Home Service Cuts At the last minute, protesting a bus cut

At the last minute, protesting a bus cut

by Benjamin Kabak

A bus stop no longer With the MTA’s service cuts to subway and bus service now just a handful of days away from becoming a reality, neighborhood associations are finally waking up to the reality of the situation. Although the cuts were first announced in January and the MTA hosted hearings on their plans over the winter, many have either ignored the news or been in denial. No longer, though, will a group of Brooklynites remain silent.

A group of protesters will gather this afternoon at 5 p.m. at Union St. and Smith St. in Carroll Gardens to protest the impending end of the B71. While the group’s press release claims the bus runs to Red Hook, the route in reality goes from Crown Heights to Van Brunt and Sackeet Sts. in Cobble Hill. This bus is near and dear to me because it stops around the corner from where I live, and the neighborhood association is now asking Assembly-woman Joan Millman, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Councilman Brad Lander to do something.

“If this bus disappears, our developing neighborhood will be left completely in the lurch,” Brad Kerr of the Columbia Street Waterfront Association said. “We have no other public transportation, no subway, and the MTA is not offering any alternative. This move will hurt everyone who’ve struggled for years to rebuild this area.”

When I first received word of this rally, I raised a skeptical eyebrow. The B71 runs twice an hour, often not on time and with few people on board. Buses that run down Bergen and 9th Sts., while not as convenient, will pick up some of the slack, and the protest just seemed ill-timed to me. Why were these associations waiting until four days before the cuts are put into place to raise their voices?

I posed some of these questions to Marta Heilborn, a B71 rider who is part-organizer of these protests. She told me that she didn’t know about the MTA’s hearings or cuts sooner. Else, she would have started protesting then. She also informed me that she supported a congestion pricing plan that would have funded the MTA.

At the same time, the organization’s press release questions why the MTA has not used stimulus funds to help cover a gap. But, as I’ve said, even with stimulus funds, the MTA would still be staring down a $300 million. The cuts would go on anyway.

In 90 minutes, when residents gather, it will be too late. There is, of course, an online petition, but who will listen? The MTA doesn’t have the money to restore service, and the politicians seem content to put in perfunctory appearances at community protests without offering any legislative or economic solutions.

So protest away, I say. Get that outrage on the record. Make sure the politicians are listening, though, because this situation is just as much their faults as it is the MTA. Just don’t expect that bus line to be miraculously saved tomorrow. The cuts are coming.

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John June 23, 2010 - 5:06 pm

Unbelievable. For Christ’s sake, they’ve already put the new bus maps on line and are starting to put out the schedules. (They’ve already done so for most of the affected Manhattan/Bronx routes).
I don’t see how they couldn’t have realized it until it was too late. The reductions were announced in December and officially in January. Their last real chance to protest would’ve been after they revised some of the reductions based on public input. They could’ve said “Since you saved the Bx18, Bx33 weekend service, the X9, the rush hour X1, etc, save our B71”. But instead they just watched as the clock kept ticking.
Maybe in the future, they will restore it. It did, after all see about a 30% increase in ridership from 5 years ago. But at this point, when you are 4 days away, funding isn’t going to come through. They removed most of the signs, updated the map. It’s over.

Cap'n Transit June 23, 2010 - 5:37 pm

Ah yes, the useless Joan Millman. Anyone running against her this fall? Gary?

cfb June 24, 2010 - 10:03 am

Doug Biviano (former City Council candidate) is petitioning to run against her, but I’m not expecting much.

BrooklynBus June 23, 2010 - 6:32 pm

I have a question for you Benjamin. Why do you find it so difficult to believe that people are now first learning about the cuts? This is what i have been saying since before the hearings that most will not realize what is happening until the cuts are about to be made or after their bus is not running anymore. And for this you do have the MTA to blame.

There is absolutely no reason why the very descriptive signs for each borough which have been appearing in all the buses during the last twn days, could not have been posted in the buses prior to the hearing. Instead, prior to the hearing only the legal minimum was posted, a single sign mostly in 12 point type that cannot be read in a moving bus for all Citywode changes which did not even describe the changes in detail. Few people bothered to go to the web for the details and others don’t have a computer or know how to use one. That is why people are first finding out now the specifics.

