Home MTA Economics The MTA doesn’t care about costs except when it does

The MTA doesn’t care about costs except when it does

by Benjamin Kabak

In response to the Riders Alliance’s call to improve transit access to LaGuardia Airport by rebranding the Q70 and eliminating its fare, the MTA came down hard against the idea. Despite the Riders Alliance’s contention that a fare-free service would likely generate more ridership, and thus more revenue, for the MTA, the agency opted to highlight the potential affect on its bottom line such a free service would have. Cost estimates ranged from a few hundred thousand to tens of millions, and while officials stopped short of uncategorically dismissing the idea, they might as well have.

“One-fourth of riders do not come from the subway and don’t use the free transfer, and thus we would lose money on one out of every four customers under their plan,” Transit spokesman Kevin Ortiz said to me in a statement. “If ridership would continue to grow on the route to the level they claim, we would have to add service, and that costs money. And where would we find the buses?”

Where would the MTA find the buses? Well, that must be the costs MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg had in mind when he later said on Twitter that the agency is “generally opposed” to ideas that “would cost the MTA tens of millions” of dollars. It’s hard to believe increasing service from every 12 minutes to every 10 for a few hours a day would have that much of an effect on the MTA’s budget, but that was the party line earlier this week.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t the only time the MTA, or its surrogates, relied on an argument over token amounts of money to reject a rider-friendly initiative. Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a measure that would have upped MetroCard transfers on certain routes from one per two hours to two. The measure had bipartisan support, but Cuomo claimed it foisted an unfunded $40 million expense onto the MTA’s shoulders. “The bill,” he said in a veto message, “does not provide any funding to account for this expense. Such funding decisions should be addressed in the context of the state budget negotiations.” The MTA urged those riders who need the extra transfers to buy unlimited ride cards instead.

For the MTA, this recent attention to dollars lost around the edges of its $13 billion annual budget — a half a million here, $40 million there — is hardly a new development. The MTA’s operating budget has, for years, run on razor-thin margins, thanks in part to capital debt payments, and the agency has recently focused on penny-pinching when it comes to operations, often at the expense of rider-friendly initiatives. Costs matter.

Meanwhile, just a few weeks ago, the MTA secured $28 billion for its capital projects, and boy do costs not even come into consideration here. The MTA is currently building, along the East Side, the world’s most expensive subway and, underneath Grand Central, the world’s most expensive commuter rail terminal. The 7 line extension was the world’s second most expensive subway, and the Fulton St. Transit Center’s $1.4 billion price tag looks low only because the WTC PATH Hub across the street costs nearly three times as much. Meanwhile, future phases of the Second Ave. Subway are likely to cost even more, and no one at the MTA is decrying these dollar figures which are orders of magnitude higher than a free shuttle bus to the airport.

It’s hard to say that the MTA cares about construction costs. Outwardly, there’s been very little effort to get them under control, and project costs inch higher and higher with each passing year. Securing the dollars is a fight, and the money goes further everywhere else in the world. Government regulations, interest group politics, local NIMBYism, bad labor practices and plain old corruption seem to all play into the MTA’s costs, but no agency officials have claimed to lose money on capital expansion projects.

Ultimately, then, it seems that the MTA cares about money only around the margins. Usually, they don’t; sometimes, they do. And those times seem to implicate benefits for riders. This strikes me as a rather uneven response from an agency with so many customers that should be trying to attract more. If anything, it’s hypocritical and exhausting.

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Brandon November 25, 2015 - 6:33 am

There’s really no connection between the capital side being profligate and the operating side being cheap, other than the debt burden from the former being a bigger and bigger squeeze on the latter as time goes on.

Alon Levy November 25, 2015 - 3:00 pm

The operating side pays a full-time wage to a train driver for 500 revenue-hours a year. (For comparison, in London the drivers averages 720 hours, and the workweek is just 36 hours; in Helsinki, they averages 867.)

Larry Littlefield November 26, 2015 - 1:32 pm

You’ll find that for any public service in NY.

