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Q113 LTD

A Free Shuttle Bus To LGA Might Not Cost The MTA Anything

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Just in time for the holiday mass exodus from NYC, grassroots transit riders advocacy group Riders Alliance has released a report [PDF] that, they argue, demonstrates the need for a free shuttle bus to-and-from LaGuardia Airport—by far the lesser of the two NYC airports when it comes to public transit options. The Port Authority Traffic Report for June 2015 [PDF] shows that only 12.5% of LGA customers travel to the airport by public transit. According to the Alliance's findings, the (MTA) could implement a free shuttle bus in place of the (MTA) 's current limited-service Q70, with little-to-no net cost and considerable benefit to many of the nearly 22 million LGA customers who passed in or out of LGA last year. The Q70 currently runs directly to LGA from the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave (E) / (F) / (M) / (R) stop or the Woodside LIRR stop, making no local stops. (The only other public transportation options to LGA at the moment are several local Queens busses, and the M60-SBS bus , which runs select from West 106th Street over to Astoria and on up to the airport.) Eighty-five percent of the 350-odd Q70 passengers the Alliance surveyed over two months in 2014 already take advantage of the free transfer between the Q70 and the (E) / (F) / (M) / (R) at Jackson Heights. They also surveyed about 350 passengers at LGA's baggage claim, and found that 49% of those who don't currently take public transit to the airport would reconsider if there was a free subway shuttle. Any lost revenue in fares, the Alliance argues, would be nullified by increased subway ridership from passengers converting to the subway. "There are simple and cost-effective ways to help revive the spirit of LaGuardia while the airport awaits a proposed $4 billion overhaul by 2021," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. "Heading the list is vigorously promoting and expanding the current non-stop shuttle bus to the subway." Proposals to build a $1 billion AirTrain to Willets Point and extend the (N) train to LGA above ground have both been, notoriously, disparaged and delayed. The Riders Alliance sees its solution as low-cost in comparison. "In essence, nearly all riders are already riding the Q70 for free, but everyone pays in dwell time, a major criticism for Q70 ridership," said Riders Alliance board member Benjamin Kabak in an op-ed for Second Avenue Sagas. "Were the bus to be free, the Riders Alliance contends, even an increase in transit usage by just one percent of all LaGuardia Airport travelers would cancel out the free bus and in fact make the (MTA) money." "Without a fare and with more frequent service and better advertising, the bus can be a key link to the airport rather than something those in the know take out of convenience," he added. The study uses Boston as an example—that city piloted a free Silver Line bus to Logan Airport in 2012, and saw an 18% jump in public transit ridership in the first year. If the (MTA) saw such an increase, the report estimates, the transit authority would see an additional $587,000 annually in subway fares. The Alliance also argues that signage for the Q70, arguably the most efficient route to LGA, does not specify its airport access. The new Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle they've conceived would be bright blue and clearly marked, equipped with airport maps and airline directories on the interior. The Q70 currently runs 24 hours a day, but infrequently during off peak hours. The free shuttle would run every ten minutes through the night, with countdown clocks. Within a few hours of the Alliance's report being released—and concurrent with its rejection of a second free transfer for pay-by-ride straphangers—the (MTA) has already issued a strong statement in opposition to the plan. "We wholeheartedly disagree with the premise that this could all be done at no cost to the MTA," said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. "First of all, one-fourth of riders do not come from the subway and don’t use the free transfer, and thus we would lose money on one out of every four customers under their plan." "If ridership would continue to grow on the route to the level they claim, we would have to add service, and that costs money," he added. "And where would we find the buses?" Kabak conceded that the subway's ability to handle the additional ridership that a free shuttle would hypothetically invite "is another question."

 

Source: http://gothamist.com/2015/11/23/lga_shuttle_bus.php

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I'm not supporting getting rid of the Q70. It may be infrequent, but (technically) you are getting a free ride on the bus if you take the subway. I rather have the LGA consumers take a cab or hitch a ride with a friend than have the PANY&NJ spend money on a Bus shuttle.

Aren't they already trying to build an airtrain that would go to Citifield and Flushing?

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The Port Authority has their own buses at the airport..let them run it and pay for it

^This.

 

What they really need are more metrocard buying options at the airports in general such as machines close to exits or something. The fact that they don't have them at JFK is even worse especially with the fact that the Air Train is used a whole lot more than the bus, and Jamaica Station turns into a mob desperate for Metrocards.

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^This.

