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BrooklynBus

This is No Way to Plan

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Burgeoning F train ridership. Source: abrunete / Flickr

 

THE COMMUTE: I have often been critical of MTA route planning. Last week I asked what faulty methodology resulted in truncating the B4 at Coney Island Hospital on weekends, middays and evenings when service was cutback in 2010. The original plan was to truncate the line at all times until I provided data showing that the route was well utilized on weekdays at 2:30 p.m., with seated or nearly seated loads at Ocean Parkway and Neptune Avenue. Despite that data, the MTA still decided to reroute the bus from Neptune to Avenue Z where it was already served by the B36. That decision was rescinded two weeks ago.

 

 

Another fault with that plan, which I criticized at the time, was that it created a one-way transfer between the B68 and B4 during the times the B4 terminated at a Coney Island Hospital. So how does the MTA make their planning decisions? They first draw their conclusions, then manipulate the data to support them rather than testing their hypotheses in an objective fashion. When justifying their 2010 service cutbacks, they minimized the ill effects by inaccurately measuring walking distances to alternate routes and by providing unrealistic alternatives.

 

When proposing new routes or extensions, they usually do not consider the potential of additional ridership — only the additional operating costs involved. For that reason, all improvements are balanced with service reductions that unnecessarily harm passengers in order to even out costs. One exception was a Queens bus rerouting when the Aqueduct Racino began operation more than a year ago.

 

That analysis failed to take into consideration the inconvenience to existing riders, but magically assumed that the change would generate 400 new riders per day. Coincidentally, that was the exact number needed to balance the additional operating costs. No backup was provided as to how the additional patronage was projected. When I once suggested a bus route modification, it was rejected solely for the additional expense, which would have required only two new riders per trip to balance the increased operating costs. Those were exaggerated anyway because the additional mileage was overestimated and the fact that running time would remain unchanged was not considered. That is in the past now.

 

What About The Future?

 

The MTA claims to use computer modeling in planning Select Bus Service (SBS) routes, but has not revealed any of its assumptions. It should be able to predict additional patronage and ridership shifts resulting from proposed route changes if it works properly. However, the benefits of SBS have been exaggerated and the disadvantages minimized. The only measures — used to evaluate its success or failure — are running-time savings and additional route patronage, not even considering that some “new” patronage may merely be riders attracted from other routes. However, that still does not tell the complete story.

 

Often, local service is denigrated once SBS is instituted. At the September meeting of the PCAC NYCT Transit Riders Council, Council Member Trudy Mason remarked the following:

 

“…She stated that on 2nd Avenue, the SBS buses come along at a rapid rate and there are no M15 local buses available for riders who want them. She said that she stood for 27 minutes at the stop between 85th and 86th Streets and that five SBS buses passed the stop before a local bus arrived.”

 

The MTA continues to push forward with additional proposed routes despite not performing proper evaluations of existing routes. The B44 SBS will commence later this year, and along Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens in the next few years. The MTA makes a few changes, like adding stops due to community opposition, but instituting SBS in the selected corridors is a foregone conclusion.

 

The Future Of The F Express

 

In the early 1990s, the MTA briefly considered re-instituting the F Express in Brooklyn, but dropped the idea because of the increase in operating costs. Now they are considering it once again, but only in Park Slope, where there are four tracks — not in Southern Brooklyn, where the three tracks would permit express service only in the peak direction. Again, rather than performing an objective study to determine if the return of express service is warranted by weighing the costs, and the effects of ridership, they have already arrived at their conclusions, which are to reinstitute express service north of Church Avenue — only without stopping at Bergen Street, as it had done in the past — and retaining the G extended to Church Avenue permanently.

 

At the same PCAC meeting, Jay Krantz, NYC transit director, Rail Network Planning, discussed the future of the Culver Line following the completion of the Culver viaduct rehabilitation. Retaining the G to Church Avenue, which was brought about through community pressure, not by the MTA’s own initiative, was justified by stating: “[T]he extension of the G train to Church Avenue on a permanent basis will continue a time savings for riders of about one and a half minutes per trip.” An F express north of Church Avenue was justified for further study by stating: “[T]wo-way express service between Church Avenue and Jay Street (would save) 4 minutes in travel time for riders.”