Teachers: 109 full time equivalent active instructional employees for about 43,000 classes at any one time, plus one year in retirement for each year worked.

Police: 2.8 times the U.S. average number of officers per 100,000 residents, and more than one year in retirement for each year worked.

Completely out of solidarity with other workers.

Alon Levy November 29, 2015 - 7:59 pm

Can you explain the teacher numbers a bit more? Obviously there aren’t just 109 FTE teachers citywide.

(That said, teachers have a lot of off-class duties, such as grading homework and preparing curricula. At the college level, 4-5 classes a semester, each with about 3 instructional hours a week, is considered a full-time load for someone who only teaches and has no research duties.)

adirondacker12800 November 29, 2015 - 8:26 pm

Bus drivers and train staff have things to do besides drive and open doors.

BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 7:45 am

Ben, your last two sentences are 100% on target. The MTA is hypocritical and it can be extremely exhausting. I know this because I have spent the last 40 years trying to get the MTA to accept my bus route suggestions. First I spent four years at the Department of City Planning having discussions with them where they continually backtracked and contradicted themselves. Finally they relented only after a court suit was brought against them and we got them to make the largest and most significant improvement to bus routes in their history although these rejected 75% of the proposals at that time.

Then I spent the next 30 years as an employee and on my own trying to do the same thing. Not only will they not listen to outsiders without political pressure, they are just as hypocritical with their own employees. One example: They will reject any proposal made to them to extend a bus route saying reliability will be sacrificed. But any proposals make that lengthens a route as benefitting passengers by improving connections never mentioning decreased reliability even if they are doubling the length of the route.

Brian H November 25, 2015 - 7:48 am

Funny, I don’t remember lost revenue being a major concern when Cuomo and the MTA gave Staten Island drivers a toll cut on top of their already-considerable V-Z Bridge toll discount.

I think part of the issue here is that Cuomo already has a certain amount of political capital invested in his meandering Airtrain to LaGuardia (where costs also don’t seem to matter, but at least that’s the PA’s problem and not the MTA’s), and this Q70 proposal is potentially a competing rather than complimentary solution, especially given the cost differential. And the MTA spox have recently shown how far they’re willing to stooge for Cuomo in his misguided political battles, so there’s nothing about the MTA’s messaging that surprises me right now.

Andrew November 25, 2015 - 7:52 am

The MTA always cares about costs.

That’s not to say that they don’t spend vast quantities of money, but there is a justification for every penny in the Capital Plan and there is justification for every penny of increase in the operating budget. You can agree or disagree with any or all of those justifications, but they’re always there.

You can’t call for increased frequency without acknowledging the additional costs: possibly the capital cost of an additional bus and certainly the operating cost of many additional drivers, all day, especially during the times that the bus runs fairly infrequently.

You also can’t tout the benefits of additional ridership without acknowledging the costs. If your proposal draws enough new riders to the subway to trigger more service (per the loading guidelines you so often complain don’t require enough service), the MTA has to pay for that service – and if some of the increase is during times that there’s no track capacity for more service, then the existing riders will have to suffer with even more crowded trains than they have today. And if Q70 ridership rises to the point that a 10 minute headway isn’t sufficient at some times of day, again, the MTA has to pay for more service.

Finally, by casting aside the MTA’s usual policies that dictate fare and frequency, why stop with the Q70? How many elected officials are going to demand a 10 minute headway on the bus lines that serve their constituents, even when loading doesn’t warrant? How many other bus lines across the city have an 85% (or 75%) transfer rate to the subway, and should they stop collecting fares, too? Now how much does this end up costing, systemwide?

Perhaps the costs are worthwhile, but the Riders Alliance hasn’t made that case, because the Riders Alliance hasn’t even acknowledged the costs.

If you ask me, 90% of the problem is the piss poor signage at LGA, which of course can be corrected without touching frequency or fare. And if dwells are a concern, adopt off-board fare collection – the machines are in place at all but two stops on the Q70.

