Southern Brooklyn

The Commute: Why We Need A Moratorium On Future SBS Routes – Part 4 Of 5

THE COMMUTE: In Part 3, we discussed community involvement.

SBS Future Plans

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced at a February 10, 2015 City Council hearing that the next Select Bus Service (SBS) route would be 86th Street in Manhattan because it will be “easy.” It will not include exclusive bus lanes but still will be called SBS because of the fare prepayment feature and articulated buses it might use. Virtually all existing bus stops will remain in place, unlike most other SBS routes in which bus stops have been removed. Construction will begin this spring.

Also planned for quick implementation are SBS on the Utica Avenue B46, which is the second busiest bus route in the city, at 50,000 daily riders a day; a Flushing to Jamaica SBS, and a Woodhaven Boulevard route. The SBS ‘propaganda’ and the Phase 2 Corridors can be viewed in this report.

It Appears That DOT Has Decided On BRT For Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard

We should find out for sure at the Community Advisory Committee Hearing to be held on March 11. I discussed Woodhaven Boulevard before. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) differs from SBS in that the bus lanes are physically separated from other traffic, cannot be used for right turns, are in effect 24/7, feature elaborate bus stations, and could be placed in the center median. The cost is also about 20 times as much.

So what do we get for the extra money? And is it worth it? Again, no clear answers are provided. The only statement we get from DOT is filled with vague generalities, such as BRT provides “more robust features” and “Woodhaven is a real opportunity for something bigger and bolder.” Three million dollars is being set aside just for the design phase. The terms BRT and SBS are used interchangeably on their website.

The cost to reactivate the nearby parallel Rockaway Beach Line (RBL), which would cut travel time in half between Rego Park and Liberty Avenue, is about $650 million and would provide other benefits such as spurring development. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and DOT are ignoring that option. Councilman Brad Lander, seemingly unaware of the RBL option, compared BRT to the cost of constructing the Second Avenue Subway, calling BRT a bargain, although no one has proposed a subway under Woodhaven Boulevard. We are asked to accept an expenditure of what could be $400 million just because DOT claims it is “bigger and bolder” and therefore worthwhile. Shame on our Council members for accepting DOT’s claim without a shred of proof.

The DOT and the MTA state only that 30,000 daily bus riders would benefit from SBS or BRT. They do not even quantify how many minutes of travel time would be cut from their commute. Although the time-savings bus riders would achieve would be higher than on SBS routes already implemented because 30 percent of Woodhaven riders travel from nearly one end of the route to the other, according to the MTA, it still might not be worthwhile since bus riders account for only 33 percent of the users of Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. The predominant traffic is auto and truck during non-rush hours, perhaps 80 percent. Car ownership in zip codes adjacent to Woodhaven is also above 80 percent, much higher than the city-wide average of 44 percent. So what would it mean if two lanes were permanently taken away from them 24/7 as required by BRT with physically separated lanes?

When all commuters are considered, it would mean more time is lost than is gained, and an unwise expenditure when you consider the RBL option, which doesn’t remove any traffic lanes, and could also accommodate BRT. The DOT does not yet have the money to fund BRT and may not get it. Their plan is to use as much federal money as becomes available so they can provide the most BRT features possible.

Ten Unanswered Questions About Woodhaven

  1. What are the additional benefits true BRT will provide over SBS that it is worth 20 times the cost?
  2. If the center alignment is chosen, how will buses shift to the outer roadway at Atlantic Avenue and how will that impact traffic? If they use the overpass, transferring bus passengers will no longer have a convenient bus transfer and will have to walk several blocks to transfer.
  3. If the bus lane is located in the main roadway, but not in the center median, how will other traffic move between the two lanes in the center roadway to the lane in the service road? Or will no lane changes be allowed? If that is so, how will that impact traffic with only two through lanes? The DOT has only showed the communities bits and pieces of the plan without thus far revealing the entire design for each and every block, and the hours of operation for exclusive bus lanes.
  4. Where will left turns be permitted and where they will be banned? Drivers need to have advance notice as to the location of the next left turn. Currently it is a guessing game with even DOT officials admitting to getting lost while traveling to one of the meetings. Plans show the elimination of all left turns at Metropolitan Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, locations where I observed 50 cars waiting to make left turns during the midday. Only about half were able to get through on the first cycle.
  5. Where will these cars turn when the turns are prohibited? How much longer will it take to traverse the additional quarter-mile that will be required? These questions must be answered with reliable data and projections. Thus far only scant data has been provided which hasn’t included a single traffic count, although traffic counts were requested by the Queens Public Transit Committee, along with other data, last April, almost one year ago.
  6. How can the DOT and MTA insist there is adequate community involvement when they ignore repeated requests to provide necessary data?
  7. When will DOT prove that BRT will not slow down other traffic to a crawl, or gridlock during rush hours, and not just make a wild allegation that all traffic will flow better? No traffic data or any data have been presented from New York City Transit’s (NYCT) transit forecasting model for any past or proposed SBS corridor. The model is referred to on Page 1 of this report prepared in 2009, outlining future SBS corridors based on “underserved areas.” In fact, the Woodhaven Corridor was not even listed as a potential SBS route. It was added later due to pressure from groups such as Transportation Alternatives.
  8. How will the DOT and MTA achieve taking cars off the road to reduce traffic congestion along Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard? Many vehicles coming from southern Brooklyn and southeast Queens now take the Belt Parkway or North Conduit Avenue or South Conduit Avenue to Cross Bay Boulevard or Woodhaven Boulevard to access various parts of Queens. However, there are no bus routes from southern Brooklyn and none are proposed that might transfer to the proposed SBS routes.
  9. Why would any future east/west SBS routes between southern Brooklyn and John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport stop at Cross Bay Boulevard, thus enabling southern Brooklyn residents traveling to Queens to switch from their car to SBS? The B15, the only Brooklyn route south of Atlantic Avenue to enter Queens (not counting routes at the borough borders) travels non-stop between 79th Street/Linden Boulevard and JFK without stopping at Cross Bay Boulevard. Only two southern Queens bus routes transfer at Cross Bay Boulevard. NIMBYs from local communities near Cross Bay Boulevard have been known to oppose better Brooklyn / Queens connections.
  10. If three general lanes of traffic are warranted for Woodhaven Boulevard, where is the traffic data that shows only two lanes are needed for the entire length of Cross Bay Boulevard?

