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Via Garibaldi 8

When Can We Expect Results From Andy Byford?

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There has been a lot of praise about Andy Byford and his experience and success with other transit systems, and certainly that can't be overlooked. He's said a lot of the "right things", but as a rider and a transit advocate who is been extremely critical of the (MTA) over the years, the question that I have is when will we as the riding public start to see results? I could've asked this in the subway forum too, but in my mind, our bus system is in greater peril than our subways. We've heard a lot of vague ideas thrown around. I know there's a line by line analysis being conducted with buses, but what does that even mean?

Our subways face severe constraints to provide more service that is sorely needed, but how will Byford revamp our bus system to make it more attractive? One of the things that I've been frustrated by as a rider are these antiquated schedules, and by that I mean after off-peak it's like no one is supposed to use buses.  If we're talking about a true revamp, when in the hell will we see more service off-peak? For example, we have tons of local bus lines running essentially like express buses in that off-peak service is run to the bare bones at 20 - 30 minute waits officially and often times longer unofficially due to late buses or no-shows.  We know that such headways are generally a turn-off to riders, and so what are some things that Byford may be looking at to improve the customer experience with buses?

I have been lobbying for better Sunday service in my neighborhood for years. I am not happy with hourly express bus service, and more times than not, the buses are late, which further elongates my commute getting to and from places, and having spoken with residents in my neighborhood, many of them opt to not use the express buses on Sundays due to such limited service. With that said, we also have a lot of schedules that haven't seen any improvements since the 2010 cuts.  Discuss... What are some things that you think Byford can look at to improve service and not break the purse strings?

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One of the first things he should do would be to have the operators actually go 25mph instead of the 15mph that’s in the rulebook. They should also be instructed to not stop at a green light unless there’s an obstructed bus stop ahead.

Those two methods would cost literally nothing to implement.

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2 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

There has been a lot of praise about Andy Byford and his experience and success with other transit systems, and certainly that can't be overlooked. He's said a lot of the "right things", but as a rider and a transit advocate who is been extremely critical of the (MTA) over the years, the question that I have is when will we as the riding public start to see results?

 

Let's see... Every time a new U.S. President takes office, critics expect his entire agenda to be completed (i.e. fully implemented) on Day One.  That's unrealistic at the national level, and it might also be slightly unrealistic at the local transit level. Give it some time.

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1 hour ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

 

Let's see... Every time a new U.S. President takes office, critics expect his entire agenda to be completed (i.e. fully implemented) on Day One.  That's unrealistic at the national level, and it might also be slightly unrealistic at the local transit level. Give it some time.

I asked how long and you answer with give it some time... <_<

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17 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I asked how long and you answer with give it some time... <_<

Because Byford has been here for so long we have to expect results immediately. Makes sense (insert same really n**** face from above here)

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3 minutes ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

Because Byford has been here for so long we have to expect results immediately. Makes sense (insert same really n**** face from above here)

The question is a legitimate one given how many presidents have come and gone. Given the previous results we can expect him to last maybe two years. If that is the case, then either he has a plan implemented within the first year, or we'll see very little change.

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Your questions aren't off base & illegitimate, but my question is more one of, how many times are we going to keep asking this type of a question for these figureheads that keep coming & going.... New blood isn't necessarily a bad thing, but consistency/longevity has to come into question at some point also..... Honestly, the way I'm seeing it is, if politics keep coming in the way of any real significant change with this city's public transportation, quite frankly, aint much of shit is going to get done....

If I use sports as an analogy, a franchise that keeps going through coaches and/or GM's every 2.3.4 years will be heavily criticized for their instability.... The guy (Byford) is saying the right things, but who knows what constraints is being put on him (which is more the issue I have; the politics/politicking behind the scenes) to actually "do"....

My point is that, he may be genuine in wanting real change for this city, or he may be using this position to pad his resume for a higher paying position in the future, who tf knows - But there are greater forces at play behind this guy..... So I'm not going to bother projecting a savior complex on him..... It's the same song & dance w/ this agency...... Screw the internet forum smilies, I'm really sitting here smirking when I say, let's see how long this guy will last before he even has a chance to TRY to invoke any type of change.....

 

As for what are some things he can look at? I feel like it's futile at this point, but for the sake of discussion:

- As was already mentioned, scheduling.... More bluntly, buses, mid-route, tend to arrive *whenever the hell*, instead of on any type of schedule..... Sure the emphasis is placed on when b/o's are leaving one terminal & arriving at one terminal, but everything in-between is flat out lacking.... Sometimes I feel like it's not even worth it by having timetables placed at, at as many stops as there are..... Basically, supervision (or lack thereof).....