Let’s turn to the free transfer proposal. In fact, few people have to take two buses to reach the subway. Dinowitz tried this five years ago, when the Bx20 was cut to rush hours only, claiming that his constituents would have to ride the Bx10 to the Bx7 to reach the A train. But that’s not true, as a quick glance at the map shows – they can take the Bx10 to the 1 train to reach the A train, on one fare. He’s pandering, pure and simple. So where does the revenue loss come in? Mostly from people taking two or three distinct trips – not a single trip with two transfers – that the MetroCard system sees as potential transfers. By and large, they probably won’t even notice their free rides, but their MetroCard balance won’t go down quite as fast as it had in the past. Again, there’s a real cost impact here, and whether you like the idea or not, pretending out doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away.

BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 8:29 am

The MTA does whatever it wants with Cuomo’s blessing of course. They just make the numbers fit. When they rerouted a bus route to serve the Racino, they said it would cost $400,000 extra in operating costs and justified it just by stating the additional ridership would cover the added costs. There was no further explanation whatsoever. Their SBS proposals merely asked the Board for several millions more in operating costs and all were approved without question. I once made a bus routing change to them and it was rejected for the sole reason that it would cost a mere $50,000 a year in additional operating costs. It was really a zero cost proposal because they erroneously measured the extra route length and failed to consider that no running time was added. Bottom line — the MTA first makes their decision, then finds or manufactures an appropriate reason.

Larry Littlefield November 25, 2015 - 9:49 am

“Bottom line — the MTA first makes their decision, then finds or manufactures an appropriate reason.”

True of all government agencies. Policy is set at fundraisers, and data is not required. That’s one reason I exited the public sector for the private.

Nathanael November 26, 2015 - 2:35 pm

It is absolutely NOT true of all government agencies. One reason I like living in Ithaca, NY. Here, the school district certainly does “decide first, study later”, but the city, town, and county governments are *very* evidence-based.

If you want to ask the question of why some places have idiot policymakers and others don’t… well, that’s a good question.

pete November 25, 2015 - 12:43 pm Reply
BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 1:09 pm

Thanks. I missed that one but it doesn’t surpise me in the least.

BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 4:37 pm

I am reminded of when I directed the Brooklyn Transit Service Sufficiency Study in 1982 while in Operations Planning. My boss asked me to propose a direct bus route from his house to the office so he could get a seat every morning instead of having to stand in the subway. Of course I refused and that didn’t sit too well with him.

Alon Levy November 25, 2015 - 3:08 pm

The MTA is penny-wise and multibillion pound-foolish. No free transfers because people might use them for roundtrips, never mind that passengers might be forced into suboptimal trips to avoid having to pay for transfers. Loading guidelines are gospel, never mind the drawbacks of interlining (say) a 7-minute train with an 8-minute train. The hierarchy decided on these guidelines, and the hierarchy’s rationale should not be questioned.

Nathanael November 26, 2015 - 2:42 pm

Seems to be a serious problem at the MTA.

JAzumah November 25, 2015 - 3:28 pm

Andrew has nailed it.

The Riders Alliance don’t care about costs. You can’t make a serious proposal without addressing costs.

Andrew November 26, 2015 - 3:48 pm

Thank you. Glad that somebody responded to my primary point.

If you make a proposal and claim that it wouldn’t incur any costs when it obviously would, don’t be shocked when the party who would be on the hook to cover those costs sounds the alarm.

This is entirely aside from the question of whether those costs would be a worthwhile investment. I’ve explained why I don’t think so, but the point is moot as long as the proponents insist that the cost is zero.

Larry Littlefield November 25, 2015 - 8:55 am

“If ridership would continue to grow on the route to the level they claim, we would have to add service, and that costs money. And where would we find the buses?”

The evidence suggests that isn’t the case. Ridership is up and they have not added service.

And, of course, this doesn’t just affect transit. Class sizes are soaring too.


“The MTA doesn’t care about costs except when it does.”

Nobody cared about past costs, since they were shifted to the future. Soaring construction costs funded by debts. Retroactive pension increases that were not funded. Infrastructure maintenance and replenishment that was not done, but with no short term consequences.

