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Via Garibaldi 8

MTA Cites On-Time Bus Service... From Just 42 High-Volume Routes Across Five Boroughs

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Hurry up and wait MTA says buses are running on time Harried commuters tell a different story

 

Posted  April 7, 2017
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Riders press together to get onto a Bx7 bus as a Bx10 arrives at West 231st and Broadway.
 
Aaron Mayorga
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WHAT WE DID

Press reporters Anthony Capote and Lisa Herndon conducted a non-scientific study of buses in the northwest Bronx, standing at three different stops for an hour each, comparing the posted schedule to the times when buses actually arrived.

 

They also compared buses to one another, trying to determine which was late more often, and measuring the average time straphangers waited between buses at different locations.

 

Northbound buses were surveyed at the Riverdale Monument from 1 to 2 p.m., and at West 231st Street and Broadway from 9 to 10 a.m. Southbound buses were observed leaving from West 263rd Street and Riverdale Avenue from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

 
 
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By Anthony Capote and Lisa Herndon

The mornings of many in the northwest Bronx might sound eerily similar: People wake up, brush their teeth, maybe take a shower, get dressed, have breakfast if they aren’t too late, and rush out the door. 

Then comes the waiting. Bronxites know all about waiting. 

 

In a borough where moving from east to west is nearly impossible by train, most commuters have to rely on buses — a word that is almost always discussed in the plural — to get to and from work, school, and countless other errands throughout the week. 

 

In the Bronx, riding the bus is nearly synonymous with waiting for the bus. Sometimes if enough time passes between buses, straphangers swap stories about their longest wait times, including one night when riders waited at the corner of West 259th Street and Riverdale Avenue for more than an hour. 

 

In Riverdale, two bus lines seem to stand out. The Bx7 and Bx10, which service those areas furthest from Broadway and the elevated No. 1 subway line. As a result, they have been the object of countless complaints to local elected officials. 

 

In June, for example, more than 1,000 riders of the Bx10 signed a petition, warranting a response from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, who said it would try to increase Bx10 service. The official reason MTA shared in January was a five percent increase in Bx10 ridership since 2011. 

 

Testing testy buses

MTA officials have repeatedly said their bus service is up to par, but an informal survey by The Press which tracked the timing for Bx7 and Bx10 buses at various location along their routes this past week told a different story. 

 

The findings, while not a scientific sample size, showed both routes have significant issues regarding timeliness, often leaving riders waiting as long as 20 minutes during morning and afternoon rushes. 

 

During one session at West 231st Street on Friday morning, the sidewalk regularly filled up with would-be bus riders while they waited for both the Bx7 and Bx10 buses. At two different points within the hour, 30 people had piled onto the sidewalk waiting for a bus. 

 

MTA reports wait time statistics twice yearly, hoping to help riders rely on posted schedules and giving them an accurate idea of when the next bus is coming. Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, said buses were typically off-schedule by just three minutes during rush hour, and no more than five minutes the rest of the day. 

 

The data, Ortiz said, is compiled from 42 high-volume routes across all five boroughs.

 

Yet, those figures don’t appear to represent the reality many Bx10 and Bx7 riders experience during their morning commute. 

Stefany Almanzar typically plans for the delays when she takes the Bx7, saying she knows generally what times the bus will be more off-schedule than others.

 

“I just feel like there is certain times of day that it just takes too long,” Almanzar said. “After 7 (p.m.) during the week, I’ll say it’s 20 minutes.”

 

Wait times between buses from 9 to 10 a.m. on Friday, according to The Press investigation, averaged out to just under 14 minutes for the Bx10, and a little more than 10 minutes for the Bx7. 

 

The Bx7 during that period was closest to the mark, deviating just three or so minutes from the posted schedule. The Bx10, however, told a different story entirely. 

 

On average for all the Bx10s measured, buses arrived or departed a little more than 5 minutes off-schedule, and more than 3 minutes late. 

 

During the same measurement period on Friday morning, buses came as many as eight minutes late, and three minutes early.

While buses arriving early may not seem like a bad thing, it’s worth remembering riders rely heavily on posted schedules, typically planning to catch on a specific bus. If that bus comes early, commuters who planned to leave at a certain time wind up having to wait for the next bus.

 

Bus Bunching

Jeffrey Dinowitz, the state assemblyman who chairs the public authorities and commissions committee, said one major issue he has with local buses is something called “bus bunching.”

 

Bus bunching occurs when two or more buses on the same route catch up to one another, all arriving at one stop at the same time. It’s a sign, Dinowitz said, that one bus is so late, it’s caught up with the others. That particular bus becomes useless, because it either picking up too many passengers, or none. 

