Today’s Headlines

  • Sander Says State Aid Won’t Be Enough (AMNY, News, Metro)
  • Brodsky: ‘We’ll try. There are no guarantees.’ (Newsday)
  • Straphangers Campaign, Um, Sweetens the Deal (City Room, Newsday)
  • Pricing Transit Benefits Touted; People Seem to Listen (Brooklyn Eagle)
  • City Already Has Congestion Pricing (Brooklyn Eagle)
  • No. 7 Line Contract Approved (City Room)
  • MTA Adding to Hybrid Bus Fleet (NYT)
  • Residents Protest Plans to Clear Trees for Turf (Metro)
  • Retired Actor Killed in East Side Hit-and-Run (NYT, AMNY)
  • Regs Would Require Carbon Credits for Power Companies (City Room)
  • EU Parliament Accused of Selling Out to Car Makers (BBC)
  • Climate Change Makes Wildfires Worse (Gristmill)
  • Hilary

    Can someone please clarify which bus lines NYC Transit operates (with MTA) and which ones MTA operates? How are they different, including pricing? How many private lines are operating? Is the trend to privatize more or buy them back? How do their prices compare? Thanks for the information.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “All we’re asking you to do is ask us to give you money. It seems reasonable. Please ask us for more money.”

    MTA is set to borrow billions for the last two years of the MTA Capital Plan, after borrowing billions and billions for 15 years. I ask for at least $2.5 billion per year in additional state funds to stop the borrowing immediately, and cover all the interest on all the net debt accumulated since 1990.

  • Jonathan

    Hilary, Wikipedia has a nice article on MTA BUs Company:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTA_Bus_Company that may supply you with the answers you are looking for.

  • Hilary

    Thank you Jonathan. The higher fare structure of the express lines was simply adopted by MTA when it took them over from the private lines? Wouldn’t it make sense for MTA to establish parity between bus and subway fares? Make the whole city a one-fare zone, whether surface or underground, local or express. Or is that the plan for the new BRTs?

  • Jonathan

    Hilary, New York City Transit express buses (from Staten Island or Bay Ridge, for instance (see http://www.mta.info/nyct/service/bus/sisch.htm for one example) also cost $5 per ride and using the CityTicket feature on the LIRR or Metro-North costs $3 (weekends only).

    As far as the relative value of paying $5 for a 75-minute one-seat coach-style bus ride on the X14 from Castleton & Jewett on Staten Island to 41st & Mad: to me it doesn’t sound that bad. By comparison via mass transit, I figure the Castleton Ave bus takes 30 min, then the ferry (25 min), a five-minute walk to Bowling Green, then the 4 or 5 train to Grand Central (20 min). I would gladly pay an extra $6 daily not to have to deal with that aggravation.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Hilary, according to the MTA, they were the ones who started express bus service, and probably established the fare structure. At the very least, the MTA’s “other” bus company, MABSTOA, has been running express buses to Staten Island since 1965, shortly after the Verrazano Bridge opened.

    In areas where express bus and/or commuter railroad service run parallel to subway service, the higher fare can be a nice thing, and can attract people who might otherwise have driven or taken a taxi.

    When I lived on the Grand Concourse, I could take the D train from a block away, or walk a few blocks up to catch an express bus. I was studying for my comprehensive exams at the time, and had to do a lot of reading and taking notes. I just couldn’t do that on the subway, where (if I got a seat) there was barely enough room to open a book, let along pull out a clipboard, but on the express buses I could always get a seat, and if someone sat next to me I knew they’d be there for at least half an hour. Metro-North was similar, but much quicker.

    On the express buses, most of my fellow riders were older women – black, hispanic and white – who probably had ridden the subway enough that they felt entitled to a padded seat on their commute. The trip was usually quiet, with very little cell phone conversation. Long-time riders usually knew each other and had quiet conversations among themselves. Nobody brought a boom box or panhandled. There were no smelly homeless people camped out across four seats, no annoying teenagers doing backflips or asking for “donations” for peanut M&Ms to “keep them off the street.”