- Speed..... It is said to kill, but there is an over-emphasis on safety in this regard..... It's like trying to be the best parent you can by engaging in sheltering your kids... Too much of that has adverse effects & it's the same thing going on with the buses right now.... So slow that they're being abandoned city-wide at the rate that they are - even the routes that run along streets that doesn't see heavy traffic... Highly irritating..... Even with the express buses on the highways; I understand that "leadfooting" Is discouraged, but at the same time, how is it (on the "via NJ" expresses for example) that our buses are getting smoked by NJT's, Lakeland's, Carl Bieber's, Coach USA's, etc..... How governed are our buses anyway.....

- Listening to the riders.... The MTA, currently, does a terrible job at this... No one knows better than what the riders need (generally speaking, as of course, you can't satisfy every single person) & this agency persists on making changes at THEIR whim, instead of for the benefit of the riders..... I don't want to get into specific routes right now, but a number of the fixed routes we have, have been "fixed" for too long a time now, and as Owen Hart would've said:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH... AND IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE.

Also, Sarah Meyer there wants to sit & target "transit jargon" vocalized b/w employees & I'm like, no... no.... no... no, lady... Just, No..... Quite frankly, as a rider, IDGAF about how employees communicate b/w one another while they're on their jobs, working...... You want to talk about communication, how about improving supplier-client relations in that category? The MTA may be the supplier of the buses/trains, but this apparent portrayal of dictating demand themselves needs to stop, like, 27.247672439 years ago......

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1 hour ago, B35 via Church said:

Your questions aren't off base & illegitimate, but my question is more one of, how many times are we going to keep asking this type of a question for these figureheads that keep coming & going.... New blood isn't necessarily a bad thing, but consistency/longevity has to come into question at some point also..... Honestly, the way I'm seeing it is, if politics keep coming in the way of any real significant change with this city's public transportation, quite frankly, aint much of shit is going to get done....

If I use sports as an analogy, a franchise that keeps going through coaches and/or GM's every 2.3.4 years will be heavily criticized for their instability.... The guy (Byford) is saying the right things, but who knows what constraints is being put on him (which is more the issue I have; the politics/politicking behind the scenes) to actually "do"....

My point is that, he may be genuine in wanting real change for this city, or he may be using this position to pad his resume for a higher paying position in the future, who tf knows - But there are greater forces at play behind this guy..... So I'm not going to bother projecting a savior complex on him..... It's the same song & dance w/ this agency...... Screw the internet forum smilies, I'm really sitting here smirking when I say, let's see how long this guy will last before he even has a chance to TRY to invoke any type of change.....

 

As for what are some things he can look at? I feel like it's futile at this point, but for the sake of discussion:

- As was already mentioned, scheduling.... More bluntly, buses, mid-route, tend to arrive *whenever the hell*, instead of on any type of schedule..... Sure the emphasis is placed on when b/o's are leaving one terminal & arriving at one terminal, but everything in-between is flat out lacking.... Sometimes I feel like it's not even worth it by having timetables placed at, at as many stops as there are..... Basically, supervision (or lack thereof).....

- Speed..... It is said to kill, but there is an over-emphasis on safety in this regard..... It's like trying to be the best parent you can by engaging in sheltering your kids... Too much of that has adverse effects & it's the same thing going on with the buses right now.... So slow that they're being abandoned city-wide at the rate that they are - even the routes that run along streets that doesn't see heavy traffic... Highly irritating..... Even with the express buses on the highways; I understand that "leadfooting" Is discouraged, but at the same time, how is it (on the "via NJ" expresses for example) that our buses are getting smoked by NJT's, Lakeland's, Carl Bieber's, Coach USA's, etc..... How governed are our buses anyway.....

- Listening to the riders.... The MTA, currently, does a terrible job at this... No one knows better than what the riders need (generally speaking, as of course, you can't satisfy every single person) & this agency persists on making changes at THEIR whim, instead of for the benefit of the riders..... I don't want to get into specific routes right now, but a number of the fixed routes we have, have been "fixed" for too long a time now, and as Owen Hart would've said:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH... AND IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE.

Also, Sarah Meyer there wants to sit & target "transit jargon" vocalized b/w employees & I'm like, no... no.... no... no, lady... Just, No..... Quite frankly, as a rider, IDGAF about how employees communicate b/w one another while they're on their jobs, working...... You want to talk about communication, how about improving supplier-client relations in that category? The MTA may be the supplier of the buses/trains, but this apparent portrayal of dictating demand themselves needs to stop, like, 27.247672439 years ago......

Interesting that this little thing came out...

 

Quote

MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford cited improvements to bus service in all five boroughs as one of his top four goals when he started his position in January. Although service reliability for buses is largely dependent upon road conditions and traffic law enforcement, NYC Transit is committed to making improvements to its fleet, safety, service management, customer amenities, transparency and customer service, as well as working with city government and community partners to make routes more efficient.

 

Quote

“While we look to our partners in City government to help address congestion and traffic enforcement, we are doing everything we can to improve the performance and transparency of our system. This new tool will help us measure and track the customer experience in meaningful ways that will help lead to improvements in the system.”

http://www.mta.info/press-release/nyc-transit/mta-launches-new-first-its-kind-bus-performance-dashboard

I've played with it a little bit, and the one thing that I'm curious about is his is this data complied? 