Next week: The problems with transfers, enforcement, and what needs to be done.

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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89 COMMENTS

  1. We are asked to accept an expenditure of what could be $400 million just because DOT claims it is “bigger and bolder” and therefore worthwhile.

    Where did that number come from?

  2. We are asked to accept an expenditure of what could be $400 million just because DOT claims it is “bigger and bolder” and therefore worthwhile.

    Where does that $400 million number come from? I see this:

    “All eyes on Woodhaven: The City Council’s Progressive Caucus is pushing City Hall to implement more robust BRT projects with features like physically separated bus lanes. DOT has yet to implement that type of design on any SBS route, but it is studying a center-running transitway for Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. Trottenberg said the project will include ‘some of the most cutting-edge things we’re seeing around the world.’ DOT is seeking a grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the 14-mile, $200 million project, she said, and hopes to hear back from the feds by August.”

    …from the Streetsblog link you posted, but even that only says $200 million.

    So what would it mean if two lanes were permanently taken away from them 24/7 as required by BRT with physically separated lanes?

    When all commuters are considered, it would mean more time is lost than is gained, and an unwise expenditure when you consider the RBL option, which doesn’t remove any traffic lanes, and could also accommodate BRT.

    Where’s the rigorous traffic analysis that backs up these assertions?

    6. How can the DOT and MTA insist there is adequate community involvement when they ignore repeated requests to provide necessary data?

    Whose requests have they ignored? If you mean yours, I would point out that you are not “the community”; you’re just one person.

    7. When will DOT prove that BRT will not slow down other traffic to a crawl, or gridlock during rush hours, and not just make a wild allegation that all traffic will flow better?

    DOT doesn’t have a crystal ball, but as has been pointed out to you repeatedly, other SBS implementations have not resulted in increased congestion, probably because of road improvements made along with the SBS construction.
    Your continued refusal to accept factual information doesn’t make it less factual.

  3. I just received an e-mail that the March 11th Community Advisory Committee meeting as been canceled. The e-mail also stated that the original e-mail inviting committee members to the meeting was sent to a larger group than intended. There will be public meetings some time this Spring.

  4. Why do you bother to complain when you elected the idiots who support this nonsense. Stop voting by party and start investigating the candidates cause if you don’t you get the government you deserve.

  5. Allan Rosen, based on what I have researched about the recent ridership trends for both subways and buses in New York City. In the past three decades, even with significant fare increases and service cuts, a lot of people both moved in and lived in the five boroughs of New York City. This was important when overall crime was reduced to record lows, specifically on the New York City Subway. In the past several years, subway ridership was significantly increased while bus ridership was sightly reduced. Some of the major reasons for increasing subway ridership and decreasing bus ridership: 1) More people who lived within a quarter of a mile or less from any subway station can walk into a subway station with ease; 2) Their job centers are within a quarter of a mile or less from any subway station they exit; 3) If the bus route was within a quarter mile or less of a subway route and it is inconvenient, then most people use the subway to get around; 4) More workers relied on the subway because it is more convenient, faster and reliable to get to work; 5) More people lived in rezoning housing near subway stations; 6) Most millennials used the subway for leisure and pleasure, not just for work; 7) To get away from the bad weather and the general traffic; 8) For those who lived in transit-starved neighborhoods in New York City, they have little or no public transit access and their only options they can get to work, leisure or leisure is either by “dollar vans,” or their own cars. This is applied to people who lived in suburban homes within the city limits.

    According to the most recent annual ridership report by the APTA (or also known as the American Public Transportation Association, a very reliable organization), From 2013 to 2014: 1) There is a 4.02% increase in total annual ridership for the MTA New York City Subway – from over 2651804000 rides to over 2758485000 rides; 2) There is a 3.49% increase in total annual ridership for the MTA Staten Island Railway – from over 6885100 rides to over 7228600 rides; and 3) There is a 2.12% decrease in total annual ridership for both the MTA New York City Bus and the MTA Bus Company – from over 811905900 rides to over 794692100 rides.

    This shows that even with the rapid implementation of more Select Bus Service routes was made in the next several years and despite that the fact the general ridership of almost all of the Select Bus Service routes was increased initially, overall bus ridership in New York City was decreasing. That is a trend in the considerable future and we must invest on heavy-rail on the right-of-way railroad tracks in the next 20 years, in order to be competitive with other major cities across the world.

