Tag Archives: Transportation Alternatives

Queens buses fare well on annual survey


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Danielle Petrovich

The NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives just gave out two awards for the poorest bus service in the city, but only a few Queens buses were cited as slow or unreliable.

The first, called the “Pokey”award, is for the slowest route and determined by volunteers who ride 34 bus lines that are renowned for their high volume of riders and history of delayed rides.

This year there was a tie for first place—the M66 and M42 buses.  Both are crosstown Manhattan routes and had an average speed of 3.9 mph at noon on a weekday.

“The M66 and M42 are excruciatingly slow,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign. “[They] would lose a race to an amusement park bumper car — and be a lot less fun! A bumper car can go 4.3 miles per hour compared to the 3.9 miles of the Pokey award winning buses.”

In Queens, the Q58 was the 25th slowest bus in the city, at 7 mph, followed by the Q44 LTD at 9.5 mph and the Q27 at 9.9 mph.

Although the Q58 is faster than many other NYC buses, some Queens riders were unhappy with its service.

“I have to leave for work extra early just for the bus. It’s so slow; it takes forever to get to my stop,” said Flushing resident Tanya, a frequent passenger on the Q58.

“The bus is always so inconsistent. It never comes at the same times every day,” said Tom of Fresh Meadows.

The second award given out, the “Schleppie,” which measures how well buses keep to scheduled intervals, and is based off of official transit statistics, didn’t include any Queens buses.

First place went to the M4, which runs from Upper Manhattan to Penn Station on Fifth and Madison Avenues and Broadway. Nearly 30 percent of  its arrivals were bunched together or had big gaps in service. Close behind it were the M101/2/3, S78 and S74  lines, all having an unreliability rating over 20 percent.

MTA to hike fares in ’13, ’15 & ’17


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

City straphangers are getting a brief reprieve from a 2013 fare hike, but will soon be paying more at both the turnstile and MetroCard machine.

The MTA approved a preliminary budget including a bump in 2013 fares, followed by further increases in 2015 and 2017. A $1 “green fee” will also be added to newly purchased MetroCards. Tolls and commuter line fares will rise as well.

Fares were originally intended to be boosted beginning in January, but will be held off until March.

The biennial increases will net the agency $450 million next year and an additional $500 million in 2015.

Details on the hikes have not been released and will be made available later this year ahead of November’s public hearings.

“They should not increase the prices,” said Nesto Murdolk, 40, of Bayside. “There’s no way people can afford it.”

New Yorkers are frustrated at being “fed a steady diet of fare increases without corresponding improvements in service,” said Ya-Ting Liu, the transportation advocate for Transportation Alternatives at a June 25 MTA hearing.

Fares have been raised three times since 2007.

Other residents see the need for an increase to cover the MTA’s deep debts.

“I think it is necessary because of the running deficit,” said Bayside resident Fred Z., 71. “We’re going to have to increase taxes or get money from the fares.”

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said there is a fine line between the agency’s financial woes and providing a service, though he says that the MTA is not to blame.

“We think that the state doesn’t fund transit well enough,” he said. “There should be more support, rather than getting it all from the riding public.”

The MetroCard surcharge will produce about $20 million for the MTA — $18 million from the fee and $2 million in savings through printing fewer cards.

It is not known when a proposed $1 surcharge for new MetroCards will go into effect, though it will likely be enacted along with the March fare hike.

“My feeling is that people should be reusing their cards and part of it is a monetary benefit to the riding public,” Russianoff said.

Many cards are tossed aside with money amounting to less than one fare remaining. The MTA projects that $56.2 million will remain on MetroCards at the close of 2012. The number includes money on cards thrown away, lost or yet to be used.

— Additional reporting by Greg Giaconelli

Queens MTA riders call for more service restorations


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Recently rolled out MTA restorations drew praise from many, though some advocates and politicians said Queens riders were still left in the lurch.

Following deep 2010 slashes to service in the five boroughs, the MTA announced $29 million in restorations and new service to dozens of subway lines and bus routes accounting for approximately one-third of the original cuts. Five new bus routes were also added, the first in more than a decade.

In Queens, riders of the Q24, Q27, Q30, Q36, Q42 and Q76 will see lost service renewed or improved.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how to improve both the quality and quantity of service for our riders, and I’m pleased that these investments will make a difference in the lives of our customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota.

Not everyone was offering the MTA a pat on the back.

“You don’t get a gold star for returning what you took in the first place,” said Michael Murphy of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that wants all cuts restored.

The cutbacks of two years ago were due in large part to cover a budget gap of nearly $900 million. New and resumed services being phased in beginning in October will be funded through increased ridership and savings.

More than 30 bus routes were eliminated throughout the city, with an additional 100 altered during the 2010 slashes.

In Queens, the “W” train and seven buses were eliminated, along with reduced service on more than a dozen routes.

“There’s no reason for one part of Queens to be left in the dark while the rest of the city sees enhancements and restorations,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris at an Astoria press conference outside a former “W” train station.

Most of the additions were in northeast and southeast Queens.

The MTA focused on areas where network coverage was lost, ample access to transportation was not provided, and looked at opportunities to serve new and growing communities, said agency spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Many other demands of Queens straphangers fell on deaf ears, especially regarding express buses.

Ali Fadil, a northeast Queens resident, collected hundreds of signatures calling for the QM20 to reach lower Manhattan, eliminating the need to transfer to the subway or travel to another neighborhood.

“There are many people in our area who get on the expressway and drive and drive to Fresh Meadows for the QM7 and QM8 for service to and from lower Manhattan, turning Fresh Meadows into a commuter parking lot where it can be very hard to find parking,” he said.

In southeast Queens, riders of the QM21 called for the bus to again run every 15 minutes as it had prior to 2010. Currently, the bus runs every half hour.

“This means if a bus doesn’t show for whatever reason, one can suffer an hour-long wait in order to begin his commute. This would render him late to his destination, which would likely be work,” said Tamisha Chevis of the Rochdale Village Commuters in Action.

“We should be in a situation of talking about new services to communities that have none,” said Murphy. “Instead we’re playing defensive and we’re trying to get back stuff that was taken away.”