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Why Bus Ridership is Declining


BrooklynBus

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I think the main reason is the service cuts, and also the fact that buses aren't being replaced when a B/O is out sick. For example, even though I have an Unlimited Express Bus Plus card, whenever I go back to Sheepshead Bay, I just use the BM3 and then once I've made my first stop by Emmons Avenue, I simply walk to my other destinations, because the B4 was cut which means less frequency of service, especially with just the B49 now.

 

I also agree that bus speeds are a problem. The buses in general are simply taking too long to get to their destination and even though the subway has its own problems and is also slow these days, to most it is still faster than the bus, especially for longer distances. The question is does the (MTA)really want to address the problem or do they just want to overlook it and do nothing? I think overall the entire system needs an overhaul to make subways more efficient as well as buses. I also think that the bus tracking system needs to get up and running already. I quite frankly am sick of hearing that it is delayed, especially on Staten Island, which has serious issues with buses holding to their schedule. If people knew whether or not a bus was coming, they would be more inclined to wait rather than walk, and that also is another key factor.

 

The (MTA) seems to talk about rolling out this bus tracking system across the system to let folks plan better, which is certainly great, but they also need to acknowledge that it also gives commuters something that they have lost in the bus system: a lack of reliability and confidence in whether or not a bus will show up. I think the same could be said about the subway to a degree even, especially with the service cuts, but to a lesser extent. When a train is delayed or there is a problem, you can get an announcement there at the station, but this isn't the case with buses.

 

The other night the last X30 broke down at 57th street. We were all waiting there at 45th & 5th wondering what happened and waited there until almost 19:00 when eventually an X12 came by. Only then (some 40 minutes after the X30 was scheduled to arrive) when we inquired with the B/O if he knew what happened did we find out that the X30 was out of service. This is the main problem with bus service. You just don't know when a bus has to be re-routed or if it breaks down and when it doesn't show up you have to either keep waiting or give up, which is what many folks do.

 

I strongly believe that despite what others think that the (MTA) is not using its buses to its full potential. For all of the folks that the subway can carry, there is simply not enough funding to keep building new subway lines to carry new riders and so forth, so the (MTA) needs to turn its focus to buses and how to make them faster instead of turning its back on buses as it is doing now and looking to slash service left and right. It is putting the entire system in peril, which is to the benefit of no one in the long run.

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What I don't like, is this big push by the MTA to cram everyone onto subways....

 

When you have the general mentality of riders that think the subway is far superior than the train, that does not help/encourage bus ridership.... what also doesn't help is this fixation w/ axing routes, cutting back routes, and cutting the span of routes....

 

I don't ever remember a time when bus service & subway service here were a cohesive working unit w/ one another.... it's almost like it's two separate agencies; MTA New York City [surface transit] / [rapid transit]

 

The only bus routes that are really advertised in this city, are the M60 LGA (especially) & the Q10 & B15 JFK... Not much mention is made of the Bx12 anymore b/c it's not the only +SBS+ type of service anymore....

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Sorry If i said this suggestion before, but there a solution to speeding bus service. That Light Rail particuarly in the outer boros.

SBS is just a poor excuse for light rail.

 

As someone who been to places like Jersey City/Hoboken/Bayonne with (NJT) HBL, Toronto's TTC street cars and San Diego MTS 'trolley'(really a light rail)

it would solve the problem of adding more 'rapid transit' at a fraction of buliding more subway lines or extended MNRR/LIRR.

 

Too bad the powers that be including the NIMBY's won't see the light for a long while.

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Sorry If i said this suggestion before, but there a solution to speeding bus service. That Light Rail particuarly in the outer boros.

SBS is just a poor excuse for light rail.

 

As someone who been to places like Jersey City/Hoboken/Bayonne with (NJT) HBL, Toronto's TTC street cars and San Diego MTS 'trolley'(really a light rail)

it would solve the problem of adding more 'rapid transit' at a fraction of buliding more subway lines or extended MNRR/LIRR.

 

Too bad the powers that be including the NIMBY's won't see the light for a long while.

 

Light Rail would further decrease bus usage, though....

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Bus Ridership I think is declining because:

  1. The bus speed is not fast enough
  2. It stops too frequently, especially stopped by a red light
  3. The wheelchair passengers exiting and boarding adds about five minutes to your trip
  4. the bus runs parallel to subway lines in some cases
  5. the bus often gets stuck in road traffic
  6. when the bus breaks down, riders are forced to wait for another bus
  7. the Bus rapid transit promises a slightly faster ride, but the speed is the same as the limited-stop versions it replaced.
  8. Some waits can be as long as 30 minutes to an hour, between buses.
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Light Rail would further decrease bus usage, though....