  6. At the November City Council Hearing, Trottenberg first threw out the BRT estimate. She said it was $200 million but that was “a very rough estimate.” To me “very rough” means lowball, since many public projects come in way above initial estimates. Very few come in under. The 1975 rebuild of Yankee Stadium cost around three times the initial estimate, as is East Side Access. It is therefore reasonable to assume at a very rough estimate of $200 million could be anywhere between $200 million and $600 million. I don’t think it will cost $600 million because reactivating the RBL with rail was estimated at $685 million, so BRT would have to be cheaper. You will notice I never said it will cost $400 million. but gave that figure as an upper estimate.

    In future appearances, she seems to have eliminated the part about “rough estimate” and now is just using the $200 million figure without any explanation.

    If you have physically separated lanes, you cannot allow cars to use them because no one would be able to make any left or right turns. I suppose you could allow cars or HOV if allowing them to exit when the lane ends. I am not sure how that may work.

    You don’t need a traffic analysis to know that BRT on the RBL does not remove traffic lanes.

    Whose requests have they ignored? If you mean yours, I would point out that you are not “the community”; you’re just one person.

    They have ignored a request from the Queens Public Transit Committee submitted nearly a year ago and followed up at least three times.

    DOT doesn’t have a crystal ball, but as has been pointed out to you repeatedly, other SBS implementations have not resulted in increased congestion, probably because of road improvements made along with the SBS construction.
    Your continued refusal to accept factual information doesn’t make it less factual.

    At the Council hearing referred to in the article, Beaton, who is the project manager, stated that each SBS route is different because each area has its own needs. It follows from that statement that the results in each corridor also will be different. If one corridor does not slow traffic, it cannot be automatically assumed as you have done, that traffic will not slow down in any of the corridors. I certainly would accept factual information if any were provided. DOT has ignored requests to present any traffic data.

    DOT may not have a crystal ball. However, have you ever heard the term “computer model? A computer model supposed to simulate conditions after an event given the data and parameters you feed into it. The MTA claims to have a computer model which they are supposedly using to plan SBS. Why has the output of that data being kept secret and not shared at the public meetings? Could it be that the model does not work?

  7. You think a busway on woodhaven will cost twice as much as projected but the RBL estimate is accurate?

  8. In fairness, the documents Allan has linked to seem to indicate that the Woodhaven implementation will include center transit lanes, making it (I would think) more expensive to implement. If it also includes higher-quality stops, as proper BRT does — and I don’t know whether it is supposed to or not — that would make it still more expensive.
    If I’ve misunderstood the plans for Woodhaven, please set me straight.

  9. They are two distinct items although DOT seeks to confuse by using the terms interchangeably.

    One costs $28 million and the other at least $200 million.

  10. You are correct. From what I understand, it is the physical separation of lanes and higher more expensive stations that account for the increase in cost.

  11. However, ahwr’s point about trusting estimates for the RBB reactivation, but not trusting estimates for the Woodhaven SBS implementation, remains valid.

  12. “…bus riders account for only 33 percent of the users of Woodhaven and
    Cross Bay Boulevards. The predominant traffic is auto and truck during
    non-rush hours, perhaps 80 percent.”

    80 + 33 = 100?

    “Car ownership in zip codes adjacent to Woodhaven is also above 80 percent, much higher than the city-wide average of 44 percent.”

    The only area of that map showing >80 percent auto ownership that’s anywhere near the Woodhaven/Cross Bay corridor is JFK airport.

  13. “…bus riders account for only 33 percent of the users of Woodhaven and
    Cross Bay Boulevards. The predominant traffic is auto and truck during
    non-rush hours, perhaps 80 percent.”

    80 + 33 = 100?

    Maybe the 33% figure is over the course of the entire day? The 80% figure is specified as referring to non-rush hours only.

    The only area of that map showing >80 percent auto ownership that’s anywhere near the Woodhaven/Cross Bay corridor is JFK airport.

    LOL. How many people live at JFK?

  14. It was from an estimate, I forgot where, but it did not include rebuilding the trestle over Jamaica Bay which greatly would increase the cost. Funny, it doesn’t bother you when DOT pulls numbers out of a hat without any footnotes. Why do you never ask them for their source?

  15. I have no idea what type of arithmetic you are doing. If the daily average is 67% cars and trucks, and the rush hour average is 54% cars and trucks, it is quite conceivable that the off-peak average is 80%. Don’t forget between midnight and 6 AM total bus patronage is probably less than 100 while there are cars operating on the street every minute, so I wouldn’t be surprised if during those hours cars and trucks accounted for 98% of the motor vehicle traffic.

    The only area of that map showing >80 percent auto ownership that’s anywhere near the Woodhaven/Cross Bay corridor is JFK airport.

    Okay, I should have said up to 80%. Still a long way from the city average of 44% and an unreferenced source from DOT.

  16. 33% is over the course of a day. The 80% is my estimate for non-rush hours. I explained in another post how I arrived at that number.