 

Nearly a third of the buses measured by The Press throughout the week were bunched. On Friday morning, for example, more than half of the Bx10 buses passing from 9 to 10 a.m. were bunched. At one point, three arrived at the same time, leaving some riders waiting at the stop for more than 20 minutes. 

 

The MTA monitors bunching using BusTrek, an application that provides real-time location services for straphangers waiting at any given stop. It’s also the primary source of data for the MTA Bus Time app on smartphones, which help show where buses are to riders, all in real time.

 

What remains unclear, though, is the exact number of people who know about or use the application, which doesn’t seem very popular based on online reviews. It’s also not clear how effective BusTrek has been at reducing bunching throughout the city.

 

Looking for answers

It is isn’t clear exactly how to fix chronic issues with buses, or how riders should react to them, but some riders and elected officials have a few ideas. 

 

Dinowitz, for example, has said the MTA should consider changing or rerouting some buses. He often has used the Bx10 as an example of a route that has gone unchanged since his childhood, running from the northernmost section of the Bronx in Riverdale, to Norwood, near the center of the borough. 

 

MTA regularly monitors routes and considers service changes, Ortiz said, but those rarely occur. 

 

 Some riders have said a lack of MetroCard kiosks or ticketing options have hindered them while trying to get on a bus. 

Maisha Williams, for example, lives in Yonkers and commutes in the city on the Bx7. She hops on the bus at West 263rd Street and Riverdale Avenue, where there are no nearby train stations for her to refill her card. Oftentimes she has to resort to carrying around change to pay her fare. 

 

“You have to go far and wide to get a card, or you have to make sure you get one before you come,” she said. “They need to have more Metro Card machines accessible like they have on the express bus.”

 

Source: http://riverdalepress.com/stories/hurry-up-and-wait,62176

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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(MTA) and buses...

 

Aside from bunching like I experienced when I lived on the Bx12, I could tell you stories about late buses.

 

Notwithstanding buses leaving St George stupidly late, I'd wait at W'burg Bridge Plaza for the Q59 or B32 to get to the office and would see these drivers bullshitting with each other and supervisors up to 15 minutes past scheduled departure.

 

Same with taking the B52/26/38 to my (ex)lady's house - waiting at the terminal downtown and they're nowhere near the buses until way after departure, then buses are bunching.

 

And on SI, S52s get cancelled with the bus at the Ferry because driver's chopping it up with DOT or NYPD employees.

 

Seems to me that a lot of this shitty bus service is down to bad employees not being held accountable more do than traffic conditions. Granted, makes more sense for a bus to arrive 1-3 minutes after the posted time so folks aren't missing the needed bus because of some random minor delay, but the way these delays happen regularly outside Manhattan, it's insane.

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I see more abandoned intervals (no-shows and deadheading) than anything else, which is another thing that should be addressed because the deadheads really hurt those who are near the beginning point of the route.

 

I can't tell you how many times I've walked down Fordham because a SBS Bx12 no-showed at Jerome, only to see it deadheading down Kingsbridge (from Inwood they go off-route and just stay on Broadway, over that bridge into Marble Hill, right on 225th and straight across Kingsbridge) and start picking up passengers at Fordham Plaza.

Edited by paulrivera
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From what I recall, they would release the stats for those 42 routes (with BusTime, I don't see why they can't just monitor it for all routes, like these unofficial stats from a few years ago).

 

But from what I remember, a lot of routes were in the 80% range (in terms of arriving less than 3-5 minutes late)

 

Also, this post is interesting (and I agree that they should publicize how delayed the passengers are, rather than how delayed the actual buses are, or better yet, publish stats for both).

 

Then of course, as the poster on the bottom mentions, you have to estimate missed transfers too. (If a bus comes late, but you still make the transfer, the effective delay is zero. If you miss it, then the delay is whatever the wait is for the next connection)

Edited by checkmatechamp13
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Look at what they call Performance Indicators. It's like totally useless. Nothing about bus on time performance. They have something like % completed trips which is like 99 percent. Why is there nothing about number of stops flagged? A bus running half the route with a Next Bus Please sign should not count as a fully completed trip.

 

Even the ridership numbers shown are meaningless because it only shows ridership to date. If you want to search for the pages comparing yearly or weekday ridership you have to Google it. There is no way to get to it through a search on the MTA website. All searches on the website only takes you to old press releases not to relevant pages on the website. And they have the nerve to call this "Transparency". Nothing about the MTA is transparent.

 

http://web.mta.info/persdashboard/performance14.html#

Edited by BrooklynBus
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(MTA) and buses...

 

Aside from bunching like I experienced when I lived on the Bx12, I could tell you stories about late buses.

