Home Brooklyn What we celebrate when we celebrate Select Bus Service

What we celebrate when we celebrate Select Bus Service

by Benjamin Kabak

The B44 SBS makes one of its early runs along Nostrand Ave. (Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin)

Monday was a momentous day for one corridor in Brooklyn. After years and years of planning, the B44 finally has some upgrades to make a Select Bus Service. This isn’t bus rapid transit for a variety of reasons, but it’s faster service than a local bus. For that, the politicians were out en masse for some back-slapping and ribbon-cutting.

It makes sense, of course, for Mayor Bloomberg to show up for another streetscape initiative. He only has a few more weeks of ceremonies to attend, and the 7 line, his signature transit initiative, won’t be in revenue service before he departs for Bermuda from City Hall. The city says travel will improve by 20 percent along the 9.3-mile route, and everyone else is thrilled.

Thomas Prendergast, MTA head, called it “a game-changer” for riders of one of Brooklyn’s more popular bus lines, and the Mayor spoke effusively as well. “Improved bus service in all five boroughs has been one of our principal goals under PlaNYC and thanks to our partnership with the MTA, we have increased ridership and improved travel times along our Select Bus Service routes,” Bloomberg said said. “We’ve had great success with Select Bus Service in other boroughs and Brooklyn’s first route will bring a new and necessary mass transit option to more New Yorkers.”

Janette Sadik-Khan had an even more myopic take. “With six routes launched in just six years, SBS has delivered low-cost transit options to underserved parts of the city faster than any transit project in generations,” the DOT Commissioner said. The emphasis was mine. Imagine that! Six whole bus routes in six years.

I’m not going to pass judgment on the B44 SBS route yet. I’m a supporter of better bus service, and I believe that bus service in New York is criminally overlooked. Buses stop every two blocks and inch through traffic at the speed of a snail. They don’t run frequently or on schedule, and they carry with them the burden of low expectations that they cannot even fulfill. I’ve heard some very early criticisms of the B44 route focusing around station spacing and subpar local service, but it’s been a day or two. We’ll revisit that when the time comes.

Instead, I’d like to look at what it is our politicians are so proud of. Why is there a ribbon-cutting for a nine-mile strip of colored pavement? The mayor’s own press release couldn’t name much more beyond bus bulbs, pre-board fare payment and improved customer information boards along the route. The MTA’s release mentioned signal prioritization, a long-planned benefit, but the lanes are physically separated. We’re patting ourselves on the back for just the sixth iteration of a glorified express bus service since 2007, and that’s what counts for transit innovation these days.

Nearly all of these improvements should, for the most part, be implemented in the course of normal MTA operation procedures throughout the city on any major bus route. Pre-board fare payment is the number one driver behind speeding up the buses. Just imagine how much faster the M86 would be if the Lexington Ave. crowds had to pay before boarding the bus. But here we are at the end of the Bloomberg administration, and a bunch of on-street MetroCards are the most exciting initiative DOT could find. Never mind the fact that it takes four years and countless consultations with community members who want nothing to do with street redesigns to get just one route off the ground.

I understand why the ribbon-cutting may be symbolically necessary in that it shows the community these changes are worthy and worth celebrating. It also allows politicians to get out there to discuss changes. But our sights are aimed too low. The city gave up on 34th St.; they gave up, temporarily, on 125th St. Now, leaders want kudos from incremental improvements. Pardon me for not being too impressed.

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73 comments

tacony November 19, 2013 - 12:07 am

I rode it today. It is quick! I’ll give it that.

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BrooklynBus November 19, 2013 - 12:27 am

Correct me if I’m wrong. But this is one thing I haven’t heard discussed. Isn’t it true that the fare payment machines on Fordham Road all had to be replaced after three years because they had no weather protection? If true, why are we still installing fare machines without weather protection? Can we afford to replace them once every three years?

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Epson45 November 19, 2013 - 2:00 am

Yes, but that was an older system. The big problem is running out of receipt paper and people will start to panic.

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BrooklynBus November 20, 2013 - 1:53 pm

I assume you are saying the new machinery will not have weather problems, not that we can afford to replace them every three years.

