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Via Garibaldi 8

Express Bus Advocacy Group

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Doesnt NJT have a passenger counter on their MCIs? I assumed it was tied into the B/O pressing a button everytime someone paid the fare

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1 hour ago, 78 via Stew Leonards said:

Does anyone think the nonstop section of the route should be at the driver's discretion? Whichever way they feel will be faster should be the way to go?

That can be a catch 22. If the driver wants to milk OT they can sit in traffic.  

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3 minutes ago, 78 via Stew Leonards said:

how often do drivers do that?

Drivers already have options on a few routes and plenty of them do that.  Perfect example is the QM2, QM3 and QM20.  We asked the (MTA) and the DOT to address the 59th street debacle.  So far, what they decided to do is have them have the option of using 57th part of the way or 59th to go back to Queens.  However, 59th street is still the official route, and so of late most of them have just been sitting in the 59th street traffic.

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This is what the seat available thing looks like on desktop

65655242_2663980996963588_40330377705606

Have they explained what the bars mean? Does one bar mean not that many seats left or not that many seats taken?

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Around the Horn said:

This is what the seat available thing looks like on desktop

65655242_2663980996963588_40330377705606

Have they explained what the bars mean? Does one bar mean not that many seats left or not that many seats taken?

We explained in the group... One bar means “Seats Available”... Second bar “Limited Seats Available”... All three bars... No seats... Standing Room Only, which is in red. Not 100% accurate, as sometimes there are standees, but it will say “Limited Seats Available”...

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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@Around the Horn The leader of the Staten Island express bus group that I work with interacts daily with the (MTA) on things like this, so they are working to fine tune it as they can over time. I have not been involved with this at all. Quite frankly I have other things to focus on so I’ll let her work with that since it is only on Staten Island for now. I’m working on a few other things that I hope to finalize and send over to the (MTA) by the end of the week.

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Posted (edited)

Latest updates:

-We have started our "Fair Fares" petition for express bus riders petitioning the following:

-Reinstating our monthly express bus

-Reinstating the senior discount on express buses

-Reinstating the student discount on express buses that existed on MTA Bus express buses

https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/fair-fares-for-express-bus-riders.html?fbclid=IwAR1UqPQlo24cTvsY68twuGxLQxCIjjg_U-NKpXu101htg0ym7AWfYceN4f8

Additionally, we are requesting that the (MTA) commit to a vendor for the new express buses, as well as the 2020 timeline they provided previously.  Our express buses are falling apart, and we need new ones ASAP!

-Continuing dialogue with Senator Biaggi's office regarding the Bronx express bus redesign. We have a number of elected officials now stating that they will be pushing back on some of these proposed changes. Below is an example:

-We continue to monitor service and plan to follow up with the DOT regarding our bus stop and bus shelter requests.

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

Latest updates:

-We have started our "Fair Fares" petition for express bus riders petitioning the following:

-Reinstating our monthly express bus

-Reinstating the senior discount on express buses

-Reinstating the student discount on express buses that existed on MTA Bus express buses

https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/fair-fares-for-express-bus-riders.html?fbclid=IwAR1UqPQlo24cTvsY68twuGxLQxCIjjg_U-NKpXu101htg0ym7AWfYceN4f8

Additionally, we are requesting that the (MTA) commit to a vendor for the new express buses, as well as the 2020 timeline they provided previously.  Our express buses are falling apart, and we need new ones ASAP!

-Continuing dialogue with Senator Biaggi's office regarding the Bronx express bus redesign. We have a number of elected officials now stating that they will be pushing back on some of these proposed changes. Below is an example:

-We continue to monitor service and plan to follow up with the DOT regarding our bus stop and bus shelter requests.

I can't believe they haven't finalized a contract for the 2020 buses! How will they deliver on time if they don't sign it ASAP?? Typical. 

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12 minutes ago, QM1to6Ave said:

I can't believe they haven't finalized a contract for the 2020 buses! How will they deliver on time if they don't sign it ASAP?? Typical. 

Exactly... Grabbing the headlines but not delivering...

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9 hours ago, QM1to6Ave said:

I can't believe they haven't finalized a contract for the 2020 buses! How will they deliver on time if they don't sign it ASAP?? Typical. 