I originally thought that the MTA just didn’t want to spend the money for more detailed descrtiptive signs and maps. Apparently money was not the issue, since they are doing it now. The real reason is that they wanted to limit attendance at the hearings to minimize the protests. They didn’t want people to know the full impact before the hearings.

The problem with the cuts is that the process was not transparent. The MTA never exp[lained how they used the criteria they established. The B71 saw a 29% passenger increase during the past five years, but that didn’t stop the MTA from eliminating the route. Why have criteria if you are not going to use them?

The MTA is only making changes that involve cuts. Limited Stops are a cut. SBS is a cut. Three block spacing is a cut. Changing the crowding guidelines is a cut, etc, etc. They are doing nothing to make it easier to travel between neighborhoods even if no cost is involved because they do not want additional riders. They believe that more riders will just necessitate additional service which will further increase their deficit. They want fewer people to use the system so they can make more cuts. They believe that is the only way to reduce their deficit.

Benjamin Kabak June 23, 2010 - 6:48 pm

This comment puts me in the unenviable position of having to defend the MTA, but I’m going to because I believe many of your questions are answered.

First, the cut process was plenty transparent. New York City Transit officials sat down with reporters for two hours in January and described how they arrived at the cuts. They looked at ridership figures throughout the city and then eliminated the bus routes that both cost the most to operate in terms of dollars per ride and were within 1/4 to 1/2 mile away from either other bus routes or parallel subway lines. Maybe you disagree with it, but that’s their explanation and they were very forthcoming with it. With the B71, we’re talking about 1,080 weekday and 1,210 weekend customers. That’s not a lot.

As for why I find it so difficult to believe that people are finding out about cuts now, well, the cuts have been plastered all over the news for six months. Every paper, every TV station, every radio news program has covered the cuts. The MTA had hearings where they handed out packets of information, and the PDFs have been available online since late January. The authority clearly wasn’t forthcoming with their signage in system, but short of mailing 8 million New Yorkers a copy of the proposed cuts, they made the information pretty accessible.

If the people organizing the Save the B71 protest could find my site and plenty of other small niche blogs to e-mail, they could have found out the bus was going to be eliminated longer than a week before the cuts are put into place.

ferryboi June 23, 2010 - 7:34 pm

Benjamin, I have to agree with you. Many of these cuts stink, but most cuts took into account other nearby transit options. The MTA tried its best to merge lines (such as the S60/66 lines on Staten Island) so there is at least some weekday service. Those yellow signs on bus stops, as well as pamphlets with detailed maps, have been available for over a month now. But you can bet the mortgage that come Monday morning there will be folks waiting at bus stops for routes that no longer exist. Sad to say, there are more than a few people in NYC who don’t read a newspaper, watch TV news, or look at anything posted on buses or subways that don’t have the word “Budweiser” in the title!

John June 23, 2010 - 8:27 pm

The thing is that the daily riders, who would be most affected by the reductions, should’ve known. They are the ones who use the bus stops and should’ve seen those bright yellow signs next to the timetable.
I agree with Benjamin. These reductions have been advertised in newspapers and on TV since Decmber when the MTA announced that they would have to cut service. Even the most technologically illiterate person would’ve heard talk of it on the line itself (“Unbelievable. I heard they’re going to cut this bus”). Libraries offer free Internet and newspapers. Like Benjamin said, with the media covering it, that was all the publicity these reductions could’ve gotten without mailing out the service reductions packet to every household in NYC.
I forget what site it was, but they said that 2/3 of the people surveyed on the Middle Village end of the M train didn’t even know it was going to be rerouted to Midtown. This will be like in 2004 when the Manhattan Bridge was finished being rebuilt and people on the N were shocked to find themselves going over the Manhattan Bridge.

ferryboi June 23, 2010 - 8:42 pm

I’m very convinced that many NYers travel one line from Point A to Point B, and have no idea about any other line or portion thereof that does not affect them. I’ve seen tourists for directions and heard riders’ reply that “I don’t know if this train goes to 42nd St, I don’t ride it that far.” So even if you don’t go to 42nd St, you never looked at a map to see where the train DOES go or where it terminates?

I’ve personally posted signs at the bus stop in front of my job when the crosstown bus is cancelled for parades, street fairs, etc, only to watch people read the sign, then wait 15 mins while giving that “where the hell is the bus” stare down the steet, craining their necks all the while! There’s only so much the MTA can do for people whose elevator doesn’t go to the top floor.