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Epson45 November 20, 2013 - 2:02 pm

It should be weather proof since it is same construction as to the parking muni meters. The big problem is running out of receipt paper that I notice along B44 SBS route.

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BrooklynBus November 20, 2013 - 5:06 pm

That seems hard to believe. Why should the machines be running out of paper after only a couple of days? Don’t they have any idea how much usage the machines get so they can be refilled on time? There really doesn’t seem to be an excuse for that. What happens in such cases? Is the money deducted anyway and then you have to go through the refund process? If this is a frequent problem, I see it as a real deterrent from using SBS. Saving a few minutes wouldn’t be worth the extra effort if you have to apply for a refund. What if you dont have enough money left on the card to buy another fare if one is deducted anyway? Then you are stuck.

Stephen Smith November 19, 2013 - 1:43 am

Just imagine how much faster the M86 would be if the Lexington Ave. crowds had to pay before boarding the bus.

Bingo. Or the B35 at the B/Q station, or…well, pretty much any moderately busy line at every subway station or major intersection. Why this isn’t being rolled out across the system, and not just for SBS lines, is beyond me. I once talked to Brad Lander though and he supported the idea pretty enthusiastically, so maybe there’s hope for the future.

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Spiderpig November 20, 2013 - 11:21 am

Yes. We don’t need painted bus lanes to implement off-board fare collection. We do need more receipt paper, though. Does the next generation of MetroCard include an electronic proof of payment, i.e. can the checker scan the card for POP?

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BrooklynBus November 20, 2013 - 1:55 pm

I am assuming you mean everyone would still board through the front door and show the receipt to the driver. Otherwise you are talking about many more inspectors.

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 1:54 am

The SBS complaints we’re seeing are mostly just proof you can’t please the bus/BRT masturbaters, so stop trying. When buses are rejiggered to work better, faster, and more cheaply, it annoys them because they want massage chairs and jet engines to make it “real BRT.” Or something. I just don’t get it.

It’s not bus rapid transit. It is bus rapid transit. It’s not. It is. Does anyone have a coherent definition of bus rapid transit?

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Epson45 November 19, 2013 - 2:07 am Reply
Eric November 19, 2013 - 4:21 am

Who’s annoyed? The biggest complaint in this article is that SBS has not been extended to enough routes.

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 10:40 am

Some of the comments around the transit blogosphere are that it’s not “real BRT” for various reasons.

I think the main criticism of this particular project is it took 5 years to do something that should have maybe taken one year.

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BrooklynBus November 20, 2013 - 2:00 pm

A major complaint is the elimination of transfer points that were formerly Limited stops, but that problem can be easily fixed just as the addition of more locals to ease overcrowding. No one should be forced to ride a limited because they now have to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a local or more if the bus is too crowded to stop. That is exactly what will happen. Those who don’t want SBS don’t want it because it won’t save them time when tey factor in the extra walking, but it still may be the lesser of two evils if the local is severely delayed.

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Akiva November 24, 2013 - 4:27 am

To ease overcrowding they need to use the bigger articulated buses, for more cacacity. Just adding more buses creates bus bunching which will make local service even less reliable than before. Also note that a lot of people who live near New York ave where the local runs, wont go to rogers ave for the sbs. So I am sorry, adding locals will help only if they are the same size big buses the sbs uses. Just to prove the point,when the limited ran with limited on New York AVe, In regularly saw 3 buses in a row, sometimes all limiteds, sometimes 4. So bus bunching whill happen, but when they added the articulated buses several months ago to the b44 there was way less overcrowding. Point proven

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BrooklynBus November 24, 2013 - 10:36 am

As soon as more articulated buses are delivered, they will probably be put on the local. I really doubt it if they will change the schedules in the mean time to increase local capacity because that costs money in spite of what their service guidelines say.

Operating costs is the bottom line, not serving the passengers.

Incidentally, this is exactly what I predicted would happen over a year ago. I I saw this forthcoming, why coudn’t the MTA predict this? Even after I warned them this woud happen, they just ignored me. Their response was that they would adjust service as needed.