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Garibaldi and B35: You both make excellent points.  

I can only hope for the best, but we shall see. He personally replied to two emails I sent him and to one sent by a friend of mine. So his heart is definitely in the right place. At this point I have reason to believe he still hasn't figured out which departments are responsible for what, so he needs some time. I will form my opinion of him depending on how he handles the situation I have asked him to look into. I will know in about a month if he is for real.

Regarding some of the other questions: we need for him to look at the bus schedules and what is and what is not being done to address reliability. From what I have seen, I believe his people do care about reliability, but I question if they are using the available technology properly and the resources devoted to this task. Dispatchers and drivers are not properly trained and I don't think there are more than 20 others (maybe the not ten) who are in charge of maintaining reliability for the entire system when each route should probably have its own manager. 

Of course we know that many routes need to be modified and the question of what does a route by route analysis mean is legitimate. I believe the routes are being looked at from a cost viewpoint only, i.e. How much does each route cost to operate and how can they operate more efficiently at a lower cost per rider. That would be the wrong approach. Because starting that way, reducing service becomes the only answer. They need to approach the routes by asking how each one can be made more useful. That is what Byford must figure out if there is any hope for our system. He has to be smart enough not to believe the BS he will be told. 

I looked at the dashboard and I question how they even can estimate if people are waiting longer than required when they don't even have any statistics on the numbers of passengers who are flagged. Drivers used to be required to record that info in a notebook they kept, but that was many years ago. There is nothing about passenger travel times, only their time on the bus. Nothing about bus stop evaluation or walks to the bus, or serving areas not being served or revamping schedules to reduce non-revenue mileage which is no longer considered bad but more economical. 

As for Presidents lasting only two years, unfortunately that is the reality. I remember when I started working there in 1981, my boss had all these new ideas. The bus dispatcher who worked for me told me, he has seen it all before. They come in all wanting to change things but we know they will only last two years so we don't take them seriously and when they leave, everything will still be the same. 

 

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What's stopping the MTA from getting Clever Devices and installing them on the newer buses?

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38 minutes ago, BrooklynBus said:

Garibaldi and B35: You both make excellent points.  

I can only hope for the best, but we shall see. He personally replied to two emails I sent him and to one sent by a friend of mine. So his heart is definitely in the right place. At this point I have reason to believe he still hasn't figured out which departments are responsible for what, so he needs some time. I will form my opinion of him depending on how he handles the situation I have asked him to look into. I will know in about a month if he is for real.

Regarding some of the other questions: we need for him to look at the bus schedules and what is and what is not being done to address reliability. From what I have seen, I believe his people do care about reliability, but I question if they are using the available technology properly and the resources devoted to this task. Dispatchers and drivers are not properly trained and I don't think there are more than 20 others (maybe the not ten) who are in charge of maintaining reliability for the entire system when each route should probably have its own manager. 

Of course we know that many routes need to be modified and the question of what does a route by route analysis mean is legitimate. I believe the routes are being looked at from a cost viewpoint only, i.e. How much does each route cost to operate and how can they operate more efficiently at a lower cost per rider. That would be the wrong approach. Because starting that way, reducing service becomes the only answer. They need to approach the routes by asking how each one can be made more useful. That is what Byford must figure out if there is any hope for our system. He has to be smart enough not to believe the BS he will be told. 

I looked at the dashboard and I question how they even can estimate if people are waiting longer than required when they don't even have any statistics on the numbers of passengers who are flagged. Drivers used to be required to record that info in a notebook they kept, but that was many years ago. There is nothing about passenger travel times, only their time on the bus. Nothing about bus stop evaluation or walks to the bus, or serving areas not being served or revamping schedules to reduce non-revenue mileage which is no longer considered bad but more economical. 

As for Presidents lasting only two years, unfortunately that is the reality. I remember when I started working there in 1981, my boss had all these new ideas. The bus dispatcher who worked for me told me, he has seen it all before. They come in all wanting to change things but we know they will only last two years so we don't take them seriously and when they leave, everything will still be the same. 

 

I'll also add something that I notice a lot waiting at bus stops for the local bus or the express bus. More people will flag down a yellow cab and hop in if they don't see a bus.  Even with the countdown clocks, people won't wait, and it seems like fewer of them care to even pay attention.  In my mind, before we consider bus restructuring, one of the things that I wrote to my elected officials about recently was how bus schedules haven't changed, and how that alone has deterred people from traveling at times.  I mean I look at some of the schedules I use and they've been minimally improved and we're talking about almost 10 years now.  How do we still have hourly service on some lines and not even a consideration for more frequency?  In my mind if the (MTA) is as serious as they claim to be about improving service, one of the ways to do that and attract riders is by increasing frequencies where possible.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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5 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I'll also add something that I notice a lot waiting at bus stops for the local bus or the express bus. More people will flag down a yellow cab and hop in if they don't see a bus.  Even with the countdown clocks, people won't wait, and it seems like fewer of them care to even pay attention.  In my mind, before we consider bus restructuring, one of the things that I wrote to my elected officials about recently was how bus schedules haven't changed, and how that alone has deterred people from traveling at times.  I mean I look at some of the schedules I use and they've been minimally improved and we're talking about almost 10 years now.  How do we still have hourly service on some lines and not even a consideration for more frequency?  In my mind if the (MTA) is as serious as they claim to be about improving service, one of the ways to do that and attract riders is by increasing frequencies where possible.