 

However, when asked why there would not be one-way F express between Church Avenue and Kings Highway, Mr. Krantz stated: “t offers little or no net travel time benefit and so is not recommended for future study.” It would save at least two minutes, which the MTA apparently does not consider significant. However, added to the projected four-minute savings by operating expresses north of Church Avenue, a six- or seven-minute savings would have resulted for residents of Gravesend and Coney Island.

 

Does anyone else see this contradiction in logic that a two or three minute savings is called “insignificant” when the MTA does not want to make a change, while a one-and-a-half-minute savings is significant, in the case of the G, where the MTA has already decided to make a temporary change permanent? Contradictions in MTA planning logic are nothing new. It is something I have been pointing out for 40 years. Proposing to lengthen any bus route results in a response that the route would become unreliable, except when the MTA makes the proposal, when decreased reliability is not a factor.

 

Conclusion

 

Responsible planning projects new and lost ridership, as well as considering the effects on neighboring routes. The MTA makes no such projections. Increased ridership on the M15 SBS was used to measure success, but no one considered the possibility that the bulk of the “new” ridership may have merely shifted from neighboring routes. In deciding the future of the F express, the MTA, again, is only concerned with existing ridership — not the effects on other routes or additional ridership generated.

 

Presently, many who live between the F line and the B/Q lines choose the Brighton line, even if it is further away, because it operates an express while the F does not. Even when there is no Brighton Express, the MTA admits that beachgoers choose the Q over the F making it more crowded. Those living equidistant between the F and the D, choose the D because it operates express at least part way. An F express from southern Brooklyn would help equalize ridership between the D, F, and B/Q, and would mean quicker trips and better service for most. Perhaps, the MTA would arrive at the same conclusion if only they would not draw their conclusions before embarking on their “studies,” instead of after.

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lol... I have to admit that if the (Q) is out I'll backtrack to Coney Island just so I get the (D) or (N) express...

 

As for the buses, you're never going to get the (MTA) to have adequate SBS service AND adequate local bus service.  It's either one or the other.  Back around 2006 or 2007, you could wait a good 20 minutes to get one measly local bus on 5th Avenue and everything else was limited stops... Now it's the opposite.  The M2 and M5 run sparingly and the locals come far more often.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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Not going to lie, I avoid the (F) whenever I can.  If there were an express (F) out of Kings Highway or Avenue X even, I may consider.  After Sandy hit and my (B)(Q) terminated at Kings Highway, a lot of people did opt for the (F) afterwards though.  Out of the 4 southern Brooklyn lines I probably do take the (F) the least because I felt it was the slowest of the bunch.

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I always avoid the (F) at all cost for many reasons. That being said, I always take the (N)(Q) more so then the (F) sometimes even the (B).

I would suggest they study the (F) further to see how to speed up things and so on.

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simple add a 4th track for bidirectional service south of church. Let the (G) get stuck with local stations except rush hour and make the (F) express. OR other way around. Problem solved.

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simple add a 4th track for bidirectional service south of church. Let the (G) get stuck with local stations except rush hour and make the (F) express. OR other way around. Problem solved.

 

 

 

That was the original IND plan. Park Slope hemmed and hawwed at the loss of a one-seat ride to manhattan, Bergen street lower level was closed, and it hasn't been a thing ever since.

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<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="qjtransitmaster" data-cid="635548" data-time="1358817967"><p>

simple add a 4th track for bidirectional service south of church. Let the (G) get stuck with local stations except rush hour and make the (F) express. OR other way around. Problem solved.</p></blockquote>

 

That was the original IND plan. Park Slope hemmed and hawwed at the loss of a one-seat ride to manhattan, Bergen street lower level was closed, and it hasn't been a thing ever since.

I don't think a fourth track south of Church Avenue was ever in the plans.

 

 

Dear God. Even on Sheapshead Bites, Wally is pitching his (C) to Church Avenue idea:
As for the idea of an (F) express, what I would be looking at doing is this:

 

1. Do all work necessary to re-open the lower level of Bergen Street so

express trains can stop there. This can be the last transfer point

before the lines split up going north/first transfer point going south.

 

2. The (C) is diverted from the 8th Avenue line at West 4th joins the

(G) as a full-time Culver Local to Church Avenue. This gives Culver

riders a one-seat ride on the 8th Avenue Line (including direct service to Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and the Port Authority Bus Terminal as well as to the upper west

side (on Central Park West) they don't currently have. This would run at all times except nights

unless ridership warrants having the (C) operate all times.