John June 23, 2010 - 9:33 pm

My family used to be like that. I used to live in Brighton Beach, and when it was the (D), I didn’t realize it went up to the Bronx, until it was cut back to 34th Street. Eventually, we got into the habit of reading maps and now we know all the lines in the whole system.
You have to consider, some people just use the line for a few purposes, and all of them are within a certain number of stops, so the terminal at the other end is meaningless, since they never need to go there.

John June 23, 2010 - 9:37 pm

Actually, my father and grandmother knew the system inside out, but since my mother and I were from another country (and I was very young anyway, about 6), we didn’t really pay attention to lines outside of our neighborhood. For example, we knew about the B, D, N, Q, and R trains, but not about lines like the J, on the other side of Brooklyn. I’m sure there are people who are in the position we were (though I’m sure they don’t make up a majority of the people that this ignorance applies to).

BrooklynBus June 23, 2010 - 11:41 pm

Unenviable position of defending the MTA? Are you kidding me? Virtually every negative comment you make regarding the MTA is following by some sort of excuse or apology that it is not their fault.

First, the process was hardly transparent. If it were, there would be no disagreements regarding which routes were cut. If X dollars suddenly became available tomorrow, there would be a list and it would be obvious which route(s) should be reinstated. Clearly that it is not the case. The methodology used was very faulty. Distances were measured as the crow flies, not considering barriers such as the Belt Parkway, or topography. Ridership trends were listed but ignored in the analysis. Effects were shown for the “average passenger” underestimating the true effects by not showing the maximum inconvenience incurred.

MTA guidelines call for bus service spaced approximately every half mile, i.e. ¼ mile walk to a bus route. By eliminating a bus route as far away as ½ mile from the closest bus route as you state they did if the operating cost was too high, spaces routes every mile, or a ½ mile walk, clearly violating the MTA’s own guidelines.

In the case of the B71, they state you would be required to use either the 9th Street bus or Bergen Street bus instead, both approximately ½ mile away. Who would walk ½ mile to a bus route, ride a mile, then walk ½ mile back to Union Street when they could walk the entire 1 mile trip without taking a bus? Show me where the estimate for lost patronage is for people who would not make such a ridiculous trip as they propose? And you state the process was transparent?

Also, how do you justify a cut like cutting the last four avenue blocks of the B3 in Bergen Beach? You are increasing the maximum walk to over a half-mile, another violation of the guideline, and there is no other bus or train within a ½ mile. Where do they present ridership statistics for portions of routes, to show the transparency? All they state is 400 weekday and 600 weekday customers would have to walk an average of 5 additional minutes. Where can I find the ends of every other route in the City to know if there are other routes with less patronage but are not being shortened? That is what would have been necessary for transparency. The MTA is just asking everyone to take their word for it that they did the proper analysis.

I’ve seen many MTA analyses that were sloppy and inaccurate to not want to trust them. In fact when I pointed out at the hearing that I observed B4 buses with 35 people on it at 2:30 PM when they were going to discontinue service in Sheepshead Bay, they modified their proposal to keep the bus running between 7 and 9 AM and from 2 to 7 PM. How many other mistakes did they make?

The MTA is one agency yet MTA Bus and NYCT used different criteria to determine cuts. NYCT will eliminate weekend X27 and X28 service while virtually all MTA Bus Company weekend express buses are less efficient and most weekend service is being retained. I can get you the specific numbers if you like.

You say 1,080 weekday passengers a day on the B71 and 1,210 weekend passengers is not a lot. What do you expect for a short route that operates every 30 minutes? If the route were three times longer and carried 3,000 daily passengers, would you keep it then? Of course not, because the length of the route or the number of passengers carried has nothing to do with efficiency. It’s the number of average number of bus passengers per mile that determines efficiency, numbers not presented in their report. I detailed the faults with their methodology at the hearing and on my blog: http://allanrosen.spaces.live.com/blog . That is why they omitted my testimony from their video on their website. They still did not post it after I informed them of the error which they acknowledged. And you still believe the MTA plays on a level playing field. They do not, and they cannot be trusted.

Finally, you state: “The authority clearly wasn’t forthcoming with their signage in system, but short of mailing 8 million New Yorkers a copy of the proposed cuts, they made the information pretty accessible.”

