Home Asides Coming Monday: Riders Alliance to call for free Q70 service

Coming Monday: Riders Alliance to call for free Q70 service

by Benjamin Kabak

Later on today, the Riders Alliance, along with the Global Gateway Alliance and other NYC advocacy groups, will issue a report and hold a press conference calling upon the MTA to eliminate the fare on the Q70 bus. Their proposal would streamline and clarify access to LaGuardia Airport while increasing the number of airport travelers using a transit connection. The group contends the idea could be implemented immediately and would likely improve the MTA’s bottom line. It’s an intriguing idea and one completely foreign to New York City.

Due to an embargo on the report, I can’t say much more now about the initiative, but I have a full post ready to go when the embargo is lifted at noon today. Be sure to check back then for the details and fine print regarding this plan. Needless to say, it’s one that deserves full consideration (if not a fast implementation). Can the MTA embrace an idea that so outside the box for the agency? We’ll find out soon.

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wise infrastructure November 23, 2015 - 8:01 am

There are many lines for which the fare collection should be eliminated.

One needs to balance:
*the actual revenue that would be lost (for bus lines that are subway feeders most people pay would be paying at the subway anyway)
*savings in terms of drivers and equipment as the same buses would be able to make more runs as each would be faster
*the value of the time savings for the users
*the social/quality of life value of the saved pollution and congestion
*the negative cost of the wasteful trips and added crush on the buses due to people using a resource that costs money (if more runs are needed due to increased usage) but for which they get for free

Bolwerk November 23, 2015 - 8:47 am

You get pretty much the same benefits with POP and on-board fare machines (so people never have to miss a bus to buy a fare), and the MTA doesn’t even lose any revenue.

wise infrastructure November 23, 2015 - 9:01 am

*what is the cost of the machines (remember the sidewalk electrical installation)
*what is the cost of maintaining the machines
*what is the cost of the inspectors
*what is the hassle to users including arriving at the stop just as the bus arrives – do you go to the machine and miss the bus or get on and risk a ticket
*psychologically if one pays in the middle of a trip (at the subway) are they more likely to do the trip than if paying at the start? – i think maybe yes

Bolwerk November 23, 2015 - 10:06 am

Going by the fact that most cost-conscious cities at least do the POP part, and some even put the machines on the vehicles, I’m going to go with it’s cheaper.

what is the hassle to users including arriving at the stop just as the bus arrives – do you go to the machine and miss the bus or get on and risk a ticket

They would board and buy their ticket(s) on the bus under the scenario I mentioned. I actually find sidewalk TVMs rather senseless except at major stations. Centralizing collection at the bus depot is more efficient.

Really, why even use sidewalk installations at any but the busiest stops? It’s cheaper to centralize collection at

Alon Levy November 23, 2015 - 4:58 pm

The cost of validators (not machines) is about $40 apiece. Put one at every bus stop and one at every bus door, and tell people they can pay either before or right after they get on. But once the inspectors get on, the on-board validators get shut down so people can’t rush to pay.

The inspectors can work on consignment, as in Berlin, which reduces their cost to zero.

Jon Y November 23, 2015 - 8:45 am

It’s not about the fare, it’s about speeding up the trip. Right now, the Q70 uses on-board payment from the front door only. If you either eliminate payment or switch to SBS-style off-board payment, you can EASILY cut down minutes per run.

Phantom November 23, 2015 - 8:46 am

One of the buses from Logan Airport doesn’t collect the fare going into town. This could be like that.

R2 November 23, 2015 - 8:57 am

Like the bus that takes you to the Aviation/LAX stop on the Green Line. Definitely one of those “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas.

tacony November 23, 2015 - 10:10 am

The shuttle to the Green Line is run by LAX, not LACMTA though, right? And they even require a valid TAP card now to go to the airport from the Green Line (not on the return) to prevent freeloaders from parking/Ubering there.

LGA has its own terminal-to-terminal shuttles. Asking LGA to extend them to Jackson Heights would be a different proposal than asking the MTA to abolish fares on its service.

wise infrastructure November 23, 2015 - 10:20 am

come on…….
how many people do you think are going to ride the Q70 to jackson heights and then not switch to another bus or the subway where they will have to pay.

given this

give the passengers pulling luggage and dazed from a flight a break and do not make them reach into their wallet twice when it will produce little additional revenue.

this could be the best free advertising that LGA could get:
“free shuttle buses every 10 minutes to 5 subway lines (e/f/r/m + #7) and the LIRR to: Long Island, Penn Station (and eventually Grand Central)”

tacony November 23, 2015 - 10:03 am

Remember when Bloomberg called for free crosstown buses in Manhattan as part of his half-baked transportation platform when running for his 3rd term? He didn’t actually plan on pushing for it once elected, but it made headlines. The MTA didn’t take the idea seriously then either. I doubt this will go anywhere.

A better, less ambitious goal would be to make the Q70 an SBS route. It takes care of the dwell time issue without giving people in Jackson Heights a free ride. The machines are already at LGA for the M60 so it’d make it less confusing there too. The fact that we have so many different services running to LGA is bewildering to first-time users, and to be honest calling services “select” and “limited” and expecting even people who are reasonably well-versed in transit to remember that difference is kind of nuts.

Ed Unneland November 23, 2015 - 2:59 pm

Q70 as SBS makes more sense … also, why not have MetroCard dispensers at SBS Bus Stops as not all bus stops are near subway or commuter train lines …


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