THE COMMUTE: Bus service is the MTA’s job, but Kingsborough can assist the MTA in improving bus service by taking the following measures.
- Provide security officers to assist MTA dispatchers and bus drivers
- Inform the MTA every time there is a deviation in the school schedule
- Move the bus terminal from Mackenzie Street to inside college property
The MTA cannot do the job by itself. Here is why.
Last year I wrote about passengers along Oriental Boulevard and Brighton Beach Avenue having to waiting over 30 minutes for a bus although they were leaving the college every couple of minutes. Buses were either too full to stop or the students did not move to the back of the bus to allow others to board after the first stop. I asked the question if the MTA was providing a private bus service for Kingsborough students.
The solution is to have the buses leave the college not quite so full. However, students have not allowed MTA officials to close the doors before the buses become jammed.
Bus drivers and dispatchers are not peace officers and cannot fight with school students who do not move to the rear and insist on getting on, sometimes becoming rowdy when the driver attempts to close the door. If the school could provide security officers at school dismissal times, to assist bus drivers and dispatchers in allowing them to close the bus doors before buses are fully loaded, other passengers would be able to board after the first stop before buses reach the subway. Absent this, as a result of my complaints, dispatchers have been sending an empty bus every half hour to service passengers getting on after the college. Since only about 20 passengers every half hour are bypassed, sending an empty bus is an inefficient use of resources and people still have to wait 30 minutes. However, it is currently the MTA’s only option to provide any service to others in the community during certain times of the day.
Second, I was recently speaking to a bus dispatcher who told me that on several occasions in January and at other times, the college decided to alter its dismissal schedule by discharging students early at 11:30 a.m. without notifying the MTA in advance, causing major havoc. Around 3:00 p.m., there are as many as a dozen buses lined up waiting to be placed into service to transport a thousand or more students home. These buses cannot magically appear at 11:30 in the morning if the MTA is not notified in advance. Dispatchers are limited in their creativeness as to what they can do on the fly.
Third, college enrollment is continually growing and the MTA is outgrowing its bus terminal at Mackenzie Street. Rather than enlarging it at its current location, the MTA has suggested moving it within the college boundaries when college is in session to shorten the walk to the college and better serve students. This has already been accomplished at Queensborough Community College and in Staten Island, but Kingsborough thus far has resisted.
Several years ago, I discussed this issue with Dr. Saul (Billy) Katz, dean of Continuing Education at the college. He informed me that there currently is no space at the college for additional buses (The yellow buses they contract with do enter their property.). He is correct, but a terminal could be constructed that would involve sacrificing perhaps 20 to 50 parking spaces to better serve thousands. There also is the issue of who would pay for it, which would have to be worked out.
Dr. Katz has mentioned the issues of security and pollution as to why he is opposed to moving the terminus. The security issue is addressed somehow at the other institutions with a bus terminal on site, so I fail to see why this should be an issue at Kingsborough. As for the pollution, the MTA is only purchasing buses emitting low pollution; therefore this will be become less important as older buses are retired.
The current terminal never should have been placed at Mackenzie Street. Buses originally operated to Oxford Street and service was later cutback two blocks. Expanding the terminal at its current location would not be wise when a better alternative exists.
It is easy to bash the MTA when service is screwed up, but after meeting several times with MTA Operations Personnel on the issue of Manhattan Beach bus service, I am convinced that they are committed to doing the best job they can and service has been improving recently. The MTA, however, needs the cooperation of the college.
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).