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Lawrence St

First it was the ferries, now it's the express bus...

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https://gothamist.com/news/mta-still-running-heavily-subsidized-express-bus-service-despite-few-riders?fbclid=IwAR1PbvOkhtDHV9FREiVqBC7W__adoEZa9KmkgzWpwWZiGWETNl234hFiQXY

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Express bus service receives the most public subsidies of any form of public transit in the city at $11.79 per person, according to a recent report from the Citizens Budget Commission. By comparison, Metro-North receives $5.62, and LIRR $6.07. The cost of a single express bus ticket is also the most expensive bus ticket the MTA offers, at $6.75 per trip.

Albert argues that if the MTA is running full express service, it should also restore full service on the C and F lines, something the union is suing the MTA over, saying its workers want those assignments back.

“What’s fair is fair. If you’re running full express bus service, you can certainly run full C and F train service considering the ridership on those lines beats the pants off of any express bus route,” Albert said.

In February 2020 the average number of weekday express bus riders was 42,000 passengers. Last month, there were 12,000 average daily riders. By comparison, the subway hit a pandemic high one day this month, with 3 million riders, still far from the pre-pandemic levels of more than 5 million subway riders a day.

New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company are operating at full service – as COVID-19 guidelines like social distancing on mass transportation remain in place to protect employees and passengers,” MTA Spokesperson Amanda Valdes wrote in a statement. “The Authority’s top priority is to provide a safe and secure transportation system for our customers and our heroic employees who have kept the city moving during these challenging times. The MTA continuously monitors ridership on buses and as more New Yorkers return, the Authority will continue to provide sufficient service.”

Another express bus rider named Sam, who declined to give his last name, lives in Bay Ridge and has been using the service to commute to his finance job in midtown for the past six months. He said the bus has been getting a little more crowded in recent weeks, but he’ll keep riding the bus, for now.

“I’ll try to adjust the hours, not take it when it’s over-crowded,” he told Gothamist/WNYC, as he and one other person boarded an empty bus Wednesday morning, just before 8 a.m.

 

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Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Albert. These people typically don't calibrate blanket service cuts too well.

Yea, if they did a 20% blanket cut, it would right-size a BxM3 trip, but you'd probably cause a SIM1 trip to be packed to the gills.

Kind of like if you cut 20% of M12 service you'd barely see the difference, but a 20% Bx12 cut would end up being disastrous.

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Once upon a time, there were people in this transit community that were dubbed "express bus haters" & the initial talking point of the article was the very talking point brought up in justification of said "hate"..... While there were instances of it on this forum, it was more prevalent on RD & subchat.....

So basically, this isn't a "now it's the express bus" thing at all.... The hate for the express bus simply became dormant over the years.

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I have no problem with stating factual information, but this reporter is slimy. There was an X37 bus ahead of the one he got on that was packed, and some riders let that one go by because there was another one right behind it, so he snapped a photo that was still in the pick-up segment and then touts this idea that all express buses are riding around empty.  Bad reporting. When I was interviewed by Jose Martinez from The City, we had a good 45 minute conversation over the phone about express bus service. He agreed with me on the idea that hey there is no subway service in these neighborhoods, and the buses help cut down on long commutes. 

This is a BxM9 at 5am from Throggs Neck. Not exactly empty... Some buses are crowded, some not as crowded, but the idea that there are tons of empty buses is just a lie. I have seen the same thing with the local buses too. The buses are less predictable in terms of which ones will be packed, so keeping the service is a good thing because more offices are opening up and more and more buses are becoming crowded, especially the early trips. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, paulrivera said:

Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Albert. These people typically don't calibrate blanket service cuts too well.

Yea, if they did a 20% blanket cut, it would right-size a BxM3 trip, but you'd probably cause a SIM1 trip to be packed to the gills.

Kind of like if you cut 20% of M12 service you'd barely see the difference, but a 20% Bx12 cut would end up being disastrous.

Mr. Albert lives in a tony part of the Upper West Side where he can walk to the (1)(2)(3) or the (B)(C) lines, numerous yellow taxis, and a plethora of local bus lines, in addition to Uber and Lyft, so he has no idea what it's like to have limited transportation options. 