LLQBTT November 21, 2013 - 5:18 pm

That’s just it. +SBS+ is not necessarily better, faster and certainly not cheaper. I’m most familiar with the M15 +SBS+, and some rides are indeed faster, however they are only to and for limited destinations and not over a great distance (at least not for me. I’ll take the subway for that, thanks.) Still other trips are slow, as slow as the M15 local because the driver simply follows the M15 local down the avenue, or that dwell times, especially for bunched +SBS+’s are longer because they are clearly off schedule and 1 will dwell additionally at the light while the other clears the stop. All the while the M15 local is still there. That brings up the frequency issue or rather the scheduling issue. The +SBS+ bunches and runs off schedule like (most) every other bus line in the city. That’s fine, there’s traffic, a disabled passenger, yadayada, but if there’s traffic, shouldn’t then all +SBS+’s fall behind schedule somewhat equally as they are all affected by the same traffic, effectively keeping the headways consistent? Lastly, and in regards to those pretty bus lanes. They are out of service midday, so the +SBS+ creeps along in traffic like every other schlepp on the road (except bikes). Where’s the efficiency and time savings by using the dedicating lane and bypassing traffic? Then other times, when the lane is available, most buses I’ve ridden stay in the traffic lane anyway and out of the bus lane.

There is much room for improvement in the +SBS+ concept.

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Epson45 November 19, 2013 - 2:18 am

B44 SBS is a huge joke. MTA and NYCDOT still have not learn their lessons when 5 other SBS has the same repeating problem… CONFUSION.

To this day even new riders who want to try to ride the SBS routes fail to know how to use it. I think they need to hire high paid consultants to fix the mess again.

We shall see if one of city council members pressure MTA to add Avenue L stop back and even Avenue R since those were former Limited-Stops. That is a wide gap of between Kings Highway and Avenue U, nice job pissing potential SBS riders.

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Roxie November 19, 2013 - 4:23 am

Meanwhile, in the Bronx… *3 Bx12 SBS buses try to cram past a traffic jam involving a Bx41 SBS bus, traffic doesn’t start moving again for 10 minutes*

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Jordan November 19, 2013 - 10:32 am

I have a fundamental issue with the celebratory remarks: the SBS is not faster their local counterparts. I’ve been riding SBS (M15) daily for 3 years and have timed my SBS vs. local commutes and there’s virtually no difference. Each day is a luck-of-the-draw affair.

Having a more orderly boarding process vs. having a free-for-all rush at all doors for people to push in and out negates any benefit of pre-pay boarding.

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BoerumBum November 19, 2013 - 10:57 am

Jump on a westbound M86 at York during morning rushhour, and you can see just how long onboard fare payment can take. That bus generally sits at York & 86th for 10 – 15 minutes while people dip their Metrocard.

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Epson45 November 19, 2013 - 11:57 am

They need more buses on the M86, that would solve some problems.

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Eric November 20, 2013 - 7:23 am

And the M15. All buses (and trains) are slower when over capacity.

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SubwayNut November 19, 2013 - 10:44 am

I was walking by the corner of Nostrand Avenue & Fulton Street on Sunday and this stop looks like the most abysmal SBS “Station” I’ve ever seen. There is NO SHELTER, just a some card readers and bollards, NO BUS LANE either. What’s the deal at this stop? (Its a major subway connection too), did they implement SBS and completely forget about this corner?

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 11:49 am

Well, what is wrong with that? Getting the collections away from the driver is probably the most useful feature of SBS.

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Seth R November 19, 2013 - 2:10 pm

There’s a major reconstruction of Nostrand avenue from Flushing to Atlantic that’s currently in progress, it won’t wrap until the middle of next year. Once they tear up the street, I think they’ll be adding the bus bulb , and when they repave it again, they’ll paint the bus lane. That’s what they’ve done at the stop at Dekalb avenue. It wouldn’t make any sense to build it now since everything would be demolished in a few months.

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pete November 19, 2013 - 10:52 am

So, have all SBS routes come from a Limited bus that was discontinued and replaced with SBS?

Is SBS just a Limited bus with offboard fare payment? I’ve seen buses-only-during-rush-hour lanes for years before SBS.

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Epson45 November 19, 2013 - 11:55 am

There are three routes: M34, M16 (now becomes M34A) and S79. They never have Limited-Stops.

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Akiva November 24, 2013 - 4:14 am

Yes, all sbs stops were former limted stops. Sbs is supposedly different because the bus lanes are more identifiable because they are painted red, and officialy the lanes are camera enforced.