Passengers flagging down cabs or using vans when buses do not arrive is nothing new. Yet the MTA assumes changing service levels has no effect n ridership.

Where do you get the idea that the MTA is serious about improving service? They want to run the least amount of service they can get away with politically. They do not want to attract new riders, because most likely that means they will have add service to accommodate them and it will cost them more. The MTA's assumption is if they lose x dollars for every passenger carried, they will lose more dollars if they carry more passengers. So their goal is actually to carry fewer passengers to improve their budget situation. Don't you get it? Of course they will never publicly admit this. At a recent retirement dinner I attended, someone I used to work with actually told me they only way they can survive is by cutting more bus service. I told him that it is people who think like he does are the ones causing the problems. We haven't spoken since. 

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47 minutes ago, BrooklynBus said:

Passengers flagging down cabs or using vans when buses do not arrive is nothing new. Yet the MTA assumes changing service levels has no effect n ridership.

Where do you get the idea that the MTA is serious about improving service? They want to run the least amount of service they can get away with politically. They do not want to attract new riders, because most likely that means they will have add service to accommodate them and it will cost them more. The MTA's assumption is if they lose x dollars for every passenger carried, they will lose more dollars if they carry more passengers. So their goal is actually to carry fewer passengers to improve their budget situation. Don't you get it? Of course they will never publicly admit this. At a recent retirement dinner I attended, someone I used to work with actually told me they only way they can survive is by cutting more bus service. I told him that it is people who think like he does are the ones causing the problems. We haven't spoken since. 

Well this is a stance that they've taken essentially since the 2010 service cuts, and quite frankly I'm sick of it.  MysteriousB can say that I should be patient, but you and I understand how this agency has been working for years and how it currently works, and I'm skeptical of anything changing anytime soon.  You and I have been to rallies together and I have certainly spoken at (MTA) board meetings and elsewhere. I don't think MysteriousB has, and both of us have worked for the (MTA) in some capacity to see how things work on the inside, which makes our viewpoints quite different. It's unclear to me for example how he (Byford) plans on making the (MTA) more transparent. 

If we look at what the (MTA) released in previous pages of this thread, as I mentioned, there's no discussion of how they get these figures...  Very vague. We also have to "trust them" with such figures, and they haven't done anything to regain such trust.  They can't even make the service that they have now.  They have been routinely unable to meet their own bus schedules.  You have missing buses during the rush hour, even on lines that only run every 30 minutes because they refuse to fill in drivers that call out sick.  In my mind, if he's really sincere about turning bus ridership around, that is something that has to stop.  I think there's been one missing bus per week for the past few weeks in the morning for me.  This morning there was a missing BxM2 and we had people packing on to the BxM1 I was on and the bus trying to essentially do double work.  He dropped off at 96th and 5th and then continued on as a BxM1.  Smh

Then there are the late buses that are chronically late and consistently arrive late for MONTHS.  We have BusTime and BusTrek now, yet the (MTA) has not been aggressively studying bus performance, because if they were, they would be making changes to get these buses leaving the terminal on time.  These are some of the reasons that we've seen a steady decline in service on the bus side, and that's before we even talk about how slow trips are.  In my mind once you've lost passengers, it takes a lot to bring them back.  They don't have faith in the system, and quite frankly why should they? If I can't depend on a bus to get me to my office, let alone how much longer trips now take, how in the world do you win back riders?  I mean he has one hell of an obstacle ahead of him and I think he has to show that he is determined to at least shore up the service that currently exists, which they've done a lousy job of over the last few years. 

That brings me to another question.... In order to ensure that at least meet their schedules, I'm assuming they would have to spend at least some monies to do that no? Every time they don't replace a driver that calls out sick, etc., they save money.

 

6 hours ago, NY1635 said:

What's stopping the MTA from getting Clever Devices and installing them on the newer buses?

I believe they tried Clever Devices. It was a disaster if I'm thinking about the correct system.   The issue was dead spots due to the tall buildings. That's why they created BusTime in-house.  The vendor of the Clever program was essentially fired, but they had tried numerous times and failed with other vendors as well, and the last time they tried before going in-house, the project was seriously delayed.  

