carries over to the B44, SBS receipts will be accepted on the local, so somebody transferring from SBS to local doesn’t need to swipe again.)

                      Do you really think anyone who gets on at Avenue R after walking a quarter-mile to that stop will walk over another half mile to Kings Highway or just under another half mile to Avenue U (not Avenue X) to get the the SBS? That is an additional ten minute walk for a fast walker to save only six minute for an average 2.3 mile trip.

                      As I said, “depending on exact starting point.” People are willing to walk longer distances to reach faster transit services. The 2.3 mile figure is an average – many riders will be traveling longer distances than that, especially those boarding near the south (or north) end of the line.

                      Really now? That makes a lot of sense. And that is in good weather. When its cold, hot, wet or snowy or windy virtually no one wants to walk even a quarter-mile to a bus, certainly not three quarters of a mile. They will just overcrowd the local which will end up bypassing riders while the SBS will be half empty.

                      Do I have to explain loading guidelines to you again?

                      It’s not the six minute improvement I am criticizing, but the effort that is being put into this project to get that six minutes. That’s what I am questioning. Is it worth it?

                      This is news to me. It sure seems like you’ve been criticizing the project itself. For years. You’ve certainly been putting a lot of effort into criticizing how much effort has been spent trying to improve B44 service!

                      Incidentally, when it comes to transportation improvements, six minutes is huge.

                      The Brighton express already exists. No effort is required to save that six minutes.

                      The Brighton express hurts riders at Brighton local stations. Why are you suddenly unconcerned about the plight of local riders?

                      How much effort do you think should be spent studying a potential Culver express, which currently doesn’t exist?

                      See my article tomorrow on Sheepsheadbites.

                      Sorry, I’ve lost interest in your conspiracy theories. Although commenter “fdtutf” on your April 1 post is exactly right.

                      Taking people out of the subway and putting them on buses is less cost efficient. That’s what’s wrong with that. Given the MTA’s financial situation, they can hardly afford to provide service that is more inefficient.

                      The Lexington Avenue line is full. The trains are full and the tracks are full. Anyone who diverts to the bus frees up space on the train for another rider.

                      I’m surprised to see that you’re in favor of promoting the use of the subway over the bus as much as possible, but in this particular case the subway cannot accommodate additional riders.

                      The survey could have at least asked the question if the trip was previously made by subway so we could see if that was the case or not.

                      That’s a meaningless question. I ride the M15 once every few months, not necessarily between the same two points and not at the same time of day. How would I answer that question?

                      The day I saw it, and I do not know if that day was typical, it was at a standstill and that included 49th Street which was supposed to be a through street. I never seen it that bad.

                      Oh well. I’m sorry to hear it took you longer than you’d like to drive across 49th Street.

                      Think about how the streets in that part of Manhattan are used. I can think of plenty of design criteria that rank higher than how quickly drivers can drive their cars from the East Side to the West Side. In fact, I can’t think of many that rank lower.

                      When I looked at the data, I don’t remember seeing data on crosstown streets.

                      Then I suggest you look again.

                      Yes, I looked at the report the last time we discussed this. Yes, the report contains lots of data, and I commented last time that it is very suspicious that 10th, 11th and 12th Avenue were omitted from the study area. Could it be that the traffic moved to those streets so that’s why it was not shown?

                      The point of the taxi analysis in section 1.1 was to compare West Midtown trips (passing through the Times Square area) to East Midtown trips (well to the east of the Times Square area). West Midtown was presumably defined so that Times Square would be at its approximate center (on the east-west axis). West Midtown and East Midtown, as defined, are also approximately the same size. If West Midtown ran as far west as 12th Avenue, it would have to run as far east as 2nd Avenue, and 2nd Avenue is certainly not West Midtown!

                      Section 1.2 explicitly includes each north-south avenue between 12th and Madison. Did you not read that far?

                      Logic dictates that the study area should either have been river to river, or Park Avenue to 9th Avenue. But 9th Avenue to the East River is not logical unless they were trying to hide something. That’s what it seems they were doing.

                      I suggest you read the study again, since it has many different study areas for the many different questions that it answers. It’s a thorough document and it reports the negative results along with the positive. On page 38 it explicitly lists results that differed considerably from forecasts.

                      What you call a study area is actually two contrasting study areas, one from 9th to 5th and one from 5th to the FDR, of approximately equal sizes, one centered on Times Square and one well to the east of Times Square.