 

Maybe not. In San Diego which started light rail 30 years ago and LA restarted it 20 years ago, bus ridership in those cities are now at *record levels.* Maybe a big factor also is the gas prices/traffic.

 

Thus if done right, light rail could increase bus ridership even in NYC IMO.

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Bus Ridership I think is declining because:
  1. The bus speed is not fast enough

  2. It stops too frequently, especially stopped by a red light

  3. The wheelchair passengers exiting and boarding adds about five minutes to your trip

  4. the bus runs parallel to subway lines in some cases

  5. the bus often gets stuck in road traffic

  6. when the bus breaks down, riders are forced to wait for another bus

  7. the Bus rapid transit promises a slightly faster ride, but the speed is the same as the limited-stop versions it replaced.

  8. Some waits can be as long as 30 minutes to an hour, between buses.

 

I can certainly attest to that. For example, I used to go up to Columbus Circle a lot. Since the service cuts I don't go up there as much for lunch because the bus service simply sucks. I used to use the M6 and then walk to Columbus Circle from there, but with just the M7 now, there is simply too much overcrowding and the M5 while limited is really hit or miss. To the (MTA), bring back the M6! :mad:

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Bus Ridership I think is declining because:
  1. The bus speed is not fast enough
  2. It stops too frequently, especially stopped by a red light
  3. The wheelchair passengers exiting and boarding adds about five minutes to your trip
  4. the bus runs parallel to subway lines in some cases
  5. the bus often gets stuck in road traffic
  6. when the bus breaks down, riders are forced to wait for another bus
  7. the Bus rapid transit promises a slightly faster ride, but the speed is the same as the limited-stop versions it replaced.
  8. Some waits can be as long as 30 minutes to an hour, between buses.

 

In reply to point #3.... More and More LF buses are coming into the system, so this is less and less of a issue, today the B43 I rode (C40LF) had a wheelchair rider and it certainty didn't add five minutes to the trip.

 

#6 the same happens in the subway lol, happened to me on a R42 (M) train a while back, train had door issues and had to go OOS.

 

But I agree with your other points though, as a rider of the B8 I certainty agree with point #2... route has way to many stops on 18th Ave, not too long ago I had a B/O who was extra extra or something noticed how close the stops was, dude announced the street and then made a remark about how close together the stops are.

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Sorry If i said this suggestion before, but there a solution to speeding bus service.

 

The Bay Ridge LIRR division would be perfect for light rail. The route could continue as an el like the JFK Airtrain over Linden Blvd in East NY (which is mainly an industrial area. It could serve the Aqueduct Racino and JFK Airport.

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Maybe not. In San Diego which started light rail 30 years ago and LA restarted it 20 years ago, bus ridership in those cities are now at *record levels.* Maybe a big factor also is the gas prices/traffic.

 

Thus if done right, light rail could increase bus ridership even in NYC IMO.

 

Another version of the BRT plan I tried to make includes light rail as an alternative due to the feeder style of NYC MTA buses. Should BRT not be feasable on the highways.

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In reply to point #3.... More and More LF buses are coming into the system, so this is less and less of a issue, today the B43 I rode (C40LF) had a wheelchair rider and it certainty didn't add five minutes to the trip.

 

#6 the same happens in the subway lol, happened to me on a R42 (M) train a while back, train had door issues and had to go OOS.

 

But I agree with your other points though, as a rider of the B8 I certainty agree with point #2... route has way to many stops on 18th Ave, not too long ago I had a B/O who was extra extra or something noticed how close the stops was, dude announced the street and then made a remark about how close together the stops are.

 

I think I was thinking too much about the standard floor buses and not the low floor ones, so I agree with you on that point, and also on stalled trains, you made a good point on that one. I do agree with your other statement as well.

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Bus Ridership I think is declining because:
  1. The bus speed is not fast enough

  2. It stops too frequently, especially stopped by a red light

  3. The wheelchair passengers exiting and boarding adds about five minutes to your trip

  4. the bus runs parallel to subway lines in some cases

  5. the bus often gets stuck in road traffic

  6. when the bus breaks down, riders are forced to wait for another bus

  7. the Bus rapid transit promises a slightly faster ride, but the speed is the same as the limited-stop versions it replaced.

  8. Some waits can be as long as 30 minutes to an hour, between buses.

 

Points 1 through 6 have been an issue for many years, though.