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anon November 19, 2013 - 11:26 am

SBS may have some shortcomings, and the “real” BRT debate continues ad nauseum, but I have to wonder where people like you who feel disappointed are when the “countless consultations with community members” are happening? If SBS falls short, why direct the blame on agencies who would happily provide a better service, but lack the support from the community and political leadership. Why not get TA, TSTC, ITDP, Straphangers, etc. to run some real campaigns on creating better options.

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Epson45 November 19, 2013 - 11:52 am

Those advocates are too busy with the bike lanes, these days.

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 1:14 pm

TA has gotten to the point where the only alternative it gives a rat’s ass about is bikes, TSTC (and RPA for that matter) doesn’t mind local politics, ITDP doesn’t care about anything that isn’t BRT, and Straphangers has its head so lodged up its labyrinthine ass that it couldn’t escape with a flashlight and a copy of Grey’s Anatomy.

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BrooklynBus November 20, 2013 - 2:05 pm

You blame the agencies when they outright lie and only reveal the benefits but hide all the disadvantages to get your support. In all their presentations, they never even mentioned tat lane would be removed from traffic, and I attended at least three. The only way to figure that out was to know the configuration of the lanes before hand, and look at the proposed diagrams. Sorry, but that is just pain sneaky as is talking only percentages and not real numbers. You need to ention both, not only figures that suit your convenience.

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SEAN November 19, 2013 - 11:34 am

What we celebrate when we celebrate Select Bus Service?

That this is the best we can do for you – so shet up & like it. And if you don’t have a receipt, well good luck.

signed your local city council member.

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Tower18 November 19, 2013 - 12:02 pm

Off-board fare collection is better than everyone queueing up at the front door to waste 2 seconds (at minimum) dipping their metrocards, or funneling massive amounts of change into the hopper, but it’s still stupid.

We don’t need off-board fare collection, we need multi-point on-board fare collection. This requires having a modern farecard, but one should be able to board any bus, through any door, and tap their card at readers located at each door (and at least one in the middle of the bus somewhere). It’s ASTOUNDING how much this speeds boarding when you see this at systems in Europe, and even San Francisco’s MUNI cars, if I remember right.

The driver retains a farebox for cash payment, and cash payers must board at the front door only, but everyone else can board through any door, and must tap to validate. Then you have enforcement agents who come through. Cha-ching.

Awaiting the list of reasons why New York is special and this wouldn’t work…

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Matthias November 19, 2013 - 3:52 pm

Exactly, thank you.

All this hoopla over such basic improvements feels like we’re celebrating mediocrity. As Ben (I think) put it, “at this rate we can expect ones of new routes over the next few years.”

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SEAN November 19, 2013 - 4:24 pm

Hense my above snarky comment. Put another way, would you reward your child if they came home with lousy grades? Esentially that is what’s been happening.

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Eric November 20, 2013 - 7:26 am

In my visits abroad I’ve seen both off-board and multi-point-on-board fare collection. The former is more efficient, as might be expected. Less things need to be done while boarding.

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Michael Sherrell November 19, 2013 - 1:58 pm

There will always be a conflict between those who view new changes as “something that should have been done already”, and those who “know how difficult it can be enact and accomplish change in this town”. When in practical terms almost every inch of public street space is claimed, when there are a variety of stakeholders of all types, when there are obstacles to overcome – sometimes simply applauding when something positive has been accomplished is appropriate.

Yet there are folks who will never be satisfied. They will complain about the traffic, the right of way, the stations, and this and that. Yes, they will complain. For example – when the first part of the Second Avenue Subway opens, there will be folks who will complain that the line consists of only 2 tracks! Completely forgetting what it took to get to that point in the first place, or the history of the whole affair, and its various parts. Complaining is the easy part – it seems. Criticism that does not help improve the process or help to bring about other improvements and positive changes, is not really helpful.

Be as critical of the new Select Bus Service all you want – at least a generally positive improvement in transit has occurred. Is it the best thing since ‘sliced bread” – no, but sliced bread makes a decent snack with a little butter when you’re hungry. Some folks will want changes, or have ideas about “things could be better”, or “how come you did not do this”, or “how come this was not done years ago”, etc. Some times it is beneficial to appreciate the good of the “old stuff”, as well as the “good of the new stuff”.

