Southern Brooklyn

B44 SBS Update – Initial Reviews Are In: Part 3 Of 3

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The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr
The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: This week we are taking another look at the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). On Monday we discussed major problems thus far: confusion, not enough SBS stops, and inadequate service on New York Avenue. We discussed actions taken by some local elected officials. Yesterday we shared some rider and operator reviews gathered from an email, the media, and transit discussion groups on the internet. Today we will share a few more reviews and draw some conclusions.

Gold12th from Subchat shares:

“I have taken a couple B44 SBS trips now. If you are waiting for B44 local well, there is no hope when you see lots of B44 SBS passed by, one by one. They do look angry when they are waiting on B44 local bus forever.”

The Brooklyn Paper offered the following. Here is an excerpt:

“…several key parts of the service are not expected to come online until sometime next year.”

“Some of the new bus stops projecting out into the street remain unfinished, a few miles of dedicated northbound lanes along Rogers and Bedford avenues have yet to be painted, and the technology that will change red lights green as a select bus approaches has not been switched on yet.”

Channel 11 also offered reviews from those affected.

Here is an excerpt from Bill from Maspeth on Subchat.

“…They are going to lose so much time waiting for the local, it will be worth their while taking the SBS and walking the rest of the way.”

“I hear the same complaint from a co-worker in reference to Hylan Blvd. So many S79’s but so few S78’s. So folks get disgusted and walk farther…NYCT is trying to get the most production out of the workforce daily, especially the ones that have to follow a schedule every day. By having an SBS B44 they could be saving $$$ on operators’ daily pay since it requires a shorter amount of time to make a trip…Yes they save $$$ on the B44 SBS vs. the LTD…If anybody thinks SBS is costing NYCT more money, well I have a bridge to sell you!…I have a pretty good idea what the mindset is since I’ve been working for them long before many of you were even born.”

Interested Rider posted on NYC Transit Forums. An excerpt follows:

“The problem with the MTA is that they feel that they do not have to communicate with those of us who ride the system…There were no announcements about the meetings except on the buses and if they were so interested in the public then the meetings should have be held at venues that are located on the route itself…They said there were discussions with the community boards which unless your read the “City Record”,… you would never know if there was a community board meeting or what is on the agenda (The agenda is not posted on the internet)… In this multicultural and multilingual city, there were no postings in Chinese, Russian, Creole or Spanish to help explain what was happening on the route and to use the machines for boarding.”

“(Also there is) the double standard as Avenue X is a SBS stop but not Avenues L & R. This brings up the question as to why even though the three stops have schools and are transfer points for riders…”

“…wait till the first snow or ice storm and then try to get an artic. All service will be local but the mess with just the 40 ft. buses will impact negatively on the other major routes running out of the garage. The timing (why November) of the roll out, the way the schedules were done leads me to believe that the entire project was not well thought out but was just designed to take the federal money…”

“What disturbed me throughout this entire process is the Marie Antioinette attitude of the MTA personnel toward the riders and those of us who offered legitimate suggestions…It is like they are superior to us which I find offensive as the one in the heavens is the only one superior to us…”

“Yes, the B/44 SBS it will eventually work but my feeling remains that had the MTA listened to us from the beginning, it would have worked in a few months, not years…”

Conclusion

You are probably thinking, “Why has Allan chosen to print only the bad reviews and none of the good ones?” The reason is that there weren’t any good ones to find, other than from the bus driver who believes all the problems will be worked out in the end. Yes, some problems will be worked out, but not all. Some will like SBS and others will hate it. The MTA will declare it a huge success with some initial growing pains. The MTA will never do a fair analysis. They will continue to brag how much quicker the SBS is, ignoring extra walk times and riders who are forced to use SBS against their will, because of poor, unreliable and overcrowded locals with 25- to 40-minute waits becoming the norm.

Over time more riders will switch to the SBS and use of the local will decline because SBS service is excellent while local service is poor. Riders will end up walking a quarter-mile more when they get on and off the bus, although they won’t want to, but it still will be quicker than waiting for the local.

What needs to happen in order for SBS to be a success is:

  1. Needed Limited bus stops that were removed need to be returned and local service needs to be increased and be made more reliable. Riders cannot wait a year for more articulated buses to be delivered to increase bus capacity. One way to do this would be to operate two overlapping local services: one from the Bridge to Brooklyn College and a second from Fulton Street to Knapp Street, instead of both services starting at Flushing Avenue and terminating either at Avenue U or Knapp Street.
  2. The problem with some riders having to pay double fare because of SBS must be addressed. The MTA will dismiss this problem saying it affects only a very small percentage of riders. They will ignore the fact that even if the percentage is small, the actual number may be in the hundreds or thousands on a daily basis. No one should have to pay double fare because of a service change, which had been transit policy for more than 70 years until the service cutbacks of 2010.
  3. A branch needs to operate one additional stop to Kingsborough Community College from Emmons Avenue and Nostrand Avenue to make use of nearly empty articulated buses operating in the off-peak direction.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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