What's further disgusting is that Danny Pearlstein from the Riders' Alliance has made transportation a class issue, as if the express buses only run in affluent neighborhoods like mine in Riverdale: 

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“New Yorkers need frequent, reliable, round-the-clock public transit for the city to recover,” Danny Pearlstein, Policy and Communications Director with Riders Alliance wrote in a statement. “Governor Cuomo should extend his concern for express bus riders in Riverdale, Douglaston, and Todt Hill to the tens of thousands of people who commute overnight and to New Yorkers who ride the F and C from Jamaica, Coney Island, East New York, and Washington Heights.”

Tell that to the people on Rochdale Village or other parts of Southeast Queens. We have a number of QM21 riders in my group that live far out and have no subway service and depend on their express bus service.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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Cuomo probably won't let the MTA cut anything now for fear of making him look worse than he already does. Of course, that's politically perfect, because it still allows politicians to demand more audits and complain about wasting money on empty buses.

 

Speaking of ferries, I fully expect the NYC Ferry system to eventually become the MTA Boat Company.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

Cuomo probably won't let the MTA cut anything now for fear of making him look worse than he already does. Of course, that's politically perfect, because it still allows politicians to demand more audits and complain about wasting money on empty buses.

 

Speaking of ferries, I fully expect the NYC Ferry system to eventually become the MTA Boat Company.

The ferries are run by the City, so not sure why you're mentioning Cuomo. De Blasio felt it was necessary to provide ferry service to areas without subways or with poor subway access, and there are many areas where the ferries run that are poor such as Sunset Park, Red Hook, etc. Coney Island has been wanting one for a while. The truly rich are not using any form of public transit. They use cars EVERYWHERE. I suppose if we keep railing on non-subway and local bus service, we can drive people off of the express buses, Metro-North and LIRR because upper middle and upper class taxpayers aren't supposed to have transit options.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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15 hours ago, Lawrence St said:

Express bus service receives the most public subsidies of any form of public transit in the city at $11.79 per person, according to a recent report from the Citizens Budget Commission.

Even with the $6.50 fare?

Explains why SI had the network consolidated for efficiencies.

Doesn't explain why NYC Ferry gets the same or higher subsidies for fewer riders when more areas could use subway services or express buses in the short-to-long term and lower fares for them.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Deucey said:

Even with the $6.50 fare?

Explains why SI had the network consolidated for efficiencies.

Doesn't explain why NYC Ferry gets the same or higher subsidies for fewer riders when more areas could use subway services or express buses in the short-to-long term and lower fares for them.

$6.75 you mean... It's the peak service that is more expensive to run because of how it is structured. Some express buses have to deadhead into Manhattan, get passengers, then deadhead back into the City and do another trip. Meanwhile, off-peak service is much cheaper because there is less deadheading. Usually, the driver goes to Manhattan in service with passengers, has their break, then does a trip out of Manhattan in service. 

This is why the argument has been made that some trips that deadhead should be put into service. You get some sort of revenue out of the trip to Manhattan rather than a driver just deadheading and the neighborhoods these buses serve can take the bus instead of driving, taking more cars off of the road. Additionally, as transportation worsens, more and more people are DRIVING, so you have more congestion, and it takes longer and longer to deadhead and longer and longer to complete trips. The reason Staten Island had the express bus lines redesigned was to try to cut down on run times to speed up service. Obviously, the longer the trip takes, the more the driver gets.