Getting all of your ducks to line up in a row, has never been easy. To those who were instrumental in getting this achievement accomplished, congratulations. To those who really, really want to be critical – there’s a time for that to. Sometimes things just take time.

Mike

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Benjamin Kabak November 19, 2013 - 2:00 pm

For example – when the first part of the Second Avenue Subway opens, there will be folks who will complain that the line consists of only 2 tracks!

And so they should.

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Clarke November 19, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Will be interested to hear about the first time the whole line shuts down at rush hour because of a sick passenger/broken train/etc at 86th St. and passengers get to haul ass over to the Lex.

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 4:05 pm

There are two-track rapid transit lines the world over, and they’re more reliable than any bus service. Actually, it’s the norm.

There is a case to be made SAS should be four tracks, but that is about capacity, not reliability.

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Alon Levy November 20, 2013 - 6:20 pm

In developed countries, reliable systems are a lot cheaper than extra tracks.

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Matthias November 19, 2013 - 3:53 pm

Oh well, we can always dig another launch box and put in two more TBMs. No biggie.

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Michael Sherrell November 19, 2013 - 5:13 pm

Yes, I’m sure just a few more nickels, dimes and quarters will pay for all of that, it’s just a little spare change. No need to do any actual planning or engineering work, it is no biggie. Building these kinds of things is just a snap, simple, easy. Right?

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LLQBTT November 21, 2013 - 5:25 pm

I believe that the vast majority of the riders don’t care, know or want to be bothered with the track configuration. If they live on a line far away, they (generally) want an express train. Otherwise, give ’em 1, 2, 3 or 6 tracks (in service or not). Ass long as they can go to and fro expediently. The fact that there’ll be a subway at all on the (UES) portion of 2nd Ave, and 1 that connects with the rest of the system as compared the M15 +SBS+ a pokey bus with very few subway connections, is a win for them.

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BrooklynBus November 20, 2013 - 2:16 pm

You say SBS is a substantial improvement. You need numbers to prove that case and I’m not talking about manufactured numbers with faulty methodology like the MTA’s Customer Satisfaction Surveys, but real numbers that actually show what is happening. Many feel that the improvements offered by SBS have been greatly exaggerated and in some cases the effort has not even been worth it for varying reasons.

Of course slanted numbers will prove your case. I just went to a meeting the other night about the new bathrooms built in Coney Island. The City claims it has done a draft EIS that shows there are no environmental impacts. What they did in fact was choose something like 9 of the 17 items they had to respond to and ignore the rest. That is what the MTA is doing by not considering total passenger trip time and only looking at savings in bus running time.

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Spendmore Wastemore November 19, 2013 - 3:27 pm

The main purpose of a city bus stopping every five hundred feet is to increase the size of the bus agency and the number of dollars the political class can steal and “give back” to the pockets recently picked.

The people who manage and “improve” city buses don’t ride city buses. Bus is for them, not me.

Explains a lot.

e.g. The new, improved low floor buses are a disaster to people with severe disabilities. How? Because to the person who scribbled up the legislation, disability means “like those poor souls on the Jerry Lewis show” and “not at all like me, fortunately”. They’re sure they know everything, so they did not bother to learn what disabilities actually are. Then, because they don’t and never will rely on those things, they didn’t look through the implications of the design change they mandated.

So, what was the problem?
One, even when new the “improved” models crash over bumps. Take an old, beat GM RSTS vs a brand new hybrid bus over typical city pavement and the advantage is backwards: the new one beats you up worse than the one about to be junked. The jolting and jarring is designed in, soon to be followed by crashing, squeaking and rattle-bang sounds.
The result is that people with CNS issues, whether alone or a result of other conditions, will get exhausted and disoriented after taking the bus any distance. The people paying for us disabled folks get beat up on the ride home and are thus less productive the next day.

That’s no surprise; stick a 45 foot long box close to the ground and you have no room for the wheels to move. It’s also going to die in a mini flood of just over a foot of water, which in a city comprising islands and a peninsula will happen now and then. That was totally unnecessary; functionally the same level of accessibility could be had with the floor another 8″ higher. People who have leg function at all can handle that, those who don’t are using the ramp. The ramp angle for that 8″ is nothing.