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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49 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Well this is a stance that they've taken essentially since the 2010 service cuts, and quite frankly I'm sick of it.  MysteriousB can say that I should be patient, but you and I understand how this agency has been working for years and how it currently works, and I'm skeptical of anything changing anytime soon.  You and I have been to rallies together and I have certainly spoken at (MTA) board meetings and elsewhere. I don't think MysteriousB has, and both of us have worked for the (MTA) in some capacity to see how things work on the inside, which makes our viewpoints quite different. It's unclear to me for example how he (Byford) plans on making the (MTA) more transparent. 

If we look at what the (MTA) released in previous pages of this thread, as I mentioned, there's no discussion of how they get these figures...  Very vague. We also have to "trust them" with such figures, and they haven't done anything to regain such trust.  They can't even make the service that they have now.  They have been routinely unable to meet their own bus schedules.  You have missing buses during the rush hour, even on lines that only run every 30 minutes because they refuse to fill in drivers that call out sick.  In my mind, if he's really sincere about turning bus ridership around, that is something that has to stop.  I think there's been one missing bus per week for the past few weeks in the morning for me.  This morning there was a missing BxM2 and we had people packing on to the BxM1 I was on and the bus trying to essentially do double work.  He dropped off at 96th and 5th and then continued on as a BxM1.  Smh

Then there are the late buses that are chronically late and consistently arrive late for MONTHS.  We have BusTime and BusTrek now, yet the (MTA) has not been aggressively studying bus performance, because if they were, they would be making changes to get these buses leaving the terminal on time.  These are some of the reasons that we've seen a steady decline in service on the bus side, and that's before we even talk about how slow trips are.  In my mind once you've lost passengers, it takes a lot to bring them back.  They don't have faith in the system, and quite frankly why should they? If I can't depend on a bus to get me to my office, let alone how much longer trips now take, how in the world do you win back riders?  I mean he has one hell of an obstacle ahead of him and I think he has to show that he is determined to at least shore up the service that currently exists, which they've done a lousy job of over the last few years. 

That brings me to another question.... In order to ensure that at least meet their schedules, I'm assuming they would have to spend at least some monies to do that no? Every time they don't replace a driver that calls out sick, etc., they save money.

 

I believe they tried Clever Devices. It was a disaster if I'm thinking about the correct system.   

I think their stance has been this way since long before 2010. As far as Byford making the MTA more transparent, he first has to be convinced they are not transparent now and that none of their statistics can be taken at face value. The same thing is true of DOT. For the Woodhaven SBS, they presented a few statistics from their computer model, but would not discuss assumptions they used in creating that model. I knew for a fact that some of their traffic data was taken over a five year period. In my opinion, that makes the data useless. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the MTA data has also some wierd assumptions and characteristics that questions its validity. As I said, how could their wait assessment data be accurate with no information about buses flagging bus stops?

I remember at least three failed attempts at bus locator systems. One cost $14 million down the drain. 

Your other points about sick drivers, winning back passengers, etc are also right on target. 

The way I see it, it is our job and others to educate Byford and get him to question his employees and not blindly accept the BS he is told. We have to hope he is a numbers guy and can think for himself. He seems to be interested in the passengers and not solely concerned with the budget. We have to hope he surrounds himself with people he can trust and is willing to listen. 

 

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1 minute ago, BrooklynBus said:

I think their stance has been this way since long before 2010. As far as Byford making the MTA more transparent, he first has to be convinced they are not transparent now and that none of their statistics can be taken at face value. The same thing is true of DOT. For the Woodhaven SBS, they presented a few statistics from their computer model, but would not discuss assumptions they used in creating that model. I knew for a fact that some of their traffic data was taken over a five year period. In my opinion, that makes the data useless. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the MTA data has also some wierd assumptions and characteristics that questions its validity. As I said, how could their wait assessment data be accurate with no information about buses flagging bus stops?

I remember at least three failed attempts at bus locator systems. One cost $14 million down the drain. 

Your other points about sick drivers, winning back passengers, etc are also right on target. 

The way I see it, it is our job and others to educate Byford and get him to question his employees and not blindly accept the BS he is told. We have to hope he is a numbers guy and can think for himself. He seems to be interested in the passengers and not solely concerned with the budget. We have to hope he surrounds himself with people he can trust and is willing to listen. 

 

Yes we do, and that's a lot of hoping.

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4 hours ago, BrooklynBus said:

I think their stance has been this way since long before 2010. As far as Byford making the MTA more transparent, he first has to be convinced they are not transparent now and that none of their statistics can be taken at face value.

Given his response to the subway statistics at his first meeting, I'd believe he already does.

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On 3/25/2018 at 6:35 PM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

There has been a lot of praise about Andy Byford and his experience and success with other transit systems, and certainly that can't be overlooked. He's said a lot of the "right things", but as a rider and a transit advocate who is been extremely critical of the (MTA) over the years, the question that I have is when will we as the riding public start to see results? I could've asked this in the subway forum too, but in my mind, our bus system is in greater peril than our subways. We've heard a lot of vague ideas thrown around. I know there's a line by line analysis being conducted with buses, but what does that even mean?