 

8 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Exactly... Grabbing the headlines but not delivering...

The RFPs were put before the Committee/Board in September 2018 (pages 265/266 in the book): NYCT (for Staten Island) 50, MTAB 257, which match the 2015-2019 Capital Plan. NYCT is all MTA money, MTAB is 80% Feds/20% MTA -- and the NYCT contract (B-40665) can specify a certain percentage of NY State content, but MTAB (B-40668) cannot by Fed rules.

That can be a potential sticking point, although New Flyer's contract for the XE60s ("Immediate Operating Need") for the M14SBS states that they will have just under 20% of NY State content even though the buses will be built in Alabama. So NFI could be building the 257 for MTAB, while Prevost/Volvo will supply the 50 for NYCT (preference given for the LFS built upstate).

If the above is true: In the recent contract awards for local buses, Nova has had problems in delivery/production, as well as submitting much higher proposals, and the MTA has awarded more of the contracts to New Flyer, even after all of the negotiations. Some of the LFS/LFSA deliveries were actually part of option fulfillment (notably in a contract that was split between Nova and New Flyer) -- New Flyer was significantly more "nimble" at getting the buses into the MTA's hands.

Therefore, I think because NYCT is handling the administration of these contracts, they're having a problem with Volvo, and more than likely New Flyer is ready to go. So even though contract B-40668 (for MTAB) could be practically signed-off, Procurement won't separate it from the "bundled" contract.

The XE60 contract was let in January 2019, with deliveries between Nov 2019-early 2020. If New Flyer gets the MTAB contract effectively in August, delivery will probably be about the same 9-10 month turn-around (May/June 2020). Volvo, who knows.

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9 minutes ago, DetSMART45 said:

 

The RFPs were put before the Committee/Board in September 2018 (pages 265/266 in the book): NYCT (for Staten Island) 50, MTAB 257, which match the 2015-2019 Capital Plan. NYCT is all MTA money, MTAB is 80% Feds/20% MTA -- and the NYCT contract (B-40665) can specify a certain percentage of NY State content, but MTAB (B-40668) cannot by Fed rules.

That can be a potential sticking point, although New Flyer's contract for the XE60s ("Immediate Operating Need") for the M14SBS states that they will have just under 20% of NY State content even though the buses will be built in Alabama. So NFI could be building the 257 for MTAB, while Prevost/Volvo will supply the 50 for NYCT (preference given for the LFS built upstate).

If the above is true: In the recent contract awards for local buses, Nova has had problems in delivery/production, as well as submitting much higher proposals, and the MTA has awarded more of the contracts to New Flyer, even after all of the negotiations. Some of the LFS/LFSA deliveries were actually part of option fulfillment (notably in a contract that was split between Nova and New Flyer) -- New Flyer was significantly more "nimble" at getting the buses into the MTA's hands.

Therefore, I think because NYCT is handling the administration of these contracts, they're having a problem with Volvo, and more than likely New Flyer is ready to go. So even though contract B-40668 (for MTAB) could be practically signed-off, Procurement won't separate it from the "bundled" contract.

The XE60 contract was let in January 2019, with deliveries between Nov 2019-early 2020. If New Flyer gets the MTAB contract effectively in August, delivery will probably be about the same 9-10 month turn-around (May/June 2020). Volvo, who knows.

Annoying either way. I wrote to one of my contacts last night inquiring about it.

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In your talks with the city DOT, have there been any talks of making 59th Street No Standing Only curb to curb from 5th Ave to the QB Bridge?  Additional lane capacity during the afternoon rush can definitely help here.

Also, I noticed there was one cop this afternoon standing on the corner of 59th and Madison milking it by pulling over cars for turn signal violations.  Problem is, it was blocking the bus stop there with all the cars he pulled over.  Also did nothing for the delivery trucks double parked killing lane capacity.

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3 hours ago, 7-express said:

In your talks with the city DOT, have there been any talks of making 59th Street No Standing Only curb to curb from 5th Ave to the QB Bridge?  Additional lane capacity during the afternoon rush can definitely help here.

