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Via Garibaldi 8

What goes into planning a new route?

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With the service restorations and the addition of a few new routes announced I got to thinking about how exactly are new routes determined? I'm hoping folks like BrooklynBus can provide some insight into this.

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Demographics connecting routes service gaps. Major trip generators income groups of the areas the line will serve and traffic congestion as well. Job sites and points of interest and density of the areas it will pass through.

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Restoring old routes abandoned by budget cuts brings back the "normal" way before the cut in my opinion. And new routes are just an addition of service in my opinion.

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With the service restorations and the addition of a few new routes announced I got to thinking about how exactly are new routes determined? I'm hoping folks like BrooklynBus can provide some insight into this.

 

 

I'm not sure how the new routes came about but I am pretty sure it is from community pressure the MTA has been hearing for years and ignoring. Now they finally realized that there has been a substantial population increase in Williamsburg and needed to do something. The last group of new routes proposed by the MTA but never implemented such as extending the B71 through the Battery Tunnel came from direct pressure from the Bloomberg Administration to handle the subway overflow if congestion pricing was implemented.

 

Other than that and new express bus routes, the MTA and the NYCTA before them implemented very few new routes. In Brooklyn during my lifetime, the only new routes I can think of are the B78 (now part of the B47). The B80 and B81 to the Worlds Fair, B83, B84 (now part of the B6), B85 lasting 6 months, B88 Culture Loop, B50 ( now part of the B82), and B51 now discontinued. The B100, B103, B110 were not part of the MRTA system so they dont count. That is really an abysmal record, only three real new routes in over 60 years: B78, B50, and B83 that are still running. (The B84 should have been an extension to the B6 from the beginning. The vast remainder of improvements came in the form of extensions not new routes, and one major service change. (1978).

 

So this is an area where the MTA and NYCTA has really not been in engaged in. It's not they have a dedicated staff that only studies possible new routes. What they have been over the years has been reactionary. Most of the new routes have resulted from community requests as have most of the changes. Most reroutes and extensions also result from community requests, but you must remember is that probably 99% of those requests are turned own.

 

In fact the only new route in Brooklyn that I believe MTA initiated was the B50, which they had a franchise for for three years and may never have implemented if they weren't going to do the Southwest Brooklyn changes suggested by the Department of City Planning (me) anyway.

Edited by BrooklynBus
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I'm not sure how the new routes came about but I am pretty sure it is from community pressure the MTA has been hearing for years and ignoring. Now they finally realized that there has been a substantial population increase in Williamsburg and needed to do something. The last group of new routes proposed by the MTA but never implemented such as extending the B71 through the Battery Tunnel came from direct pressure from the Bloomberg Administration to handle the subway overflow if congestion pricing was implemented.

 

Other than that and new express bus routes, the MTA and the NYCTA before them implemented very few new routes. In Brooklyn during my lifetime, the only new routes I can think of are the B78 (now part of the B47). The B80 and B81 to the Worlds Fair, B83, B84 (now part of the B6), B85 lasting 6 months, B88 Culture Loop, B50 ( now part of the B82), and B51 now discontinued. The B100, B103, B110 were not part of the MRTA system so they dont count. That is really an abysmal record, only three real new routes in over 60 years: B78, B50, and B83 that are still running. (The B84 should have been an extension to the B6 from the beginning. The vast remainder of improvements came in the form of extensions not new routes, and one major service change. (1978).

 

So this is an area where the MTA and NYCTA has really not been in engaged in. It's not they have a dedicated staff that only studies possible new routes. What they have been over the years has been reactionary. Most of the new routes have resulted from community requests as have most of the changes. Most reroutes and extensions also result from community requests, but you must remember is that probably 99% of those requests are turned own.

 

Well explain how you came up with the routes that you pitched to the (MTA)... How did you determine for examine that the B1 was needed which at the time you had given a different route number? The reason I ask is because there are some routes IMO that are planned very well and I would have to think that some sort of research went on in advance... Understanding demographics, where folks that live in a community generally go or work and so on and so forth. Obviously marketability has to be thought about.

 

As for the X1 overnight service extension, I guess that had been in the works for a while, but a part of me wonders if me speaking before the board had any impact on their decision. I made a point of speaking directly to Allan Cappelli about the overcrowding on late night Staten Island express buses and since then there have been significant improvements on the X1, X10 and X17, all three of which I mentioned when asking for better express bus service back to Staten Island. Of course some of these improvements are also from political pressure, but I think putting a face to the issue that commuters face always helps.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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I really can't say much about how the express routes were chosen, so I won't. All I can say is that most were first pitched to the MTA and rejected because the MTA didn't want competition with the subways. The private companies were willing to accept the routes which were profitable at first. Under political pressure, the MTA finally started accepting express routes and then started complaining that theirs weren't doing as well as the privates because because they got all the favored routes, when they really should have put the blame on their own reluctance to accept them.

