Home Bronx At the Barretto Point Park pool, fewer visitors after the cuts

At the Barretto Point Park pool, fewer visitors after the cuts

by Benjamin Kabak

As one of the myriad service cuts implemented by the MTA this service, the decision to cut the Barretto Point Park Pool shuttle for a savings of just $100,000 looms large. The MTA launched this bus in 2008 and ran it for approximately 11-12 weeks every summer, shuttling pool-bound swimmers from the 6 at Hunts Point Ave. to the pool. With no shuttle, the pool attendance has plunged.

In Metro this week, Carly Baldwin explores the numbers. As of August 11, only 22,473 people had visited the pool this year, down from 29,807 last year. Considering the heat we’ve had and the relatively dry summer, a 25-percent drop in attendance is very unexpected. Those who run the pool, however, are pointing fingers at the MTA.

“It’s been almost the hottest July on record. Numbers should be up,” Adam Liebowitz from the Point Community Development Corporation said to Baldwin. “In previous summers you had to wait on line 20, 30 minutes before you could go in. But now I’ve heard the lines are gone. It’s obviously because of the lack of public transportation.”

On the surface, the MTA’s numbers seem to warrant eliminating the shuttle bus. After all, they say, only 120 people took the route during the week and the weekend average was just 340. But over the course of the 73 days the shuttle ran last year, that added up to nearly 14,000 pool-bound travelers. Now, unless these Bronx denizens want to risk a 30-minute walk from the subway or an 11-block walk from the Bx6 through an area known for prostitution, the swimming pool if off limits. Is the $100,000 saved over the summer worth it?

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John August 17, 2010 - 2:48 pm

To me it would make more sense to make a regular bus line that ran closer to the pool, instead of a specific shuttle, so it would get more use outside of pool-goers. But I don’t know much about that area – maybe it’s not feasible.

aestrivex August 17, 2010 - 3:41 pm

service cuts are service cuts. some people are going to be inconvenienced. why on earth is it not worth $100,000 of savings to not provide relatively sparsely used service to a park with a pool? that money has to come from somewhere, and certainly the MTA has no overabundance of that at present.

Christopher August 17, 2010 - 3:46 pm

I don’t know much about NY crime prevention strategies, but it’s usually regarded as a net benefit to have pool access during hot summer months. It lowers crime, keeps kids out of the streets, prevents fire hydrants from being opened (whether legally or not) and the associated costs there. I think it would also hold down on heat-related emergency room visits.

As a kid in Chicago, pools were very much apart of the summer crime and health strategy. So while maybe MTA shouldn’t have shouldered that cost — someone should have.

John August 17, 2010 - 4:30 pm

If the city wants it, the city should pay for it. The MTA shouldn’t be responsible for keeping kids off the streets.

BrooklynBus August 17, 2010 - 9:50 pm

“The MTA shouldn’t be responsible for keeping kids off the street.”

I don’t know if the MTA is still doing this, but about five years ago they were running a program for the homeless which they also had no business doing, but it was very nice of them to do it.

Bloomberg talked so much prior to the election about “improving the MTA.” You are correct. This is one instance where he could have stepped in and come out a hero. The problem is his only concerns are his rich friends. He even defended BP executives. What does he know about being poor and needing a pool. If I remember correctly before the summer he even spoke of shutterring the City pools but changed his mind probably because people spoke out.

Christopher August 18, 2010 - 6:05 am

Ah yes, each group should punt around jurisdiction issues: “That’s not my problem!”

We live in a connected eco-system of a very large city. Every agency needs to step up to realize they have a role in improving the experience of the city. I’m not sure how to create a culture that reinforces that kind of connected thinking, but NY does a fairly good job of it just because of the density.

Cities like DC have a very disconnected feel between agencies — from a planning perspective that means building stupid numbers of single use of facilities: a gym, a senior center, a school. All separate and only used a portion of the day. But overall this is extremely inefficient.

So maybe yes, they have no specific duty to help homeless and children, but they have do have a shared responsible as members of the community. Disconnected thinking only leads to more disconnections.

Al D August 18, 2010 - 9:12 am

The city could open up this route to a dollar van service especially if it would provide the social benefits being discussed here.

Tsuyoshi August 17, 2010 - 5:34 pm

Why did they put a pool so far from the subway?

Alon Levy August 17, 2010 - 11:05 pm

Most likely, Robert Moses put it there when the area was still white.

Adirondacker12800 August 18, 2010 - 12:19 am

Mr. Moses was dead for decades by the time Mayor Bloomberg opened the park.

Alon Levy August 18, 2010 - 3:27 am

No, you’re right, I just checked and it’s very recent. It’s on a barge, which would explain why it’s so far from the subway.