On the flip side, for the people that scream and yell about how expensive express bus service is, they have a plethora of subway service in their neighborhoods. Meanwhile the outer boroughs have not seen a single subway line expansion or anything in DECADES. When my neighborhood asked for 242nd St to be made ADA accessible, the (MTA) 's answer was NO, so what are we supposed to take to get to and from? Camels? It's really about equality for New York residents that don't have subways or live far from subways in their neighborhoods, and if they don't want express buses or ferries, then they can build the damn subways, which are far more expensive to build. In fact the cost for new subways are astronomical and would mean tons of money needed upfront that no one wants to provide, so here's where we are. Endless b*tching about providing ferry service. Endless b*tching about express buses, but no monies put forth for infrastructure improvements. Advocacy groups like the Riders' Alliance have made this into a class issue, and cherry pick as to who needs public transportation. Meanwhile there are plenty of poor neighborhoods that now have ferry service and have seen quality of life improvements for shorter commutes, but that doesn't matter because the ferries cost so much, so these people should be forced into extensive commutes and transfers while the people yelling about high subsidies have ample subway access. Gotta love it.

One other thing. The ferry is heavily subsidized by the City because de Blasio argued that the fare should be the same as a subway ride to entice people to use it. One of the main reasons the ferries suffered was because the fares were astronomical. With more people using them, you could get more people out of their cars and have less congestion.

 

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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IDK if Andrew Albert is necessarily saying to cut express bus service (because the subway service was reduced), however it definitely helped the reporter frame that into his argument. I've definitely seen people using the argument that the express buses serve rich white people, which clearly isn't the case if you look at several Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens express buses. When I used to use the BM5, the overwhelming amount of ridership was black on the bus I took. Of course when you're too busy trying to be a SJW, why bother putting anything into context?

With the new passenger counters on the express buses, you'll get to see this claim of empty express buses debunked. I've been tracking the Queens express buses in the early morning the other morning and some of those are pretty well utilized. For example, the first QM4 trip alone had 28 riders onboard, and the very first QM5 trip had 23 riders.

Now, the ridership per bus during the rush hour may be low on some buses, but they're not exactly empty either, and that will be the case with working from home. Plus, you'll need it just to maintain social distancing guidelines (and that's not even possible on some). 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, BM5 via Woodhaven said:

IDK if Andrew Albert is necessarily saying to cut express bus service (because the subway service was reduced), however it definitely helped the reporter frame that into his argument. I've definitely seen people using the argument that the express buses serve rich white people, which clearly isn't the case if you look at several Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens express buses. When I used to use the BM5, the overwhelming amount of ridership was black on the bus I took. Of course when you're too busy trying to be a SJW, why bother putting anything into context?

With the new passenger counters on the express buses, you'll get to see this claim of empty express buses debunked. I've been tracking the Queens express buses in the early morning the other morning and some of those are pretty well utilized. For example, the first QM4 trip alone had 28 riders onboard, and the very first QM5 trip had 23 riders.

Now, the ridership per bus during the rush hour may be low on some buses, but they're not exactly empty either, and that will be the case with working from home. Plus, you'll need it just to maintain social distancing guidelines (and that's not even possible on some). 

Yes, they've done the same thing with ferry service, arguing that only rich white people use them. I was involved in the ferry project, and I can tell you that we went to areas that were mainly minority, so it's such BS when such claims are made. In fact in Brooklyn, there was a huge discussion about where to put the landing dock in Red Hook, as you have an entire area where there are housing projects and some of the poorest New Yorkers that have very limited transit options, that are far away from subways, so yes, I agree. In my advocacy group, some of the most vocal riders have been QM21 riders, who would lose their Midtown service entirely. Rochdale Village is definitely not a white area, or rich, and they are a ways away from the nearest subway line. 

Yeah the BM5 starts in Starrett City, not far from East New York. Certainly not a white neighborhood. lol

As far as Albert goes, he is very subway centric. He came out to one of the fare hearings on Staten Island that I spoke, and he seemed totally aghast at how angry riders were that they wanted to raise the express bus. He is not exactly connected to other areas that don't have subway access, that much I know. I even rode in the elevator with him once when I was speaking at a Board Meeting. Can't say I really wanted to ride with him.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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On 3/25/2021 at 1:58 PM, Deucey said:

Even with the $6.50 fare?

Explains why SI had the network consolidated for efficiencies.

Doesn't explain why NYC Ferry gets the same or higher subsidies for fewer riders when more areas could use subway services or express buses in the short-to-long term and lower fares for them.

