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BrooklynBus

How Should the MTA Plan Changes to its Bus Routes?

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Could you (BrooklynBus) elaborate on what passenger counts are used for?  I see them quite a bit on my express buses and our schedules are usually the last ones to be updated.  Is this an indication of them not being able to get a true feel for the ridership?  Ridership can really fluctuate on a daily basis because we have regulars but also a lot of stragglers that ride here and there, so some days the bus can be almost SRO and other days it may be 75% full.

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Each route is scheduled to receive passenger counts every three years to determine id service should be increased or cut according to the passenger service guidelines.  I do not know how many trips are scheduled during a specific time period (all or just a sample.) I also do not know how daily variations are calculated, or if that is even considered. I also do not know if two or three days are averaged together (which is how it should be done) or if one day is chosen and it is just assumed that is a typical day.  I remember as a kid when I rode the B35, on Bingo nights, the bus would be jammed with 85 people at 10:30 at night so I am familiar with daily variations. I hope the MTA is aware as well, but my guess is that they probably aren't.

 

In addition to these counts every three years, if there are a large number of complaints on a particular route, additional counts are scheduled. Heavy routes may have counts scheduled once every year.  Of course there are also seasonal fluctuations to consider too.  I doubt it if they have a true feel for ridership.  That's why it is important to complain if you feel something doesn't seem quite right.  Of course no one will complain because the bus is too empty and service too frequent.

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Each route is scheduled to receive passenger counts every three years to determine id service should be increased or cut according to the passenger service guidelines.  I do not know how many trips are scheduled during a specific time period (all or just a sample.) I also do not know how daily variations are calculated, or if that is even considered. I also do not know if two or three days are averaged together (which is how it should be done) or if one day is chosen and it is just assumed that is a typical day.  I remember as a kid when I rode the B35, on Bingo nights, the bus would be jammed with 85 people at 10:30 at night so I am familiar with daily variations. I hope the MTA is aware as well, but my guess is that they probably aren't.

 

In addition to these counts every three years, if there are a large number of complaints on a particular route, additional counts are scheduled. Heavy routes may have counts scheduled once every year.  Of course there are also seasonal fluctuations to consider too.  I doubt it if they have a true feel for ridership.  That's why it is important to complain if you feel something doesn't seem quite right.  Of course no one will complain because the bus is too empty and service too frequent.

I was always under the impression that they have counters out when they're looking to cut service or trying to get a feel as to what is going on with ridership, so they won't change the schedule because they don't want to screw up and cut service and then have overcrowded SRO buses either.

 

Also express buses are checked much more frequently.  We get counters on the Riverdale express buses every time it's time to update the schedule (every 3 months or so).  Had several of them on the BxM2 and BxM18 a few weeks ago and now it's the BxM1's turn.  When I see them I usually make sure not to use to MetroNorth and take additional trips to boot since I have an unlimited card... Wouldn't want them to undercount...  :D

 

I get the impression that they check during multiple days though and that they like to study specific runs... Runs that they may want to cut they'll put counters on at random and study the loads.  Those Riverdale buses must drive them crazy because the ridership fluctuates so much that it's hard to try to cut anything without risking SRO buses.  I've seen counters at nights, during the morning and on weekends too...

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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I was always under the impression that they have counters out when they're looking to cut service or trying to get a feel as to what is going on with ridership, so they won't change the schedule because they don't want to screw up and cut service and then have overcrowded SRO buses either.

 

Also express buses are checked much more frequently.  We get counters on the Riverdale express buses every time it's time to update the schedule (every 3 months or so).  Had several of them on the BxM2 and BxM18 a few weeks ago and now it's the BxM1's turn.  When I see them I usually make sure not to use to MetroNorth and take additional trips to boot since I have an unlimited card... Wouldn't want them to undercount...  :D

 

I get the impression that they check during multiple days though and that they like to study specific runs... Runs that they may want to cut they'll put counters on at random and study the loads.  Those Riverdale buses must drive them crazy because the ridership fluctuates so much that it's hard to try to cut anything without risking SRO buses.  I've seen counters at nights, during the morning and on weekends too...

 

You could be correct regarding express buses.  I was primarily speaking about local buses.