  17. DOT got their numbers from the same place NYCEDC did. Census ACS survey.

    It’s free for you to use too at http://factfinder.census.gov

    You can even make little maps with it, though their site is a pretty frustrating interface generally. Here’s one I made just for you. Census tracts in Queens County by percent of households with no vehicle available. White is <20% of households with no car. Most of the tracts have more car free households than that.

    http://i.imgur.com/EwVsbMa.png

    Your point that bus ridership is peakier than car traffic is an argument for bus lanes, even if they are 24/7. During peak it's a more equitable use of road space, and off peak the extra lane usually isn't needed to maintain traffic flow. So the majority of drivers on Woodhaven who travel off peak won't be impacted much if at all.

  18. It’s a long story and I can’t go into it now. I may have already covered it in a past article. There needs to be separate routes, one along 13th Avenue and one along Ft Hamilton Parkway. Maimonides Hospital is a major Brooklyn institution and needs north south bus service. Using 60th Street would solve the transfer problem but it woud be using a band aid when you need a tourniquet. Also, there is a lot of traffic on 60 Street, and more buses would not help the situation.

  19. Your point that bus ridership is peakier than car traffic is an argument for bus lanes, even if they are 24/7. During peak it’s a more equitable use of road space, and off peak the extra lane usually isn’t needed to maintain traffic flow. So the majority of drivers on Woodhaven who travel off peak won’t be impacted much if at all.

    What you are saying is totally untrue. Peakier bus traffic is not an argument for bus lanes. It is not a more equitable use of road space. and during the off-peak the extra traffic lane definitely is needed to maintain traffic flow.

    During rush hours the majority of road users is still autos and trucks. Reducing their road space increases their trip time. You are increasing the road space for a minority of users, so that is not a more equitable distribution of road space.

    Have you driven daily on Woodhaven Blvd for nine years and do you still use it most every weekend like me? I think I am more qualified than you to make a statement that the extra traffic lane is definitely need during the off-peak. You talk about maintaining traffic flow. Yes, with one less lane traffic flow would still be maintained but at a much slower speed which would be slowed from an average of about 28 mph to 20 mph or less. Twenty eight is much more optimal for a major arterial like Woodhaven than 20 mph. Or are you suggesting it be a local street and not an arterial?

    Trip times would go up significantly for cars and trucks and bus speeds would not increase for buses because they are already traveling at their maximum speed. It can take a half mile for a car to pass a bus if the bus does not have to stop for passengers. That is how fast buses are travelling during the off-peak if you define the peak beginning at 3 PM. The only times buses will save is due to the fare prepayment, not from the exclusive lanes.

    The peak is another story. Bus passengers would save ten to fifteen minutes. However, cars and trucks would lose much more time than that and since there are more cars and trucks than there are buses during the peak, exclusive bus lanes would be a net loss.

    You cannot simply look at the advantages for bus passengers and ignore the impacts on everyone else or argue a bus passenger’s time is worth more, because a better argument can be made that a driver’s time is worth more since their incomes are higher.

    Now it might work if HOV vehicles were allowed in the exclusive lanes because that would reduce the negative traffic impact and would encourage carpools. It would be possible with SBS, but I don’t see how you could do it with physically separated lanes that full BRT would have.

  20. During rush hours the majority of road users is still autos and trucks. Reducing their road space increases their trip time. You are increasing the road space for a minority of users, so that is not a more equitable distribution of road space.

    Again, we’re talking about dedicating a fourth of the road space to a third of the users. How is that not equitable? And no, saying it’s not equitable is not the same as explaining why it’s not equitable.

    I think I am more qualified than you to make a statement that the extra traffic lane is definitely need during the off-peak. You talk about maintaining traffic flow. Yes, with one less lane traffic flow would still be maintained but at a much slower speed which would be slowed from an average of about 28 mph to 20 mph or less.

    The peak is another story. Bus passengers would save ten to fifteen minutes. However, cars and trucks would lose much more time than that and since there are more cars and trucks than there are buses during the peak, exclusive bus lanes would be a net loss.

    Again, where’s the rigorous traffic analysis that backs up these numbers?

    You cannot simply look at the advantages for bus passengers and ignore the impacts on everyone else or argue a bus passenger’s time is worth more, because a better argument can be made that a driver’s time is worth more since their incomes are higher.

    Oh, so that’s what it comes down to? We have to minimize travel time for richer people because their time is worth more? Seriously? Did you really just say that?

  21. “Oh, so that’s what it comes down to? We have to minimize travel time for
    richer people because their time is worth more? Seriously? Did you
    really just say that?”

    Why-oh-why can I only upvote once? 🙁

  22. Between midnight and 6:00 a.m., hourly traffic volumes are between 5 and 30 percent of peak hour traffic volumes. Percent traffic to allocated road space really doesn’t matter.

  23. Allan Rosen / BrooklynBus, why is it that the vast VAST majority of the comments on your blog posts are from people vehemently disagreeing with your methodology and conclusions? Have you ever thought about that? Has it ever crossed your mind, or entered a dark corner of your mind, that maybe somewhere along the way you went wrong and haven’t looked back?

  24. During rush hours the majority of road users is still autos and trucks.

    Citation needed. Care to share hourly ridership and traffic volume breakdown that you must have to know this?

    I thought HOV lanes generally don’t encourage carpools so much as benefit those who would carpool regardless – say a parent driving their kid to school, two brothers who work at the same shop etc…

  25. Yes, that is perhaps the only time of day when the percent traffic allocated to road space would not matter.

  26. No, the vast majority of negative comments are from only two individuals who account for like 80% of the replies. Have you factored that in? When people agree, they are more likely to shrug their shoulders and just say to themselves, yeah he’s right or I agree with that. When they don’t agree, they are more likely to speak out.