 

3. The (E) is extended at all times to Euclid Avenue to replace the (C)

and overnights is extended to Lefferts to replace that shuttle. For

those who absolutely need to use the current (E) platform at

Chambers-WTC, a supplemental line running 2-5 TPH, the (K) would run at

all times between Chambers and 168th Street (this would allow the (A) to

run express during the overnights). The (K)'s purpose would be to

simply supplement lower Manhattan service along the 8th Avenue line for

those going uptown and are too lazy to walk from WTC to the (A)

platform, that's why it would only be 2-5 TPH. Also, to prevent overloading of the Cranberry tunnel, during rush hours some (E) trains would operate as they do now to and from Chambers Street-WTC.

 

4. The (F) runs express at all times on the Culver Line, except

overnights when the (C) would not be running and the current service

patterns would be in effect.

 

This would have the problem of the (C), (F) and (M) all stopping on the

local track at Broadway-Lafayette, but we are likely talking about maybe

32-33 TPH and only during rush hours. To me, that's a small price to

pay for increasing service on the Culver Line and giving Culver riders a

new option of 8th Avenue Line/Upper West Side service they don't

currently have. Culver local riders looking for 6th Avenue stations

south of West 4th simply would be riding the (C) train to those stations

as opposed to the (F) and if they need the 6th Avenue line can make a same platform

transfer at Broadway-Lafayette for the B/D/F/M. This also would give

(6) riders a new transfer (except overnights) to/from the 8th Avenue

line at Broadway-Lafayette.

 

The new project on the West Side Yards likely to me will warrant such a change anyway. Some in Park Slope may not like it, but those at local stations along there could make a same platform transfer at Broadway-Lafayette to the (B), (D), (F) or (M) trains there. Another side benefit is Fulton line riders looking for midtown on the 8th Avenue line could switch from the (A) or (E) to the (C) at Jay Street and skip lower Manahattan altogether. Those would be major side benefits to this change if done this way.

Edited by CenSin

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I don't think a fourth track south of Church Avenue was ever in the plans.

 

That would have been the Ft Hamilton line, or the line that swings over (via Bay Pkwy) and merges with the Sea Beach, but something like that is never going to be done now.

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I'm no planning expert, but how would you run the (E) to Euclid, send the (C) to Culver, and make a new (K) line without cutting service somewhere? Even if you found the money to buy 1,000 more subway cars, you'll run out of track capacity at Cranberry and along the 8th Avenue local, and you'll have choking points at between W4 and 2 Av and between Jay and Bergen. No need to make 8th Avenue and Culver into the new IRT.

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To Wally's credit, he did say he was willing to do all of the work:

As for the idea of an (F) express, what I would be looking at doing is this:

 

1. Do all work necessary to re-open the lower level of Bergen Street so

express trains can stop there.

I'd hand him a shovel. It's the best idea out of the 4 he came up with.
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There's one thing the (F) has going for it that the other Coney Island lines don't: no interference from Dekalb or Murphy tower. 4th Ave was a MESS this weekend, with the (D)(N)(Q) and (R) all merging north and south of Dekalb, meanwhile the (F) waltzed right on by (well, it did have to merge with the (D) north of 47-50 and then north of W4, but that lost it maybe a minute)

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The present day (F) line runs on former BMT Culver trackage from Ditmas Ave to C.I.. There was and is no provision for a fourth track on the line. The Culver line did have peak direction express service at one time to/from Kings Highway (on a three track line) and I'm sure the MTA could institute it again if it's warranted. I believe Allan's contention is that they won't even consider it even if it can be useful for many riders south of Church Avenue. If express service can save time for riders north of Church Avenue it makes sense IMO to try it for the ridership south of that point. If it proves unwarranted then so be it but to ignore the potential benefits offhand just goes to show how utterly bogus the MTA's scheduling methodology is. I'm sure the usual MTA apologists will have a different take on the subject Just my opinion though. Carry on.

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To Wally's credit, he did say he was willing to do all of the work:I'd hand him a shovel. It's the best idea out of the 4 he came up with.
lmao! But good grief, you can predict what he will say: C to culver, more service for the aqueduct racino, reopen the BG S and the SF loop and 6 to S.f late nights. Anymore, feel free to fill in the blanks if I didn't cover them.

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The 76th street tunnel/Queens super express to no where routine.

 

I told him a good five or six times that the upper level at Roosevelt ave can't be used as a through station, before it finnaly sank into his thick skull.

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I don't think a fourth track south of Church Avenue was ever in the plans.