 

When I wrote my Masters thesis in 1973, I came up with a thoroughly revised route structure just by looking at a map and knowing what I knew about the system and passenger habits since I frequently used it. I had some guidelines I followed which was basically a modified grid system with terminuses if possible at major hubs or transfer points. I was also in favor of L shaped routes, but since I had no Origin Destination data, I couldn't propose any. When I graduated. Some of my ideas were very obvious such as extending he B61 to Long Island City and the B38 to Metropolitan Avenue because they ended in the middle of nowhere. Many of them the MTA thought of independently 10 or 15 years later. Some were major restructurings. My idea the B1 was simply to run it straight along the length of 86th Street and connect it with the existing B1 that ran through Sheepshead Bay Station. It just seemed that it was a much clearer route to understand and if the routes were less like spaghetti, more people would use them.

 

I got a job in the Transportation Division of the Department of City Planning (DCP). They just received a $250,000 grant they didn't know how to spend, but because I wrote that thesis, they decided to do a study of Brooklyn bus routes, but I had no staff. It was only me. The job was like a dream come true. I wanted to test some of my ideas, but my bosses soon realized, there wasn't enough money to study the entire borough and asked me to pick one area to look at further, so I picked 86th Street. Since there was some political pressure to also improve bus routes in East New York, some of the money was used for that area also, and i was involved, but i think they also hired a consultant for that. ENY wanted a new north south route, but the MTA thought it would be too expensive, so as a compromise they rerouted the B83 from Pennsylvania to Van Siclen in Starrett City.

 

Anyway, We got a dozen people together in the Spring of 1975 and rode all the buses all day on the 4 86th Street routes handing out survey cards on the 4 routes serving 86th Street. One of the things I wanted to find out was if there were many transfers at 13th Avenue. It turned out there were very few. So I studied the data further and realized why. Since that transfer involved a double fare, anyone going to 86th Street and 4th Avenue stayed on the bus and changed for the B63 and rode back, which seemed like a roundabout way to travel and increased my desire for an 86th Street route and there seemed to be no rational reason for the B34.

 

In our meetings with the MTA or really NYCT Surface, (pre OP days), they saw we were getting ready to make proposals, so in an effort to delay us, they suggested we expand the study to all of Southwest Brooklyn which in fact did delay us for two years. When we were done, they asked us why we made the study area so big. Anyway there was no money for additional surveys and I still had to decide what to do with the remaining parts of the B34 and B64. The obvious solution was to connect them which is what we have today, but I ruled that out because according to the survey, it inconvenienced too many people. There were considerable numbers using the bus to get to the R train from the Bath avenue area and that choice increased their trip by 20 minutes. So if I wanted an 86 St route, I had to think of something else so I opted for involving the B16 and proposing a through 13th Avenue route since that also looked like an inconvenient trip to make if you just needed to travel along 13rd Avenue and since Maimonides Hospital was on Fort Hamilton Parkway, it just seemed better if that route also went straight. (Those ideas were also in my thesis.) Of course the MTA objected, stating it would cost too much without considering the potential for additional revenue. It was like a Catch 22. They would say there is no demand, and because the routing system made it inconvenient, there wasn't any.

 

But on the other hand, the B16 wasn't doing well along the route it did have. So when we expanded the study I tried to find if there were any other lowly utilized routers that could be improved by restructuring and making them straighter. That's when I decided to involve the B21 and the B36. One route along Avenue Z seemed to make more sense than two and another serving Neptune and Emmons would complete the picture, but Sheepshead Bay Station also had to be served. The B21 ran only every 15 or 20 minutes. The B1 never ran more than every 20 minutes. Then one Saturday morning while laying in bed thinking of various possibilities, that by making a slight change to the B49 adding about 5 minutes, and running the 86th Street route through Brighton Beach instead of Sheepshead Bay, I could get rid of two lightly utilized routes and serve more neighborhoods. The B21 only seemed to serve Coney Island Hospital and two subway stations on the Brighton Line. And using the route from end to end was very indirect anyway.

 

History proved me correct because I created demand from Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst where there wasn't any and the MTA also liked the idea of discontinuing two very unprofitable routes, the very old B1 and the B21 which usually carried about a half dozen passengers at a time because they were short routes and ran so infrequently. Today, I believe something should be done about the B49 I created because that 5 minute diversion, 34 years later takes more like 10 or 15 minutes which really isn't acceptable. If traffic today was what it was in 1978, I never would have made that change.

 

Probably more than what you wanted to know, but I wanted to explain my thought process. When you say, some routes are planned well, are you talking about local routes? And which ones do you think are planned well?