  27. I have not factored that in because it is not true. If people agreed with your stupidity, they would say so. But they don’t agree, so they don’t say so. Instead, almost all the comments in reply to your blog posts are negative. They come from way more than two people. On this post alone you have at least six people disagreeing with you. The fact of the matter is that you make stuff up or make assumptions that are completely ridiculous. Check yourself. You’re doing it wrong. You should be asking questions instead of reaching conclusions. You should be saying a lot more of “Oh, my mistake, I was mistaken. Yes, I have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re right, I shouldn’t use SubChat and NYC Transit Forums as a source of information because they are full of a lot of people even dumber than me.”

  28. If the negative comments come from more than two people please list their handles instead of telling lies. ahwr has legitimate concerns and most of his comments are requests for more information or explanations. RIPTA 42 has traffic concerns and we also discuss those intelligently and have legitimate disagreements. That is the point of this blog to have a legitimate discussion. You will also notice that rather than stick to the subject, those who disagree often take a small point and make it seem it is the major focus of the article and then the discussion takes off from there. I am considering only responding to the actual subject of what is being discussed instead of anything that is asked regardless if it has nothing to do with the article. If I do that you will see the numbers of “negative” comments drop by two thirds.

    You say I should be asking questions. What do you call the ten questions I asked in this part? Do any of the negative comments relate to any of those questions, or is no one addressing them?

  29. DOT may not have a crystal ball. However, have you ever heard the term “computer model? A computer model supposed to simulate conditions after an event given the data and parameters you feed into it. The MTA claims to have a computer model which they are supposedly using to plan SBS. Why has the output of that data being kept secret and not shared at the public meetings? Could it be that the model does not work?

    Or could it be that the model works just fine, but you’re stubbornly unwilling to accept its results because they don’t comport with your argument?

  30. Fair enough. Now address the inconsistency in the way you use the estimates, quoting the RBB estimate without inflating it while doubling the estimate for Woodhaven SBS.

  31. Where did I double the estimate for the Woodhaven RBS? Quit with the lies already to prove your non-existent points. If you look at the Woodhaven BRT estimates I gave, each time I either used the DOT estimate of $200 million, or said “at least $200 million”, or said “between $2 and 400 million” or I said “up to $400 million. Never once did I say it would cost $400 million. So I never actually doubled their estimate.

    Now look at DOT’s misleading statements which who ignore. During a discussion of Woodhaven when asked specifically what SBS costs, Trottenberg stated that on the average it was about $10 million. She neglected to include the approximate $17 million for the cost of new buses and failed to mention that Woodhaven SBS which was approved was budgeted at $28 million, not $10 million. You have no problem at all with those misleading statements, but criticize me for giving an upper limit to an estimate that Trottenber herself last November admitted was a very rough estimate that she didn’t want to be held to, which is why she said it was very rough.

  32. How could I be unwilling to accept its results when no results of any model have been made public? All that has been said is that we have a model and we’ve used it. They haven’t even stated that they themselves agreed with the results of the model. More likely than not, they have problems with the model and believe it is not reliable. Having worked with models, I know how inaccurate they can be and in 2006, the MTA admitted that their model could only be used to make macro decisions like do we need a Second Avenue subway but could not be used to plan specific bus routes. Of course that could have changed by now. So why are they keeping their model results and traffic counts a secret?

  33. More likely than not, they have problems with the model and believe it is not reliable.

    Or the model is telling them that the modifications to the streets will not have a significant negative impact on motor vehicle traffic, and you’re just unwilling to accept that.

    Having worked with models, I know how inaccurate they can be and in 2006, the MTA admitted that their model could only be used to make macro decisions like do we need a Second Avenue subway but could not be used to plan specific bus routes. Of course that could have changed by now.

    I don’t work with models, but I work with people who do work with models (note: not traffic models, but similar types of estimating/predicting models), and I can tell you that your last sentence is probably correct. The state of the art has advanced considerably since 2006 in terms of being able to use technology to create, test, and use models.

    So why are they keeping their model results and traffic counts a secret?

    It may be that the raw model results require expertise to interpret — expertise you and I don’t have. You see the interpretations in the media regularly when, as you sometimes complain, the MTA and the DOT predict that street improvements for SBS will not have significant negative impacts on motor vehicle traffic — which, again, you’re not willing to accept.
    Traffic counts aren’t secret, are they?

  34. That was the time of day you used as an example of auto traffic being significantly higher than bus ridership and warranting an extra travel lane. Overnight may be an extreme case, but midday traffic is about 60 to 70 percent of peak hour traffic (i.e., needing about one fewer lane).

  35. Or the model is telling them that the modifications to the streets will not have a significant negative impact on motor vehicle traffic, and you’re just unwilling to accept that.

    If that is the case, why couldn’t they simply say that the model tells us XYZ?
    How could I not be willing to accept the results of their model when they never told us what their model says?

    The state of the art has advanced considerably since 2006 in terms of being able to use technology to create, test, and use models.