No, all they had to do was post the signage they posted ten days ago, before the hearings. The media covered the changes in general, mentioning only a few of the specific changes. The media never mentioned many of the changes. Most of the coverage was devoted to the proposed elimination student passes, not the service cuts.

J B June 24, 2010 - 3:23 am

Just because the methodology was faulty doesn’t mean they weren’t transparent, and since when does transparency lead to every one agreeing? You dislike their cuts does not equal they are not transparent.
If you ask me the MTA is in need of some defending. Most people talk about it like it’s somehow gaining from its many faults, while totally ignoring how it has been short-changed and scapegoated by the politicians who created and control it.

BrooklynBus June 24, 2010 - 9:31 am

Do you know what transparency means? It means a clearly laid out methodology that everyone can follow. If the methodology is faulty, transparency means nothing. They go hand in hand. It does mean that everyone agrees. Because if you do not like an individual cut, you don’t have a leg to stand on because they have proved that it was more deserving than ones not chosen.

The reason I dislike some of the cuts, is because they have not proved they are deserving, not because I dislike the cut per se. For example, the MTA has shown that it would have been more cost efficient to return the B4 eliminated service on weekends instead of weekdays, if they had to choose one or the other. Yet they chose weekdays without explaining their logic, although I think I know what it was. People shouldn’t have to guess. That is not transparency.

As far as the MTA being scapegoats as a result of the politicians, most are quite aware of it now, although they were not early on. Who do you have tp blame for this? The MTA. Because they remained silent, taking the blame not mentioning they were forced into the cuts by Albany dramatically cutting its subsidy. For whatever reason, the MTA chose to remain silent on this issue. That is why I have no sypathy for them. Even as late as the Brooklyn hearing, they could have prefaced the hearing with a remark stating how Albany cut the subsidy which most people were igonrant of at the time. The meeting was then disrupted by angry school students blaming the MTA. A lot of that hostility could have been averted with an opening remark by the MTA regarding the subsidy cut. But again they remained silent.

John Paul N. June 24, 2010 - 11:23 am

I do feel that if the MTA does have a consistent internal methodology that it uses to evaluate its routes, like this one, it would be wise to make it accessible and release that to the public. I should not expect that methodology to be buried in 30 MB non-OCR scanned board documents, in this day and age. Then again, routes tend not to dramatically change in distance here compared to other cities in response to demand, travel patterns and other demographics. If routes like the B71 and B23 were allowed to evolve over greater distances in order to be viable, we would not need all the futile route fantasizing that goes on in places like SubChat. Why can’t experimental bus trials be run in New York as opposed to other places?

When I read about the (2009?) transit cuts in Chicago, I learned that the CTA is required by the city to provide transit service within a 0.5 mile radius to all points of the city or thereabouts. Here in NYC, either I have not read any such legal requirement or I missed it.

The closest MTA narrative I could find is the legislation that authorizes the MTA, under “§ 1205. Rates of fare and levels of service”, page 38. I have no idea whether that is standard among similar public authorities, so I’ll leave the comment at that.

BrooklynBus June 24, 2010 - 1:09 pm

The problem I believe is that the MTA does not have a consistent internal methodology. What they have are service standard or planning guidelines which determine acceptable crowding levels, minimum service levels and suggested walking guidelines to bus routes. They first draw their conclusions, then selectively use the guidelines as support for their predetermined conclusions. The process should work in reverse with the guidelines being used to do the planning but it doesn’t. I can go into further detail to explain if you would like.

You make a very good point in saying: “routes tend not to dramatically change in distance here compared to other cities in response to demand, travel patterns and other demographics.” I have been saying for 40 years. It was the premise of my 1972 masters thesis at Columbia University.

I have also been saying what you just said “If routes like the B71 and B23 were allowed to evolve over greater distances in order to be viable…” I proposed extending and combining the B71 with the B14 which would be a zero cost change because you could use some B45 service. Since the B65 was rerouted to serve Downtown Brooklyn, you do not need all those B45s to do the same thing.

Also, the B23 could have been extended eastward along Clarendon Road and north on New York Avenue to Kings County Hospital. This would have allowed a transfer to the B35 for passengers to travel further eastward instead of deadending at Flatbush Avenue limiting its viability. Now, it would especially make sense with the removal of half the service along New York Avenue because of the B44 Limiteds being discontinued and rerouted as SBS to Nostrand and Rogers. It would minimize the negative impacts of the SBS.