Also, I noticed there was one cop this afternoon standing on the corner of 59th and Madison milking it by pulling over cars for turn signal violations.  Problem is, it was blocking the bus stop there with all the cars he pulled over.  Also did nothing for the delivery trucks double parked killing lane capacity.

We talked about 59th Street being a parking lot. In the last meeting I had with the DOT and the (MTA) , I advocated strongly that both the (MTA) and the DOT work together to come up with a solution to the mess along that corridor. My stance was there’s a bus lane on 57th Street, so the current express buses using 59th can use that. One of the senior planners from the (MTA) stated that they wanted to keep those routes as straight as possible going into Queens, hence them using 59th Street. I argued essentially that the DOT should either come up with a traffic mitigation plan for 59th Street (I didn’t specify what because I know that they would likely need to do an EIS and that could take a while - usually a year in most cases), but come up with something. One of the DOT reps stated that they don’t want so many buses on 57th either, so my stance is that they still need to do something. It seems as if the plan is at some point to move those buses back to 57th at least from 6th to Madison, then have them turn on Madison and come to 59th like that (they were doing that already during the holidays last year as I had made that recommendation to dispatch in my review of the express bus network back in October 2018). In addition to changing the routing on BusTime, they have also updated the QM20 routing with that as well for the Summer 2019 schedules. (See link: https://new.mta.info/sites/default/files/2019-06/qm020cur.pdf)

What I’m awaiting word on is if or when that route will become official. I had someone I speak with on the inside confirm that 59th is still the official routing and I would have to likely speak with planning again about this further, which I plan to do given their promise to address this in our meeting. I basically told them that we were aware of the litany of complaints from passengers about buses being stuck along 59th and that they had to be too and that they had to address that. They have tried to in the past trying different routings in Queens, but nothing has worked so far.

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If it's on the official published schedule now, shouldn't it be the official route drivers follow now?  The new driver that came with the summer pick does not follow it and keeps going down 59th Street...and getting jammed in the mess that comes with it.  It's not as bad since it's summer traffic patterns now but still not great.

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57 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

We talked about 59th Street being a parking lot. In the last meeting I had with the DOT and the (MTA) , I advocated strongly that both the (MTA) and the DOT work together to come up with a solution to the mess along that corridor. My stance was there’s a bus lane on 57th Street, so the current express buses using 59th can use that. One of the senior planners from the (MTA) stated that they wanted to keep those routes as straight as possible going into Queens, hence them using 59th Street. I argued essentially that the DOT should either come up with a traffic mitigation plan for 59th Street (I didn’t specify what because I know that they would likely need to do an EIS and that could take a while - usually a year in most cases), but come up with something. One of the DOT reps stated that they don’t want so many buses on 57th either, so my stance is that they still need to do something. It seems as if the plan is at some point to move those buses back to 57th at least from 6th to Madison, then have them turn on Madison and come to 59th like that (they were doing that already during the holidays last year as I had made that recommendation to dispatch in my review of the express bus network back in October 2018). In addition to changing the routing on BusTime, they have also updated the QM20 routing with that as well for the Summer 2019 schedules. (See link: https://new.mta.info/sites/default/files/2019-06/qm020cur.pdf)

What I’m awaiting word on is if or when that route will become official. I had someone I speak with on the inside confirm that 59th is still the official routing and I would have to likely speak with planning again about this further, which I plan to do given their promise to address this in our meeting. I basically told them that we were aware of the litany of complaints from passengers about buses being stuck along 59th and that they had to be too and that they had to address that. They have tried to in the past trying different routings in Queens, but nothing has worked so far.

I also wish they would get rid of those damn cement barriers on 57 street surrounding Trump tower. They effectively ruin the bus lane for 2 blocks. May be enough of a reason for me to support a Biden 2020 campaign LOL. 