Now it is the future, but Generation Greed doesn’t want to come right on and say “we screwed you, tough, pay more for less while we head off to Florida snickering at you.”

BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 10:41 am

“Ridership is up and they ae not added service”. True. They keep stating adding service is not necessary because the exiSting service can absorb most of the added ridership. I believe ridership was up something lie 17% and service was up like 3%. Meanwhile whenever I ride in the off-peak service is jam packed. Yesterday all four buses I rode were all crowded the entire time I was on them. My friend reported to me last weekend that the Q52 and Q53 were so overloaded due to holiday weekend shoppers that bus traffic overflowed onto the local Q11 and Q21 to the point they were so overcrowded, they bypassed passengers as well.

You can talk all you want about service guidelines or that schedules are set every three months and can’t reflect am upsurge in ridership for only a few weekends, but the fact remains as long as the system is overcrowded during the off-peak because of the MTA’s desire to minimize operating costs without taking anything else into consideration, the only ones who will use transit are those with no other choice.

Meanwhile, they will increase 42St Street shuttle service for three hours a day, announce it six months in advance and make a big deal how they are improving service, when the truth is they are doing virtually nothing.

Larry Littlefield November 25, 2015 - 6:13 pm

As I said, they can’t increase service because all the money is going to debt service and retirement costs inherited from Generation Greed. And when the stock and retirement bubbles deflate it’s going to get worse.

The transit situation is bad. But at least you can ride a bike.

Wait until they substitute medical marijuanna and legal assisted suicide for Social Security and Medicare. Already, the death rate is rising and life expectancy falling for the generations to follow Generation Greed. When I Nobel Prize laureate wrote a paper pointing this out, the big-time journals refused to publish it.


Not just crowded buses and rising class sizes in school. Death.

Nathanael November 26, 2015 - 2:52 pm

Eventually, if we don’t have a fascist takeover, we’ll elect our own Clement Atlee, and we’ll fund Medicare and Social Security by getting rid of the super-bloated military budget.

The other possibility, of course, is that a fascist like Trump will be elected and start scapegoating and killing minority groups. Let’s avoid that, please?

Bolwerk November 26, 2015 - 3:56 pm

Single payer healthcare is probably already cheaper than the system we have even if we don’t fund it by eliminating something else. At worst, the necessary tax incraeses still don’t exceed the costs private individuals have to bear to buy it on the “free” market.

Nathanael November 27, 2015 - 12:38 pm

Single payer health care is definitely cheaper than the “system” (if you can call it that) which we have now.

Every reputable study has said that we can cover everyone in the US for the same cost as what we’re currently paying for Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and the VA. Basically, the government is already paying for most of the really sick population; expanding it to cover the rest of the population costs next-to-nothing. The administrative costs of the private health insurers, and the administrative costs of the hospitals and doctors fighting with them, all vanish.

Even Trump, for goodness sake, has endorsed single-payer. Probably because it reduces his business expenses — single payer removes the expensive cost of private health insurance from businesses, so they should support it.

Bolwerk November 27, 2015 - 4:47 pm

Trump is like a Bloomberg of pure id. However odious he is, nobody can purchase him.

R2 November 25, 2015 - 9:27 am

The idea made too much sense — that’s why it got rejected. Off-board fare collection would be OK though.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 10:20 am

This post is unfair. The MTA’s job is to…do what’s told. It can’t not care about operating costs, and its board has a fiduciary responsibility to reject proposals that would cut service elsewhere. The $40M free-hipster-trips-to-LGA shuttle only can happen if $40M is cut elsewhere, or tax-supported revenues increase by $40M, or someone gives them the $40M.

I like the idea of a two-transfer policy. I think it is a good idea. But it must be funded, so I recognize that the MTA was probably right to object to it under the circumstances. If they didn’t, they would not be doing their jobs.

You’re blaming the wrong people. The legislature can do its job and ban stupid work rules and staffing retention policies. These things could then be fixed by the next contract. In the mean time, everyone from Prendergast on down has to play by the rules they’re given.

