Home Buses Great moments in USB charging ports on MTA buses

Great moments in USB charging ports on MTA buses

by Benjamin Kabak

The first of the MTA’s new wifi-equipped buses hit the road yesterday. A few months ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called them “Ferrari-like,” and he seemed awfully happy to be there at the unveiling yesterday. MTA CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast called these new buses part of the “enhanced experience for our customers,” and the rhetoric around Millennials was kept to minimum. But what do they look like in the while? Sometimes, all you need is one photo.

More on the new F express plan later. I ended up spending the night in Chicago on business and am still working through the reaction to the MTA’s proposals.

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Larry Littlefield May 18, 2016 - 11:09 am

Your reaction might want to consider this.

1) They aren’t splitting the F evenly between the two segments of the line. ALL F trains will stop at every stop from Kings Highway to Church, 14 per hour. And some of those on them — those with seats who boarded at close-in stations such as Ditmars and 18th Avenue — will stay put. Thus more than half of the riders will get well less than half of the train capacity. Why aren’t they running locals from the yard up the center express track without stopping, and putting them in service at Church, and then turning the F local there?

2) The increased wait times for inner stations is reported at peak hour. That is disingenuous. Between 6 pm to 7 pm, when my wife returns home from work, an even split would mean 5 locals per hour (12 minute headways) and then perhaps four (15 minute headways). Service is already frequently disastrous at these times now. With variability, waits in excess of 15 minutes will be common for F locals at Jay Street — perhaps 2-3 times per week — until the end of the peak period.

3) Lying about the impact is not helpful, because what would actually be needed is to discourage riders at bypassed stations from taking the local F. Imagine riders were told that local F service would be crowded, unreliable, and due to platform crowding, at times dangerous.

Those now boarding at 4th Avenue could be encouraged to take the R. Those now boarding at Bergen and Carroll could be encouraged to take the B57 or walk downtown and get a subway there. Those now boarding at Prospect Park 15th Street and Smith/9th could be encouraged to take the B61 to 7th Avenue or to 4th Avenue for the R. Those now boarding at Fort Hamilton Parkway and living SW of the Prospect Expressway could be encouraged to take the B67/B69 bus to Church Avenue or 7th Avenue.

4) Service on all these bus lines is infrequent. The same neighborhoods now proposed to suffer a cut in subway service were among those that suffered the biggest cuts in bus service in the last recession, with no restorations. There are no physical constraints against running one bus every 4 minutes on the B61, B67/69, and B57 lines during the times when the F express is running. Only a desire to keep taking away service despite the highest state and local tax burden as a percent of income there is.

Similarly, there are eight stairways down to 7th Avenue station, and a huge, unused mezzanine. The MTA could convert one of those stairways to a ramp and part of that mezzanine to secure bike parking, with a bike to subway commute as an alternative to boarding a local at the bypassed station. Two more ramps down to the platforms would also provide handicapped access there.

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. May 18, 2016 - 11:28 am

I agree Larry. Welcome to the world of George Orwell’s “Animal Farms” in this situation, where it benefits one particular group over another. If you want F Express Service, then add more permanent G Local Service with more subway cars. In addition, the signal system on the northern section of the IND Culver Line needs to be modernized with Communication Based Train Control. This could be applied when the MTA is adding more newer rolling stock to its overall fleet.

bigbellymon4 May 18, 2016 - 10:23 pm

The the IND Culver Line Express tracks from Jay to Church is being upgraded with CBTC and is used as a testing ground for other providers to make sure they are compatible with what the MTA wants. Don’t know about the local tracks tho….

Larry Littlefield May 18, 2016 - 12:44 pm

Evidently having the F local run to and from Church, reducing its crowding, was considered but not proposed, with reason given. It would actually save the MTA money, and reduce the impact on stations inbound from Church.

Instead, the MTA went with a proposal to allow the outer stations to have their cake and eat it too.

The report also indicates that local service would be no worse than every ten minutes. That conflicts with the schedule, which reports current service very five to seven minutes — with the every seven minutes presumably after 6 pm. And with what actually happens.

Larry Littlefield May 18, 2016 - 1:26 pm

I meant with no reason given for not turning the local at Church.

Nyland8 May 18, 2016 - 11:10 am

Well … for one thing, you’re not likely to forget it and leave it. Even the bus driver will be able to see it in their rearview mirror.

For another thing, it will enable standing passengers to avail themselves as well. Perhaps it was better thought out than would seem at first glance. And routing power to every one at seat level might have been prohibitively expensive.

Like all compromises, it’s better than nothing.

Chris C May 18, 2016 - 12:02 pm

I look forward to the first reports of ‘port rage’

John-2 May 18, 2016 - 3:10 pm

I’m waiting for the first time the bus stops short and the dangling cellphones start swinging around like the Flying Walendas while smashing into the faces of the passengers in the seats behind.

SEAN May 18, 2016 - 2:58 pm

Meanwhile back in reality – Metro-North has been restored to a Saturday schedule with cancelations & delays. How soon did the MTA get blamed for the situation they find themselves in – curious.

Roxie May 18, 2016 - 6:13 pm

shame these are only on a couple of routes. when they mentioned queens was getting them first i was hoping to be able to hop a ride on a q44 sbs and charge my phone.
oh well

SEAN May 18, 2016 - 7:40 pm

In due time Roxie – in due time. Lets not lose sight that this is the first batch of 75 busses out of 2000 plus. New Flyer in the words of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) bagged the elephant with that order.

Kai B May 18, 2016 - 8:57 pm

Do these busses have some of the more basic digital innovations of the 1990s (sic, rest of the world) such as upcoming stop displays / digital announcements? Also hoping there’s no more “air assist” back door that doesn’t work half of the time 🙂

SEAN May 18, 2016 - 9:37 pm

Not sure, but NICE does & it works really well.

Kai B May 18, 2016 - 10:08 pm

I know some object to this in NYC because a lot of lines stop at every tree, but right now the major stops are (sometimes) manually announced by operators and they are often not very clear (akin to conductors on older trains). Figure we could at least start with digitally announcing major stops and displays would eliminate my need of live streaming Google Maps to figure out where to alight!

bigbellymon4 May 18, 2016 - 10:32 pm

I agree. How difficult is it to add a R160-like LED map on the busses? And they need to add busses to the maps on the trains (other than the SBS buses and buses to the airport B15, Q3 etc.)

Stephen May 19, 2016 - 3:04 am

My hope is that they got rid of all the announcements regarding:
1. Use rear door to exit.
2. Doors Opening.
3. Doors Closing.
4. Press Yellow Tape to Open doors.
5. STEP AWAY FROM THE DOORS – yeah, right on a just about every bus since they are jammed packed you expect people to not stand in that space? Not gonna happen and since it doesn’t happen, we get to hear that annoying announcement to step away from the doors.

Actually, all the announcements are extremely annoying. My headphones, such as they are not noise-canceling, don’t really block out the sound.
If you don’t already know how to open the door, then ask you family or friends. As for the warning announcements, again, no need for them since if you’re getting off the bus, the door isn’t closing yet.

If they insist on playing them, then do it like maybe at the same time they make the ‘assaulting a bus operator is a felony’ message.

As for charging ports, I’d put those down below the need for the digital map displays.


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