    Okay, so if true why isn’t DOT and the MTA revealing the results of those models? Yes, they require expertise to interpret. Expertise that you may not have, but please don’t speak for me. But who is asking the public to interpret these models? Not me? I am only asking for the results which have not been disclosed. DOT never once stated that their conclusions that traffic would not be negatively impacted was based on any traffic model. If so, please cite a link. As far as I know, they are supposedly basing that conclusion on traffic counts.

    There are some limited traffic counts available on the internet if you search for them, but the information is limited and incomplete. RIPTA42 has done some of that searching and cited numbers which we have been using in our discussions. However, in none of the Woodhaven presentations is there a mention of any traffic counts. I would certainly call that keeping their traffic counts a secret.

    If you are going to claim that the public is being involved in the planning process as DOT has bee doing, you have an obligation to present data that supports your conclusions. It is not acceptable to merely state as DOT has been doing that traffic impacts will be minimal, non-existent, or that traffic will be improved without providing any proof whatsoever. Merely stating that merges will be eliminated is not proof because not everyone travels the entire length of the roadway, and while traffic could be improved at the merge point with the elimination of a lane, that does not mean that traffic will not be severely impacted along another portion of the roadway where a lane is being eliminated and there is no merge.

  36. That is not exactly what I said, but I won’t nitpick. Now I assume your midday statistics assume the peak begins at 4PM which is what DOT is using. But it really begins on Woodhaven at 3PM as any roadway user would tell you. When you consider that, you will get different traffic statistics.

    If you do a similar analysis for bus passengers, you will find a bigger decline in bus passengers during midday (defined as 10 AM to 3PM) than there is in motor vehicle traffic. Not only are there fewer bus vehicles during midday (and many of them are running not in service), they also carry far fewer passengers per bus, like about ten per bus during midday as compared to 60 per bus during the peak. You have to consider that as well when you decide to have an exclusive lane or not.

  37. Also, you and Andrew keep taking issue with any numbers I use to support my points, but it is interesting that not a single critic of mine has commented on the photo which has now been used twice where DOT has exaggerated the street width by 30 feet. If you don’t believe me, I invite you all to measure the street yourself.

    But when DOT obviously lies or makes an innocent mistake, you are all just ignoring that and do not believe it reflects on their overall credibility. Yet you believe that I should be conducting my own traffic studies. Yeah, you are really being objective here. Yet you constantly accuse me of being biased and in favor of motor vehicles over buses, when the only thing I have been advocating is fairness. Something you no nothing about.

  38. If that is the case, why couldn’t they simply say that the model tells us XYZ?

    They do:

    MTA: “The models tell us that when we convert one of the through lanes to a bus lane and make other improvements to the street, there will be no significant negative impact on motor vehicle throughput.”

    Allan Rosen: “They say that, but they must be lying because that’s impossible.”

    Okay, so if true why isn’t DOT and the MTA revealing the results of those models? Yes, they require expertise to interpret. Expertise that you may not have, but please don’t speak for me.

    I don’t have to. Your writing does.

    DOT never once stated that their conclusions that traffic would not be negatively impacted was based on any traffic model. If so, please cite a link. As far as I know, they are supposedly basing that conclusion on traffic counts.

    How could they base such a conclusion on traffic counts? There’s no way to know what effect future modifications to a street will have on its motor vehicle (or any other mode of) traffic without modeling. Why would you think they were basing this entirely on traffic counts?

    If you are going to claim that the public is being involved in the planning process as DOT has bee doing, you have an obligation to present data that supports your conclusions. It is not acceptable to merely state as DOT has been doing that traffic impacts will be minimal, non-existent, or that traffic will be improved without providing any proof whatsoever.

    Translation: “Nothing DOT provides will ever satisfy me.”

  39. Aren’t the widest sections curb to curb 135 feet, not 125? Counting building setbacks can get you to 160, I’d assume that’s what the number refers to.

  40. What’s the difference if not one single bus rider is around during the day to use a dedicated bus lane if general traffic would flow fine with one fewer general traffic lane?

  41. I am sorry but general statements like we reviewed the traffic counts and the models tell us everything will be okay are meaningless. We need to know what assumptions went into the model to know if the results have validity. Funny when I told them about an alternative route that was used to bypass a bottleneck, they knew nothing about that. They are not infallible as you believe.

    If the IRS told you we looked at your income and you owe us blank dollars, would you merely accept their determination and just accept it? Or if the Department of Finance tells you, the amount you owe in real estate taxes is XYX, so pay up? No they have to provide you with a market value, an assessed value, and a means to protest. It is far from perfect, but they are not merely requesting you accept their determination without any reason.

    DOT could say the street could function with XYZ number vehicles per hour with an average speed of blank. Without exclusive lanes JKL number of vehicles were counted at an average speed of MNO mph. With exclusive lanes cars are still moving at GHI speed and PQR vehicles per hour which is within acceptable limits. But do they do that? No they say trust us, everything will be okay because we understand the numbers but you are to dumb to understand them so we won’t even bother telling you what they are. Perhaps there are some traffic engineers in the audience who would understand them and could interpret the results for those who require some help.

    Translation: I don’t need any data because I trust everything DOT tells me and you should trust them too.”

  42. The number they use where there are no service roads is 130 feet and that is correct and it is curb to curb. So what logic would they have to measure building line to building line where there are service roads? Absolutely none. Also, where the photograph was taken the sidewalk is very narrow, like only five feet wide. Also the building line on one side of the street has garages that go right up to the sidewalk. On the other side there may be another ten feet or so until the building line. So the most you can get measuring from building line to building line would add a maximum of another 20 to 30 feet which would still be under 160 feet.