Edited by BrooklynBus
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Well actually I don't understand why the B49 route was re-routed down Sheepshead Bay Rd. The Northbound version takes the B4 routing to serve Sheepshead Bay Station when it could just go straight down Sheepshead Bay Rd like it used to. That way still served the train station just the same... As for routes that I think are really good ones, I think the B1 is a good one, though I would extend it further to serve all of 86th street and also give the X27/X37 more marketability since more folks could access them on Shore Road. There aren't too many others that I can think of and part of it is because the (MTA) has too many routes trying to serve too many purposes, but I think the Lexington Avenue routes are good ones (M101, M102, M103) and could be better if they could somehow address the traffic issues on Lex.

 

As far as three really good ones, I'd say the BxM1, BxM2 and BxM18 are well thought out routes and really serve their purpose well. All three have very few stops, quick and simple turnaround points so they don't stuck in traffic. The only thing I would probably do is adjust a few stops on the BxM2 and BxM1. For example, they have a stop on 49th & 3rd then nothing until 61st & 3rd and then yet another stop at 64th & 3rd. I understand that a large amount of ridership comes from those two stops, but you have more than a half of a mile between the 49th street stop and the 61st street stop. I would remove the 61st street stop and have it closer to 57th street which makes more sense. Then for the BxM2, I would leave the stop at 80th street, but put a stop at 86th street since that is a major transfer stop and main shopping area. Other than that those two routes along with the BxM18 are excellent.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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Ridership of other routes in the area or similar routes to the proposed route are looked at. And the new Q36 was determined with community pressure. I signed the petition.

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Well actually I don't understand why the B49 route was re-routed down Sheepshead Bay Rd. The Northbound version takes the B4 routing to serve Sheepshead Bay Station when it could just go straight down Sheepshead Bay Rd like it used to. That way still served the train station just the same... As for routes that I think are really good ones, I think the B1 is a good one, though I would extend it further to serve all of 86th street and also give the X27/X37 more marketability since more folks could access them on Shore Road. There aren't too many others that I can think of and part of it is because the (MTA) has too many routes trying to serve too many purposes...

 

 

Actually, when I proposed the B49 in 1978, I suggested it use the current northbound routing because Sheepshead Bay Road had too much traffic and using the rear of the station was much quicker. But they wouldn't listen to me. But about 30 years later, after traffic in the area increased because of all the overdevelopment with one family houses replaced by muti-family condos, there was no longer any advantage to passing the rear of the station and I preferred the Sheepshead Bay routing and was glad they didn't listen to me. So what do they do? They decided that there were too many accidents on Sheepshead Bay Road, and to avoid two-way bus traffic which is a problem when a truck is illegally parked, they changed the route to pass the back of the station.

 

As far as extending the B1, there isn't enough demand for two routes west of 4th Avenue, so in 1978, I proposed terminating the B16 at 4th Avenue and adding the rest of it to the B1 so it would terminate at 101 St and 3 Av. Who knows? Maybe in another 30 years they will realize I was right.

Edited by BrooklynBus

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Actually, when I proposed the B49 in 1978, I suggested it use the current northbound routing because Sheepshead Bay Road had too much traffic and using the rear of the station was much quicker. But they wouldn't listen to me. But about 30 years later, after traffic in the area increased because of all the overdevelopment with one family houses replaced by muti-family condos, there was no longer any advantage to passing the rear of the station and I preferred the Sheepshead Bay routing and was glad they didn't listen to me. So what do they do? They decided that there were too many accidents on Sheepshead Bay Road, and to avoid two-way bus traffic which is a problem when a truck is illegally parked, they changed the route to pass the back of the station.

 

As far as extending the B1, there isn't enough demand for two routes west of 4th Avenue, so in 1978, I proposed terminating the B16 at 4th Avenue and adding the rest of it to the B1 so it would terminate at 101 St and 3 Av. Who knows? Maybe in another 30 years they will realize I was right.

 

Wow.... That is utter BS about the B49... Granted there are trucks here and there but not to that degree to re-route the bus the way they did. As for the B1, I agree with you. Despite the number of apartment buildings on Shore Rd many of them are condos or co-ops, so those folks mainly want the X27/X37 as opposed to the B16, so while you don't have a great demand, I think it would just be a good idea to have it run to Shore Rd, then North on Shore Rd to provide access to the (R) and also a connection to the express bus since Shore Rd is kind of out of the way. Problem is now that you'd have 3 buses terminating at the same place with the B9 and B64 which would be too much. Plus there's the question of if folks really want another local bus running down Shore Rd., which is generally a bit more quiet despite the parking problems there, but perhaps having the bus there could alleviate some of that. Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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