This is the reason why the MTA does not believe in experimental bus trials, another of my proposals I have been making for 40 years. They believe that whatever experimental service they initiate, the politicians will not let them eliminate it if it is a failure. They are correct, if they don’t label it as an experimental service which they have never done. In order for them to eliminate failures, they would have to first set predetermined guidelines before the first bus runs, stating the route will be discontinued after a year (because that what you would need for a fair trial) if all or none of the following is not achieved. Then there would be no disagreement.

But NYC never does experiments in that fashion. Look at the DOT Times Square experiment declared a huge success by the mayor. Was it really? What were the study boundaries? Did traffic increase within those boundaries? Was bus service slowed by the experiment? None of this was made public. All they said was that traffic was manageable within Times Square and there was more room to walk which of course the people liked. Did they look at the congestion in the upper fifties? Of course not, because they knew they were going to decflare it a success before it started. The MTA had to point out about its buses being delayed, which the mayor disputed. Who would know better about this, the MTA or the mayor?

I’m not saying it was a bad idea. All I’m saying is that it was not a true experiment, the type you are suggesting the MTA try. Many routes are failures just becaue they don’t go where the people want to go and the MTA has no interest in changing that.

Marcus June 24, 2010 - 11:31 am

“But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

“But the plans were on display …”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

J B June 25, 2010 - 6:24 am

I know what transparency is, and see your point. You know what civility is?
I disagree about the MTA being to blame for its problems because I think doing so is meaningless. Since the MTA is always dysfunctional, regardless of who’s been appointed to run it, its problems are problably systemic. Since the system is pretty much designed and controlled by the state governent, final responsibility for it lies with the state government.
Blaming the MTA is not going to get anyone anywhere- to fix the problem you have to figure out why the MTA does what it does. I guess that’s not as satisfying as whining though.

BrooklynBus June 25, 2010 - 10:55 am

Yes, I know what civility is. I don’t believe that I’ve been rude to anyone. Do you know what responsibility is? It is very annoying that on this blog even when someone admits the MTA does something wrong, somehow it is never their fault. The MTA has to be responsible for its own actions as well as being responsible to the public. Has everyone forgot that?

Yes, its true that many problems can be traced back to the State government, but that doesn’t absolve the MTA of their responsibility. Before the MTA, when there only was the New York City Transit Authority, they were still not responsible. Did anyone blame the State then?

You admit that the MTA has always been dysfunctional, but somehow it’s my fault for “whining” about it. I’m not whining, just placing responsibility where it belongs. Having worked at the MTA for nearly 25 years, I think I know more than you do knowing why the MTA does what it does. That’s not the mystery. The problem is getting them to change. The MTA is not all bad. I’ve defended them on many occasions when I believe they have been unfairly targeted. There are many good people who work there who want to do the right thing. Their care about the customers and have many good ideas. The problem is with upper management whose only concern is the almighty buck. Many problems can be fixed without money. Most of the MTA’s problems stem from how they treat their employees. Good ideas are not rewarded.

Here’s one example. They have an employee suggestion program that financially rewards employees for good ideas. Sounds great on paper, but the MTA is not serious about it; it is just for show. If they actually were interested in change, it would be headed by a Vice President. Instead it is headed by an analyst who is not even a manager. So this is what happens. Some departments are very interested in improving efficiency and approve many sugggestions greatly increasing efficiency. Others are resistant to change at all costs, so they reject virtually all suggestions with BS reasons. A VP would be able to force those departments to seriously consider all suggestions. An analyst, no matter how good he or she is has no power and is not allowed to question those BS reasons. That is only a small example and has nothing to do with the State or funding.

Alon Levy June 25, 2010 - 6:18 pm

The problem with upper management is not the concern with money. On the contrary, the ideas it’s floating around cost so much that one wonders whether any of them would survive five minutes in the private sector.

The real issue is that people are naturally provincial, and New Yorkers are unusually so. Since most transit innovations in the last 50 years weren’t invented here, it means the only way the managers can justify their continued existence is to keep reinventing the wheel.

The employee suggestion box would help just a little bit. The problem is that the employees are New Yorkers. They’re the same kind of people who write factually incorrect comments about how New York has nothing to learn from the rest of the world. They’re better than management, though; in my experience, New York’s upper crust is the most provincial.

