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ATU Looks At Bus Service and Examples For Improvement

October 13, 2016  
By Corey Bearak

The Public Ought To Know

Queens, NY – In part one of this four part series of The Public Ought To Know we explored why it makes sense to reply more on bus public transit.  This time, let's look at some existing bus service and identify a few examples for improvement.

New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and MTA transit planners need to re-think their focus on Select Bus Service (SBS) – their version of what is more commonly known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)  – which involve no significant service upgrades.

Studying the SBS metrics makes clear the need to look at the larger picture.  ATU favors BRT and SBS approaches as part of any plan to improve bus service system wide.  Unfortunately the deployment of substantial human and money resources to date diverts attention from the needed holistic approach to public transit in places – including Queens – that need more, better and the introduction of bus service.  In ATU's experience, especially in Queens, SBS hurts communities; since its inception SBS reduced overall service to communities; the implementation of SBS basically replaces Limited (bus stop) service.

Extending SBS features to other local and express routes offer real opportunities to enhance service.  Off-board fare payment reduces time to get on and overall travel times.  This would work particularly well at subway and other terminals.

Issues involving delays and longer than expected waits often relate to management decisions that take buses and bus operators out of service. 

Often, MTA's bus divisions opt not to replace a driver out sick and or a disabled bus.

When MTA managers allow longer than appropriate bus inspection schedules, unsafe equipment often leaves a route short on buses; this only puts drivers and riders at risk in buses that may break down, often unsafely.

The above scenarios means buses out of service either lacking a driver or unable to operate, runs on routes going uncovered and longer wait times for riders, often at the worst times.  When fewer buses run blowing published schedules, it impacts passengers facing the summer heat, blustery rain and as the weather becomes colder and more frequently inclement.

Next The Public Ought To Know: Exploring a strategic approach to bus public transit.

*Corey Bearak can be reached at StrategicPublicPolicy.com.  Find his ebook, The Public Ought To Know, at Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks.

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