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53 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

We talked about 59th Street being a parking lot. In the last meeting I had with the DOT and the (MTA) , I advocated strongly that both the (MTA) and the DOT work together to come up with a solution to the mess along that corridor. My stance was there’s a bus lane on 57th Street, so the current express buses using 59th can use that. One of the senior planners from the (MTA) stated that they wanted to keep those routes as straight as possible going into Queens, hence them using 59th Street. I argued essentially that the DOT should either come up with a traffic mitigation plan for 59th Street (I didn’t specify what because I know that they would likely need to do an EIS and that could take a while - usually a year in most cases), but come up with something. One of the DOT reps stated that they don’t want so many buses on 57th either, so my stance is that they still need to do something. It seems as if the plan is at some point to move those buses back to 57th at least from 6th to Madison, then have them turn on Madison and come to 59th like that (they were doing that already during the holidays last year as I had made that recommendation to dispatch in my review of the express bus network back in October 2018). In addition to changing the routing on BusTime, they have also updated the QM20 routing with that as well for the Summer 2019 schedules. (See link: https://new.mta.info/sites/default/files/2019-06/qm020cur.pdf)

What I’m awaiting word on is if or when that route will become official. I had someone I speak with on the inside confirm that 59th is still the official routing and I would have to likely speak with planning again about this further, which I plan to do given their promise to address this in our meeting. I basically told them that we were aware of the litany of complaints from passengers about buses being stuck along 59th and that they had to be too and that they had to address that. They have tried to in the past trying different routings in Queens, but nothing has worked so far.

TBH Queens Express buses should just have the freedom of choice. Just have a bunch of pre approved routes they can utilize and let the driver choose which pre approved route they want to use. The biggest issue is all the routes are set up for peak service, yet a lot of the operating hours on some of these routes are off peak. While is makes sense to use Queens Blvd at 5-6pm it doesn't make sense to use it at 10am or 10pm. 

The QM2/20 is probably the most notorious for creating their own routes. In the past buses were all over the place. In some cases I'm not sure what is the official route anymore, especially when it comes to those super expresses as I've seen them use LIE all the way, LIE->BQE->Astoria, and LIE->BQE->GCP. I've had a couple of those buses going via 2nd av and a lot of cases in the early mornings with buses back tracking through LIC and entering the LIE there. One time i had a driver get on the BQE from Northern and take the GCP. and in all the cases where the buses went those different routes we ultimately ended up in Queens early. Now days the only variants I see is 57th vs 59th and GCP vs Van Wyck going towards Manhattan, and the buses are almost always late. These drivers usually know the best route for the time of the day their driving, but when there stuck to route only intended for a small portion of the day it makes it frustrating for everyone traveling outside the peak hours.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, IAlam said:

 

TBH Queens Express buses should just have the freedom of choice. Just have a bunch of pre approved routes they can utilize and let the driver choose which pre approved route they want to use. The biggest issue is all the routes are set up for peak service, yet a lot of the operating hours on some of these routes are off peak. While is makes sense to use Queens Blvd at 5-6pm it doesn't make sense to use it at 10am or 10pm. 

The QM2/20 is probably the most notorious for creating their own routes. In the past buses were all over the place. In some cases I'm not sure what is the official route anymore, especially when it comes to those super expresses as I've seen them use LIE all the way, LIE->BQE->Astoria, and LIE->BQE->GCP. I've had a couple of those buses going via 2nd av and a lot of cases in the early mornings with buses back tracking through LIC and entering the LIE there. One time i had a driver get on the BQE from Northern and take the GCP. and in all the cases where the buses went those different routes we ultimately ended up in Queens early. Now days the only variants I see is 57th vs 59th and GCP vs Van Wyck going towards Manhattan, and the buses are almost always late. These drivers usually know the best route for the time of the day their driving, but when there stuck to route only intended for a small portion of the day it makes it frustrating for everyone traveling outside the peak hours.

(MTA) has been cracking down on drivers going different ways, but this varies by depot.

3 hours ago, 7-express said:

If it's on the official published schedule now, shouldn't it be the official route drivers follow now?  The new driver that came with the summer pick does not follow it and keeps going down 59th Street...and getting jammed in the mess that comes with it.  It's not as bad since it's summer traffic patterns now but still not great.