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I haven't really noticed a decline in local bus ridership. The Q85 seems more crowded than ever. The Q44 is always SRO. However, I agree that buses are too slow. In addition, the transition from conventional 40 foot models (RTS, Orion V) to low floor models was also a turnoff since there's less seats and more crowding.

 

I have noticed a steep decline in express bus ridership, especially in Queens. A few years ago, there were standees on some AM X63's heading to Midtown. Now, there are some buses with as few as 15 passengers heading to Manhattan. QM21 and X68 ridership also took a nosedive. The X64 is in danger of being eliminated. I'm not even joking. Its ridership borders on anemic. Many people in Southeast Queens either lost their jobs, had their hours cut back, or simply cannot afford the express bus due to the rising cost of everything.

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I haven't really noticed a decline in local bus ridership. The Q85 seems more crowded than ever. The Q44 is always SRO. However, I agree that buses are too slow. In addition, the transition from conventional 40 foot models (RTS, Orion V) to low floor models was also a turnoff since there's less seats and more crowding.

 

I have noticed a steep decline in express bus ridership, especially in Queens. A few years ago, there were standees on some AM X63's heading to Midtown. Now, there are some buses with as few as 15 passengers heading to Manhattan. QM21 and X68 ridership also took a nosedive. The X64 is in danger of being eliminated. I'm not even joking. Its ridership borders on anemic. Many people in Southeast Queens either lost their jobs, had their hours cut back, or simply cannot afford the express bus due to the rising cost of everything.

 

I think those lines are anemic. The X63s I see as I'm walking to my office on 5th are always empty, but express bus service on Staten Island, the Bronx and Brooklyn overall are okay and doing pretty good overall. The BMs could do better, but the X27/X28 are still holding strong and the X37/X38 will be back very soon. :cool:

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Speaking for Staten Island, many riders as we know use the bus to head to & from St. George and the ferry is usually pretty timely but it's getting to the ferry that is a problem. If I head over to my local S40, s44 or S46 bus stop, I don't know if I will be waiting 5 minutes or 45 minutes regardless of what the scheduled time is. This will change when the new bustime system starts rolling out but I somehow don't think that it will magically make the buses on-time either.

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Speaking for Staten Island, many riders as we know use the bus to head to & from St. George and the ferry is usually pretty timely but it's getting to the ferry that is a problem. If I head over to my local S40, s44 or S46 bus stop, I don't know if I will be waiting 5 minutes or 45 minutes regardless of what the scheduled time is. This will change when the new bustime system starts rolling out but I somehow don't think that it will magically make the buses on-time either.

 

I won't, but it will allow you to plan better since you'll be able to check and see where the buses are using your phone.

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Bus service is bad

 

Noooooooooooo, really??? I thought bus service was exemplary, with no service cuts and buses actually running ON TIME, coming when they're supposed to and arriving to the destination when they're supposed to, and if they get caught in traffic they can grow wings and magically fly over cars and what not. Wow, I must be missing something !!!

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No body here wants to address a main reason NYC bus service is slow and often late. "Traffic Jams." Thus why I feel light rail is the only long term solution on a limited case-case basis.

 

Few people mentioned the slowness of our buses... "nobody here" mentioned that b/c it's obvious.... Traffic is an issue, but it is not the MAIN issue why buses (in general) aren't (more) conducive to ride for the commuter....

 

This is simply you forcing the issue of light rail; which again, does not help the issue of declining bus ridership.... The examples that FG gives are of the more higher ridership (local) routes... The higher ridership routes are gonna remain high, but the more average ridership routes & the lower ridership routes, I DO notice a decrease in usage...

 

Follow me now...

 

I made the point in an older thread, regarding forcing people off the lower ridership routes to the more average ridership routes.... eventually the lower ridership routes will get phased out (which happened in our last string of cuts)...

....Over time, the people that have to (or already did, prior) resort taking the avg. ridership routes will see their service slashed too... years & years of cutting runs, and lessening frequency here & there, will result in less(er) people on the average ridership routes.... which will eventually turn into lower ridership routes... which will eventually get cut....

 

Everything in that last paragraph amounts to a little term called negative reinforcement.... Cutting runs & increasing headways to make it *appear* as if a certain route gets a lot of riders helps no one in the longrun...

 

So all that will be left standing, are the higher ridership routes of today.... which I really do think is the MTA's grand scheme; it couldn't BE any more evident if you're paying as much attention to it... It's not that they want to encourage more people riding more bus routes to better faciliate more people in more areas... It's this idea of cramming the masses onto subways, and cramming those masses that need bus service afterwards, onto the higher ridership routes that we see today....