    Now the street does widen a bit at Jamaica Avenue, Liberty Avenue and at Atlantic Avenue where there is an overpass, and may reach 160 feet wide at any of those three points. But that is not what the report states. IT clearly shows an average block with service roads and exaggerates the road width by 35 feet. Since we are only talking about the roadway and no one is suggesting narrowing sidewalks that are only 5 feet wide, measuring from building line to building line would make no sense.

    They were either intentionally trying to mislead, or it was an innocent error. If it was an innocent error, how do we know how many other errors they may have made if they don’t share any traffic counts or model data with us?

    Notice they give the roadway width where there are service roads (incorrect figure of 160 feet), a correct roadway width of 130 feet where there are service roads, but no figure where the roadway passes over or under the railroad tracks where it is either 70 or 75 feet wide? Why? it’s because the roadway is too narrow at those points to handle the existing traffic and needs to be widened to eliminate bottlenecks.

  43. But general traffic lanes would not flow fine. Average speeds would be slowed from about 30 mph to 15 or 20 mph and that would add at least one third to the travel time. The only times when removing a traffic lane would have no effect is between midnight and six AM.

  44. Are you really claiming that non bus cars and trucks use more than 70% of capacity 18 hours a day? Whenever I’ve biked or walked along or across Woodhaven/Crossbay during the day, though I avoid it during rush hour, the cars get packed up at the lights, but you clear out that mess in less than half a green cycle. After that the traffic looks pretty sparse the rest of the green, so why wouldn’t you get all the cars through the same cycle with one fewer lane? When I drive along Woodhaven it never feels that way because if I’m in the middle of a pack of cars it’s hard to tell how big it is, how much of the light cycle it takes to clear out at an intersection.

  45. Are you really claiming that non bus cars and trucks use more than 70% of capacity 18 hours a day?

    Where did I ever say that? I said the 24 hour average for everything but buses was 67%. That is less than 70% not more. I never gave an 18 hour figure. However, from 6AM to midnight, if those are the 18 hours you are referring to, the number would probably still be pretty close to 67% because from midnight to 6AM, buses on all routes have a combined headway of every 30 minutes and are probably virtually empty, since each route has hourly headways.

    I agree that during the off-peak (defined as before 3 PM) traffic moves pretty well. I didn’t say all the traffic wouldn’t get through with one less lane, but cars would move much slower. Twenty mph is an appropriate average speed for a local road, not for a major arterial. With speeds slowed by at least a third, travel time would increase by that amount. Weigh that against bus trips that would not move any quicker with their own lane, because they also move just fine sharing their lane with other traffic.

    So if bus riders would not save time from an exclusive lane, and autos would lose time, what is the logic for exclusive lanes during the off-peak? Agreed that between midnight and 6 AM it wouldn’t matter if you take away a lane or not. But why take away a line for a bus that comes every 30 minutes? There is no logic in that either.

  46. But why take away a line for a bus that comes every 30 minutes? There is no logic in that either.

    The road is overbuilt for the level of use overnight. While there are other reasons to oppose center running curb protected bus lanes, they offer a refuge for those crossing the street. It would be a safer configuration overnight than what is there now. In addition, to have this more equitable configuration during peak hours, it must exist at night.

    The only times when removing a traffic lane would have no effect is between midnight and six AM.

    I responded to this, and you missed my point. If you take out buses from the general traffic lane, your claim is that every hour from 6am – midnight the road is used to more than 70% of capacity. Head to a restaurant on Woodhaven, get a window seat, and watch the traffic flow at noon. It’s nowhere near 70% of capacity. You could move all the cars there with one fewer lane, especially if no cars had to struggle to get around buses.

  47. No, as I’ve pointed out multiple times, many BRT systems incorporate branding, and the brand name of New York City’s BRT system is Select Bus Service.

    Some groups promote the more extravagant/expensive forms of BRT by not using the term for less extravagant forms, but those groups certainly don’t have a monopoly on the term. The most extravagant implementations of BRT are in cities that have no heavy rail systems at all and need to carry much heavier loads than any of our bus lines carry. They also tend to operate on much wider roadways than even Woodhaven, with two bus lanes in each direction.

    I really don’t care whether you refer to SBS as BRT, but DOT and NYCT and MTA Bus do, and your insistence on making up your own terminology only confuses matters.

  48. You cannot simply look at the advantages for bus passengers and ignore the impacts on everyone else or argue a bus passenger’s time is worth more, because a better argument can be made that a driver’s time is worth more since their incomes are higher.

    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW

  49. Okay, I should have said up to 80%.

    Actually, you should have said between 40% and 80%. Which is a far cry from your actual claim that “Car ownership in zip codes adjacent to Woodhaven is also above 80 percent.” In fact, it makes pretty much the opposite point. And it’s perfectly consistent with the number in the DOT presentation.

  50. Where did I double the estimate for the Woodhaven RBS? Quit with the lies already to prove your non-existent points. If you look at the Woodhaven BRT estimates I gave, each time I either used the DOT estimate of $200 million, or said “at least $200 million”, or said “between $2 and 400 million” or I said “up to $400 million. Never once did I say it would cost $400 million. So I never actually doubled their estimate.

