Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ten things Trottenberg and Bratton can do for transit

There have been a few posts about what the new administration of Mayor de Blasio can do for transit. Some have been focused on "bus rapid transit," because it's the fad of the decade and people don't want to think too hard about transit. Some rest entirely on him taking back control the MTA.

Following on my ten recommendations for pedestrians, here are ten recommendations for transit that don't require control of the MTA. Some of them can be done by the DOT, some by the NYPD, and some require cooperation between them, but none of them require action from the MTA or the State Legislature. They all have to do with buses, but unlike Select Bus Service, they don't require months of route planning to implement.

  1. Legalize private transit. The city Department of Transportation has the authority to allow private buses to operate on city streets, but for as long as I can remember they've only allowed three groups: (a) Buses like Academy that cross state lines, (b) Legacy streetcar companies that were finally taken over by the MTA in 2006, and (c) the gender-segregated Hasidic bus from Williamsburg to Borough Park. We need innovation in transit routing, and the MTA has consistently shown resistance to innovation. It's time to let private operators give it a try.

  2. Restore two-way traffic flow. It makes no sense that I can get a downtown subway on Sixth Avenue, but not a downtown bus. A one-way pair may be a good idea on Eighth and Ninth Streets, but not on Sixth and Seventh Avenues. It would be good for pedestrians too.

  3. Reopen the Union Turnpike entrances for buses. Reader Angus Grieve-Smith commutes from Western Queens to Saint John's University, and realized that the Kew Gardens station has the facilities for a fare-free transfer from bus to subway.

  4. Allow buses on the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was built for trains. Maybe it can't support trucks anymore. But can it really not support buses?

  5. Make bus bulbs standard. Pedestrians get more sidewalk space. Bus riders aren't the ones getting out of the way. It's a win-win!

  6. Make signal priority for buses standard. Why should it only be for Select Bus routes? It's expensive to replace the equipment, but as equipment gets updated it should be set to favor buses.

  7. No painted bus lanes that aren't 24/7. The red paint should mean something: Buses Only. It should not mean "For buses, except for turning cars and off hours and you know what? Let's just drive in it and see if they give me a ticket."

  8. Establish a New Jersey to Brooklyn pilot bus. One solution to buses idling in Lower Manhattan is to send them out to Brooklyn. There are people who live in Brooklyn and work in New Jersey and vice versa. Maybe more if you make it easy to commute.

  9. A 24/7 busway on the LIE. It would speed up the express buses and add bus capacity to and from Nassau County.

  10. Real fare inspection. The way the NYPD currently does fare inspection is fucking nuts. In Paris, fare inspectors board a bus just as it's pulling out of a stop, and check everyone's tickets as the bus is moving. In New York, fare inspectors pull up to the bus stop in an SUV and make the bus sit there while they check tickets. We shouldn't keep travelers waiting just because some NYPD people feel they're too good to be more than twenty feet from their own government vehicle.


Mike and Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike and Kate said...

What are the "Legacy streetcar companies that were finally taken over by the MTA in 2006?"

BBnet3000 said...

In the vein of the Brooklyn<->NJ buses, how about a 4th ave limited bus from Downtown Brooklyn to St George? The current buses over the Verrazano actually make you transfer on the SI side to reach the northern part of SI. Its insane.

I have no idea how useful this would be and to whom, but im in Sunset Park and was recently looking at a job in St George, and I was like "oh so its my current commute to Bowling Green PLUS a 35 minute ferry ride, assuming the ferry is timed perfectly for me."

In the end id probably end up buying a motorcycle and driving if i were making decent money. Its the most reasonable choice because we have made it the most reasonable choice. This particular situation goes back to the Moses years, but its still not something we have done anything about since.

West said...

Jamaica lines, green lines, command bus, queens surface ect. All streetcars that were bustituted decades ago. Now they are part of mta bus co - not nyct.

neroden@gmail said...

The fare inspection fix should be priority one.

That said, bus bulbs *should* be standard -- *everywhere*. There's a reason for this which most people don't think of: handicapped access.

Your typical bus driver, pulling out of lane to one side in a narrow space, utterly fails to line itself up with the curb for handicapped access, instead ending up at some wonky angle.

With a bus bulb the bus drivers are actually pretty good at lining up the ramp with the curb. said...

I don't like #1 or #2, but the rest seem pretty sensible. 5-7 and 10 seem like they wouldn't be that hard to implement and it's hard to think of a reason not to do them.

jazumah said...

I think you are going to see a resurgence in private transit very soon. I do not like having to keep the names and phone numbers of passengers, but doing so will allow me to slap the city around on the state level. Certainly, the service will be less user-friendly than a normal bus, but it will exist.

jazumah said...

I think 2014 is going to start a resurgence in private transportation options. Naturally, people like me hate keeping the names and phone numbers of passengers on file, but doing this will allow me to twist NYSDOT's arm the next time the city gets out of line.