Our subways face severe constraints to provide more service that is sorely needed, but how will Byford revamp our bus system to make it more attractive? One of the things that I've been frustrated by as a rider are these antiquated schedules, and by that I mean after off-peak it's like no one is supposed to use buses.  If we're talking about a true revamp, when in the hell will we see more service off-peak? For example, we have tons of local bus lines running essentially like express buses in that off-peak service is run to the bare bones at 20 - 30 minute waits officially and often times longer unofficially due to late buses or no-shows.  We know that such headways are generally a turn-off to riders, and so what are some things that Byford may be looking at to improve the customer experience with buses?

I have been lobbying for better Sunday service in my neighborhood for years. I am not happy with hourly express bus service, and more times than not, the buses are late, which further elongates my commute getting to and from places, and having spoken with residents in my neighborhood, many of them opt to not use the express buses on Sundays due to such limited service. With that said, we also have a lot of schedules that haven't seen any improvements since the 2010 cuts.  Discuss... What are some things that you think Byford can look at to improve service and not break the purse strings?

from an employee standpoint, I'd love to see realistic & adequate paddles with run times & time point intervals being revamped on all lines, not just newly developed SBS runs. I'd honestly like to see some technology developed where paddles and run times are able to reflect real-time traffic conditions, which have significantly worsened across this city (a fact everyone knows, yet organizations fail in attempting to compensate for) 

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3 hours ago, EastFlatbushLarry said:

from an employee standpoint, I'd love to see realistic & adequate paddles with run times & time point intervals being revamped on all lines, not just newly developed SBS runs. I'd honestly like to see some technology developed where paddles and run times are able to reflect real-time traffic conditions, which have significantly worsened across this city (a fact everyone knows, yet organizations fail in attempting to compensate for) 

The (MTA) has actually changed the schedules in some cases to provide longer run times, but what good is that doing if operators are still leaving the terminal late on purpose to avoid being written up? All that does is make the trips even longer, as those buses rarely get back on schedule. They need to be implementing signal priority more aggressively.  As it stands, this is really only being used on SBS lines, and only at select intersections as if they're running a pilot test.  Signal priority has been in use elsewhere for years, and I can't understand why for the life of me is been such a painful, slow process here in NYC.  

Additionally, the whole late policy thing needs to change.  It is negatively impacting service, especially when you have operators leaving their terminal 20 minutes late simply to avoid being written up.  That should not be acceptable, and there needs to be a way to incentivize drivers to arrive on-time where possible.  I have been a bulldog in this area because it's about providing good service.  Buses coming whenever is one of the major reasons why bus ridership is where it is.  In the old days, drivers would tell passengers that if they didn't like waiting or the bus being late, they could take a cab. Well that's exactly what is happening.  

The (MTA) would like to move away from schedules because they can't fathom the idea of being held accountable.  Having countdown clocks is great, but they should co-exist with the schedules. I want both, and they should be able to have both and meet their schedules accordingly.

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2 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

The (MTA) has actually changed the schedules in some cases to provide longer run times, but what good is that doing if operators are still leaving the terminal late on purpose to avoid being written up? All that does is make the trips even longer, as those buses rarely get back on schedule. They need to be implementing signal priority more aggressively.  As it stands, this is really only being used on SBS lines, and only at select intersections as if they're running a pilot test.  Signal priority has been in use elsewhere for years, and I can't understand why for the life of me is been such a painful, slow process here in NYC.  

Additionally, the whole late policy thing needs to change.  It is negatively impacting service, especially when you have operators leaving their terminal 20 minutes late simply to avoid being written up.  That should not be acceptable, and there needs to be a way to incentivize drivers to arrive on-time where possible.  I have been a bulldog in this area because it's about providing good service.  Buses coming whenever is one of the major reasons why bus ridership is where it is.  In the old days, drivers would tell passengers that if they didn't like waiting or the bus being late, they could take a cab. Well that's exactly what is happening.  

The (MTA) would like to move away from schedules because they can't fathom the idea of being held accountable.  Having countdown clocks is great, but they should co-exist with the schedules. I want both, and they should be able to have both and meet their schedules accordingly.

I believe there's a rule that they can only write you up for running more than 3 minutes early (somebody can correct me if I'm wrong). It's not good if a bus is early, but if it's a choice between a bus being 2 minutes early or 20 minutes late, I'd go with the former. 

In the (A)(C) report, they mention on page 33 that on-time dispatching is an issue. Not sure how much they've done to correct it on the (A)(C) but they should look into doing something similar with the buses. If a bus is at the terminal it should be ready to leave at the scheduled time unless the dispatcher says otherwise (e.g. Holding for a ferry connection at St. George or for a late night train connection at Coney Island, or ideally, if they're using BusTime and BusTrek, they can tell them to hold for regular bus-bus connections when necessary). 