VLM November 25, 2015 - 10:23 am

The $40 million was for the additional free transfer. Despite Lisberg’s silly tweet, the free bus to LGA would have an upfront cost of maybe $3 million in purchasing equipment and some minor operating costs to run an extra bus for a few hours. We’re talking minor amounts of money.

And to say it would be a trip for hipsters is either willfully ignorant or betraying your pointless insecurities. Check out who rides the bus to LGA if you think it’s for hipsters. It might open your eyes a bit.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 11:07 am

If that’s the case, someone needs to give them $3 million to purchase the equipment, they forego at least $427,086 (assuming average fare of $2 times 1/4 the annual ridership, going by their reported numbers) and presumably need to hire a few shifts of new drivers under the proposal. I’d guess a minimum of two, maybe more, so figure closer to $700k/year burned in free service for people who can probably afford their ride?

Hell, I’ve said repeatedly I’m fine with experimenting with this, but asking the MTA to assume the risk is just stupid and they’re doing exactly what they should be doing in saying no.

EJ November 25, 2015 - 3:29 pm

In NYC, “hipster” just means “something I don’t like.” It’s an all purpose, but largely meaningless, insult.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 9:21 pm

I know some people use the term inappropriately, and some of y’all just arrived in New York and think long-time residents are just imagining the phenomenon, but hipsters actually do exist for good or ill.

OK, maybe I should avoid such emotionally-laden terms, but the hipster reference wasn’t even really intended to be an insult. Not to hipsters anyway. I just can’t think of another demographic that could be interested in a free trip to LGA in numbers where it might actually boost the Q70’s use, and I really don’t even believe it with hipsters. Seriously, you pretty much need to be a financially strained transplant flying home for the weekend for this to be a deal-maker. Even a poor red state boondock tourist is going to be paying three figures for a plane ticket, and isn’t likely to quibble over a $2.75 transit fare.

Brandon November 25, 2015 - 9:40 pm

Yep, this is a fare payment problem, not a fare problem.

I think an airport shuttle branding makes a lot of sense, and putting it on the subway map as such (kind of like the Airtrain) would be beneficial for ridership. The situation at LaGuardia needs serious wayfinding improvements as well. Note: Its enough to put the airport branding on the route sign, a full wrap is not necessary.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 11:18 pm

Well, I can agree with that, but then let the PA deal with it. Just have the TA cooperate by including it on the map.

Hell, the PA is the right agency to pay for this mobility scheme too, if it is tried.

Justin Samuels November 27, 2015 - 4:27 am

The state legislature could have paid attention to the MTA finances earlier this year and earmarked 40 million dollars to pay for this transfer. Instead they did not, so the true blame is on them.

Nathanael November 27, 2015 - 12:40 pm

The state legislature has been a walking disaster my entire life, thanks to gerrymandering and a bicameral legislature (so that the two houses can blockade each other).

Perhaps we should blame the public for not calling a state Constitutional Convention, which could give us a unicameral legislature (like Nebraska) and independent resdistricting (like Arizona and California) or even proportional representation (like every modern democracy in the world).

Bolwerk November 27, 2015 - 4:51 pm

I think it has had a reputation as a disaster going back to colonial times. :-p

BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 10:47 am

The post was perfectly fair.

As I stated, the MTA first makes its decisions then finds the reasons to support it instead of being led by the data. They needed to first evaluate the proposal instead of immediately dismissing it just like they originally dismissed the ideas of getting rid of the token, air conditioning the subways, using alternative fuel, low floor and articulated buses, all of which in time came to pass.

Yes blame everything on the unions and the politicians leaving the MTA perfectly guiltless.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 11:12 am

Oh puh-leeze. Their job is not to follow data, it’s to follow rules. I have no sympathy for variations on HURRR!11!2setsofbooks.

Plus, this is from the most data-allergic person I have ever seen. At least the universe saved me the trouble of needing to come up with a witty rejoinder to VLM’s bons mots. The poor (wo?)man suffered enough, finding you agreeing with him.

