MTA Looks To Speed Up Bus Service….

B64 idle at the Mermaid Bus Loop in Brooklyn.
B64 idle at the Mermaid Bus Loop in Brooklyn; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

This past Tuesday, the MTA dealt with its annual embarrassment courtesy of receiving the “Pokey” award from The Straphangers Campaign. What made it worse this year is that the group debuted a new award called the “Schleppie” so it was double the embarrassment. However the MTA chose not to sit around & do nothing about it as they chose this day to announce their plans of speeding up bus service.

The agency is working with the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) on multiple initiatives to help speed up bus service. Some of these initiatives include signal light prioritization & Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Here is the full press release:

MTA New York City Transit bus customers could soon benefit from a series of initiatives aimed at making city bus service faster and more dependable than it has ever been. Combining technological advances with methods of bus operation new to the region, the era of slow bus service could eventually be left behind.
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MTA NYC Transit Trip Planner Goes Mobile

Catching up on news from the last few days, the MTA made a major announcement concerning their trip planner program. The agency announced a new form of service called “Trip Planner On the Go!”. The new service allows users of a cell phone, PDA, or Blackberry with internet access to obtain travel itineraries from NYC Transit. Here is the press release from the MTA about the new service:

Riders on the go who need fast, accurate travel information have a new tool to rely on: Trip Planner On the Go! Whether from a cellular phone, PDA or Blackberry, users with mobile access to the web can obtain travel itineraries from NYC Transit while standing outside a subway station or sitting in a restaurant. Trip Planner On the Go!, released in a Beta (test) version, will provide users with practically the same itineraries they would receive if they were using a desk or lap top computer.
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M23 Receives The Dreaded Pokey Award!

Today, The Straphangers Campaign handed out its annual award for the slowest local bus route in New York City. The award known as the “Pokey” is now in its 6th year & continues to point out the worst of the worst as far as slow bus service is concerned. However this year is special as The Straphangers Campaign has introduced a second award known as the “Schleppie” which goes to the New York City’s least reliable line according to official transit statistics.

This year’s winner of the “Pokey” is known other than the M23. The M23 serves as a crosstown route connecting riders from Avenue C to the Chelsea Piers via 23rd Street. The M23 earned the award by clocking the slowest bus speed at 4.0 miles per hour at 12 p.m. on a weekday. This is quite horrible considering the average person walking would clock in at 3.0 miles per hour.

The winner of the inaugural “Schleppie” is the M1 which services Fifth, Madison, & Park Avenues respectively. According to reliability statistics kept by the MTA’s New York City Transit division, 1 out of every 3 M1 buses have big gaps in service or are off schedule. This is the worst rating out of all 42 buses the agency measures with these statistics.

Manhattan routes swept both awards but the Straphangers Campaign provided a list of buses that would win the Pokey for individual boroughs if such an award was given out:

  1. Brooklyn – B63 4.9 mph
  2. Bronx – Bx19 5.0 mph
  3. Manhattan – M23 4.0 mph
  4. Queens – Q56 6.1 mph
  5. Staten Island – S61 11.7 mph

Quite frankly is anyone surprised that the winners were bus routes in Manhattan? The traffic in that borough will always lead to unpredictable & unreliable service. This is just the facts of life when dealing with buses in Manhattan. For those interested in reading the Straphangers Campaign press release, here it is:
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The Anti Fare Hike Bandwagon Is Up To 80 Local Politicians

The total number of local politicians publicly against the MTA’s proposed fare hike is now sitting at 80. What might be surprising to some is the list of politicians are of a mixed variety. The group includes Assembly Democrats from the city & suburbs. They are joined by Republican State Senators from New York City & Long Island. Here are some comments from some of the politicians rallying against the MTA shared with Daily News Transit Reporter Pete Donohue:

Westchester County Democrat Assemblyman Richard Brodsky – “People are uniting around this at a time when that’s not happening a lot in Albany. It’s reaching critical mass because it’s the right thing to do.”

Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno – “The people who travel around are taxed enough. We have got to prioritize the use of our state resources to minimize the expense and the impact on the people who come into the city and work in the city.”

Nassau County Republican Assemblyman Thomas Alfano – “I wholeheartedly support the Daily News campaign. The hike must be delayed now.”

Lets give kudos to these leaders, Pete Donohue, transit bloggers, & others for spreading the riding majority’s feelings on these proposed fare hikes!

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Off Duty Transit Cop Fires At Intruders…..

Today’s Newsday had a story about an off duty transit officer who fired shots at two armed intruders on his property in Elmont. The incident took place in the officer’s driveway where he encountered the intruders after hearing noise coming from that location. The officer whose identity has not been revealed went outside & found 2 armed men in his driveway. He ordered them to stop but they continued to proceed towards him. In response to that he fired 4 shots from his service weapon. The shots chased the intruders off of his property. He later found out that the intruders had stolen 4 tires off of his 2006 Infiniti.

Here is the Newsday’s article on the incident:
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