It was even worse before the 2010 cuts, you had routes like the X25 with a operating cost per passenger of $80 (yes that is not a typo: eighty dollars). A bunch of other routes were in the $20-$30 range.

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8 hours ago, Around the Horn said:

It was even worse before the 2010 cuts, you had routes like the X25 with a operating cost per passenger of $80 (yes that is not a typo: eighty dollars). A bunch of other routes were in the $20-$30 range.

How do you get $80 cost on a bus - was it transporting air 14 hours a day?

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On 3/25/2021 at 3:06 PM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Yes, they've done the same thing with ferry service, arguing that only rich white people use them. I was involved in the ferry project, and I can tell you that we went to areas that were mainly minority, so it's such BS when such claims are made.

The average income of a ferry rider is $104,000. It is an economic development project, not a transportation project. The city was too broke to pour money into any sort of other transit project, but they always have plenty of toy boat money.

The Bloomberg administration did this one right. They ran higher fares on the weekend and lower fares for the commuters ($4/$6) and that is why their subsidy was peanuts for the service in comparison.
 

8 hours ago, Around the Horn said:

It was even worse before the 2010 cuts, you had routes like the X25 with a operating cost per passenger of $80 (yes that is not a typo: eighty dollars).

The X25 was mismanaged. These were X27 and X29 buses coming in from Brooklyn. They should have advertised the service more and focused on the World Financial Center.
 

On 3/25/2021 at 3:06 PM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

In my advocacy group, some of the most vocal riders have been QM21 riders, who would lose their Midtown service entirely. Rochdale Village is definitely not a white area, or rich, and they are a ways away from the nearest subway line. 

The MTA tried to bend the QM21 riders over the table when excess capacity was still sloshing about everywhere else and the QM21 riders had time. A lot of them work for the government and make very solid money. They were smart enough to know what was happening.
 

On 3/25/2021 at 2:38 PM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

The ferry is heavily subsidized by the City because de Blasio argued that the fare should be the same as a subway ride to entice people to use it. One of the main reasons the ferries suffered was because the fares were astronomical. With more people using them, you could get more people out of their cars and have less congestion.

The ferry is heavily subsidized by the city as a favor to real estate interests. The city tried to sell the image of egalitarian boats. Most of us know better.

 

On 3/25/2021 at 12:20 PM, Gotham Bus Co. said:

Speaking of ferries, I fully expect the NYC Ferry system to eventually become the MTA Boat Company.

Not without a blank check agreement. The MTA has been shafted by the city enough as it is.

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9 minutes ago, Deucey said:

How do you get $80 cost on a bus - was it transporting air 14 hours a day?

If your trip cost is ~$125 and you average less than 4 passengers a trip, some trips can get that crazy. The X25 had a UniTicket option on it, so I doubt they were getting anywhere near the express bus fare.

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On 3/25/2021 at 2:03 AM, B35 via Church said:

Once upon a time, there were people in this transit community that were dubbed "express bus haters" & the initial talking point of the article was the very talking point brought up in justification of said "hate"..... While there were instances of it on this forum, it was more prevalent on RD & subchat.....

So basically, this isn't a "now it's the express bus" thing at all.... The hate for the express bus simply became dormant over the years.

I mean this isn't really a surprise to anyone, but it becomes exhausting to have the same arguments with the same people over and over and over again.

What's the point of talking about it if everyone's stuck in their positions.

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2 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

I mean this isn't really a surprise to anyone, but it becomes exhausting to have the same arguments with the same people over and over and over again.

What's the point of talking about it if everyone's stuck in their positions.

Tell that to the thread starter & why it was titled as such....

6 hours ago, JAzumah said:

The X25 was mismanaged. These were X27 and X29 buses coming in from Brooklyn. They should have advertised the service more and focused on the World Financial Center.

Lol.... No amount of advertising would've helped that route... It was a essentially a 45 foot taxi.... Much of nobody coming from off the MNRR bothered considering the thing - irony is, folks were better off with actually taking a damn taxi.....

People can say what they wanted about the x90 & the fact that it was also an intra-borough express, but at least that route used to carry heavy....