BrooklynBus August 17, 2010 - 9:54 pm

I would also question how the MTA derived the $100,000 number. Bet that is the operating cost (and probably inflated considering indirect costs as well like pensions) while ignoring the revenue the route generated.

Does anyone know the derivation of the $100,000 cost?

ajedrez August 18, 2010 - 6:42 pm

I calculated the costs for the S54 on weekends and the S60 on weekdays and weekends and came up with a figure of $70 per hour in direct operating costs. I think transit workers only make about $30 per hour, so, the question is: Where is the other $40 per hour coming from? Is it, like you say, considering the pensions of the workers, or some other indirect cost.

I also found a few examples of them overestimating the savings. On Staten Island, the X16 and X18 express routes were eliminated and riders were expected to take local buses to the Staten Island Ferry. However, the cost calculations appear to assume that the majority of the customers would still take the express bus, which is more expensive than the local bus.

As far as the operating costs, everything in NYC appears to be rounded off to the nearest $100,000 (Everything on Long Island was more exact, to the nearest $1,000). That means that those $100,000 in savings could be anywhere from $50,000-$149,000 in savings, meaning, theoretically, that route could’ve been twice as efficient as I calculated.

ajedrez August 17, 2010 - 10:21 pm

According to my calculations, the cost per person on that shuttle was much higher than the citywide average of $1.44. I figured, if the shuttle ran for 12 weeks, that was 60 weekdays and 24 weekends. There were 120 weekday passengers and 340 weekend passengers. Add (60*120)+(24*340)=(7,200+8,160)=15,360 passengers.

Now, the $100,000 annual cost divided by 15,360 annual passengers is approximately $6.51 per passenger. The average route costs $1.44 per passenger to operate (probably less now that the reductions have made a lot of routes more efficient).

There was probably a way of making the shuttle more efficient. Maybe instead of a shuttle from the train, they could’ve made an extension from the Bx6 route. Either that or they could’ve allowed the shuttle to make stops along the route (I believe it ran nonstop from the subway to the pool)

BrooklynBus August 18, 2010 - 1:12 pm

Assuming your calculations are correct, that is probably exactly what the MTA did, compared the two numbers without even considering the other two options you mentioned which may have merit, or considered any social obligations mentioned in an earlier post.

AB August 18, 2010 - 12:32 pm

This is a slippery slope – you can make this argument for many of the service cuts – that, individually, each cut doesn’t save that much, but part of what can lead to a bad situation is how they add up; for me at least, personal spending is a perfect example! Likewise, you can find an specific case of someone negatively impacted by any cut. Unfortunately, though, this kind of thinking often hinders efficiency in the first place; attempts in the past to eliminate incredibly poor-performing services (in order to improve efficiency, reduce costs, or even to re-invest in much better and more useful services) are almost always impossible because of the outcry of the (relatively) few who are affected…and it is always true when proposing changes that only those few turn up to complain, while the frequently many who would benefit don’t bother to say anything (a good example of this is the long-time proposal to swap the northern terminals of the 2 and 5 trains in the Bronx, that has never been possible because of community opposition despite very good reasons to do so).

Of course, all of that doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t debate the merits of individual cuts. With regard to the Barretto Point Park pool in particular, my personal view is that it is better to cut this than to cut routes taking people to jobs or healthcare (recreation is good, $$ to feed yourself better!). Also, I certainly agree with the comment that the city (or a community group, perhaps) should have stepped up and paid for it if it wanted it. As for extending the Bx6, the general concept is not bad but that route is very busy and very frequent, so any extension would cost significantly more than the separate shuttle did, and would likely degrade the current Bx6 service for its very many customers. I would also imagine that, between transfers and large crowds not paying, that the revenue loss from not running the shuttle is very, very small.

ajedrez August 18, 2010 - 6:34 pm

My suggestion wasn’t to extend all Bx6s. Maybe just 2 or 3 buses per hour.
I forget where I read it, but I think the MTA didn’t even charge for this service. In any case, according to the MTA’s numbers, it was losing a lot of money with this route (even if every person paid the full $2.25 fare, $6.51-$2.25=$4.26 lost on every passenger carried, so the MTA wasn’t running this route to make money.
I agree that, often, you have to look at the big picture. Everybody said: “This cut only saved $400,000 or $1,000,000 or some other number”, but all of those cuts added up to $93,000,000 in annual savings.
The same applies in personal life situations. A person may think that the cost of taking a taxi to work every day is $10.00 versus $2.25, so it is only $7.75, but multiply that by 2 times per day, 5 days a week, and 52 weeks per year, and that is over $3,000 annually saved.

Traveler lifes January 29, 2024 - 10:07 pm

Beautiful views: The park has stunning views of the East River, the Manhattan skyline, and the Bronx. Many people enjoy coming here to relax and take in the scenery.


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