 

What they really need are more metrocard buying options at the airports in general such as machines close to exits or something. The fact that they don't have them at JFK is even worse especially with the fact that the Air Train is used a whole lot more than the bus, and Jamaica Station turns into a mob desperate for Metrocards.

Agreed. I cannot tell you have many times passengers have come up to me on the AirTrain asking where they can buy "tickets" for the subway and having to explain several times while heading to or leaving work.

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in the facebook i suggested i'd only allow a free transfer to the subway and likewise the other way around and agree with the vending machine within airport confines, don't they have vending machines within jfk?

Edited by BreeddekalbL

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Typical (MTA). They seem to be doing everything to discourage ridership. Stop complaining about running service and find a way to make it. Christ. The population is growing here and they are just doing everything possible tie be stingy with service. Local bus service at that...

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Sigh if the Q70 is free then JFK riders are going to ride for free. These people are asking for too much. They should be thankful the MTA broke up the Q33 route to support a direct LGA route. The Q70 doesn't even warrant 10 minute headways at night and on top of that countdown clocks. Bus time should be good enough for now. There should however be Metrocard machines at airports where you can get or fill the cards and breaks down the fare system.

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Sigh if the Q70 is free then JFK riders are going to ride for free. These people are asking for too much. They should be thankful the MTA broke up the Q33 route to support a direct LGA route. The Q70 doesn't even warrant 10 minute headways at night and on top of that countdown clocks. Bus time should be good enough for now. There should however be Metrocard machines at airports where you can get or fill the cards and breaks down the fare system.

But the Q70 doesn't run on 10 minute headways at all, it most frequently part of the day sees service every 12 minutes. Late night service is every 20 minutes, but that's more of an operational issue. Either way, with 30 minute headways, you'll need two buses on the line at the same time. So they run it at 20 as a convenience. 

 

On a side note: I see they managed to somehow have used my picture of 3575 in their report. Interesting.

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Sigh if the Q70 is free then JFK riders are going to ride for free. These people are asking for too much. They should be thankful the MTA broke up the Q33 route to support a direct LGA route. The Q70 doesn't even warrant 10 minute headways at night and on top of that countdown clocks. Bus time should be good enough for now. There should however be Metrocard machines at airports where you can get or fill the cards and breaks down the fare system.

On top of that, the Q70 gets packed! Ridership is actually pretty damn good on that line as it is, so I don't see why they would have to resort to running a free bus.

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"The Alliance also argues that signage for the Q70, arguably the most efficient route to LGA, does not specify its airport access."

 

You can't be serious...

 

That's a plane on the sign, it specifies (in order) what terminals it stops at, it's own separate bus stops outside the airport (purple signs with an airplane on it), and the signs themselves are big and bright.

 

...what more do they want?

 

Even with 20 minute headways overnight, it's still one of the most frequent overnight buses. The M60 is 30 I think, and the B15 is the best with 15-20 at a certain time.

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"The Alliance also argues that signage for the Q70, arguably the most efficient route to LGA, does not specify its airport access."

 

You can't be serious...

 

That's a plane on the sign, it specifies (in order) what terminals it stops at, it's own separate bus stops outside the airport (purple signs with an airplane on it), and the signs themselves are big and bright.

 

...what more do they want?

 

Even with 20 minute headways overnight, it's still one of the most frequent overnight buses. The M60 is 30 I think, and the B15 is the best with 15-20 at a certain time.

I think the (MTA) should stop objecting and work with them to come to a middle ground.  I'm personally becoming annoyed with how the whole damn system is being run these days.  They're cutting service to the bone on all buses, doing next to nothing to make service better, and then anytime a service increase is proposed, 9 times out of 10 they're already finding ways to object to them.  It's absurd.  Their job is to get people out of their cars here and get them on public transit, and it seems if they're doing the complete opposite.  Now I don't want them to break the bank, but if they can make this line more successful and give riders more frequent service, I say why not?  Stop with the gazillion excuses and make it happen!  Quite frankly I would like to see more pressure put on them to improve service overall in the system from the subways to the buses because it's been pathetic of late.  

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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What about Riders Alliance premise the making the bus free won't cost anything. They claim a free bus would attract passengers. So what! Financially that woudn't matter since the additional passengers wouldn't be paying anything so I fail to see their argument. But I can see te MTA's argument that more service will cost more. So the question comes down again to who will pay for it?

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It's already "free" if you are getting on/coming from the subway or another bus, which most people riding it are, so what's the point of making this argument..?