 

Notwithstanding buses leaving St George stupidly late, I'd wait at W'burg Bridge Plaza for the Q59 or B32 to get to the office and would see these drivers bullshitting with each other and supervisors up to 15 minutes past scheduled departure.

 

 

 

i see something similar everyday on the Q47 by atlas mall. The bus parks by the mall, driver BS around and kills time. After waiting 15-20 minutes for a bus, another Q47 or two pulls up next to him. All of a sudden, all 3 bus are now in service and heading to LGA

 

according to the mta schedule, this bus should run every 7-10 minutes.yet it don't due to drivers BS around at the terminal.

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i see something similar everyday on the Q47 by atlas mall. The bus parks by the mall, driver BS around and kills time. After waiting 15-20 minutes for a bus, another Q47 or two pulls up next to him. All of a sudden, all 3 bus are now in service and heading to LGA

 

according to the mta schedule, this bus should run every 7-10 minutes.yet it don't due to drivers BS around at the terminal.

Exactly. Imagine the service improvement if drivers were held accountable for deliberately being late.

 

Seems to me that with BusTime/BusTrek - since GPS is a main component of the system(s), combining that with Waze (like PA is doing), managers should be able to see if traffic is making these buses late or if drivers are bullshitting and departing late or driving slow for the hell of it.

 

Granted, in Sacramento I used to hate when RT drivers would sit at a bus stop for minutes on end midroute so I'd miss a bus that'd get me to Sac State faster than my normal bus. But they do that when running ahead of schedule.

 

But these (MTA) drivers man...

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Maybe the (MTA) should keep these 42 routes for themselves and sell the rest back to the city so they can bring back the PBL's...

 

Let's bring in Keolis for Brooklyn/Queens, Academy for Staten Island, and Liberty Lines for Manhattan/The Bronx! stirthepot.gif

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This may not mean much, but just curious. Was this experiment on a rainy day? Judging by the photos taken, it was raining that day.. as well as bunched up traffic right behind the buses. We have to give the drivers the benefit of the doubt when its raining. We all know rain causes delays, specially on the streets of NY.

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This may not mean much, but just curious. Was this experiment on a rainy day? Judging by the photos taken, it was raining that day.. as well as bunched up traffic right behind the buses. We have to give the drivers the benefit of the doubt when its raining. We all know rain causes delays, specially on the streets of NY.

Please. Rain means don't take the bus. It's that simple.

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Please. Rain means don't take the bus. It's that simple.

What? Im just saying that if its raining out, I would think it would have an effect on traffic. Thus.. making buses run late. Running an experiment when its raining out wouldnt have the same results when its sunny out. Thats just my opinion, not saying we shouldnt take the bus when it rains.

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What? Im just saying that if its raining out, I would think it would have an effect on traffic. Thus.. making buses run late. Running an experiment when its raining out wouldnt have the same results when its sunny out. Thats just my opinion, not saying we shouldnt take the bus when it rains.

You know that experiments don't take place all in one day right? It takes time to collect data, and unless it somehow rained all week/all month, rain is almost non-existent in this test.
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What? Im just saying that if its raining out, I would think it would have an effect on traffic. Thus.. making buses run late. Running an experiment when its raining out wouldnt have the same results when its sunny out. Thats just my opinion, not saying we shouldnt take the bus when it rains.

 

If the rain caused my commute option to crap itself, it'd be an awful commute option.

Edited by bobtehpanda
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This may not mean much, but just curious. Was this experiment on a rainy day? Judging by the photos taken, it was raining that day.. as well as bunched up traffic right behind the buses. We have to give the drivers the benefit of the doubt when its raining. We all know rain causes delays, specially on the streets of NY.

You ask a question, then commence making commentary that is suggestive of biased sampling....

 

Simply put, you're reading too much into the pictures (which is what whoever it is that came out with this article probably wants; it's disingenuity at it's finest & you seem to be buying it hook, line, and sinker with this spiel of yours).....

 

What? Im just saying that if its raining out, I would think it would have an effect on traffic. Thus.. making buses run late. Running an experiment when its raining out wouldnt have the same results when its sunny out. Thats just my opinion, not saying we shouldnt take the bus when it rains.

That reply in question was a sarcastic dig at this spiel you're going on....

 

You're coming across as an MTA apologist with this [rain] vs.[when it's not raining] thing right now..... Nobody's disputing any of that; the problem quite frankly is, it's not the issue..... I mean really, the overall timeliness of buses in this city isn't about the freakin rain, so enough of this already....

 

If the rain caused my commute option to crap itself, it'd be an awful commute option.

It'd be a mode I'd completely refrain from using!

Edited by B35 via Church
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If the rain caused my commute option to crap itself, it'd be an awful commute option.