                      Your understanding of traffic engineering is erroneous. The the number of cars passing a point in a given time period is meaningless without considering speed. The number of cars passing a specific point could be very low, because the traffic is exceedly light or because it is exceedingly heavy. If ten cars pass a particular point in one minute on one street when they are moving at 30 mph and ten cars pass a particular point on another street at 10 mph, would you say both streets carry the same volume of cars and those situations are equal?

                      Throughput and speed are different things. Which one are you trying to measure?

                      In the case of 1st and 2nd Avenues, both were essentially unchanged. See Figures 12-15. Despite your dire assumptions, there is no carmageddon here.

                      Because traffic seeks the least congested route. If capacity was reduced on First and Second Avenue, the traffic either moved to neighboring streets increasing congestion there or it just disappeared.

                      As I asked: “If changes in traffic volumes on First and Second were minimal, then why would Third and Lex have been affected in any measurable fashion?” Take another look at Figures 14 and 15. First and Second are carrying as much traffic now as they were before SBS.

                      Sadik-Khan is also responsible for bike lanes put in by her predecessor. She is
                      not blameless.

                      As I said on March 12: “Every single bike lane installed under Sadik-Khan was done with community approval (most often, the community has requested the bike lane in the first place). That wasn’t the case for the Weinshall administration.” I stand by that.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Here we go again. After 2 1/2 months, you just won’t give up. This is what I mean that you get so involved in details, you forget what the conversation is all about. “Why does planning take so long?” was the question asked.

                      You insist on turning this into a debate primarily about the M15 SBS and to distort what I say. You try to make it seem that I feel SBS is the worst thing the MTA could have done and I am in favor of all buses stopping at every stop so that buses should travel as slow as molasses which is not true.

                      I’m not going to take each one of your comments and respond because you only split the hair finer, and this discussion will never end.

                      When I referred you to the article I wrote about the M15 where I clearly explained my position, your response was that you “lost interest in my conspiracy theories.” So to briefly summarize, I believe the M15 has some issues, but it does work and I do not oppose it. In fact it works better than the M34. B44, B46, or a Woodhaven SBS will work when they are implemented. I don’t have definite conclusions regarding the S79. I was only pointing out my experience on the one day I took it.

                      Of course you turned that into an indictment of how poor the service is and how I wasn’t considering the people benefiting from it. But that type of word twisting is typical of you.

                      I stated many riders are not happy with SBS on the M15. In your book, I would have to cite “thousands,” and If I don’t my comment is meaningless. The fact is that half the local riders do not like SBS. You conclude that’s because they don’t ride it. How do you know? Maybe they’ve tried it, saw it didn’t save them any time and returned to the local. That certainly is a possibility. That also doesn’t mean that it has hurt more than it helped. It certainly could have had a positive effect.

                      My primary point in this entire discussion about the MTA is to fault their data collection techniques which are slanted to pre-drawn conclusions.

                      It is their obligation to clearly state their methodology in measuring rider satisfaction, not for you or I to guess how it was measured. Okay, so we know half the local riders disapprove. But does that mean that 99% of the SBS riders approve as the TA claims? No it doesn’t.

                      It is possible that only 60% approve. How?
                      Because if they measured satisfaction here like they did on their other satisfaction surveys, you had to rate your satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest rating. So if 99% of the respondents (and we have no idea if 100 people were surveyed or 5,000 because they didn’t tell us) rated the service a 6 or better, meaning they were satisfied at least 60% of the time, the MTA can say 99% are satisfied.

                      Why should the satisfaction percentage be based on some ridiculous assumption that if you please 51% of the people you are doing an excellent job?

                      Nowhere else is this done. Someone winning an election with 51% of the vote is not considered a landslide. It only is in MTA speak.

                      On the proposed B44 SBS, your logic is truly baffling. You state that if many limited riders are forced onto the local because of the elimination of 22 limited stops, that would trigger greater frequencies on the locals and they would be better off. How would they be better off taking a slower local than a faster limited (which would no longer be operating) even if it comes a minute or two quicker? Never mind don’t bother answering.

                      “You want all buses to make closely spaced stops.”

                      Yes continue to put words into my mouth.

                      “The 2.3 mile figure is an average – many riders will be traveling longer distances than that, especially those boarding near the south (or north) end of the line.”

                      Yeah, really? Many? How many thousands? I can play the same games you can.

                      “That’s a meaningless question. (If the trip was previously made by subway.)I ride the M15 once every few months, not necessarily between the same two points and not at the same time of day. How would I answer that question?”