But, most transit planners don’t take the bus, and those who do have cranial enclosures so thick that only a dim shadow of outside reality survives the trip in.

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Alon Levy November 19, 2013 - 8:54 pm

The main purpose of a city bus stopping every five hundred feet is to increase the size of the bus agency and the number of dollars the political class can steal and “give back” to the pockets recently picked…

…except that North American local bus spacing goes back to privately-operated streetcars.

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Spendmore Wastemore November 19, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Interesting bit of history.

When the electric streetcar routes were inaugurated they could have been traveled by veterans the War of 1812.

That’s like, old.

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 10:42 pm

Not really, electric trolleys are pretty late 19th century inventions, and didn’t proliferate until the 20th century. but some of them may have roots in older horse-drawn routes that might have been that old, and maybe have partially parallel routes today.

Myrtle Avenue had a steam dummy train service (surface?) as early as the 1850s, and the B54 presumably still follows at least some of that route today.

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Spendmore Wastemore November 19, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Rr, perhaps I should have connected that to the topic at hand ;-).

SBS superficially addresses the bus sytem’s issues, but skirts some of the fundamentals. Only a few lines will ever be converted to SBS, and even then the designed-in defects of the new equipment remain.

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anon November 19, 2013 - 4:26 pm

“The people who manage and “improve” city buses don’t ride city buses. Bus is for them, not me.”

“But, most transit planners don’t take the bus, and those who do have cranial enclosures so thick that only a dim shadow of outside reality survives the trip in.”

Oh yeah? Name one. Go ahead.

This may be true in car-dependent parts of the country, but this is NYC. Just like the rest of ridership, able-bodied transit planners are gonna ride the train primarily and supplement with bus service where needed.

Also, these people are dorks. They’ll even ride buses for fun. Can you imagine???

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Bolwerk November 19, 2013 - 5:50 pm

I suspect there is a class difference between buses’ and trains’ riders even in NYC. It might not be a modal preference, but rather one of sheer practicality and affordability. The fares may be the same, but wealthier people’s more expensive neighborhoods mostly have better access to the subway. And accessible poor places like Bushwick and even Crown Heights are gentrifying.

I would guess medium- and high-level city workers can mostly afford decent subway accessibility, if not cars.

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Eric November 20, 2013 - 7:31 am

Not sure about that. The UES is underserved by subway (though that’s being fixed), while much of Bronx is overserved.

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Bolwerk November 20, 2013 - 2:23 pm

Depends where in the UES, and even then the walk from First to Lex isn’t that trying for an able-bodied person. And the first, second, and third avenue buses, despite being the busiest in the city, are a drop in the bucket compared to what the Lex carries.

For whatever reason, The Bronx has had the most persistent resistance to gentrification too.

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Michael Sherrell November 20, 2013 - 2:52 pm

I really doubt that much of the Bronx is “over-served” by public transit, or that transit is somehow so “much better” than in other places. There are plenty of places in the Bronx, and all over this city that are simply not that easy to get to.

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Bolwerk November 20, 2013 - 3:34 pm

Good point. The Bronx is probably mis-served, if anything, in that it is great for a trip to Manhattan but utterly impossible to actually get around The Bronx itself without a car.

Spendmore Wastemore November 19, 2013 - 9:24 pm

Eh.

The ones who make national rules are Beltway creatures. Here, the one transit advocate I’d read about by name (NYT article) used car service on the weekends.

The one MTA employee I know has 5 cars and never takes the subway, much less the bus. The MTA parking tag comes in handy!

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anon November 20, 2013 - 12:27 pm

Most of those “Beltway creatures” take WMATA. Most riders in DC and the metro area would kill for SBS as a supplement. But you’re really just reaching here. Or trolling.

Right. That one guy is representative if the tens of thousands of employees.

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Stu Sutcliffe November 21, 2013 - 2:49 pm

You know one MTA employee who has five cars. The VAST majority of MTA employees use subways abd buses to get to work. Anyone who thinks that anything other than a minority of MTA employees drive to work is relying on an urban myth.

