THE COMMUTE: Before we talk about the anniversary, first some questions the MTA needs to answer regarding the data we presented yesterday regarding eastbound B1 service at Coney Island Avenue and Brighton Beach Avenue.
Questions The MTA Needs To Answer
1. Why does an empty B1 bus (#5107) bypass the stop at 10:11 a.m. just six minutes after 39 passengers boarded the yellow bus and there are still another 76 potential riders waiting? The bus had a B1 sign indicating it was in operation.
My guess is that the sign was wrong and the bus was operating not in service to the first stop at KCC. But why would you schedule a bus to bypass passengers when the passenger loads are so heavy at that time? If that were the case, the bus should have been seen operating in the opposite direction in about 10 minutes. Yet the bus did not return until 10:33 a.m. — 22 minutes later. Why would a bus driver be given a 12-minute break before operating his first passenger trip on the B1? Why couldn’t he be scheduled to pick up passengers at Coney Island Avenue? That still would have left him with a six-minute break at the college.
2. Why is there no dispatcher at this bus stop, which is so heavily-utilized all day long, when one train can deposit 50 to 100 passengers at once? He could at least hold the Ocean Parkway buses for trains and allow passengers coming from the train to enter the back door.
3. What were Department of Buses personnel doing near the intersection between about 9:40 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.? They were carrying shopping bags. If their function was not related to supervising buses and they were doing something else like installing temporary bus reroute signs at bus stops, why was one carrying what appeared to be some type of counter under his arm? More than 100 passengers were waiting at 10:05 a.m., just about the time they passed by.
4. Why was bus service so irregular on this route and why is nothing done about it?
The major conclusion I can draw is that, without the yellow school buses provided by the college, KCC students would be totally screwed. While the bus drivers seemed to be doing their best under difficult circumstances, they seem to be on their own with little or no support from supervision. While service was not that horrendous, it was far from good. If the service was adequate, no student would ever walk a mile and a half to the college.
The 35th Southwest Brooklyn Changes Anniversary
Two years ago I explained what these changes were and provided a history of how these changes came about. Their purpose was to take underutilized routes and convert them to more viable routes. The success of those changes is indisputable since virtually all still in effect today. In 2011, I couldn’t make that statement when the B4 was suspended in Sheepshead Bay on middays and weekends and rerouted from Neptune Avenue to Avenue Z. But I can make it again since the route was restored earlier this year.
The Southwest Brooklyn changes were made possible through a comprehensive study of a group of routes at a time. This is not normal MTA planning, which studies no more than one or two bus routes simultaneously. Also, penny pinching results in the creation of additional routing problems, when new routes terminate a number of blocks from major transportation terminals. This hinders transferring. Rather than solving existing routing problems, new ones are created and nothing is done to fill long-standing service gaps of 70 years.
In two days, the MTA will be holding a public hearing regarding the partial restoration of the B37 and changes to the B8, B17, Bx 24 and X17. Below is testimony written by my friend David Kupferberg, who will be attending the hearing:
Instead of just talking about a restored B70, there should be a frank, comprehensive discussion on bus service in southern Brooklyn.
This past Tuesday, November 12, was the 35th Anniversary of the bus service changes in southern Brooklyn. On that day, ten interlinked routes were changed. Those changes are living proof that, despite what MTA New York City Transit’s (NYCT) service planners claim, the comprehensive approach works. The southern Brooklyn changes, however, were only part of what were originally proposed.
For example, let’s look at the area in which the B70 serves. East of the B70 is Maimonides Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in southern Brooklyn, and an institution for over 100 years; it still doesn’t have north/south bus service. Continuing further east, there’s still no single route that traverses the both sides of 13th Avenue. And, NYCT has refused to entertain any idea about the restoration of the B23, via 16th Avenue, which had 900 riders per weekday. Yet, NYCT is willing to extend the Bx24, which would gain only 200 riders per weekday.
So, why does New York City have an antiquated bus route network? Why does NYCT refuse to conduct comprehensive studies? The answer: the service planners refuse to negotiate with communities when their ideas meet opposition. The planners also present their ideas on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, resulting in no changes being made. Besides, routing problems will never be solved by studying one or two routes at a time.
The Committee for Better Transit (CBT) believes that there is a solution. We have taken into account many of the surrounding communities’ concerns plus origin/destination (O/D) surveys, and turned it into a plan that would make Brooklyn’s bus network simple and easy to understand. Instead of merely duplicating the B8, which runs more often, the old B23, in our proposal, would be split into two viable routes. This would close service gaps, serve new markets, and give current riders more travel options; it would make southern Brooklyn more accessible by mass transit.
In other words, the planning process could be more holistic than myopic, more proactive than reactive, by using tried-and-true methodologies plus a little bit of common sense. Only then would NYCT’s service planners’ attentions be refocused to address the service gaps that exist throughout the current bus network.
In the past 35 years, needs have once again changed. Ocean Avenue now needs direct service, especially with the start of B44 Select Bus Service on November 17, which will provide a glut of service on Rogers Avenue. Service on the B49 should be split into two services: The existing B49 and a new B50, operating along the pre-1978 B49 route, but continue on Ocean Avenue until Empire Boulevard and then turn eastward along Empire until Utica Avenue. You can read about it here.
Also, if the SBS were extended one stop to KCC from Emmons Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, empty buses would be filled, fewer B49 and B1 buses would be required, thus increasing efficiency, and travel time to KCC would be reduced. Emmons Avenue service could be provided by alternate SBS buses or increased local service.
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.