                      You don’t ask the question about all your SBS trips. You inquire about the trip currently being made. You obviously never conducted a transportation survey in your life. I have, and more than one.

                      “Oh well. I’m sorry to hear it took you longer than you’d like to drive across 49th Street.”

                      Yes, make the assumption that I drove. Only an ass would make that assumption. I took the train FYI. Oh, did I just insult you. I’m so sorry.

                      “As I asked: “If changes in traffic volumes on First and Second were minimal, then why would Third and Lex have been affected in any measurable fashion?” ”

                      You don’t know unless you look. And Third and Lex aren’t the only two that need to be looked at. There is also York Avenue. The one time I drove in Manhattan in the past year, I was going up York Avenue from the Queensboro Bridge. While northbound traffic was okay, southbound traffic was at a standstill from the mid-70s to 59 Street which I have never seen before.

                      I’m not saying that was because of SBS, but it could have been if it is a daily occurrence which I don’t know either.

                      You need to do a comprehensive study of traffic impacts and passenger travel times if you want to truly measure the amount of success. Neither of those were done. Only bus travel times and impacted streets were studied. That is not sufficient by planning standards.

                      And you just keep on defending Sadik-Khan by refusing to acknowledge the fact that she would not listen to the community’s repeated requests over seven years to eliminate a not needed bike lane or to move it over one block, just because it was installed by her predecessor. That’s like Obama saying, “Don’t expect me to do anything about the deficit. That happened because of my predecessors. I didn’t cause it.” How silly is that?

                      And you don’t again need to explain loading guidelines which you insist on bringing up in every single discussion and I don’t have the time to discuss the Times Square pedestrian way with you either.

                      I hope this discussion is now over. But with you, it won’t be. You will just keep putting words in my mouth and going around in circles like you always do.

            • Someone says:

              No, I think that in heavily-trafficked corridors like the Madison/5th and the 3rd/Lexington pair, headways can be 5 to 10 minutes. The M1 bus schedule is shown as an example.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                We are discussing guidelines not schedules. Of course actual schedules exceed the guidelines when warranted. The purpose of guidelines are to assure a minimum standard of service on exceedingly light routes.

            • Andrew says:

              I’ve seen the original guidelines from the mid-80′s. They allowed for a 30 minute headway on buses.

              As far as I know, the only change made to those guidelines was the 2010 increase from 100% to 125% of a seated load for the off-peak subway loading guideline. It was publicized with the rest of the 2010 service cuts, for which multiple public hearings were held.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                I really doubt those were the original guidelines because that is not what I remember. 30 minute headways could never have been the original peak hour guideline.

                Do you have any proof? As you often ask me?

                • Andrew says:

                  No, I don’t have proof. I said that I’ve seen them. They’re not in front of me.

                  Given your great interest in this topic, I’m surprised you don’t have records from 1986 – you even worked for the agency at the time.

                  Why do you say that “30 minute headways could never have been the original peak hour guideline”? Plenty of other transit agencies have policy headways of 30 minutes or greater. The MBTA, for instance, has a policy headway of 30 minutes during rush hours and 60 minutes at other times.

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    The MTA is not like plenty of other agencies. Aren’t we one of the few agencies that provide 24 hour service? You can’t pick and cite facts just to suit your convenience. Everyone knows mass transit usage is greater in NYC than anywhere else so it stands to reason that our guidelines would be more stringent.

                    And I would have had copies of the guidelines if they ever were made public or even distributed to the MTA’s own employees. They were always kept secret. I have only seen them mentioned in newspaper articles which I still may have copies of but they are not readily accessible. Also a lot of my old records were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy since they were in the basement.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Also by 1986 I was out of Operations Planning.

                    • Andrew says:

                      As far as I know, most major transit agencies provide some sort of all-night service, if not on the rail system then on the bus system. But what does that have to do with policy headways during the daytime? Busy lines get frequent service due to loading guidelines. Policy headways are only in place to serve as a “floor” – regardless of how low ridership drops, the headway will never increase beyond the policy headway.

    • Patrick says:

      So, you’re the reason the B83′s timing is fucked worse than it was

      • BrooklynBus says:

        Why do I suspect that you do not even ride the B83?

        • Patrick says:

          Really, on what day did the B83 get rerouted to bypass Starrett City-Spring Creek Towers? My travel plans ALWAYS starts with this untimely bus. It’s sad that the B82, which goes all the way out to Coney Island (and just got Limited-Stop service like 4 years ago), is on time more than the B83, which stays in ONE neighborhood. Thank Fucking You!