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What about Riders Alliance premise the making the bus free won't cost anything. They claim a free bus would attract passengers. So what! Financially that woudn't matter since the additional passengers wouldn't be paying anything so I fail to see their argument. But I can see te MTA's argument that more service will cost more. So the question comes down again to who will pay for it?

They're already getting a free transfer as it is if they're coming from the subway so what's your point?  Their argument is that you would attract more fares because you would have more people riding the subway, who would be PAYING at that point. 

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I think the (MTA) should stop objecting and work with them to come to a middle ground. I'm personally becoming annoyed with how the whole damn system is being run these days. They're cutting service to the bone on all buses, doing next to nothing to make service better, and then anytime a service increase is proposed, 9 times out of 10 they're already finding ways to object to them. It's absurd. Their job is to get people out of their cars here and get them on public transit, and it seems if they're doing the complete opposite. Now I don't want them to break the bank, but if they can make this line more successful and give riders more frequent service, I say why not? Stop with the gazillion excuses and make it happen! Quite frankly I would like to see more pressure put on them to improve service overall in the system from the subways to the buses because it's been pathetic of late.

You completely skirted past my point. The Q70 is already one of the most frequent buses overnight compared to every other line which runs 45-70 minutes (if it even runs at all).

 

You can't pump any more buses on an already frequent line, 20 minutes is more than enough for overnight headways. Its not like its deathly crowded 4 in the morning.

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Perhaps a good middle ground could be making it an SBS route. That way, at least it wouldn't be slowed down at stops for fare payment.

 

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a free subway shuttle, but the MTA probably won't budge with something like that. If there's ever going to be a free subway shuttle, it'll have to be run or at the very least subsidized by the Port Authority.

 

The real solution is rail, and when I say rail, I don't mean that stupid AirTrain route to connect with an overcrowded subway and an LIRR station that trains never stop at. I mean a subway to the airport, like every other major city in the world. The N (and Q, although by the time this becomes a thing, IF it becomes a thing, it'll be the W) should be extended along the Grand Central Parkway to LGA. It's the best solution: the N terminates so close to LaGuardia, right along the Grand Central Parkway, and then goes into the heart of midtown Manhattan. Perhaps trains between LGA and Manhattan in the peak direction could use the center express track on the BMT Astoria Line. That way, there can be the business/tourist express between LaGuardia and Manhattan's central business district.

 

It's been proposed many times, many ways. Make it happen.

 

TL;DR: while a free shuttle would be good, what we really need is to extend the N train to LGA. Till then, an incremental improvement such as a Port Authority-operated free shuttle or a Q70 SBS would help. However, the MTA is unlikely to drop the fare unless someone (cough it up, Port Authority!) covers their losses.

Edited by JGMR

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They're already getting a free transfer as it is if they're coming from the subway so what's your point?  Their argument is that you would attract more fares because you would have more people riding the subway, who would be PAYING at that point.

 

They're already getting a free transfer as it is if they're coming from the subway so what's your point?  Their argument is that you would attract more fares because you would have more people riding the subway, who would be PAYING at that point.

 

What you are saying makes no sense because the bus is already free if you are riding the subway. Subway riders will not be saving any money so why should it encourage more subway riders? But the MTA's point does make sense that more bus riders will mean more service is necessary and that will cost much money if no one on the bus is paying.

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You completely skirted past my point. The Q70 is already one of the most frequent buses overnight compared to every other line which runs 45-70 minutes (if it even runs at all).

 

You can't pump any more buses on an already frequent line, 20 minutes is more than enough for overnight headways. Its not like its deathly crowded 4 in the morning.

Not at all.  Who cares about what "other" routes have?  La Guardia is undergoing an enormous transformation, one which would make it a major hub to rival JFK.  The (MTA) isn't stupid. They know how to make the argument that increased frequencies will draw more ridership when they want to, as they've done it in the past.  The fact of the matter is they're going to look for anything to object to this plan because they don't want to run more service.  Your way of thinking would set the system back some 20 years.  Years ago we didn't have SBS service either, so I suppose the (MTA) should've said well buses provide limited stop service or local stop service, so that's good enough.  That's preposterous.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with entertaining the idea and seeing if it would be feasible to run more service. Looking at the future, we need to get more people into the transit system in this city if we're going to remain a viable place from an economic standpoint, and the reality is that transit here SUCKS, which is why more and more people are hopping in their cars and ditching public transit entirely.  The (MTA) has very quietly been discontinuing overnight service on a lot of lines, and the ones that remain, they're providing the bare bones which essentially forces people to either wait for long periods of time OR drive or take a cab.  It sends a signal that those people don't matter.  Now I'm not saying that they need buses every 5 minutes, but they should be a real study to see how feasible such a service would be before concluding that it wouldn't work, which they clearly are stating at the moment.

