The Commute: Let’s Sum Up The Week’s Events

The Commute: Let’s Sum Up The Week’s Events
Slain bus driver, Edwin Thomas, who had a street co-named after him this past week. (Source: Edley Thomas)
Slain bus driver, Edwin Thomas, who had a street co-named after him this past week. (Source: Edley Thomas)

THE COMMUTE: The major local transit news is that the New York City Transit (NYCT) President Carmen Bianco is resigning this summer after nearly two years at the helm and serving many years at NYCT. His service included heading System Safety in the nineties and returning to NYCT as senior vice president of Subways after a stint at Amtrak, before being named president of NYCT to fill the shoes of Tom Prendergast who was promoted to MTA chairman.

This is what the New York Daily News said about Bianco:

During Sandy, when Bianco headed the Department of Subways, the MTA was credited with restoring most subway operations within five days after the brutal storm hammered the system and caused $4 billion in damage.

Joseph Lhota, then the MTA chairman, capitalized on that achievement in a failed attempt to become mayor. When a senior official vacates his post for other than health reasons, and he hasn’t received a better opportunity elsewhere, it usually means that the future is not that rosy.

Improvements To MTA Bus Time

Bus Time, the MTA’s GPS-based system informing passengers how far away the next bus is, usually by the number of bus stops away, is being improved to estimate bus arrival times. The new system is being tested in the Bronx and will eventually be available throughout the city. I was critical of Bus Time when it debuted for not incorporating that feature during its initial rollout.

This added feature should make Bus Time much more useful. What does “13 stops away” mean, anyway, when you don’t know how far apart the bus stops are or how fast the bus is traveling? You can read more here. Now, if Bus Time would also be used to keep the buses on time more often, as promised, then we would have something to really celebrate.

Another DOT Boondoggle

I have criticized NYC DOT many times for example promising clearer signage, and then installing signage that is more difficult to read or not replacing long faded signage and choosing instead to replace signage that is still readable instead. WPIX’s Gregg Mocker was recently informed that within Forest Park, rather than first repairing the potholes, DOT instead painted new yellow lines right through potholes and temporarily filled potholes instead of first resurfacing the roadway, the usual practice.

Improvements At Belmont Park

Mocker did another story about how $5 million was spent to upgrade the LIRR station at Belmont Park after last year’s fiasco when visitors to the park were severely delayed trying to leave after last year’s Belmont Stakes. No unusual delays were reported after American Pharoah won the Triple Crown this past Sunday.

Honoring A Fallen Bus Driver

A new street co-naming was unveiled in memory of slain bus driver Edwin Thomas who, in 2008, “committed the crime” of asking a bus passenger to pay his fare and was murdered as a result.

I have long been critical of street co-namings because, in my opinion, they are out of control and there are better ways to honor fallen heroes. The street chosen is outside of Brooklyn’s Flatbush Depot where Thomas reported for his B46 route assignment. It would have made more sense to rename the bus depot for him instead. The current name of the depot is confusing. It is neither on Flatbush Avenue, nor is it located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, but rather in Flatlands. Renaming the depot would have also been a higher level of tribute. If Casey Stengel, who never drove a bus, deserved to have a bus depot named after him, Thomas certainly deserve that same honor for sacrificing his life just for properly doing his job.

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).

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