Southern Brooklyn

Is The MTA A Private Bus Service For KCC Students?

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Photo by a-NeRo86 via Flickr

The following op-ed is by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981). For a complete list of his contributions to Sheepshead Bites, which includes many articles about the bus cuts, MTA and DOT, click here.

A bus arriving every two minutes sounds like great service. Well it is, if you are a Kingsborough College or Leon Goldstein High School student, but not so great if you are not.

On October 5, which was not an unusual day, between 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. fourteen B1 buses left Kingsborough College but only one of them made any other stops before arriving at the Brighton Beach Subway station. During this period, at least 25 other passengers needed the B1 and their wait exceeded a half hour. This happens every school day.

According to several commuters I spoke with on September 28, B1 passengers have to routinely wait 40 minutes or more for a bus between about 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. On that day, we were able to board only because a bus that was scheduled to be not in service was ordered by a dispatcher to make unscheduled stops because he was aware that there was a problem.

This situation is not new. It has been going on for two years that I am aware of because that is how long I have been complaining to the MTA about it. I have had several meetings with operations personnel of the MTA who have continually assured me that the matter would be resolved. Most recently, I was told that a shift to something called data-based scheduling last April would solve many of the problems. It has not. To the MTA’s credit, however, they did add two buses at my request about a year ago, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., which helped out somewhat.

Sometimes the problem isn’t capacity, but just that passengers do not move to the rear of the bus. The operators rarely request passengers to move to the rear anymore. Today there were 13 passengers waiting to board the bus at West End Avenue. Eight of them were able to board because I requested the passengers to move to the rear, not the driver. Otherwise, I would have been the only one able to board after 13 B1s and several B49s already bypassed the stop.

Buses not stopping for waiting passengers is also a problem on the B49, but to a lesser extent. I also have recorded instances where half-full buses skipped stops after they left Kingsborough although passengers were waiting at the stops along Brighton Beach Avenue and Oriental Boulevard. I suspect the reason for this is that not enough time is allowed in the bus schedules, and the drivers are trying to save time. I am awaiting a response to my latest complaint of several weeks ago.

Below is the time line of buses arriving at West End Avenue on October 5. In most every case, passengers were in the front stairwell of the bus but there would have been room for at least 5 more passengers if passengers moved to the rear, more than enough room for all the passengers who wanted to board. In fact, if just two more passengers were allowed into the thirteen B1 buses that refused to stop, all intending passengers could have been accommodated 15 minutes earlier.

The MTA has a responsibility to serve the entire riding public, not just students. They also need to be adequately compensated by the City and State for the high levels of service they provide to serve high school and college students. I estimate that at least 1,500 students left the schools by bus during the half an hour I was counting. Several hundred more traveled in the other direction with the MTA providing virtually all of the service.

I arrived at my destination after 45 minutes, a trip I could have walked in 30 minutes. So why are midday bus riders primarily students? I wonder.

Time

Route

Bus #

Bus Stopped
at West End Ave

Comments
2:45 B49 Yes
2:47 B1 9178 No 8 people waiting
2:51 B1 9396 No
2:53 B1 9102 No
2:55 B1 9238 No
3:00 B49 4625 No
3:00 B1 9245 No
3:01 B49 9611 No
3:02 B1 5075 No 13 people now waiting
3:03 B49 4604 No Bus had much room
3:05 Two full yellow school buses operated by KCC   pass by.
3:05 B1 9383 No
3:05 B1 5093 No “Next Bus Please” sign
3:06 B49 9681 No
3:06 B49 9601 Yes
3:07 B49 4237 Yes
3:08 B49 9601 No
3:09 B1 9418 No
3:09 B1 9305 No
3:09 B1 5086 No
3:11 B49 5045 No
3:13 B1 9414 No
3:17 B1 5113 No
3:18 B1 9397 Yes B1 right behind picked up remaining waiting passengers. Bus 9397 made one more stop on Brighton Beach Avenue bypassing 6 waiting passengers at other stops.
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