What you are saying makes no sense because the bus is already free if you are riding the subway. Subway riders will not be saving any money so why should it encourage more subway riders? But the MTA's point does make sense that more bus riders will mean more service is necessary and that will cost much money if no one on the bus is paying.

It makes perfect sense.  The argument here is to attract NEW riders into the system that would otherwise NOT use it.  What isn't clear about that?? Additionally, I'm not exactly sure how adding a bus or two would break the bank if you get substantial ridership to justify such service increases, OR better yet, if you don't have to provide more bus service but you get more riders using the existing service, that's a win for the (MTA).

 

Let's speak hypothetically though and say that they had to add one or two more buses.  You can't possibly sit here with a straight face and claim that's going to be so expensive...

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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What you are saying makes no sense because the bus is already free if you are riding the subway. Subway riders will not be saving any money so why should it encourage more subway riders? But the MTA's point does make sense that more bus riders will mean more service is necessary and that will cost much money if no one on the bus is paying.

 

The idea is that since most of these people already have free transfers, just letting them board for free is going to drastically speed up the boarding process, and thus the travel time, enticing more people by making the option more time competitive.

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Perhaps a good middle ground could be making it an SBS route. That way, at least it wouldn't be slowed down at stops for fare payment.

 

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a free subway shuttle, but the MTA probably won't budge with something like that. If there's ever going to be a free subway shuttle, it'll have to be run or at the very least subsidized by the Port Authority.

 

The real solution is rail, and when I say rail, I don't mean that stupid AirTrain route to connect with an overcrowded subway and an LIRR station that trains never stop at. I mean a subway to the airport, like every other major city in the world. The N (and Q, although by the time this becomes a thing, IF it becomes a thing, it'll be the W) should be extended along the Grand Central Parkway to LGA. It's the best solution: the N terminates so close to LaGuardia, right along the Grand Central Parkway, and then goes into the heart of midtown Manhattan. Perhaps trains between LGA and Manhattan in the peak direction could use the center express track on the BMT Astoria Line. That way, there can be the business/tourist express between LaGuardia and Manhattan's central business district.

 

It's been proposed many times, many ways. Make it happen.

 

TL;DR: while a free shuttle would be good, what we really need is to extend the N train to LGA. Till then, an incremental improvement such as a Port Authority-operated free shuttle or a Q70 SBS would help. However, the MTA is unlikely to drop the fare unless someone (cough it up, Port Authority!) covers their losses.

I don't see anything wrong with the AirTrain.  I've used everytime I've flown out of JFK.  It's very fast and frequent.  What I have not done (and won't do) is take the subway or local bus there.  I've always used car service.  The (MTA) should look into a few premium services such as the LIRR.  You want to get suits out of cars?  Well they sure as hell aren't going to use the subway.

The idea is that since most of these people already have free transfers, just letting them board for free is going to drastically speed up the boarding process, and thus the travel time, enticing more people by making the option more time competitive.

He's anti-SBS anyway, so he's not going to get your concept.  :lol:

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Not at all. Who cares about what "other" routes have? La Guardia is undergoing an enormous transformation, one which would make it a major hub to rival JFK. The (MTA) isn't stupid. They know how to make the argument that increased frequencies will draw more ridership when they want to, as they've done it in the past. The fact of the matter is they're going to look for anything to object to this plan because they don't want to run more service. Your way of thinking would set the system back some 20 years. Years ago we didn't have SBS service either, so I suppose the (MTA) should've said well buses provide limited stop service or local stop service, so that's good enough. That's preposterous. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with entertaining the idea and seeing if it would be feasible to run more service. Looking at the future, we need to get more people into the transit system in this city if we're going to remain a viable place from an economic standpoint, and the reality is that transit here SUCKS, which is why more and more people are hopping in their cars and ditching public transit entirely. The (MTA) has very quietly been discontinuing overnight service on a lot of lines, and the ones that remain, they're providing the bare bones which essentially forces people to either wait for long periods of time OR drive or take a cab. It sends a signal that those people don't matter. Now I'm not saying that they need buses every 5 minutes, but they should be a real study to see how feasible such a service would be before concluding that it wouldn't work, which they clearly are stating at the moment.

 

It makes perfect sense. The argument here is to attract NEW riders into the system that would otherwise NOT use it. What isn't clear about that?? Additionally, I'm not exactly sure how adding a bus or two would break the bank if you get substantial ridership to justify such service increases, OR better yet, if you don't have to provide more bus service but you get more riders using the existing service, that's a win for the (MTA).