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1 hour ago, checkmatechamp13 said:

I believe there's a rule that they can only write you up for running more than 3 minutes early (somebody can correct me if I'm wrong). It's not good if a bus is early, but if it's a choice between a bus being 2 minutes early or 20 minutes late, I'd go with the former. 

In the (A)(C) report, they mention on page 33 that on-time dispatching is an issue. Not sure how much they've done to correct it on the (A)(C) but they should look into doing something similar with the buses. If a bus is at the terminal it should be ready to leave at the scheduled time unless the dispatcher says otherwise (e.g. Holding for a ferry connection at St. George or for a late night train connection at Coney Island, or ideally, if they're using BusTime and BusTrek, they can tell them to hold for regular bus-bus connections when necessary). 

There have been instances where I've waited upwards of 20 minutes really late at night, while I see the bus sitting at the terminal on BusTime.  It's infuriating particularly because the schedules in those cases have been re-written to deal with any traffic and at that time there isn't any to speak of, so there's no need to sit that long before starting, and the trips never get back on time.  In my mind it's just poor management skills.  Not that long ago there were drivers that could follow those schedules just fine, and now these new guys have such difficulty it's not even funny.  All you have to do is drive with traffic and it shouldn't be an issue.  In the worst case scenario I can live with leaving five minutes late.  Anything after that seems over the top.  There's a really nice guy that I get on the BxM2. I have only refrained from not reporting him because he is very courteous, otherwise I would've by now because he is extremely late far too often and doesn't get back on time. There are times when he leaves the terminal so late that the next bus eventually catches up to him, and you've added a good 20 - 30 minutes to your commute unnecessarily.

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1 hour ago, checkmatechamp13 said:

I believe there's a rule that they can only write you up for running more than 3 minutes early (somebody can correct me if I'm wrong). It's not good if a bus is early, but if it's a choice between a bus being 2 minutes early or 20 minutes late, I'd go with the former. 

In the (A)(C) report, they mention on page 33 that on-time dispatching is an issue. Not sure how much they've done to correct it on the (A)(C) but they should look into doing something similar with the buses. If a bus is at the terminal it should be ready to leave at the scheduled time unless the dispatcher says otherwise (e.g. Holding for a ferry connection at St. George or for a late night train connection at Coney Island, or ideally, if they're using BusTime and BusTrek, they can tell them to hold for regular bus-bus connections when necessary). 

I had a TA SLD tell me today that the official rule is if you are 5 mins down or 5 mins hot you're still marked on time. When i worked at MaBSTOA depots (100, MJQ & KB) I heard 3 mins... I've also heard that Staten Island operators get written up for being 3 or more mins hot... I personally never pass a dispatcher more than 3 minutes hot (and i make it a mission to have asses in the seats). It's been a subject that I've stopped caring about a long time ago, especially when I personally found discrepancy & inconsistency from superintendents that i worked under, or when I'd be at Zerega or Spring Creek and ask around. I just go with the old school flow (i stick with operators who have 20+ years and their philosophy, and apply what works for me)

 

4 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

what good is that doing if operators are still leaving the terminal late on purpose to avoid being written up?

Not something I've personally seen (I've known some dirtbags, and even they call in when they take a personal) but i don't doubt it. I consider myself old school, having been here before GPS, and things like that definitely occurred on certain lines that I can name. As I've said before, in this climate, transit will attempt to terminate for unauthorized delay of service, so in recent memory, anyone I've ever seen or heard leaving 20 minutes down was taking a personal, which you have the option of requesting at anytime during your run and there's no set amount of times you can request a personal... And you can never be refused one. Alot of operators, myself included, will request a personal if I'm severely late, and haven't been afforded the opportunity of a layover, but I've never used 20 minutes. Technically, the unofficial rule for a personal is 20, but i digress. 

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1 minute ago, EastFlatbushLarry said:

Not something I've personally seen (I've known some dirtbags, and even they call in when they take a personal) but i don't doubt it. I consider myself old school, having been here before GPS, and things like that definitely occurred on certain lines that I can name. As I've said before, in this climate, transit will attempt to terminate for unauthorized delay of service, so in recent memory, anyone I've ever seen or heard leaving 20 minutes down was taking a personal, which you have the option of requesting at anytime during your run and there's no set amount of times you can request a personal... And you can never be refused one. Alot of operators, myself included, will request a personal if I'm severely late, and haven't been afforded the opportunity of a layover, but I've never used 20 minutes. Technically, the unofficial rule for a personal is 20, but i digress. 

There are some guys who claim that they can't avoid running hot, so they sit at the terminal to ensure that they don't do so.  There are a good amount of drivers that are just poorly trained and don't know the schedules or the stops. Perfect example. A few years ago, we're waiting for the BxM2 one night along 6th Avenue.  I'm thinking finally, the bus has come and I can go home!  Well we get to 53rd street and we see another BxM2, and I'm thinking oh I guess somebody is really late because at this time there's only one bus per half hour.  Turns out the bus we got, the guy was doing the wrong trip, so we had to get off of his bus and onto the other one.  He then turned on a side street to make his way over to 7th and back down to 34th street.  He was clearly embarassed as he had been moving along picking up everyone while the actual bus that was scheduled was empty.