BrooklynBus November 25, 2015 - 1:06 pm

Data allergic? You obviously never read any of my anti-SBS posts. I am constantly criticizing the MTA and DOT for the lack of data proving SBS is the success they pretend it to be. The B44 SBS is now two years old and we still don’t have a shred of data to show it even works. But that hasn’t prevented the MTA with moving ahead to expand it to the parallel B46 and other routes.

bigbellymon4 November 27, 2015 - 10:34 pm

The B44 is not successful because of the re-routing onto Rogers from New York Avenue. It has high ridership, but the re-routing of the SBS has caused problems. Many riders are not willing to walk the extra block (or 2) just for the bus. The B46, on the other hand, has EXTREMELY HIGH RIDERSHIP and SBS should be successful when SBS is implemented (the B46 was the 3rd busiest route in 2014 http://web.mta.info/nyct/facts/ffbus.htm#routes).

BrooklynBus November 30, 2015 - 3:57 pm

So why has the MTA refused to answer ten questions I asked them six months ago about the B46?

I have reminded them at least three times that I am still waiting for answers and the only responses I get is that either they do not have the staff to reply to suggestions (obviously tey do not knw te difference between a question and a suggestion) or that they forwarded my questions to Operations Planning for response. They have now forwarded it three times.

We need to havea transparent panning process not one that us guarded in secrecy. Notice I have not opposed the B46 lie I did with Woodaven. All I want are sone simple answers? Operations Planning obviously believes they can do whatever they please and don’t need to provide answers.

Alon Levy November 25, 2015 - 3:12 pm

I’d make German jokes about following rules, but the reality is that German speakers are a lot more flexible about these things than English speakers. While New York and London try to extract revenue from passengers, German-speaking cities go on with their unlimited free transfers and systemwide POP (with paper tickets and no kickbacks to Cubic!), and yes, some passengers can use these for roundtrips. Somehow those cities manage lower operating costs and comparable farebox recovery to New York. It’s almost as if treating passengers betters makes them more likely to use the transportation service.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 6:16 pm

I obviously don’t disagree with your prescription, but addressing this to the MTA is perennially fruitless. While New York would be a lot better off with 50% of its current operating costs, POP surface transit, etc., we all know its operating procedures are tied up in laws and contracts. Well, everyone but BrooklynBus apparently.

The whole system is wrong, but according to the system we have the board members staked out an at least defensible (I’d argue, not very assailable) position. I’d love to see the system changed, but I understand why they act the way they do.

Alon Levy November 25, 2015 - 10:20 pm

Laws and contracts? Where is the law that says passengers have to pay at the front, except on special SBS routes? Where is the law that says drivers can only do 500 hours per year? At least on the LIRR, the low productivity is not a matter of legislation or union contract, but of long scheduled turnaround times and a lot of deadheading on the diesel branches.

Bolwerk November 25, 2015 - 11:10 pm

The context of that comment was a fiduciary responsibility to the MTA’s bottom line. They have revenues and expenses and need to balance the two. You know full well I’m for most of the same stuff you are. I know they have some discretion, but they obviously can’t unilaterally fix everything.

I’m honestly not clear what the laws (or contracts?) about fare collection actually are. Obviously bus drivers are obligated to collect fares, except on SBS. I guess the TA has some power to deputize fare inspectors, unless there was special legislation authorizing it?

The working hours are contractual, but there are probably only three ways I can think of to change them: the TWU would agree to a change in collective bargaining negotiations, a labor mediator imposes a change, or the legislature passes a law instructing the change to be made in the next contract. The first sounds almost impossible, the second sounds unlikely even if the MTA bothers to push for it, and the third is pretty ironclad but never discussed.

I am surprised that the TWU hasn’t been encouraging more POP. They raised a huge stink a few years ago about driver safety, demanding drivers be encased in plastic cages to prevent violence against them. Well, getting drivers off collection duty seems even better, and it even offers a rare opportunity to hire more (unionized) labor for a good reason. NIH?

