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Via Garibaldi 8

On-Time Express Bus Metrics Employed by the MTA

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At yesterday's meeting, we had a rather heated discussion about on-time performance and the metrics that the agency uses for express bus service. They want to move more into focusing on how long a passenger waits for an express bus more so than how many express buses are scheduled at a given time.  I told them that I wasn't such a fan of this because in Bay Ridge for example, during parts of the morning rush, there's supposed to an X27 scheduled every 6-7 minutes, yet passengers are reporting waits of double to triple that, which leads to overcrowding because they aren't getting  as many buses as they should be.  The MTA countered with the fact that focusing on wait times allows them to move buses around as needed to address gaps in service, and that this metric was being used by other transportation agencies around the country. One rep basically told me that my request to have buses adhere more strictly to the schedule was unrealistic in the "real world". <_<  I countered by saying that the agency has no excuse now because they have BusTrek to allow them to see where buses are in real time, and that the 2015 Audit from the Comptroller's Office requested that they adjust the schedules to more realistic run times, which they have only done with some lines.

In short, my take on it is that we need a balance of both because if a bus comes once an hour, then obviously the schedule becomes far more important because if you miss a bus, you'll be waiting an hour versus waiting say 10 minutes for a bus during rush hour. I also told them that not adhering to a schedule allows them to have more buses missing and thus means that they aren't being held accountable for honoring the scheduled trips that they have listed. It was probably the most heated part of the meeting to be honest, and I can guarantee you that we will be discussing it again.  You see since the (MTA) can't control congestion, their stance is well we have to cut back the routes and change the metrics, otherwise if you actually adhere to the schedule, your on-time performance goes out of the window. I told them they can't keep avoiding the elephant in the room, which is congestion. Rather than trying to avoid it, we have to address it head on, but since that's the DOT's area, they can only lobby them to mitigate congestion.  Nevertheless, I made it clear that congestion doesn't absolve them of aiming to improve on-time metrics for express bus service. If a bus driver has arrived at the pick-up portion of the route on-time, then that trip should be leaving the terminal within 5-10 minutes of the scheduled time.  I've had the last BxM2 of the night leaving 20 minutes late when there is no traffic to speak of.  That negatively impacts service because people start panicking and wondering if the last bus won't show, which does happen at times, or you have angry passengers calling up 511 or trying to call the depot demanding to know where the last express bus of the night is. By having the bus adhere closely to the schedule, you avoid such situations.  

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Lazy excuse. The real answer is resources. They're probably too embarrassed to admit it. They want to use wait time to see how they can get away with cutting services. It may be good on paper, but I'm assuming that routes like the X27 would get cuts in peak times. And it's really annoying because our city is getting bigger, not smaller.

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51 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

At yesterday's meeting, we had a rather heated discussion about on-time performance and the metrics that the agency uses for express bus service. They want to move more into focusing on how long a passenger waits for an express bus more so than how many express buses are scheduled at a given time.  I told them that I wasn't such a fan of this because in Bay Ridge for example, during parts of the morning rush, there's supposed to an X27 scheduled every 6-7 minutes, yet passengers are reporting waits of double to triple that, which leads to overcrowding because they aren't getting  as many buses as they should be.  The MTA countered with the fact that focusing on wait times allows them to move buses around as needed to address gaps in service, and that this metric was being used by other transportation agencies around the country. One rep basically told me that my request to have buses adhere more strictly to the schedule was unrealistic in the "real world". <_<  I countered by saying that the agency has no excuse now because they have BusTrek to allow them to see where buses are in real time, and that the 2015 Audit from the Comptroller's Office requested that they adjust the schedules to more realistic run times, which they have only done with some lines.

They contradicted themselves with that sentence. If buses are scheduled every 6-7 minutes, the average wait should be 3-3.5 minutes....maybe a passenger waits the whole 7 minutes if they just missed a bus, and maybe 10 if the bus is a few minutes late, but they shouldn't be waiting 15-20 minutes, and if they are, Road Operations failed their own metric.

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2 minutes ago, checkmatechamp13 said:

They contradicted themselves with that sentence. If buses are scheduled every 6-7 minutes, the average wait should be 3-3.5 minutes....maybe a passenger waits the whole 7 minutes if they just missed a bus, and maybe 10 if the bus is a few minutes late, but they shouldn't be waiting 15-20 minutes, and if they are, Road Operations failed their own metric.

