Select Bus Service Drawing Rave Reviews

Select Bus Service on Bx12 has been up & running for a few months now. The service has gotten such rave reviews & been a success that the MTA is already looking into expanding it to other routes. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue writes about the reviews & upcoming plans in an article that will appear in today’s print edition:

A speedier bus service launched as a pilot in the Bronx and upper Manhattan is off to a fast start, with a bump of nearly 5,000 daily riders, officials said Thursday.

The Bx12 route, where riders pay at curbside machines before boarding to shorten loading times, is slated for expansion, according to NYC Transit.

“It’s working out better than we planned,” said Joseph Smith, NYC Transit’s vice president in charge of buses.

Approximately 26,565 weekday riders are taking the new Select Bus Service, compared with 21,700 passengers who took the limited-bus service it replaced, officials said.

Bus trips during peak travel periods are 20% quicker since the service began and other fast-track strategies were launched in June, the agency said.

Click here for the complete report.

As with anything, you can expect your share of gripes. Based on the complaints listed in the article, I can understand where these people are coming from. While it is nice that a driver directs a passenger to depart the bus to buy their ticket & waits for them, that defeats the purpose of faster service. This is not a service where the bus is running once an hour, if someone does not have their ticket, they should be forced to wait for the next bus.

Lets assume this passenger causes a 2-4 minute delay which is quite possible. I mean if they did not know to buy a ticket in advance, who is to say that they know how to work the payment machine? While 2-4 minutes does not sound like a lot of time, it can add up if we are dealing with multiple offenders. As far as payment machines go, the MTA must stay on top of them to make sure they are working at all times. If not this could lead to people claiming machines were not working to skip fares or other potential headaches that could slow the trip down.

Overall it seems Select Bus Service is getting the job done. If they can iron out the kinks, this plan will go from hitting a home run to a grand slam!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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The Harsh Reality Of Being A Bus Driver

In the previous entry I discussed the MTA’s potential partnership with the NYPD to crack down on fare evaders on NYC buses. In that entry I had made mention of how drivers are in a no win situation in confronting fare evaders from a policy standpoint but more so from a safety one. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue wrote a piece on fare evasion but more so on actual data of bus driver assaults. Here is his report:

They are the toughest bus routes in the city, the ones where riders beat the fare – and sometimes the driver.

Drivers working 11 routes, most in Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been assaulted 103 times between January 2007 and July, an NYC Transit listing of the most attack-prone routes shows.

Many of those routes are also on another roster – the one for the most fare-beating.

“Most involve drivers getting punched, kicked, beaten,” said Joseph Smith, senior vice president of buses. “Some have had their eye sockets broken, teeth broken, you name it.”

The agency has a broad definition of assault, ranging from being spat on to being punched or seriously injured with a weapon. Most of the 103 reported assaults are not minor, Smith said, adding that many start with a “fare dispute.”

Because of the risk, drivers are instructed to politely remind riders of the fare, but not to challenge them, officials said. Still, even that can lead to trouble with the most volatile of riders, bus managers said.

Click here for the full report.

I agree with TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint who feels the laws needed to be strengthened due to court interpretations. As one commenter (mosaic) said in response to the article:

it’s a dang shame how the drivers are treated. They’re doing their jobs transporting us around the city and don’t deserve to be assaulted, cursed, or anything.

It is a shame that bus drivers have to deal with this nonsense every single day. No disrespect to the many T/O’s I know personally or overall but being a bus driver is harder due to the public interaction they face. They don’t have a metal door to block them from the small percentage of savages or rude people who ride the buses. To think that some felt they had no right to want more money for their job. I invite those who share that belief to be a bus driver for a month or even a week & see if you feel the same way. It is not as easy as some make it out to be.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA & NYPD Team Up To Crack Down On Fare Evaders

We all know this familiar scene, a bus pulls into a stop with a ton of would be passengers. Many grow impatient & board through the back of the bus & blend in with the crowd avoiding paying a fare. If it is not that scene, it will be someone being bold & entering through the front & ignoring any & all requests to pay the fare. Either way you slice it, fare evasion is a problem that plagues bus routes throughout NYC.

The MTA recently took steps to punish fare evaders when along with the introduction of Select Bus Service also introduced stiffer fines for fare evasion by raising each fine to $100 from the previous amount of $60. Now the agency hopes to do even more to curb fare evasion by teaming up with the NYPD to crack down on fare evaders. NY1 has more with this report:

Transit and police officials said Wednesday that they will begin cracking down on those who try to beat the bus fare, after a new study identifies where it occurs the most.

New York City Transit officials said that they are targeting the approximately 130,000 riders each week who get on the bus without paying fares – costing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority millions of dollars each year.

Transit officials say they have identified the routes and stops where the most freeloaders are getting on. The worst is the B46 in Brooklyn, where an estimated 4,000 people beat the fare each week.

Click here for the complete text along with video of this report.

I am glad to see the MTA attempting to do something which has been long overdue, cracking down on fare evaders. I feel most sorry for the bus drivers who are stuck between a rock & a hard place. If they choose to confront the fare evader, they are not following policy & risk getting attacked (more on that in the next entry) or being hated by riders for threatening to go out of service.