    I know you think you’re being clever, but you’re not. You came up with the $400 million figure, and you’re obviously trying to plant that figure in your readers’ minds. So yes, you doubled the DOT estimate.

    Now look at DOT’s misleading statements which who ignore. During a discussion of Woodhaven when asked specifically what SBS costs, Trottenberg stated that on the average it was about $10 million. She neglected to include the approximate $17 million for the cost of new buses and failed to mention that Woodhaven SBS which was approved was budgeted at $28 million, not $10 million. You have no problem at all with those misleading statements, but criticize me for giving an upper limit to an estimate that Trottenber herself last November admitted was a very rough estimate that she didn’t want to be held to, which is why she said it was very rough.

    I “have no problem at all with those misleading statements”? Where on earth did you get that idea?

    There’s an enormous difference between “giving an upper limit to an estimate” and doubling that estimate. Especially when you haven’t been caught doubling the estimate for reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Branch.

  51. I agree that it would be better if DOT provided that kind of specific information. I’m not at all prepared to believe that it would make any difference to you. You would continue to second-guess them without anything substantive to back you up.

  52. I’m talking about hourly volume. The p.m. peak hour is 5:00 to 6:00; southbound traffic at Myrtle Avenue is 2,119. From 10:00 to 3:00, traffic ranges from 990 to 1,525 vehicles per hour, or 47 to 72 percent of the peak – meaning it needs at most three-quarters of the numbers of lanes as it does at the peak.

    I’d imagine bus ridership has a mini-peak somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 due to school letting out.

  53. When I said “two”, I was referring to Andrew and fdtutf. So you add yourself. That makes three. Ahwr and RIPTA42 ask legitimate questions, Ahwr even stated that I often raise valid points. I wouldn’t say they “vehemently disagree.” I don’t recall Lincoln. Perhaps he made a negative comment or two. I wouldn’t call numerous comments made by four “individuals” a “vast majority”.

    Whenever anyone writes about anything controversial, they will get some negative criticism. As I already stated, it is human nature to criticize rather than compliment especially when those criticisms are made anonymously.

    If I was promoting less crime, lower taxes, better medical care, lower unemployment, better schools, etc, I don’t think I would be getting any negative criticism. But who knows? Perhaps criminals would object to my stance claiming I am hurting their business.

  54. How am I making up my own terminology? I have only been using the term BRT to refer to full BRT which is what DOT has indicated it most likely will do on Woodhaven if it gets the federal funds. It’s DOT who has been confusing things by using the terms interchangeably on their website, not me.

  55. Since you haven’t made a single criticism of any DOT figures, I can only conclude that you have no problem with any of them. As far as doubling or given an upper estimate, I always have an upper estimate and never doubled anything in spite of what you say to the contrary because what you are saying is just not true.

  56. Didn’t say I would make that argument. Only that such an argument could be made. I believe everyone’s time is equal.

  57. However, there is severe congestion during the peak. So by reducing road capacity during the off peak the congestion will worsen. And as bad as the congestion is during the peak, it will even get worse with fewer lanes during the peak.

  58. This is your absurd assertion. You have been repeating it for months, probably years. You have yet to back it up.

  59. Since you haven’t made a single criticism of any DOT figures, I can only conclude that you have no problem with any of them.

    It would be equally reasonable to conclude that I haven’t evaluated them specifically, but I’ll also point out that their figures are nowhere near as outrageous as the ones you throw out.

    As far as doubling or given an upper estimate, I always have an upper estimate and never doubled anything in spite of what you say to the contrary because what you are saying is just not true.

    So you’re saying 400 is not 2 x 200?

  60. You may be a person who changes his mind when confronted with evidence, but it doesn’t show in your writing and it sure as HELL doesn’t show in your comments on here.

  61. What shows in your comments here is someone with such a completely closed mind that he can’t even allow any evidence that would dare cause him to reconsider his opinions.

  62. No, I should have said 60% to 80% (not 40% to 80%) as the map I linked shows for census tracts bordering Woodhaven.

  63. There hasn’t been any DOT figures to support their proposal to evaluate or any projections given regarding time that would be saved or lost for bus riders or drivers. I am saying that providing an upper limit is different than giving a definitive number. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?

  64. It’s one out of three blocks adjacent to Woodhaven. Four if you can’t Ozone park next to Cross bay, five if you count Rockaway that had an even lower car ownership rate.

  65. It’s not. I’m saying that throwing a number out has the effect of planting it in people’s heads, and that you’re fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?

  66. When someone admits that the figure they are giving is a very rough estimate. It is not unreasonable to assume that te actual figure might be twice that. It is not misleading at all when some projects eventually cost three times their original estimate, and that happens even wen the initial estimate is not a rough one.

  67. No, he just knows how to read a map. This shows the rough Q52/Q53 route in black.

    I have no idea how you came up with “above 80%” previously (which, by the way, is still in your text up top), nor how you now come up with your revised “60% to 80%.”

    This map is perfectly consistent with DOT’s 57% number. No surprise there, since they both come from the same data source, although DOT’s number is based on a finer look at “Within a 15-minute walk of the corridor.”

  68. When someone admits that the figure they are giving is a very rough estimate. It is not unreasonable to assume that te actual figure might be twice that.

    In that case, it’s also not unreasonable to assume that the actual figure might be half that. But you would only ever do that in connection with a project you supported.

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