The reason I don’t usually blame the MTA is that I don’t see any reason to distinguish the various layers of US government incompetence. It’s like trying to figure which division of BP bears the most blame for the leak, or which division of Lehman Brothers bears the most blame for the company’s bankruptcy.

BrooklynBus June 25, 2010 - 7:36 pm

You couldn’t be more wrong. How can you say that upper management is not concerned with money? What do you think all these service cuts are about? What ideas wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the private sector? What managers are reinventing the wheel?

As for the employee suggestion program, done correctly, it could make a world of difference. The MTA is an extremely bureaucratic organization. In some departments, you cannot do anything without the approval of your boss. If he is an SOB, or doesn’t like you, and you can’t get a transfer, you could be stuck 10 or 20 years working for him and not be able to get anyone to listen to what may be some very worthwhile improvements. The Employee Suggestion Program is for some their only vehicle around this bureaucracy. In some departments it has been fabulously successful. Seemingly simple ideas involving manufacturing or repairs have generated savings of $2 million annually. For their bright ideas employees receive as much as a check for $15,000. While, a small percentage of the savings, it isn’t peanuts either. More typical examples are in the $500 to 1,000 range.

Imagine if every department wanted to change and improve itself, what this single program could accomplish. The problem isn’t that most New Yorkers are provincial, the problem is that many talk off the top of their head as if they know all the facts, when in fact they don’t know many.

Alon Levy June 26, 2010 - 3:14 pm

The service cuts are about cutting spending in the face of drying revenues.

Some ideas that reinvent the wheel and would be laughing stock in a profit-seeking venture: making the buses stand still during fare inspections, POP only for a few lines, bundling of credit cards and transit cards, conductors checking commuter train fares from a distance. The last one is still in planning, but Walder’s made it clear that instead of adopting either of the two global standards for commuter rail fare collection – POP or faregates – he wants to keep the conductors but have them read smartcards from a few feet away.

New York City Transit’s annual budget is about $6 billion. To go down to the per-rider budget of the two Tokyo subway operators, it would have to go down to a little more than $2 billion. Savings of $2 million help just a little bit; mostly what’s needed is massive cuts in staffing.

AlexB June 23, 2010 - 10:25 pm

When they announced fare increases a couple years ago, they were paired with some service increases that never materialized. One of those increases was going to be extending the B71 to South Ferry via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. As I lived at the Cobble Hill end of the B71, this would have been very useful. The B61 was ridiculously slow and the F was far away. As it is, the B71 shaves 15 or 20 minutes off of any other transit alternative, providing the only direct route between Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and Crown Heights. This bus really does take an incredibly useful route and would be much more useful if they sent it to the South Ferry. Ridership would increase by way more than 30%.

I agree that it is a bit absurd to think you could have missed this in the news. What isn’t absurd is to think there are a lot of people that just don’t pay attention. Regardless, the bus should stay.

ferryboi June 23, 2010 - 10:46 pm

Or one can take a bus to downtown Brooklyn and catch the 4/5 or R trains to Bowling Green/South Ferry. The idea is to eliminate duplication, and having a bus go from Cobble Hill to South Ferry would be duplicative of existing service. Even with the upcoming cuts in service, there are very few areas of any borough that one can’t get to via bus/subway/ferry. I’ve lived in every borough save the Bronx and have never been without some kind of service. And whenever I’ve visited friends in the Bronx, I always found a bus/subway to get me there.

AlexB June 24, 2010 - 8:56 am

Taking the B61 during rush hour takes about 20 minutes from Union and Columbia to get to Court and Alantic. Then, you have a four block walk to the 4/5. You’d get to Bowling Green about 30 minutes after you left. The B71 would have cut that trip in half for people on Columbia St or in Red Hook.

Similarly, a trip from Carroll Gardens to north Park Slope takes 10-15 minutes on the B71 and is a 25 minute walk. Taking other buses/trains takes at least as long as walking, because there are very poor connections in downtown Brooklyn.

BrooklynBus June 24, 2010 - 9:38 am

I don’t think anyone missed the proposed B71 extension in the news. The fact is that proposal was made in conjunction with congestion pricing, not a fare increase. Mayor Bloomberg forced the MTA to develop some new routes or extensions to handle the additional loads from people shifting to mass transit. Naturally they chose to extend routes that would cost the least such as the B71 which operates only every half hour, with no concern if the extension could actually meet the demand. Yes, it would have made the route more useful and maybe would even have doubled ridership. But that is not wha the MTA wants, more ridership. All they want is to cut service.