 

You are correct, I meant the 6th ave/express Crosstown/local service pattern Between Church and Bergen was the original IND plan. 

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To Wally's credit, he did say he was willing to do all of the work:I'd hand him a shovel. It's the best idea out of the 4 he came up with.

:D :D :D

 

Sure, right!!! (LOL!!)

 

My point on that was, one of the things that of things that would need to be done would be to re-open Bergen Lower Level (that would be a no-brainer in my view) AND it would be contingent on having enough car availability.

 

Oh, and part of that would have the (E) going to Euclid, BUT with some (E) service ending and beginning at Chambers in rush hours so as not to overload Cranberry.

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I'm ignoring any ridiculous swapping of subway services that has been mentioned in this thread so far.....

 

 

Anyway:

 

....Does anyone else see this contradiction in logic that a two or three minute savings is called “insignificant” when the MTA does not want to make a change, while a one-and-a-half-minute savings is significant, in the case of the G, where the MTA has already decided to make a temporary change permanent? Contradictions in MTA planning logic are nothing new. It is something I have been pointing out for 40 years. Proposing to lengthen any bus route results in a response that the route would become unreliable, except when the MTA makes the proposal, when decreased reliability is not a factor.

Conclusion

Responsible planning projects new and lost ridership, as well as considering the effects on neighboring routes. The MTA makes no such projections. Increased ridership on the M15 SBS was used to measure success, but no one considered the possibility that the bulk of the “new” ridership may have merely shifted from neighboring routes. In deciding the future of the F express, the MTA, again, is only concerned with existing ridership — not the effects on other routes or additional ridership generated.

Presently, many who live between the F line and the B/Q lines choose the Brighton line, even if it is further away, because it operates an express while the F does not. Even when there is no Brighton Express, the MTA admits that beachgoers choose the Q over the F making it more crowded. Those living equidistant between the F and the D, choose the D because it operates express at least part way. An F express from southern Brooklyn would help equalize ridership between the D, F, and B/Q, and would mean quicker trips and better service for most. Perhaps, the MTA would arrive at the same conclusion if only they would not draw their conclusions before embarking on their “studies,” instead of after.

 

I long came to the conclusion that the MTA isn't in it to improve riders' commutes.... It is all about numbers ([including numbers I think they fudge] & numbers they only consider to justify making certain changes over others).... I have long noticed what they seem to consider insignificant enough to not make changes in some instances & what insignificant change will cause "not too many riders" be affected in other instances...

 

It's all a result of inconsistent logic (or as you put it, contradiction in logic)....

In english, they're picking & choosing which services they want to alter....

 

This is why I don't like to wholly rely on stats/numbers when I say what I say when I discuss routes on these forums.... You can use numbers to prove or disprove anything.....

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It is all about numbers ([including numbers I think they fudge] & numbers they only consider to justify making certain changes over others).... 

 

This is why I don't like to wholly rely on stats/numbers when I say what I say when I discuss routes on these forums.... You can use numbers to prove or disprove anything.....

You are 100% correct with your second comment.  When I worked there, although they never asked me to fudge numbers and I never asked anyone to do that either, one employee who reported to me when I was in Planning and was a mathematics major told me that as far as numbers are concerned, their mantra was "if the numbers don't fit, make them fit." Then he gave me the greatest compliment I ever received.  He told me that the Planning assignments I gave him were the most worthwhile ones he received in the five years he had worked there. I am guessing his other assignments were to find the numbers to prove what they wanted proven.

 

Years later when I tried to get back into Operations Planning, I was offered a non-managerial position at a ,managerial interview which I turned down because offering me that position could only be construed as an insult considering my previous position.  I knew what the position would entail and how unhappy I would be if I accepted it. Everyday someone put would piles of papers on my desk and I would be asked to justify ridiculous plans that someone else thought of and as a non-manager, my opinions would be totally ignored. I didn't need that type of aggravation plus they would force me to work overtime I wouldn't want.

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Where does the (E) and (C) come in at?

Why couldn't the (F) do something similar to what the (7) Train does.

Have it run in peak direction to Manhattan AM and Coney Island PM. Another thing it can do but the (G) may be a better choice for this is skip stop service like the (J) and (Z) have, even though if it was explain to people they will still get mad and think that it all Local. Reminds me people still think lines like the Q25,Q58 and B82 still only have local service only and still want to argue with the bus driver when he or she didn't stop at the Local stop.

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