BrooklynBus November 27, 2015 - 5:02 pm

What have I said that woud make me ignorant of laws and contracts? If you are going to make accusations, you better back them up.

Bolwerk November 29, 2015 - 6:55 pm


Yes blame everything on the unions and the politicians leaving the MTA perfectly guiltless.

– you

Can’t really keep blaming the MTA for the MTA’s screw-ups when they’ve been endemic longer than almost any of us have been alive. That must be laid at the feet of politicians.

I don’t really blame unions for much either, BTW. They clearly are acting in what they perceive to be their best interest. It’s a bit hard to blame them for that.

mister November 26, 2015 - 3:29 am

Mr. Kabak, you’re targeting the whipping boy here.

When the subway was shutdown in an unprecedented manner due to a snowstorm, MTA execs were trotted out to say that it was “MTA’s idea”, even though they had prepared for years for exactly the type of snowstorm that was headed their way, had no plan in place for a shutdown, and actually operated trains all night.

Now that the governor has a plan for a fancy new shuttle train that goes the wrong way… why do you think the MTA says that this will cost too much?

Larry Littlefield November 26, 2015 - 1:37 pm

Here is how the cost issue could be addressed.

The TWU should agree to a lower wage for those driving the equivalent of paratransit vehicles or those rental car airport shuttles — before we trust them with 40-foot buses and pay them the wage driving such buses commands. It is unfair to other, non-TWU workers for them not to.

NYCT should purchase a fleet of them.

During the day, they should run on the Q70 limited every 2-3 minutes — more if the demand warrants. For a 45 minute round trip, the NYCT would need 15 to 23 of them.

These vehicles would also run overnight on some light bus routes. NYCT drivers would start overnight, when there are fewer people around to be injured in an accident, graduate to the Q70, with its simple route, and then get promoted to 40 foot buses and perhaps then articulated buses.

In addition to the more frequent service, the smaller vehicles would benefit from being easier to maneuver along the route.

Fool November 27, 2015 - 12:36 pm

Would be easier to re-privatize…

mrsman November 29, 2015 - 7:02 am

With all of this talk of the Q70 free transfer causing a money drain on the MTA, I leave two thoughts:

1)The Staten Island RR and the SI Ferry are still free. Granted the vast majority of travelers on those services would transfer to a bus or a subway, the possibility still exists for many customers to have a free ride. This doesn’t seem to bother the MTA.

2) Certain second transfers should be “uncharged” and not count against your one transfer limit. The Metrocard software should be upgraded to allow for this.

* The Metrocard transfer at Lex/63 to Lex/59 should be uncharged and not count against your bus-subway transfer. If you start on a bus in Queens and then transfer to the F, you should not be chanrged a fare if you then transfer to the 456 at this point.

* Other uncharged walking transfers should be implemented between close subway stations that will also remain uncharged. This is much cheaper than actually constructing tunnels or bridges between the stations. Examples were discussed at this post:


* The Q70 transfer discussed here should also be “uncharged” in the same regard. If you start at a bus in Eastern Queens and then transfer to a subway station, you should not be charged a fare if you then transfer to the Q70 at this point. Of course, those who walk from their apartments in Jackson Heights to the Q70 should pay a fare.

* The SI Ferry transfer should be uncharged for those who arrive at St George after paying a bus or SI RR fare, those passengers will then have a regular free transfer to a bus or subway in Manhattan. The SI Ferry transfer should be uncharged for those who arrive at the Whitehall terminal after paying a bus or subway fare and those passengers will then have a regular free transfer to a bus or SI RR in St George. This is the same as current policy, except that those who walk up to the ferry terminal will have to pay a fare.

* A broader policy of transferring from LIRR or Metro-North to a bus or subway (oustide of Manhattan) should be considered. I envision a transferring policy similar to the policy that exists between express buses and local services (free transfer from express bus to local service, a transfer from a local service to an express bus would only pay the price differential). No free transfers to those who arrive at Grand Central or Penn Station on commuter rail and then transfer to a bus or subway.


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