          • BrooklynBus says:

            Now it is obvious that you have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about. The B83 currently goes through the heart of Spring Creek Towers (Starrett City) and does not bypass it. The extension merely involves a five minute extension on the Belt Parkway to the mall, efficiently providing a needed service that was not previously available.

            Also the B83 still is a relatively short route that shoud be easy to keep on schedule. If it is unreliable, it is due to the failings of the MTA, not myself. Either road supervision is inadequate or lacking, or else the schedule needs to be examined. Quit blaming me when you have absolutely no knowledge of the facts, other than you are waiting for a bus longer than you should. And using bad language won’t make you friends either. Do you call up the MTA saying service sucks on the B83 and then hang up, expecting the problems to be solved? They won’t be if that is your attitude.

            Explain the problems to them politely, being specific and you actually may see some positive improvements. I’m not trying to apologize for the MTA, but your attitude sir, is certainly counterproductive.

            • Patrick says:

              Some people just can’t see sarcasm sometimes. Remember what depot the B83 is assigned to, East New York, notorious for failing to keep on schedule & drivers with bad attitudes. The fact that this depot can keep the B82 relatively on time just surprises me. Calling the MTA & pleading or writing petitions doesn’t will not change anything when it comes to this depot. Your “recommended 5 minute extension” jacked up the schedule so now it’s 10 minutes extra on waiting & buses being packed to the gulls during the Rush from Broadway Junction to Twin Pines Drive, nearly all of the route & because of that, very-easy-to-do fare-beating, which further stymies any schedule improvements for the line.

              Pennsylvania Avenue, even with that one big ol’ pothole near the 3 train station (which has been paved over but there is still a dip) & the block between Liberty & Atlantic Avenues, it’s a good road, which was repaved. The problems is:
              • The 2 blocks between Pitkin Avenue & Liberty Avenue where it narrows down to 1 lane in each direction
              • The catered to drivers coming off the Parkway signal at the Pennsylvania Ave/Jamaica Ave/Bushwick Ave/Jackie Robinson Pkwy intersection
              • ALL of the drivers trying to get on the Jackie Robinson Parkway (which was improved slightly when the Fulton Street stop heading towards the Junction was discontinued when the Social Security office there closed)

              • BrooklynBus says:

                Sorry, I just don’t see obscenities and insults as sarcasm.

                I am quite familiar with Pennsylvania Avenue having driven it daily for 6 months some time ago. Sounds to me like you should be addressing some of your concerns to DOT. Here are some people you could write to: messer@nycdot.gov or kbray@nycdot.gov. I think you might get better results from middle management than if you go to the top.

                As far as depot problems, write to darryl.irick@nyct.com and he will have someone investigate and get back to you if you can provide specifics such as bus numbers and times. You may not get a response if you just make a general criticism.

                Regarding schedules, you may want to contact someone at Operations Planning, but I doubt if anyone there will even give a damn.

            • Patrick says:

              [I forgot to write this]
              Maybe is not all of your fault. the 83 was packed before & it’s packed after the extension. Difference is, it is now more packed because of the extension & it’s not because of shoppers trying to get out to Gateway

              • BrooklynBus says:

                You should be addressing this to Andrew since he is of the opinion that because the MTA follows its service guidelines, problems such as the one you mention never occur. It would be interesting to see if he responds here.

                • Andrew says:

                  Really? As I just said a few hours ago, the loading guidelines address scheduled service frequency only. If Patrick’s bus is not running on schedule or isn’t reliable, that’s not something that loading guidelines can address. If his bus is consistently overloaded, with respect to the loading guidelines, then the next time loads are checked (they are checked every two years on local bus routes, I believe; I have no idea when the B83 is up next), service will be increased to bring it in accordance with the guidelines.

                  Wait a minute, the B83 was just checked recently! It’s included in the package of frequency changes to be implemented in April. On weekdays, the checks showed that buses were loaded to 81% of guideline in the AM rush (triggering a decrease from 5 minutes to 5.5 minutes), to 145% of guideline in the midday (triggering an increase from 15 minutes to 10 minutes), to 131% of guideline in the evening (triggering an increase from 12 minutes to 9 minutes), to 111% of guideline on Saturday late afternoons (triggering an increase from 12 minutes to 10 minutes), and to 61% of guideline on Saturday evenings (triggering a decrease from 12 minutes to 15 minutes). Sunday loads were apparently not checked in this round.