6 hours ago, Deucey said:

How do you get $80 cost on a bus - was it transporting air 14 hours a day?

Worse - it was carrying air for the narrow span of service it had.... Thing was a peak direction route that only had 4 trips each (as in, 4 trips leaving GCT in the morning & 4 trips leaving WFC during the early afternoon/onset of the PM rush)... Last bus leaving WFC was like around 5:15 or 5:20, something like that..... Hell with a day, it barely ran 14 hours a week :lol:

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Posted (edited)

The thing I believe is wrong with the X25 is the fact it was managed poorly and advertised incorrectly. If it was advertised as a Grand Central-South Ferry "local route" (perhaps M25) that you would pay $2 for and not $6 it might of survived (but that would still be unlikely)

Edited by MysteriousBtrain

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28 minutes ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

The thing I believe is wrong with the X25 is the fact it was managed poorly and advertised incorrectly. If it was advertised as a Grand Central-South Ferry "local route" (perhaps M25) that you would pay $2 for and not $6 it might of survived (but that would still be unlikely)

Just a few hours ago, I was thinking that it could've stood a chance if it was more akin to the M98. Unfortunately, we'll never know, as that ship already sailed.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

The thing I believe is wrong with the X25 is the fact it was managed poorly and advertised incorrectly. If it was advertised as a Grand Central-South Ferry "local route" (perhaps M25) that you would pay $2 for and not $6 it might of survived (but that would still be unlikely)

The problem with that is that there are two routes that basically does the job of the m25 proposal, the M103 which is footsteps away from Grand Central, and the M15, which is two-three blocks east depending on which side of Grand Central you exit out of. And then there was the M6 before it got pushed over to 7th Avenue due to the pedestrian plazas being made. The M25 would basically be a duplicate service.

Edited by Cait Sith
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On 3/25/2021 at 2:38 PM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

$6.75 you mean... It's the peak service that is more expensive to run because of how it is structured. Some express buses have to deadhead into Manhattan, get passengers, then deadhead back into the City and do another trip. Meanwhile, off-peak service is much cheaper because there is less deadheading. Usually, the driver goes to Manhattan in service with passengers, has their break, then does a trip out of Manhattan in service. 

This is why the argument has been made that some trips that deadhead should be put into service. You get some sort of revenue out of the trip to Manhattan rather than a driver just deadheading and the neighborhoods these buses serve can take the bus instead of driving, taking more cars off of the road. Additionally, as transportation worsens, more and more people are DRIVING, so you have more congestion, and it takes longer and longer to deadhead and longer and longer to complete trips. The reason Staten Island had the express bus lines redesigned was to try to cut down on run times to speed up service. Obviously, the longer the trip takes, the more the driver gets.

This.

I've seen buses deadheading from Manhattan between say 7pm - 9pm...which means they did an inbound trip and deadheaded out, while another bus was deadheading in to do an outbound trip. Just adjust the schedules and have more runs involve round-trips and that alone should drop the costs down and improve efficiency. 

Not to mention that, while they did generally make the SIM network more efficient than the old "X" network out here, there were some areas where they blindly ignored their own concepts (the Hylan Blvd routes and the SIM4X/8X) and had routes with a long pickup/dropoff-only segment when the opportunity was there for them to keep aspects of the old patterns that worked (with the Hylan Blvd routes) and apply them to new corridors (the SIM4X/8X).

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1 hour ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

The thing I believe is wrong with the X25 is the fact it was managed poorly and advertised incorrectly. If it was advertised as a Grand Central-South Ferry "local route" (perhaps M25) that you would pay $2 for and not $6 it might of survived (but that would still be unlikely)

Thing is though, it never went to South Ferry; it only ran to BPC (WFC in-particular)..... Aside from that, this is more speaking to transforming the route, more than anything involving lackadaisical advertising of the old x25....

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

The thing I believe is wrong with the X25 is the fact it was managed poorly and advertised incorrectly. If it was advertised as a Grand Central-South Ferry "local route" (perhaps M25) that you would pay $2 for and not $6 it might of survived (but that would still be unlikely)

 

6 hours ago, B35 via Church said:

Tell that to the thread starter & why it was titled as such....