 

Let's speak hypothetically though and say that they had to add one or two more buses. You can't possibly sit here with a straight face and claim that's going to be so expensive...

Let me make a few things clear. I agree with you on the following points. Yes we need to address congestion. Yes we need to provide more transit service to make the system more attractive. I took long bus rides to and from my doctor this afternoon because my car is in the shop, otherwise I would have driven in a third the time. Other than the long time the trip took, the waits weren't bad at all. My complaints were that all the buses were overcrowded the entire trip during the midday. If you want people to leave their cars home, that won't be accomplished by running a packed system during the off-peak. Loading guidelines being followed is BS.

 

I also want to say that the MTA was wrong for dismissing the idea out of hand without even stating they will look at it. They need to evaluate it and come up with a cost, not just say we can't do it because it will cost too much. But I understand by they would be against it. More than the additional cost, they don't want to set a precedent of operating free buses. Because then others will say if this route, why not the M60, and if LGA can have free buses, why not JFK? I am not saying that reasoning is a good enough reason, just that I can understand why they would be afraid.

 

And I understand the point about making it free reducing loading times and making the service quicker but I question how much time would actually be saved if there are few stops were people are getting on and off. The question still remains who will pay for it? Some revenue would be lost even if it is from a small portion of existing riders. And there is a relation between additional riders being added to the system and additional service being necessary, which does cost money. Your point is that it wouldn't be significant. I also agree, revenue shouldn't be the only thing the MTA needs to consider when making its decisions. It is really very miopic thinking especially when they say they want to encourage the use of transit. The fact is they really don't and want to provide the least amount of service they can get away with politically. On second thought it may not be such a bad idea but it needs to be studied. I think making MetroCards available at LGA and better publicizing the route would do more to encourage ridership than making it free.

 

And being anti-SBS is irrelevant. I do get bobtehpanda's point.

Edited by BrooklynBus
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Not at all. Who cares about what "other" routes have? La Guardia is undergoing an enormous transformation, one which would make it a major hub to rival JFK. The (MTA) isn't stupid. They know how to make the argument that increased frequencies will draw more ridership when they want to, as they've done it in the past. The fact of the matter is they're going to look for anything to object to this plan because they don't want to run more service. Your way of thinking would set the system back some 20 years. Years ago we didn't have SBS service either, so I suppose the (MTA) should've said well buses provide limited stop service or local stop service, so that's good enough. That's preposterous. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with entertaining the idea and seeing if it would be feasible to run more service. Looking at the future, we need to get more people into the transit system in this city if we're going to remain a viable place from an economic standpoint, and the reality is that transit here SUCKS, which is why more and more people are hopping in their cars and ditching public transit entirely. The (MTA) has very quietly been discontinuing overnight service on a lot of lines, and the ones that remain, they're providing the bare bones which essentially forces people to either wait for long periods of time OR drive or take a cab. It sends a signal that those people don't matter. Now I'm not saying that they need buses every 5 minutes, but they should be a real study to see how feasible such a service would be before concluding that it wouldn't work, which they clearly are stating at the moment.

LGA for the most part is dead at night. Hardly anything runs out of it at night (if anything at all), and that's why 2 of the 4 lines that serve it don't run overnight. Even when the M60 wasn't SBS, it still ran the same headways overnight and that was the ONLY line to serve LGA at that time. You can't compare it to JFK as it is larger, and has 24-hour flights. All of the buses there run overnight; the Q3 & 10 every 20 minutes, and the B15 every 15-30 minutes.

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LGA for the most part is dead at night. Hardly anything runs out of it at night (if anything at all), and that's why 2 of the 4 lines that serve it don't run overnight. Even when the M60 wasn't SBS, it still ran the same headways overnight and that was the ONLY line to serve LGA at that time. You can't compare it to JFK as it is larger, and has 24-hour flights. All of the buses there run overnight; the Q3 & 10 every 20 minutes, and the B15 every 15-30 minutes.

I know about all of that as I have been to LaGuardia with friends to pick up their friends coming back through there. That will change though, and so the status quo can't and should not remain the same. Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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in the facebook i suggested i'd only allow a free transfer to the subway and likewise the other way around and agree with the vending machine within airport confines, don't they have vending machines within jfk?

I don't think JFK Airport Terminal 5 don't have MVM and so does Marine Air Terminal at LGA.

Problem with machines are Credit/Debit/ATM Card holders only.

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