 

In other words, there will be more of the B46's, M15's, Bx12's, Q44's of the world packed to the goddamn gills.... while the B64's, B48's, Q3's, Bx8's, M11's, of the world would end up running on hourly headways, or gone outright....

 

And let's not bring up the routes that parallel subways.... And let's not bring up express buses....And let's not bring up early morning/overnight service.... Each of which are EASY targets for the MTA to consider washing it's hands with...

 

....and you wanna continue to push Light Rail on us, as a solution to declining bus ridership???? You wanna tell me what worked in some San Diego... Newsflash buddy, this is NYC.... As much as I would love to flip your own argument of "traffic jams" against you, regarding Light Rail....

 

What's good for the goose, isn't always good for the freakin gander.....

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Few people mentioned the slowness of our buses... "nobody here" mentioned that b/c it's obvious.... Traffic is an issue, but it is not the MAIN issue why buses (in general) aren't (more) conducive to ride for the commuter....

 

This is simply you forcing the issue of light rail; which again, does not help the issue of declining bus ridership.... The examples that FG gives are of the more higher ridership (local) routes... The higher ridership routes are gonna remain high, but the more average ridership routes & the lower ridership routes, I DO notice a decrease in usage...

 

Follow me now...

 

I made the point in an older thread, regarding forcing people off the lower ridership routes to the more average ridership routes.... eventually the lower ridership routes will get phased out (which happened in our last string of cuts)...

....Over time, the people that have to (or already did, prior) resort taking the avg. ridership routes will see their service slashed too... years & years of cutting runs, and lessening frequency here & there, will result in less(er) people on the average ridership routes.... which will eventually turn into lower ridership routes... which will eventually get cut....

 

Everything in that last paragraph amounts to a little term called negative reinforcement.... Cutting runs & increasing headways to make it *appear* as if a certain route gets a lot of riders helps no one in the longrun...

 

So all that will be left standing, are the higher ridership routes of today.... which I really do think is the MTA's grand scheme; it couldn't BE any more evident if you're paying as much attention to it... It's not that they want to encourage more people riding more bus routes to better faciliate more people in more areas... It's this idea of cramming the masses onto subways, and cramming those masses that need bus service afterwards, onto the higher ridership routes that we see today....

 

In other words, there will be more of the B46's, M15's, Bx12's, Q44's of the world packed to the goddamn gills.... while the B64's, B48's, Q3's, Bx8's, M11's, of the world would end up running on hourly headways, or gone outright....

 

And let's not bring up the routes that parallel subways.... And let's not bring up express buses....And let's not bring up early morning/overnight service.... Each of which are EASY targets for the MTA to consider washing it's hands with...

 

....and you wanna continue to push Light Rail on us, as a solution to declining bus ridership???? You wanna tell me what worked in some San Diego... Newsflash buddy, this is NYC.... As much as I would love to flip your own argument of "traffic jams" against you, regarding Light Rail....

 

What's good for the goose, isn't always good for the freakin gander.....

 

 

Those who keep arguing that the (MTA) doesn't have money and is broke fail to see the overall picture. They think that by the (MTA) slashing service that the savings will be given back to them. I'm not sure where they're getting that idea from, but I can't recall here recently when the (MTA) has reduced the fare, so they really need to get off of that idea because it is not happening. All I see happening is more cuts. Even lines where they've "added" service usually meant that a bus was simply cut somewhere else, so it's not like they're really adding tons of service and I would say this has some truth to it even before the massive service cuts.

 

We can even look at express bus service. I've been saying for years that the X10 needed more service on Sundays, as the 45 minute waiting times were ridiculous especially considering the ridership. So now we've finally gotten the frequencies increased to 30 minutes most of the day with frequencies being as low as 20 minutes in some cases, but at the expense of reductions of service on other express bus lines. It's called shifting the resources around. Now you can argue that this is efficient, but the question is how are these cuts being made? Some of the cuts are down right underhanded. For example everytime I needed to leave early to either meet a client or go to a networking event in the morning and I would head over to catch an X14 or an X30 (say around 06:45 to 07:00), I would notice that one to two buses would be MIA when the frequencies were supposed to be anywhere from every 6-10 minutes. That is a cut right there that is completely underhanded and that the (MTA) won't admit of course, but that is the case and these sorts of underhanded cuts lead to the demise of bus service in general, be it local or express bus service because again, reliability becomes an issue as do the frequencies. The only way a line doesn't have a decline in ridership is if the alternatives are worse than the current option. The X16 is a perfect example of this too. You had terrible service in the evenings where two scheduled buses would go MIA. Meanwhile you had the option of the X13, X12 and others, so people started going to the alternatives. Maybe they weren't great either, but they may have been better than waiting more than an hour when an X16 is scheduled every 30 minutes.