Lol.... No amount of advertising would've helped that route... It was a essentially a 45 foot taxi.... Much of nobody coming from off the MNRR bothered considering the thing - irony is, folks were better off with actually taking a damn taxi.....

People can say what they wanted about the x90 & the fact that it was also an intra-borough express, but at least that route used to carry heavy....

Worse - it was carrying air for the narrow span of service it had.... Thing was a peak direction route that only had 4 trips each (as in, 4 trips leaving GCT in the morning & 4 trips leaving WFC during the early afternoon/onset of the PM rush)... Last bus leaving WFC was like around 5:15 or 5:20, something like that..... Hell with a day, it barely ran 14 hours a week :lol:

 

13 hours ago, JAzumah said:

The average income of a ferry rider is $104,000. It is an economic development project, not a transportation project. The city was too broke to pour money into any sort of other transit project, but they always have plenty of toy boat money.

The Bloomberg administration did this one right. They ran higher fares on the weekend and lower fares for the commuters ($4/$6) and that is why their subsidy was peanuts for the service in comparison.
 

The X25 was mismanaged. These were X27 and X29 buses coming in from Brooklyn. They should have advertised the service more and focused on the World Financial Center.
 

The MTA tried to bend the QM21 riders over the table when excess capacity was still sloshing about everywhere else and the QM21 riders had time. A lot of them work for the government and make very solid money. They were smart enough to know what was happening.
 

The ferry is heavily subsidized by the city as a favor to real estate interests. The city tried to sell the image of egalitarian boats. Most of us know better.

 

Not without a blank check agreement. The MTA has been shafted by the city enough as it is.

 

13 hours ago, Deucey said:

How do you get $80 cost on a bus - was it transporting air 14 hours a day?

I used the X25 from Park Row to Grand Central a few times and it had a good seated load, so they didn't all run empty. If it was better advertised, it would've been used better. These people were regulars too, as the driver spoke to all of them like he knew them. It was a nice alternative to the overcrowded subway. 

These are the sort of people that take Ubers like myself. When I have meetings Downtown, I often get an Uber back to my office in Midtown. When the X25 ran, I would take that if I was in the area. They are there, and if marketed accordingly, you can get them. The income level of Metro-North riders averages over $100,000 IIRC. The express bus fare was nothing they couldn't afford. Just needed a larger base.

I too agree that the X25 was mismanaged.

As for the ferry, I won't disagree about the real estate interests. If we're talking about Williamsburg, it certainly helped the areas away from the subway. Those people earning over $100,000 prefer to take it. That said, the key word is average. There are plenty of New Yorkers that use the ferry that don't have such high salaries. Soundview is a perfect example of this. It has helped to cut commute times down by about half or more. There are a number of people from that area that also drive up to Bruckner and White Plains Road for the BxM8.

These are mainly working class people at best to solid middle class, so paying just $2.75, the cost of a subway ride makes it more enticing, which was the City's goal from the start. I was privy to the EIS statements before the public saw them, as I was serving several clients on that project. The location of the slips in particular was studied greatly in terms of the environmental impact, but also looking at the demographics of the areas served, so it's not just targeted for upper income people. 

As for the X90, it definitely carried more than the X25, but we're talking about a very similar ridership base working in the financial area. Again, similar income levels and demographics.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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9 hours ago, B35 via Church said:

Lol.... No amount of advertising would've helped that route... It was a essentially a 45 foot taxi.... Much of nobody coming from off the MNRR bothered considering the thing - irony is, folks were better off with actually taking a damn taxi.....

That's the advertising angle! A bus that thinks it's a taxi.

You have a flyer showing the X25 waiting in the taxi line outside of the station. On that flyer, you show the UniTicket prices.

You add a "Downtown" zone to all of the East of Hudson timetables and show a red, green, and blue line on the map stretching to Wall Street & the WFC on the Metro-North map. Everybody would flash the pass to the bus operator.

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