That was precisely my point.  All I keep hearing is we shouldn't have missing scheduled buses. Well FILL the trips!! It's crazy.  We already know why they aren't filling them... 

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Seems like they are just trying to cover something up or not explaining an issue that they dare not speak of. I just feel like they should focus more so on customer experience than just some other metric system other agencies with other traffic conditions in other places that aren't NYC. 

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41 minutes ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

Lazy excuse. The real answer is resources. They're probably too embarrassed to admit it. They want to use wait time to see how they can get away with cutting services. It may be good on paper, but I'm assuming that routes like the X27 would get cuts in peak times. And it's really annoying because our city is getting bigger, not smaller.

That and congestion is worsening so trips are becoming longer and longer, and more expensive to run.

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Sign of a shitty organization (or person) - they always say what they're gonna do, why they can't do something else, and get angry when you have a smarter method.

That's why the (MTA) fails - they piss-poor emulate and retaliate instead of trying to innovate and appreciate.

Edited by Deucey
Finished my rhyming scheme
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This is actually really worrying. Focusing on wait times allows NYCT to obfuscate both the reliability of buses and the actual amount of capacity provided by said buses. Yes, OTP can be hard to deal with in a intergovernmentally controlled road environment, but it's sort of the mother of all metrics -- get OTP somewhere good, and everything else (wait time, trip reliability, trip time, etc) falls into place.

Instead of pulling a subway (making sure no one understood the effects of timers/operational dumbassery by obsessing over 'Wait Assessment,' a measure of train spacing that fails to account for actual timeliness/throughput) they should be using OTP (and, if I daresay so, all of its forms -- ER/OTP and CJTP and T/OTP) to paint an accurate picture of shitty bus service. Then, they can fix what they can fix, and yell at the DOT for what they can't. The MTA's job isn't to pleasure itself. Customer-facing wait time metrics (AST) have a place in these discussions, but to use them in lieu of metrics that speak to operational chaos is the worst sort of obfuscation. I hope you give'em hell, VG8. 

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2 minutes ago, RR503 said:

This is actually really worrying. Focusing on wait times allows NYCT to obfuscate both the reliability of buses and the actual amount of capacity provided by said buses. Yes, OTP can be hard to deal with in a intergovernmentally controlled road environment, but it's sort of the mother of all metrics -- get OTP somewhere good, and everything else (wait time, trip reliability, trip time, etc) falls into place.

Instead of pulling a subway (making sure no one understood the effects of timers/operational dumbassery by obsessing over 'Wait Assessment,' a measure of train spacing that fails to account for actual timeliness/throughput) they should be using OTP (and, if I daresay so, all of its forms -- ER/OTP and CJTP and T/OTP) to paint an accurate picture of shitty bus service. Then, they can fix what they can fix, and yell at the DOT for what they can't. The MTA's job isn't to pleasure itself. Customer-facing wait time metrics (AST) have a place in these discussions, but to use them in lieu of metrics that speak to operational chaos is the worst sort of obfuscation. I hope you give'em hell, VG8. 

If you think that's troubling, this I found more troubling:

Quote

The MTA does not have on-time performance targets for the percentages of buses that it expects should be on time. However, it does have criteria by which it measures timeliness for a scheduled pick-up.  Our field observations found that 31 percent of sampled express buses were not on time, based on the MTA’s criteria for timeliness. Additionally, the MTA does not publicly report progress towards meeting its targets for reliable express bus service. The MTA has developed two bus performance indicators-percent of bus trips completed and mean distance between failures-to measure how well it is attaining its goal of service reliability. When reporting bus performance, however, it combines the results for express buses with those of the much larger population of local buses. Consequently, the riding public has no means of assessing express bus service performance.

And there's this from an (MTA) spokesman:

Quote

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city's 65 express bus lines, said keeping to the schedule isn't the best metric for measuring performance, but rather how "evenness of service," or how long a passenger is kept waiting.

Source: https://www.newsday.com/news/new-york/express-buses-in-nyc-late-more-than-30-of-the-time-stringer-reports-1.10323950

 

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There are times where I want to get somewhere quicker than walking and so I opt to get on the bus when/if I see it coming....BUT once I get on the bus I regret it because it's so damn SLOW due to traffic signals and congestion, but also because usually the B/O drives the bus like a motorized cart at Walmart, that It would have actually been faster to walk! 

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