Not that simple. As I stated, the DOT was not wild about the idea. Additionally, the official routing is still 59th and unless dispatch gives the ok and or the planners finish the change, then it’s 59th for now. Ultimately I have to follow up on this and see what the status is because I honestly thought that with the change on BusTime it was a done deal, but there was a similar issue with the SIM33 routing some months ago. It took MONTHS to fix that mess and between BusTime and dispatch and the planners, nothing is 1, 2, 3. I have a number of requests out so I am tied up with other things at the moment and need to follow up with my contact. Also need another conference call, but with the DOT. We have only been corresponding via e-mail and I need an update on bus stop and bus shelter requests among other things.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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11 hours ago, IAlam said:

TBH Queens Express buses should just have the freedom of choice. Just have a bunch of pre approved routes they can utilize and let the driver choose which pre approved route they want to use. The biggest issue is all the routes are set up for peak service, yet a lot of the operating hours on some of these routes are off peak. While is makes sense to use Queens Blvd at 5-6pm it doesn't make sense to use it at 10am or 10pm. 

The QM2/20 is probably the most notorious for creating their own routes. In the past buses were all over the place. In some cases I'm not sure what is the official route anymore, especially when it comes to those super expresses as I've seen them use LIE all the way, LIE->BQE->Astoria, and LIE->BQE->GCP. I've had a couple of those buses going via 2nd av and a lot of cases in the early mornings with buses back tracking through LIC and entering the LIE there. One time i had a driver get on the BQE from Northern and take the GCP. and in all the cases where the buses went those different routes we ultimately ended up in Queens early. Now days the only variants I see is 57th vs 59th and GCP vs Van Wyck going towards Manhattan, and the buses are almost always late. These drivers usually know the best route for the time of the day their driving, but when there stuck to route only intended for a small portion of the day it makes it frustrating for everyone traveling outside the peak hours.

If I recall correctly, QSC used to take a hands off approach to the 'closed-door, non-stop' portion of the route until their buses started breaking down and they needed buses to keep to a standard route in order to assist the operator and passengers on the malfunctioning buses (ie - QM2 buses would assist a disabled QM2A [QM20]). QSC would look the other way on this on the weekends as the service was/is hourly. The standardization of the route was adopted by the MTA as a way to 'keep the drivers in line'. I recall many drivers not liking the MTA takeover in its earlier days.

....and here we are now trying to get the MTA to use some common sense in using dynamic routing in order to keep the buses out of bad traffic jams, where possible.

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Something the MTA should think about is doing both pick-up/drop-off at all stops outside of Manhattan during non-Peak, or possibly limit something like that to certain major transfer points. The routes are already running either 30 or 60 minute headways anyways, so might as well try to get some additional customers.

Before SMART and DDOT harmonized fares at $2.00, plenty of DDOT customers would pay the extra $0.50 for a SMART bus that was doing only pick-up out of the city. And once SMART started their FAST Limited-Stop on three corridors, some DDOT customers would pay the extra to get between the stops within the city faster than the DDOT Local routes.

If the fare differential is $1.00 off-Peak, some customers could skip the Local (even if only on-occasion) to get where they want to go faster.

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5 hours ago, DetSMART45 said:

Something the MTA should think about is doing both pick-up/drop-off at all stops outside of Manhattan during non-Peak, or possibly limit something like that to certain major transfer points. The routes are already running either 30 or 60 minute headways anyways, so might as well try to get some additional customers.

Before SMART and DDOT harmonized fares at $2.00, plenty of DDOT customers would pay the extra $0.50 for a SMART bus that was doing only pick-up out of the city. And once SMART started their FAST Limited-Stop on three corridors, some DDOT customers would pay the extra to get between the stops within the city faster than the DDOT Local routes.

If the fare differential is $1.00 off-Peak, some customers could skip the Local (even if only on-occasion) to get where they want to go faster.

I feel like this works better in NJ and in other locales. It would be too much of a hassle in NYC, even during offpeak hours. Too many customers would 'argue' that they should pay only $2.75. Even if it was clearly stated that the express bus is $6.75 (no ifs, ands, or buts) and some customers were to comply with price structure, I could see some buses getting delayed more than usual. I'm thinking of the QM6 and Q46 where the QM6 would incur a longer trip time-wise. Also, the MTA would claim that the Q46 is already there.

