My name is Selig Alpern. I've been living in Manhattan all my life. I am 89 years old. We have 4 to 5 limiteds flying down Lexington Avenue, and we have to wait 20 minutes for a local. From 10 o'clock in the morning to 4 o'clock in the afternoon there should be no limiteds. There should only be limiteds from 4 to 7 and 7 to 10 in the morning. When is the MTA going to stop sending limiteds all day long? They are not necessary from 10 in the morning to 4pm. It's a pet peeve of mine, and I wish it would be corrected.
Alpern was described as "ranting," "railing," "ornery," "upset," and "angry," but I think a lot of it was just him speaking loudly and clearly in order to be heard over the noise of Lexington Avenue. I thought his concern was valid, but his prescription was wrong, and then he undermined the whole thing and set himself up to be taken as a crank by calling it a "pet peeve." Transit frequency is not a pet peeve.
First of all, what does the MTA intend to do, as documented by the bus schedules? Looking at the noon hour, the M101 Limited is scheduled to pass Bloomingdale's at 12:08, 12:16, 12:24, 12:26, 12:32, 12:37, 12:47, 12:51 and 12:55 - nine buses an hour. The frequency is uneven, but the average headway is six minutes.
For the local buses, the M102 comes at 12:11, 12:31 and 12:51, and the M103 comes at 12:06, 12:21, 12:36 and 12:51. If you're not going below Eighth Street you can take either one, so I'll treat them as equivalent. That makes seven buses an hour, for an average frequency of eight minutes. One problem is that the headways are uneven, ranging from zero to fifteen minutes. If one of those buses is even a little bit late, it could lead to exactly the situation that Alpern complained about: being stuck for twenty minutes at a local stop watching one limited after another fly by.
We should definitely not eliminate midday limited service. How does it look for a Jewish guy from East 68th Street to tell the MTA to add ten minutes to every limited bus trip going from Harlem downtown? But it would be appropriate to tweak the schedule and run one or two buses on the local route instead of the limited route.
Better yet, who's to say that we have to get rid of buses on one route in order to add buses to another? Why not add more M102 and M103 buses without getting rid of M101s?
Some of this depends on the "loading guidelines." You don't want to run too many empty buses. That said, you could run regular buses instead of articulated ("bendy") buses if you want higher frequency.
Steve "BicyclesOnly" Vaccaro tweeted that he cared about, "What are candidate's position on BRT?" And that's an excellent question. Why aren't there bus lanes on Lexington Avenue?
Alpern's question highlighted a major problem in New York today: the despondent tone of so much of transit advocacy. Why do so many people think it's a zero-sum game, where we've given over Lexington Avenue to the cars, and Jews and Puerto Ricans have to fight each other over the scraps of bus service that crawl along wherever they can fit in?
The candidates' responses to that question, and the Democrats' responses to another transit question, were revealing. None of them mentioned "BRT," or even buzzwordless bus improvements. But George McDonald did say he looks forward to the Second Avenue Subway opening, and predicted that it would relieve crowding on the Lexington Avenue buses. No word if he would do anything as mayor to help get the rest of the line built, or even finish Phase 1, but at least it was hopeful and forward-looking.