                  • Patrick says:

                    Sunday loads are fine. The big problem was weekday mid-morning & all of the evening. Sad part is, these changes won’t mean anything if ENY drivers can’t get the timing down packed.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Send an e-mail to Darryl.irick@nyct.com with as much specifics as possible explaining the problem and he will have someone look into it. It could be a problem with the schedules or perhaps the bus drivers aren’t doing their job. If it is the schedules, the only thing he can do is forward the problem to Operations Planning for them to look into. Wait and see what happens. Good luck.

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    Thanks for the info. It just sounded like it could have been caused by the guidelines.

                    • Andrew says:

                      Yes, those terrible guidelines, by which midday buses have been deemed 45% overcrowded and evening buses have been deemed 31% overcrowded, triggering service increases next month at those times of day.

                      How terrible!

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Your specialty is to put words in my mouth. I never called the guidelines “terrible.” I merely stated by relying solely on guidelines you don’t solve many problems like what the problems I cited on the B1.

                      Also, you would not place bus stops near major land uses if you strictly adhere to a certain block spacing or use maximum walking distance as an excuse not to improve service. You end up providing mediocre service when a little more attention to detail would improve the service at little or no cost.

                      Not only do I not consider the guidelines “terrible” in fact, I believe the guidelines were the best thing that happened in Planning because I remember what it was like before they were instituted. The MTA had absolutely no idea what levels of service to provide, other than for rush hours where they had some minimal data collected by dispatchers and the accuracy of that data was highly questionable.

                      When I was in Operations Planning, I was pressing for additional beach service because beaches were greatly underserved. I sent out a team of surveyors that showed buses were so overcrowded with beach passengers that at certain locations non-beach passengers were waiting 90 minutes for a bus because of the severe overcrowding.

                      That was three years before the traffic checkers began and four years before schedules began to reflect those counts.

                      In spite of the data I collected, I was not successful in obtaining that extra beach service because Operations was not willing to provide it claiming they couldn’t find the drivers willing to work overtime, since the service could not be regularly scheduled but had to be provided on an as needed basis.

                      Years earlier when I tried to get extra beach service when I was at the Department of City Planning, the claim was they did not have additional buses available. There was always an excuse, because serving the passengers was never their highest priority.

                      Another area that was not adequately served before the guidelines was school service which was grossly underserved. So yes, I do see the importance of guidelines.

                    • Andrew says:

                      Then why did you say that the guidelines might have caused the overcrowding that Patrick reports?

                      On the contrary, if a consistent overcrowding problem is caused by inadequate service, then the loading guidelines will solve the problem by increasing the frequency.

                      (If the overcrowding problem is caused by something else, then the loading guidelines won’t do anything, because they’re the wrong tool for the job.)

                      Patrick noticed an overcrowding problem at certain times of day. Based on loading data collected by traffic checkers and on the loading guidelines, OP noticed an overcrowding problem at the exact same times of day and wrote new schedules that increased service at those times of day. Those schedules will go into effect next month.

                      In two years, the process will repeat: traffic checkers will look at loads on the B83 and OP will adjust the schedules based on the newly observed loads.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      It was just a hunch. From what you stated it appears now that the guidelines weren’t the problem and may actually have solved a problem.

                      Unlike you I will readily admit when I am wrong about something, and not make preposterous statements such as the head of OP did not steal my idea but just approved the exact same idea someone on his staff was working on at the same time I proposed it. An idea he called stupid, but saw fit to implement anyway three weeks later.

  5. LLQBTT says:

    Build an L extension to connect with the 7 at 34 St

    • VLM says:

      I pretty much love blanket absurdities like this. Do you know how hard it would be to do this and how much it would cost and how many years it would take? In no world is L service to 34th St. a viable short-term solution for the problems with implementing a bus route in less than 10 months.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Sane world: it could/should cost a few hundred million or maybe in the low billions and take a few years. Our world: it would cost tens of billions and take decades.

    • Someone says:

      Yeah. Like the MTA really wants to do that. I’m sorry, but it’s just not feasible.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        It could have been done using the High Line and the #7 extension would not have been necessary. Also, it would have been a fraction of the cost.

        Taking ten months to implement a bus route running every 30 minutes is also ridiculous and doomed to failure.

        • VLM says:

          I love, love, love this fantasy world we live in. It couldn’t have been accomplished with the High Line, and it definitely wouldn’t have been for a fraction of the cost. Stick with buses, Al.