I also get a guy on weekends who routinely makes drop-off stops as if they are official that aren't, and since this has happened three times now, it's clear that he thinks these stops are part of the route.  There are also some that have sat at the terminal not knowing the time points, only to check them after the fact and then sit because they are hot. You just can't make this stuff up.

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2 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

There are some guys who claim that they can't avoid running hot, so they sit at the terminal to ensure that they don't do so.  There are a good amount of drivers that are just poorly trained and don't know the schedules or the stops. Perfect example. A few years ago, we're waiting for the BxM2 one night along 6th Avenue.  I'm thinking finally, the bus has come and I can go home!  Well we get to 53rd street and we see another BxM2, and I'm thinking oh I guess somebody is really late because at this time there's only one bus per half hour.  Turns out the bus we got, the guy was doing the wrong trip, so we had to get off of his bus and onto the other one.  He then turned on a side street to make his way over to 7th and back down to 34th street.  He was clearly embarassed as he had been moving along picking up everyone while the actual bus that was scheduled was empty.

I also get a guy on weekends who routinely makes drop-off stops as if they are official that aren't, and since this has happened three times now, it's clear that he thinks these stops are part of the route.  There are also some that have sat at the terminal not knowing the time points, only to check them after the fact and then sit because they are hot. You just can't make this stuff up.

Well, one thing i will say is that this job is majority trial by fire. Meaning, Zerega doesn't teach you (and can't/won't teach you) how to manage your time while doing your run. Zerega is there training all surface employees how to safely operate & manage their equipment only. You have to learn time management on your own, just like when you get your manifest with access a ride or school bus companies (which I've done) you are responsible for pacing yourself, and finding what works for you. When i was a rookie, i was surrounded by experienced operators on the B15 & B82... Both lines where you either sink or swim with time management. I learned alot about myself as a person and as an employee. I got burned alot on the 15 until i developed my own strategy. When i worked the 82 on weekends as a rookie, i was the last run of the day. I had to learn how to pace myself after 1am because I'm naturally a leadfoot. There were times on my last trip where i was scheduled to arrive at Ocean Avenue/kings hwy at 2:08am and I'd already be at coney island avenue/kings hwy at 2am... Unacceptable to sit there or at 16th street for 6-7 minutes because i can't lay off the gas. eventually, i did begin to leave Stillwell down and begin that i am a leadfoot, I'd successfully play catch up and be on time the entire trip. There's more than one way to skin a cat on these runs, although i will say what works at 2am won't work at 2pm. There are plenty of operators who come from SEPTA, NJ Transit, access a ride, NICE, charter companies, etc who know how to get down with paddle management. There are novice, inexperienced brand spanking new CDL employees with this being their first experience with a paddle or manifest, so the learn or burn phase of their probation/first several years on the job is an absolute learning experience.

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1 minute ago, EastFlatbushLarry said:

Well, one thing i will say is that this job is majority trial by fire. Meaning, Zerega doesn't teach you (and can't/won't teach you) how to manage your time while doing your run. Zerega is there training all surface employees how to safely operate & manage their equipment only. You have to learn time management on your own, just like when you get your manifest with access a ride or school bus companies (which I've done) you are responsible for pacing yourself, and finding what works for you. When i was a rookie, i was surrounded by experienced operators on the B15 & B82... Both lines where you either sink or swim with time management. I learned alot about myself as a person and as an employee. I got burned alot on the 15 until i developed my own strategy. When i worked the 82 on weekends as a rookie, i was the last run of the day. I had to learn how to pace myself after 1am because I'm naturally a leadfoot. There were times on my last trip where i was scheduled to arrive at Ocean Avenue/kings hwy at 2:08am and I'd already be at coney island avenue/kings hwy at 2am... Unacceptable to sit there or at 16th street for 6-7 minutes because i can't lay off the gas. eventually, i did begin to leave Stillwell down and begin that i am a leadfoot, I'd successfully play catch up and be on time the entire trip. There's more than one way to skin a cat on these runs, although i will say what works at 2am won't work at 2pm. There are plenty of operators who come from SEPTA, NJ Transit, access a ride, NICE, charter companies, etc who know how to get down with paddle management. There are novice, inexperienced brand spanking new CDL employees with this being their first experience with a paddle or manifest, so the learn or burn phase of their probation/first several years on the job is an absolute learning experience.

How many guys come and go? I get the impression that a lot do...

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Just now, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

How many guys come and go? I get the impression that a lot do...

I find it to be 60/40. If you have no experience before MTA, 60% chance you'll be terminated if you make it thru the 7-10 days. And the 40% who do are absolute work hogs and study their craft (and they make up 5% of the total 20% of potential employees who initially sign up to be bus operators) alot of those operators will move on to be SLD's at some point.

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