The other side of the coin is no better as they look like pushovers if they let it slide. When it comes to the reaction, it depends on who the driver is. I notice that the veteran drivers let it slide as they are of the belief I want to drive, stay out of harm’s way & go home to fight another day. A younger driver might be more brass & fight for that fare. Either way it is truly a no win proposition for the driver. I seriously hope the MTA & NYPD really stick with this potential partnership to crack down on fare evaders. While jail seems like a stretch since they are overcrowded as it is, some sort of swift punishment is in order especially for repeat offenders.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR To Provide Extra Service For Rescheduled Mets Game

Let me first apologize for not getting this news out to you sooner. I received a press release from the LIRR a few hours before it was posted on their site. The release was to announce extra LIRR service for the rescheduled Mets game this Sunday. Here are the details:

The MTA Long Island Rail Road will provide additional train service to Shea Stadium this Sunday evening, September 7, for the Mets re-scheduled 8:05 PM game start, against the Phillies. The game had originally been scheduled for a 1:10 PM start but was moved to accommodate an ESPN broadcast.

Train service to Shea Stadium is available on eastbound Port Washington Branch trains from Penn Station and westbound trains from Great Neck and Port Washington. The train ride is just 18 minutes from Penn Station to Shea Stadium. For those traveling on the LIRR from Long Island, the Stadium is just six minutes from Woodside, 16-17 minutes from Great Neck and 27 minutes from Port Washington.

Following is Sunday’s Shea Stadium train schedule for the Mets game:

Port Washington Branch:

Eastbound: Trains leaving Penn Station at 4:49 PM, 5:19 PM, 5:49 PM, 5:53 PM,
6:19 PM, 6:49 PM, 6:53 PM, 7:19 PM, 7:49 PM, 8:19 PM, 8:49 PM, 9:19 PM, 9:49 PM,
10:19 PM, 10:49 PM, 11:19 PM, 12:19 AM and 1:19 AM.

Westbound: Trains leaving Port Washington at 4:40 PM, 5:10 PM, 5:40 PM, 6:10 PM, 6:40 PM, 6:58 PM (from Great Neck), 7:10 PM, 7:32 PM, 7:40 PM, 8:10 PM, 8:40 PM, 9:10 PM, 9:40 PM, 10:10 PM, 10:40 PM, 11:40 PM, 12:40 AM and 1:39 AM.

The following Main Line trains will have added Woodside stops for this game:

Eastbound: 11:30 PM, 12:14 AM, 12:50 AM and 1:11 AM trains from Penn Station.
Westbound: 4:01 PM from Huntington, 4:26 PM from Long Beach, 5:01 PM from Huntington, 5:26 PM from Long Beach, 6:01 PM from Huntington, 6:25 PM from Babylon and 6:26 PM from Long Beach.

Fans traveling from branches other than Port Washington can reach Shea Stadium by taking a regularly scheduled train to Woodside Station, then changing to an eastbound Port Washington Branch train. Since Shea Stadium is located in Zone 1, tickets to that zone from outlying stations are valid to Shea. However, passengers must retain their ticket stubs and inform ticket collectors of their intention to travel to Shea Stadium. Customers must hold onto their tickets, which will be collected at the Shea station after they disembark. CityTicket is not valid to Shea Stadium Station.

The Railroad’s special Family Fare is a great way for future big leaguers to see their favorite team. Children, ages 5 through 11, can ride for only 75-cents each when tickets are purchased at a ticket office or from a ticket machine, during off-peak hours, when accompanied by an adult paying the regular off-peak fare. Parents with monthly or weekly tickets just pay for the children. Up to four children can travel with each parent (or guardian, 18 or older) at this special rate. The Family Fare is $1 per child if purchased on-board a train. For travel during peak hours, the child fare is one-half the regular one-way fare. Children under 5 ride for free at all times.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Implements Digital Notice Boards

The MTA has never been known to be ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing new technology in & around the system. This has not changed although their new implementation could go a long way towards changing that. NY1 first broke the news about the MTA implementing digital notice boards at six stations on the 7 & L lines. Here is their report:

Transit officials are testing a new program to alert subway riders with digital announcement boards in the event of delays.

Straphangers at six stations on the 7 and L lines will see video screens inside token booths as part of a pilot program.

For now, they are only broadcasting public service announcements, but officials say they will provide up-to-the-minute information on service disruptions.

The Station Agent Information Display program, or SAID, cost the MTA $30,000 so far.

Officials at the rail control center will be able to send messages to individual stations, or groups of stations using wireless technology.

“This SAID program is a way to provide better-quality, more timely information to our customers,” said 7 Line Deputy General Manager John Hoban. “It helps our agents to be more involved in the dissemination of information in the stations. And it takes the place of an old tried-and-true technology, which is that grease board behind the agent.”

White boards will remain in the booths for now as a backup.

If the program is deemed a success, it could be expanded elsewhere in the transit system.

I am going to take a wait & see approach before giving the thumbs up or down to these new boards. At the moment as the report stated, they will only deliver PSA’s (public service announcements) that we have either seen or heard thousands of times already. The real test will be when their is some sort of a service diversion or outage due to something unforeseen. Personally I feel they should post service diversions so people know exactly what is happening before they swipe their Metrocard.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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