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Those who keep arguing that the (MTA) doesn't have money and is broke fail to see the overall picture. They think that by the (MTA) slashing service that the savings will be given back to them. I'm not sure where they're getting that idea from, but I can't recall here recently when the (MTA) has reduced the fare, so they really need to get off of that idea because it is not happening. All I see happening is more cuts. Even lines where they've "added" service usually meant that a bus was simply cut somewhere else, so it's not like they're really adding tons of service and I would say this has some truth to it even before the massive service cuts.

 

We can even look at express bus service. I've been saying for years that the X10 needed more service on Sundays, as the 45 minute waiting times were ridiculous especially considering the ridership. So now we've finally gotten the frequencies increased to 30 minutes most of the day with frequencies being as low as 20 minutes in some cases, but at the expense of reductions of service on other express bus lines. It's called shifting the resources around. Now you can argue that this is efficient, but the question is how are these cuts being made? Some of the cuts are down right underhanded. For example everytime I needed to leave early to either meet a client or go to a networking event in the morning and I would head over to catch an X14 or an X30 (say around 06:45 to 07:00), I would notice that one to two buses would be MIA when the frequencies were supposed to be anywhere from every 6-10 minutes. That is a cut right there that is completely underhanded and that the (MTA) won't admit of course, but that is the case and these sorts of underhanded cuts lead to the demise of bus service in general, be it local or express bus service because again, reliability becomes an issue as do the frequencies. The only way a line doesn't have a decline in ridership is if the alternatives are worse than the current option. The X16 is a perfect example of this too. You had terrible service in the evenings where two scheduled buses would go MIA. Meanwhile you had the option of the X13, X12 and others, so people started going to the alternatives. Maybe they weren't great either, but they may have been better than waiting more than an hour when an X16 is scheduled every 30 minutes.

 

The MTA might not be able to reduce the fare, but it might be able to prevent a future fare hike by getting rid of some of the services.

 

As far as shifting the resources around goes, you are correct, to an extent. I don't see how an increase in X10 Sunday service could've been taken from any other route. The only other SI route that runs on Sundays is the X1.

 

They already have enough buses available on Sunday: They (supposedly) have enough buses on hand to supply the peak of the peak, so extra buses isn't an issue. Some drivers are most likely doing a split shift on Sunday, since the frequencies have always been a bit higher in the AM and PM rush than the rest of the day (it was something like every 30 minutes in the AM and 45 minutes off-peak), so extra drivers isn't a big issue.

 

I do agree with the idea that there was a good chance that they were trying to cut into the core ridership of low-ridership routes like the X16. It is amazing how, even through all of the cuts in service, the X16 and X18 still remained fairly efficient routes to operate.

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Sorry If i said this suggestion before, but there a solution to speeding bus service. That Light Rail particuarly in the outer boros.

SBS is just a poor excuse for light rail.

 

As someone who been to places like Jersey City/Hoboken/Bayonne with (NJT) HBL, Toronto's TTC street cars and San Diego MTS 'trolley'(really a light rail)

it would solve the problem of adding more 'rapid transit' at a fraction of building more subway lines or extended MNRR/LIRR.

 

Too bad the powers that be including the NIMBY's won't see the light for a long while.

 

SBS is not Light Rail , but a half assed BRT. Light Rail could work in Queens , Brooklyn and Staten Island. You could run it down abandoned Freight ROW or Wide Boulevards.....it does attract that rider who not use a bus and drivers are more cautious around the LRV's then buses. I don't think you see that much of a NIMBY blockade against LRT , the problem will be $$$. But LRT system could bridge the many subway system gaps in the outer boroughs and link SI with NJ. More stations in the the outer boroughs along the MNRR/LIRR could also solve the Subway gap issues and boast Bus ridership.

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I still don't see how LRT (Shortline) OR BRT (Nexis) will boost bus ridership (on the non BRT routes)...... Neither one of you is elaborating on that...

 

I expect that type of a post out of Nexis, since he's more of an advocate of rail systems anyway...

 

....but Shortline knows about our buses & subways.... what he's doing right now is no different than the MTA, throwing wool over his eyes & ignoring the issue, in even bringing up LRT..... and I bet if he was still living in Brooklyn, he wouldn't be advocating for no LRT as hard as he has been over the past few... months... It's easy to sit up there upstate & recommend light rail down here, when you wouldn't have to be subjected to its disadvantages on a daily basis....

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