Edited by BrooklynBus

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Each route is scheduled to receive passenger counts every three years to determine id service should be increased or cut according to the passenger service guidelines.  I do not know how many trips are scheduled during a specific time period (all or just a sample.) I also do not know how daily variations are calculated, or if that is even considered. I also do not know if two or three days are averaged together (which is how it should be done) or if one day is chosen and it is just assumed that is a typical day.  I remember as a kid when I rode the B35, on Bingo nights, the bus would be jammed with 85 people at 10:30 at night so I am familiar with daily variations. I hope the MTA is aware as well, but my guess is that they probably aren't.

 

In addition to these counts every three years, if there are a large number of complaints on a particular route, additional counts are scheduled. Heavy routes may have counts scheduled once every year.  Of course there are also seasonal fluctuations to consider too.  I doubt it if they have a true feel for ridership.  That's why it is important to complain if you feel something doesn't seem quite right.  Of course no one will complain because the bus is too empty and service too frequent.

simple you can't complain about a service you don't even use anyway. Jokes aside they should use checkers to also see where to upgrade service as well as cut. But if the checkers were put on a line like BXM4 that line would then end up on the chopping block.

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One is that changes should be made incrementally as the need arises. That is known as ad-hoc planning.

 

The other is that changes should be made using a comprehensive approach by periodically studying all the routes for deficiencies,

for example, once every 10 years, by performing origin-destination surveys and using other data.

Say whatever you want, but I'm not seeing why it has to be either-or; the latter can still be done with the former.....

 

Yeah, periodically study all the routes for deficiencies, then make changes as the need arises to whichever routes that need fine-tuning (or whatever you want to call it)..... The problem with the MTA is that they make changes largely (shit, I'll go as far as to say solely) off the basis of crunching numbers, instead of catering to passengers needs as best as they can with each borough's bus network..... The problem isn't so much with "ad hoc planning" - it's when it's the sole methodology where it poses a problem.....

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Say whatever you want, but I'm not seeing why it has to be either-or; the latter can still be done with the former.....

 

Yeah, periodically study all the routes for deficiencies, then make changes as the need arises to whichever routes that need fine-tuning (or whatever you want to call it)..... The problem with the MTA is that they make changes largely (shit, I'll go as far as to say solely) off the basis of crunching numbers, instead of catering to passengers needs as best as they can with each borough's bus network..... The problem isn't so much with "ad hoc planning" - it's when it's the sole methodology where it poses a problem.....

You are correct. It doesn't have to be either or. I wasn't trying to imply that changes should only be made every ten years. Of course the process shoud be ongoing and there should be fine tuning. I will even go one step further. The MTA needs to set up experimental routes that will only operate for six months, and will be made permanent only if the patronage reaches a predetermined level of ridership. (It should also be fine tuned during that period if necessary.) But the route has to start with a decent service level and then be adjusted accordingly, not every 30 minutes, unless it is some type of express route operating primarily between two points like Flushing and Jamaica and you can easily plan your trip to leave on the hour or half hour and the schedule would be somewhat reliable.

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What about extensions? Because these new routes (sans the Q70 which needs an hours reduction) are eventually gonna need them

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simple you can't complain about a service you don't even use anyway. Jokes aside they should use checkers to also see where to upgrade service as well as cut. But if the checkers were put on a line like BXM4 that line would then end up on the chopping block.

 

They don't need checkers to know how poorly the BxM4 performs. They already have the farebox data, and the cost data.

 

What about extensions? Because these new routes (sans the Q70 which needs an hours reduction) are eventually gonna need them

 

It's the same thing. You need to look at what corridors/destinations you want the new route to serve, while seeing how it'll impact the other routes in the network.

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The MTA needs to set up experimental routes that will only operate for six months, and will be made permanent only if the patronage reaches a predetermined level of ridership. (It should also be fine tuned during that period if necessary.) But the route has to start with a decent service level and then be adjusted accordingly, not every 30 minutes, unless it is some type of express route operating primarily between two points like Flushing and Jamaica and you can easily plan your trip to leave on the hour or half hour and the schedule would be somewhat reliable.

I disagree... Six months is not enough time to see if a route can work or not.  It takes time to advertise the route and for people to become aware of the route and if the current route that they use works for them in the overall scheme of things, even if the new route is faster, they may stick with their current route.  Folks tend to be creatures of habit.  Also what is your definition of "decent service"?

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Decent is 15 minutes.

 

Yes, ideally one year is a good trial period, especially with routes having seasonal fluctuations. However, if the route turns out to be a real dud and no one has any suggestions on how to increase ridership by making the route more useful, I believe they shoud be given the option of discontinuing it after six months especially if ridership is dropping. If it starts to increase after five months or so, they should keep it longer.

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