AlexB June 24, 2010 - 12:14 pm

It was made in conjunction with the fare increase and the general state of MTA finances, not congestion pricing per se; although, that obviously would have helped the finances. Regardless, the B71 extension would have cost very little and significantly improved ridership. Maybe we can get a dollar van from Red Hook to Bowling Green…



BrooklynBus June 24, 2010 - 12:36 pm

I stand corrected. Thanks for the info. Just further proves my point that the MTA has no interest in improving accessibility and routes, only cutting them.

John Paul N. June 23, 2010 - 11:23 pm

When the MTA introduced B38 Limited service, they sent a brochure to my address. It could go without saying that the MTA could also have sent out brochures to households who would have their service eliminated or severely changed. If Congresspeople and the like can periodically send out their promotional fliers, why not the MTA? People would certainly pay attention then.

Postage fees could be a reason why the MTA did not do so. Also, had Albany or the City found a way to restore funding, then the fliers would have been a waste of paper, and people would see this action as another blight on the MTA.

Al D June 24, 2010 - 10:02 am

To a long-timer the B71 western terminus would be in Red Hook. Since that name had negative connotations for many years, the realtors renamed the part of the Red Hook where the B71 ends and now it’s called Columbia Heights. Red Hook is most typically south of the Gowanus Expwy.

John June 25, 2010 - 12:32 am

I thought it would be more like Carroll Gardens.

BrooklynBus June 27, 2010 - 11:14 am

To Alon Levy:

The problem with service cuts is that you are also cutting revenue, and the estimates of revenue cut has always been underestimated historically speaking. That’s why service cuts just mean more future service cuts. There are ways of making the bus routes more efficient which may involve investing just a little more money. What other business refuses to invest a dime to build up business?

I agree with many of your points that you call “reinventing the wheel”. But is looking to Tokyo the answer? Their system may be more efficient than ours, but do you want the levels of crowding here that they have in Japan? Should we reduce more service and hire subway pushers? Sometimes efficiency isn’t always the best way to go.

Alon Levy June 27, 2010 - 12:39 pm

The Tokyo/New York efficiency gap isn’t just about different crowding levels. It’s also about much higher costs in New York per amount of service provided: more drivers per revenue train-hour, more customer service and fare collection per passenger, higher capital costs per maintenance or upgrade project.

Even Tokyo doesn’t like having Tokyo crowding levels. The railroads and metro companies are investing in better signaling to allow trains to run closer together, and in relief lines for the most crowded lines. As a result, crowding has been in decline over the last few decades. The pushers are just an interim mitigation measure, and are only present on the busiest stations.

The sort of efficiency Japanese railroads are looking for is not a ruthless cattle car efficiency, as Westerners believe. It’s about metrics that take into account passenger comfort and safety: how many seats you can fit into a train without decreasing passenger space (1,323 on a 400-meter single-deck train with a coach class seat pitch of 1,040 mm), how quickly you can turn trains back so that they earn revenue instead of idling (10 minutes intercity, 2 minutes commuter), how light the trains can be without compromising safety (23-33 metric tons per commuter car, 40-47 per intercity car), and how you can construct rolling stock to be low-maintenance (mean distance between failures of 2 million km).

JK June 27, 2010 - 6:53 pm

Did Marty Markowitz, Joan Millman or Dan Squadron use any of their tax payer funded mailings to inform their constituents in big, bold print, about the pending service cuts back when it would have mattered? Did any of them rally constituents to attend MTA hearings or sponsor their own hearings on service cuts? Did they? Did the Assembly Authorities or Transportation Committees hold their own hearings about the cuts? Did they? For whatever ineptness they’ve shown, making the MTA the villain here is idiotic. Transit riders have elected city and state legislators who have displayed no interest in their well being. On the contrary, the electeds have shown boundless shamelessness and cynicism in blaming the MTA for service cuts while they cut operating support

Dispatches from the service cuts :: Second Ave. Sagas June 29, 2010 - 12:18 pm

[…] many people were out in force protesting against the MTA’s cuts, one neighborhood association in Queens had a different gripe. Residents in Whitestone spoke out […]


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