          • BrooklynBus says:

            I have not yet heard of an engineering explanation why it would have not been feasible. Can you please provide one since you are so sure it would not have been possible?

            And it would have been much cheaper. Tunneling for only a block or two instead of a mile.

            • VLM says:

              1. The L train is too deep at 14th St. and 8th Ave. to meet up with the High Line at 10th Ave.

              2. To support the weight of our subways and ready it for rapid transit operations, the MTA would have basically needed to demolish and rebuild the structure.

              Those are just for starters. It would have been a massively expensive and impractical undertaking.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                More expensive than extending the #7 line?

                That I could understand if it were the case.

                Impractical? I’m not yet convinced.

                • VLM says:

                  Serious question: Have you walked along the High Line? If you have, you’ll see how the space and infrastructure just isn’t there for rapid transit operations without some serious use of eminent domain in some high-value areas.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  You think modest reforms like pedestrian plazas cause the carpocalypse, but see no problem with turning a block or two of one of the busiest cross streets in the city into a tunnel portal to bring the L from deep below the surface to two stories above grade?

                  If the ridership is there, and I don’t think it is, the L to 34th should be underground.

                  • Eric Brasure says:

                    Yeah, I don’t see any point to extending the L to 34th Street. If you’re trying to get to a point on 42nd St, you already have the option of transferring to the 4,5,6,N,Q,R,B,D,F,M,1,2,3,A,C and E trains at various points along 14th Street.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Well, I will say us outer borough residents very desperately need one-seat access to Megabus!

                      Though seriously, I could see the area developing in the future in a way that warrants the investment. I just don’t see it as justified now, or at least don’t know enough about it to offer an opinion. I do suspect: it’s not a job center, and the residents there aren’t trying to commute to jobs along 14th or northern Brooklyn, so it’s probably not needed now. Meanwhile, there are better places for new transit and cheaper solutions to getting people from 34th & Eleventh to 14th and whatever.

                    • Someone says:

                      Yeah, such as a limited-stop version of the M11…

                    • Eric Brasure says:

                      I guess you could make the argument that we should be investing in transit now that will serve future populations (I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the Flushing line being built) but at the same time there’s a lot of slack in other parts of the city that already have access to transit (like LIC.)

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    West of 8th Avenue is probably the most lightly traveled portion of 14th Street.

                    • Someone says:

                      Which does not justify the construction of a L train extension.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Didn’t say that it did. Was merely responding to your comment about pedestrian plazas. The eminent domain argument may be a legitimate reason against it.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      “Most lightly traveled portion of 14th Street” is still perhaps more traveled than almost anywhere outside of Midtown Manhattan.

                      Eminent domain may not even be necessary, but it would still be a destructive idea.

  6. Tower18 says:

    Sounds to me like they’ll try this “service” just long enough to decide it failed and wasn’t needed, and then kill it forever.

  7. Andrew says:

    You’re grossly underestimating what goes into starting up a bus line.

    Bus stops have to be selected. In many cases that means individual site visits, consulting and negotiating with neighboring businesses, etc.

    Schedules have to be written. By schedules I don’t just mean the PDF’s posted on the web site for the public – the scheduling process includes assigning a driver to each run, making sure that each driver has adequate breaks, etc.

    Once they’re written, they probably have to go through a prolonged approval process, including the union. There’s a good chance they’ll need to be revised at some point in the process.

    Once the schedules are finalized, they’re incorporated into the pick process, which itself probably takes weeks if not months.

    I wish it were a simple process of waving a magic wand and producing a bus line, but the reality is much more complicated.

    • BrooklynBus says:

      In the late 1970′s the biggest problem with starting a new bus route was the time it took to obtain a franchise. Once that was accomplished, a new route could start in three months because that’s all it took to write a schedule and and go through the pick process which only took a couple of weeks. Deciding the bus stops was done concurrently. That was when schedules were written all by hand.

      Now that it s all computerized the process should be much faster. However I read that it now takes a year to write a schedule and I don’t see why the pick process is lengthened either. You also make it seem like picking bus stops is no longer done concurrently. Sounds like things today are much more inefficient than they were 40 years ago. Please explain why. Not enough funding to do it quicker?

  8. Nolan says:

    let’s be thankful for SBS. can you imagine how long it would take to implement real BRT?

    • BrooklynBus says:

      The original plan was to have five SBS routes up and running within five years. If they were successful, then there were to be ten more in the following five years and even more after that. The rationale was that it takes 20 years for a subway to be built and within that time you could have over 20 SBS routes all over the city.

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