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Kevin Walsh November 19, 2013 - 5:29 pm

Esthetically speaking, SBS means more kiosks and objects impeding foot traffic on the sidewalk, at a time when sidewalks are already cluttered with newspaper bins and fences surrounding cuts for trees.

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Alon Levy November 19, 2013 - 8:56 pm

What we celebrate when we celebrate SBS: presumably, not the fact that SBS goes on a different street from the locals, for maximum hassle of passengers.

I’d launch my usual tirade against one-way pairs, but I’ve done it enough times in the last few years.

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Matthias November 20, 2013 - 11:34 am

One-way pairs are not that big a deal when the streets are close together. They are a huge hassle on Manhattan Avenues, which are 1/4 mile apart and wide enough to be two-way. The road design and signal timing prioritizes high-speed auto traffic (and actually works pretty well for the SBS buses) but is terrible for bicyclists. But now I’m off-topic.

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Bolwerk November 20, 2013 - 5:44 pm

Well, if you can travel back in time to the 1630s and explain to the planners of the first streets in New York how they were fucking up, by all means. Also, if you get a chance to visit some medieval English cities, let them know how their respective Gropecunt Lanes are almost always too, um, tight for buses.

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Alon Levy November 20, 2013 - 6:23 pm

New York streets outside Lower Manhattan are palatially wide by medieval English standards.

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Bolwerk November 20, 2013 - 10:56 pm

First Ave. should probably have two-way center-running buses. But still, one-way pairs aren’t always inexcusable.

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Stu Sutcliffe November 21, 2013 - 2:52 pm

You know one MTA employee who has five cars. The VAST majority of MTA employees use subways and buses to get to work. Anyone who thinks that anything other than a minority of MTA employees drive to work is relying on an urban myth.

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BrooklynBus November 22, 2013 - 10:32 am

Can someone tell me why the fare machines are so fare away from the bus shelters and from where the buses stop? Couldnt the shelters be longer with the machines placed inside? Just look at the picture. If you ate walking toward the camera you can’t even see the machines. I can see how someone walking in that direction could miss the fact that the SBS stops there.

When I once took the M34, not only were the machines located a distance from the shelter and where the bus stopped, they used an unwrapped bus and if I didn’t know beforehand that SBS required pre-payment, I would have just ran for the bus and get on. As it turned out, I missed the bus to purchase the ticket and had to wait ten minutes for the next one.

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Akiva November 24, 2013 - 3:57 am

Everyone is talking about the fare machines…what about the fact that the mta cut out 13 limited stops on the sbs b44, as a few of them are key stops such as Ave L and Myrtle Ave. My friend and I are regular riders of the b44, and our commute got screwed up because the locals running on new york ave are packed and dont come nearly as often at the sbs, and if we want to take the sbs we have to walk, take a bus or a train to Rogers Ave. I’m all for sbs, bus rapid transit, or whatever you want to call it, just the Mta never does things right. My friend missed the b44 local and had to wait another 45 mins for the next one, and my commute on the sbs became at least 15 mins longer, and a lot more walking. How do you have no stops between Kings Highway and and ave H, and nothing between ave U and and kings highway. I’ll tell you when I get on the bus by Rogers and St. Johns, its completly empty. Where did all the passengers go? Well, when you cut out key stops you lose tremendous ridership…ok I will admit I have not taken the bus rush hour, and where i take the bus is in the northern end of the route, but the point is still there. Its seems like itsreally only benefitting the long distance riders coming from sheepshead bay or kings highway area, and they are mainly taking it to the 2 and the 5 at Flatbush. In hope the Mta brings back some stops, because cutting out almost half is utterly ridiculous, and its will continue to plague and ruin b44 local service

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BrooklynBus November 24, 2013 - 10:38 am

They want to ruin the local service so they can have an excuse to move it to Rogers with the SBS. That way they can shorten the B49 to Foster Avenue. That is their unspoken plan, I bet you.

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Stu Sutcliffe November 26, 2013 - 10:26 am

Who says that anyone wants to shorten the B49 to Foster Avenue? I can’t remember a time when it didn’t run to Emmons Avenue, at the least.

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BrooklynBus November 26, 2013 - 11:17 am

They haven’t said it yet. Give them a year. I know the way they think. My other predictions have been right.

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