  • jimbo

    Am I the only one who notices that the cyclists shown are going the wrong direction of the traffic flow?

    A bit hypocritical to chide folk for ignoring poorly marked bike lanes, when everyone knows that one should go in the legal direction that the traffic signs indicate.

    Pot calls kettle black.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable about the price structure of the express buses and commuter railroads, especially when they run parallel to subway service. If you ignore the comfy seats, it’s essentially price-based segregation, and it’s not that different from what used to be done in the Paris Metro.

    Why should I have the right to segregate myself from the annoying cell phone callers, the smelly homeless people and the rowdy teenagers, just because I can afford to pay $5 a ride, while someone else who is just as deserving as me can’t afford to take advantage of this? It’s a good question, and I don’t really have a good answer. But I do have a sort-of answer.

    Segregation in transportation already exists in New York City, and it’s mostly between car commuters and everyone else. Motorists may talk about the freedom of scheduling that driving gives them, or they may get a quicker commute thanks to one of Bob Moses’ highways, but if you press one of them and say, “c’mon, why don’t you take the subway?” they’ll get this panicked look in their eyes, like the moment they step through the doors some Afro-haired gang member from 1978 is going to cover them with spraypaint.

    Like I said in my comment above, I think that some of the express bus riders can afford to drive, and would drive if the express buses weren’t available. A two-tiered service may be necessary to get some of the car commuters to switch to transit.

    That said, I don’t think there’s any good justification for charging more for express buses and commuter trains within the city limits when there isn’t a parallel $2 two-seat ride to Manhattan. If your only reasonable transit commute costs $5 each way, that’s discrimination. I’d like to see the fares reduced to $2 for any neighborhoods like that – although it’s hard to do, because there are some express bus routes that stop near subway stations along the way; should the fare go up at those stops?

  • Sarah Goodyear

    Jimbo,

    I think you’re commenting on the photo that goes with the post above…in which case, believe me, this guy is complaining just as much about cyclists going in the wrong way in bike lanes as he is about people parked there.

    Just to clarify.

  • Jonathan

    Angus, you have the right to segregate yourself on an express bus when you have an extra $5 in your pocket, same as you have the right to take the AirTrain to JFK with that extra $5 instead of the B15 bus. Money talks, as the saying goes.

    And on a more general topic, maybe Hilary or Angus can enlighten me on this. Is there some rule that says everyone who lives in the five boroughs should follow the same fare schedule to get to work or school or wherever? I initially typed “$2” instead of “follow the same fare schedule” but then I realized that not everyone pays the same $2. Why struggle for consistency? Is it in Pla NYC or something?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Jonathan, I think I wasn’t clear in my use of the word “right.” Of course I have the legal right to take the express bus, just as I have the legal right to buy or rent a car, or be driven around in a stretch Hummer. My concern is whether I have the moral right, i.e. does it fit with what I believe is fair?

    This is completely subjective: your own personal sense of morality may tell you that you’re entitled to use your money in whatever way you see fit, as allowed by law, but mine tells me that at some point I should weigh in factors of fairness.

    The larger issue is whether it’s in the best interests of society to sponsor a two-tiered system. It’s well known that in such “separate but equal” arrangements, the tier that’s used by the less powerful group will suffer in quality. That’s what we see in many other cities, where the roads are well-paved and maintained but the buses are infrequent and falling apart. It’s similar here, but not quite as extreme.

    In the Bronx it could be argued that the express bus riders and subway riders are both so far below the drivers that no one bothers to distinguish them, and that the superior numbers of the subway riders outweighs the higher fares paid by the express bus riders. But if there’s a big expansion in express bus service without a corresponding increase in subway ridership, it’s possible that we could see more investment in the express bus system while the subways languish.

  • jimbo

    Thanks for the clarification, Sarah.

  • Hilary

    The reason for parity in pricing is to justify subsidizing the express buses. I think that lowering the fare to $2 is the best way to get drivers out of their cars. I am assuming that there is no such thing as too much demand for buses, right? Unless we cannibalize the subway system?