I could see some people liking this where the express bus provides a one-seat ride (ie - Bay Terrace Queens to the College Point DMV via the QM2 as opposed to taking the Q28 to the Q25 or using the Q16 and walking 15 minutes). However, I don't see the MTA adopting this as a standard policy. Only on rare occasion (esp during the QSC days) would the drivers provide such 'off-script' service (I'm thinking of Sept 11, the NE blackout of Aug 2003, and perhaps any days where the weather was really bad). Nowadays, the MTA wants everyone to stick to the script (many a driver as said this much on several occasions).

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6 minutes ago, Uncle Floyd Fan said:

I feel like this works better in NJ and in other locales. It would be too much of a hassle in NYC, even during offpeak hours. Too many customers would 'argue' that they should pay only $2.75. Even if it was clearly stated that the express bus is $6.75 (no ifs, ands, or buts) and some customers were to comply with price structure, I could see some buses getting delayed more than usual. I'm thinking of the QM6 and Q46 where the QM6 would incur a longer trip time-wise. Also, the MTA would claim that the Q46 is already there.

I could see some people liking this where the express bus provides a one-seat ride (ie - Bay Terrace Queens to the College Point DMV via the QM2 as opposed to taking the Q28 to the Q25 or using the Q16 and walking 15 minutes). However, I don't see the MTA adopting this as a standard policy. Only on rare occasion (esp during the QSC days) would the drivers provide such 'off-script' service (I'm thinking of Sept 11, the NE blackout of Aug 2003, and perhaps any days where the weather was really bad). Nowadays, the MTA wants everyone to stick to the script (many a driver as said this much on several occasions).

This actually kind of happens with the QM6 because only the QM6 is allowed into the North Shore Towers complex. They don't allow the Q46 in there, as they want it keep a more upscale feel for the co-op residents. However, plenty of workers work there and I have seen them on the QM6 when we leave the North Shore Towers.  I believe they get off and transfer somewhere along Union Turnpike eventually, but they do pay $6.75.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

This actually kind of happens with the QM6 because only the QM6 is allowed into the North Shore Towers complex. They don't allow the Q46 in there, as they want it keep a more upscale feel for the co-op residents. However, plenty of workers work there and I have seen them on the QM6 when we leave the North Shore Towers.  I believe they get off and transfer somewhere along Union Turnpike eventually, but they do pay $6.75.

Oh wow. I didn't even think of the workers at NST. That makes sense, though. I know that some QM20 passengers switch buses at Linden Place and the Whitestone Expressway for the QM32 for 3rd Ave service (or at least they used to). Some of the newer drivers would not stop to allow this transfer if nobody was boarding at Linden Place and the Whitestone Expressway (because it was not a deboarding stop).

Is this 'part of the script' at MTA HQ, or is it tolerated by the MTA due to the influence of NST? I know Mitchell-Linden set something like this up back in the day (several years ago under QSC management) when Q34 service was cut on Saturdays. Passengers were told to take the Q25 or QBx1 and switch to the QM2, but to 'tell the driver' on the QM2 eastbound that they're doing the 'Mitchell-Linden' transfer. I don't think anybody utilized this option at all.

Edited by Uncle Floyd Fan

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6 minutes ago, Uncle Floyd Fan said:

Oh wow. I didn't even think of the workers at NST. That makes sense, though. I know that some QM20 passengers switch buses at Linden Place and the Whitestone Expressway for the QM32 for 3rd Ave service (or at least they used to). Some of the newer drivers would not stop to allow this transfer if nobody was boarding at Linden Place and the Whitestone Expressway (because it was not a deboarding stop).

Is this 'part of the script' at MTA HQ, or is it tolerated by the MTA due to the influence of NST? I know Mitchell-Linden set something like this up back in the day (several years ago under QSC management) when Q34 service was cut on Saturdays. Passengers were told to take the Q25 or QBx1 and switch to the QM2, but to 'tell the driver' on the QM2 eastbound that they're doing the 'Mitchell-Linden' transfer. I don't think anybody utilized this option at all.

Years ago the (MTA) approached the North Shore Towers and asked them if they wanted service directly into the complex since it is private.  They responded by having the QM6 come in to serve buildings 3, 2, and 1 (there is a QM6 stop for each building), but not the Q46, and it has remained that way today.  I approached them a few months ago about a meeting there and I just have to arrange it, but I wanted to see what sort of express bus service they wanted.  They do want Downtown service for sure.

 

 

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