Locals Vent About Shoddy MTA Bus Service on the Lower East Side [RECAP]

Posted on: November 18th, 2015 at 5:15 am by
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Last night was the town hall extravaganza organized and emceed by State Senator Daniel Squadron. Turnout was impressive – in the dozens – all to discuss and vent frustrations about MTA bus service, its pitfalls, and ways to improve the overall system. The room was chock full of local politicians (Margaret Chin, Scott Stringer) and reporters from various publications.

The MTA panel was composed of three representatives led by transit and community affairs honcho Marcus Book, bus guru Buckley Yung, and Glen Rasmussen. To their credit, the detachment was transparent in light of a fed-up crowd, and handled the situation well given the circumstances. At moments, it felt like mob mentality against the MTA. A public pillory, if you will, with questions as proverbial pitchforks to drive the point home that change must happen.

Several routes were singled out as perfect examples of buses in need of TLC. Below are some notes we jotted down from the event. Squadron promised that feedback collected at the town hall will be addressed, and that he’ll push for change. Sample of grievances in no particular order…

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M22

Councilwoman Margaret Chin mentioned the M22 bus line in her opening remarks as needing significant upgrade. Noting the reliance of senior citizens in her district. A member of the public – the first question of the night, in fact – echoed the assessment, and mentioned the serious delays, increased wait times, and low frequency of buses.

Response from the MTA panel was simple. Demand. Service is predicated on ridership, Book noted, and this route apparently doesn’t have high enough numbers to warrant more fleet. This is when the issue of “Headway” was explained – the amount of time between buses.

Numbers guy Buckley Yung revealed the Manhattan average for headway across the system is currently 73% (that amount is sticking to the schedule), and that the M22 is slightly higher at 81%

M15 SBS

There’s a missing ticketing machine at the Grand/Allen bus stop due to the ongoing water main work on the block. Riders are upset and don’t want to get caught without a ticket because of MTA ineptitude. What was the remedy floated? Directly from the mouth of agency – to exit the bus at the East Houston stop, purchase a ticket, and then get back on. Seriously. Even Squadron pointed out how ridiculous that suggestion was, and urged the reps to relay the concern.

M14A, M22, and M21

East River Houses Co-op Chair Leo Hoenig provided a deep-dive of issues with these routes, as the three buses are apparently unreliable. terminate at Grand Street and the FDR. He noted that, given the geography as the easternmost point in Manhattan, bus reliance on the “bulge” is quite high. Yet service and customer satisfaction is not. The termination of these buses at Grand Street and the FDR creates an environment that encourages drivers to double-park.

Accusations that the M21 bus line is sharing the vehicles with another route. Nearby residents claim this as explanation as to why one particular morning bus fails to arrive for 8:09am departure at Grand/FDR.

Another suggestion from the public was to remove the non-articulated buses from the M14A route.

Double transfers and exact change

As it stands, bus riders are allowed one free transfer per trip within an hour. There is, however, a bill to double the transfers, but it’s still pending approval. In the meantime, families that rely on switching bus lines to get around must shell out more. In response, Book towed the rather insulting MTA party line of simply purchasing an Unlimited card to alleviate. He failed to take into account, though, that not everyone has that kind of cash lying around.

Also, the collection of exact change on the bus is archaic, and customers wonder why this technology can’t also be updated.

What are some of your MTA bus grievances?

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