It's really come to that point. If you're going to take the bus these days, you had better give yourself tons of extra time or be prepared to be late to whereever you're going. It's just a question of how severe the lateness will be. Even on weekends buses are crawling more and more.

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It's really come to that point. If you're going to take the bus these days, you had better give yourself tons of extra time or be prepared to be late to whereever you're going. It's just a question of how severe the lateness will be. Even on weekends buses are crawling more and more.

 

Fortunately, I have never had to adjust my commute patterns over the years, if only because the bus for me has always been a terrible option out in Eastern Queens.

 

That being said, I tried Uber out there last time, and it was rough, to the point where I wouldn't consider taking it over the bus. Is Uber just worse out in the far outer boorughs?

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Fortunately, I have never had to adjust my commute patterns over the years, if only because the bus for me has always been a terrible option out in Eastern Queens.

 

That being said, I tried Uber out there last time, and it was rough, to the point where I wouldn't consider taking it over the bus. Is Uber just worse out in the far outer boorughs?

lol I think it depends on the neighborhood. Once three of us were waiting for the Hudson Raillink. The bus never came so this chick called for Uber and there was one within minutes. I was impressed. She invited us along and the ride was very comfy and quick. I was so pleased that I gave the guy $5.00 even though the chick had already paid and tipped him.

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Fortunately, I have never had to adjust my commute patterns over the years, if only because the bus for me has always been a terrible option out in Eastern Queens.

 

That being said, I tried Uber out there last time, and it was rough, to the point where I wouldn't consider taking it over the bus. Is Uber just worse out in the far outer boorughs?

They generally (like to) run in "trendy" areas, so, no... it's not just the far outerboroughs by a longshot....

 

I remember reading someone's article about these taxicab services & I'm inclined to believe there's a ring of truth to it.... Much like people that go to dog parks to socialize, drivers are also doing this with lyft, uber, etc etc.... People wanting to drive for these companies isn't as much about making money as it's being lead on....

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They generally (like to) run in "trendy" areas, so, no... it's not just the far outerboroughs by a longshot....

 

I remember reading someone's article about these taxicab services & I'm inclined to believe there's a ring of truth to it.... Much like people that go to dog parks to socialize, drivers are also doing this with lyft, uber, etc etc.... People wanting to drive for these companies isn't as much about making money as it's being lead on....

 

Not only the trendy areas, but the app shows us drivers/messengers the most busiest places to be around to make the most money with or without surge pricing(I work for their messenger division, and the earnings is on point). This is part of the reason why you'll see a ton of Ubers in one allocated location at times. A lot of people are fighting for those requests. The algorithm that updates the busiest spots is a rather slick one, as it updates over time. So one minute, you could be in the East Village making a decent amount, the next hour or so, the algorithm changes to other busy places based on customer usage.

 

Fact is, Manhattan is, and always will be their biggest market for drivers, since it pays the most to a certain degree. Brooklyn comes in a very close 2nd place.

Edited by Cait Sith

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They generally (like to) run in "trendy" areas, so, no... it's not just the far outerboroughs by a longshot....

 

I remember reading someone's article about these taxicab services & I'm inclined to believe there's a ring of truth to it.... Much like people that go to dog parks to socialize, drivers are also doing this with lyft, uber, etc etc.... People wanting to drive for these companies isn't as much about making money as it's being lead on....

 

From what I understand Uber drivers don't make nearly enough to eke out a living after the car costs, the depreciation, and the taxes, esp. since Uber has rules on how old an Uber car can be and they don't give out any sort of health insurance or benefits.

 

At the same time Uber basically destroyed the green taxis before they took off, and is taking a huge chunk out of the yellow cabs as well, so we're all in a counterproductive race to the bottom on this one.

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From what I understand Uber drivers don't make nearly enough to eke out a living after the car costs, the depreciation, and the taxes, esp. since Uber has rules on how old an Uber car can be and they don't give out any sort of health insurance or benefits.

 

At the same time Uber basically destroyed the green taxis before they took off, and is taking a huge chunk out of the yellow cabs as well, so we're all in a counterproductive race to the bottom on this one.

We need competition. Uber has deep pockets and offers other incentives that drivers don't receive at other places, so it isn't all about the money. The reality is they've forced the competition to step up their game, buses included. Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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We need competition. Uber has deep pockets and offers other incentives that drivers don't receive at other places, so it isn't all about the money. The reality is they've forced the competition to step up their game, buses included.

 

It's no secret that Uber bleeds money like there's no tomorrow. I'm sure that if the MTA were allowed to bleed a billion dollars a quarter, that service would be fantastic and the fares cheap.

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