Today’s Headlines

  • Secaucus 7 Never Going to Happen, Says Lhota (Transpo NationWSJ)
  • …Next MTA Capital Plan Will Focus on Signals And Platforms, Not Expansions (City/State)
  • Definition of “Recklessness” at Center of Fight for Traffic Justice (Capital)
  • Cuomo Expedites Already Planned Bridge Projects, Including Kosciuszko (PolHudson)
  • Taxi of Tomorrow Comes Chock Full of New Amenities (NYTDNAinfo)
  • …But Will It Be a Step Backwards on Sustainability? (NRDC)
  • Westchester County Desperately Clings to Exclusionary Zoning (NYT)
  • Riders Still Learning to Use Select Bus Service, But Fare Evasion Down (Transpo Nation)
  • City Hall Promises Investigation of Bill Bratton Parking Placard (Post)
  • Page 6 Very Concerned About Tracy Morgan’s Jaguar, Tragically Hit By Cyclist  (Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • carma

    select bus service is a bandaid to a problem of how to pay fares efficiently.  a real solution would be to rid the silly ticket machines and fare payment via RFID tap cards when entering the bus at both front/back side doors.

    RFID tap cards are implemented in many systems outside of NYC already.  It was one of Jay walder’s initiatives.  Lhota has to get on board with that idea if he wants to improve service.  as far as i can see, the metrocard is going the way of the dodo bird.

  • carma

    Lhota is right.  7 to NJ is never gonna happen. and as he stated at the end (unless we get a sh*tload of money)

    and all know that the mta is broke.

  • Bolwerk

    SelectBus is somewhat in line with best practice, actually. Paper tickets cost pennies, while I believe RFID cards are significantly more expensive. And on a POP system with no physical barriers to entry, cheaper paper tickets don’t really have a disadvantage.

    The major problems with SelectBus fare payment are:
    • the machines should be on the buses so people don’t have to wait on the platform to get a ticket
    • holding an unlimited should be sufficient to ride, whether or not you swipe – this saves time for passengers, including those queued who should be getting tickets, and saves wear and tear on the machines.

  • carma

    @3a9cb377ae68ba7b489d30e5eb859747:disqus 

    paper tickets may cost pennies, but what about the upkeep of yet another machine?  RFID cards are more expensive.  True.  but we are talking about a system wide RFID fare payment for subway and bus.

    You hit it with the major problem of not having another machine on the bus.  
    but lets consider that also another portion of the riders that dont require a tap/swipe/ticket.  those that transfer to/from the subway to bus.

  • Maybe its time to think of a new MTA chief. And of course Lhota is a Cuomo appointee, so maybe its time fo ra new governor too. 

  • Bolwerk

     @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus : IMHO, their #1 screwup was making it so an unlimited card was not sufficient to ride without penalty. Theoretically, they could have diverted a lot of the wear and tear costs of the machines just by making that possible. I don’t see anything wrong with an RFID card being sufficient to settle payment either, for the same reason the unlimited MC should be sufficient, but it shouldn’t be necessary to settle payment.

    RFID is undeniably better on a system with physical entry barriers. Still, paper tickets should still be available to casual users and tourists who just need a bus ride – though there isn’t necessarily a reason not to charge more for them. Even with the added costs of the machines, you get other efficiencies: no barriers to maintain, lower capital amortization costs, smaller footprint on surface transportation (= more room for other modes, like bicycles), lower collection costs, better safety for drivers, etc.. The entire surface transportation system should go in this direction, not just SBS.

  • carma

    @3a9cb377ae68ba7b489d30e5eb859747:disqus 
    nah, i dont think that the #1 screwup was making it that an unlimited has penalties without swiping, etc…

    i think the mandatory getting a ticket at the machine before you enter the bus is the #1 drawback in the SBS.  what if you are rushing for the bus and you dont have time to get a ticket.  you should have the option of paying on the bus which you mentioned such as having another ticket machine on the bus.

  • Anonymous

    We could look at Switzerland for an example of an SBS-like approach that actually works.

    Most people there buy an *annual* pass that allows unlimited rides. This is basically a paper-based ID card with nothing fancy or electronic. You don’t need to to get a ticket when you board the bus or tram or train. There are random inspections, and if you get caught without a valid pass or ticket you face a steep fine.

    There are also monthly passes if you prefer (I don’t remember if there are weekly passes). And if you prefer to pay per ride, or per day, there are daily or multi-trip tickets that you buy in advance. Before you ride, you “validate” the ticket by inserting it into a machine that chops a bit of the ticket off and adds a timestamp. The ticket itself is paper, again nothing fancy or electronic, and the machines are much simpler than the MTA machines. Plus,  you usually can find validating machines on board the vehicles, in case you didn’t have time to validate it in advance.

    (Strictly speaking, you don’t literally pay “per ride”; your ticket is valid for a certain amount of time [1-2 hours, maybe, or 24 hours for daily tickets] after it’s stamped. So you can do several short rides within a limited time span for the price or one.)

    It’s an old-fashioned system but it’s cheap and efficient. The main caveat is that it depends on having law-abiding citizens or on tough enforcement. I guess that NY figured that technological approaches were cheaper overall than paying for enforcement, and that New Yorkers are not as law abiding as the Swiss (OK, of the later I’m pretty sure ;-). Also, enforcement is less practical on overcrowded buses and trains, which you see much more often here than in Switzerland.

    Similar approaches are used elsewhere in Europe, but I’m most familiar with the Swiss one.

    (Don’t even get me started with the fact that the Swiss trains and buses run on schedule… 😉

  • carma

    @qrt145:disqus 
    also, dont get me started on the fact that Japan and Hong Kong have systems that are on time to the exact minute.

    the one reason i would see that you still need to validate a monthly/weekly/annual pass in NYC is for auditing purposes.  There has to be some way of way to count up how many trips are taken for a particular bus/subway line.

  • Jay

    There are advantages for planning purposes from collecting ridership data by requiring a transaction each time a rider boards the bus.  A proof of payment without a validating transaction leaves you with far less information to work with.  Allowing the validation on-board could be helpful, and it shouldn’t complicate enforcement for fare evasion too much.

  • Bolwerk

    nah, i dont think that the #1 screwup was making it that an unlimited has penalties without swiping, etc…

    i think the mandatory getting a ticket at the machine before you
    enter the bus is the #1 drawback in the SBS.  what if you are rushing
    for the bus and you dont have time to get a ticket.  you should have the
    option of paying on the bus which you mentioned such as having another
    ticket machine on the bus.

    Those are basically the same screwup. If you already have an unlimited, you shouldn’t need to take further action unless you’re inspected. The only people who should need to take action are the ones without a valid fare.

    Paying on the bus actually is good for other reasons too, like centralized TVM maintenance and servicing – probably less wear and tear due to weather too.  It does make sense for busy stops to have outdoor TVMs though. 

    It’s an old-fashioned system but it’s cheap and efficient. The main
    caveat is that it depends on having law-abiding citizens or on tough
    enforcement. I guess that NY figured that technological approaches were
    cheaper overall than paying for enforcement, and that New Yorkers are
    not as law abiding as the Swiss (OK, of the later I’m pretty sure ;-).
    Also, enforcement is less practical on overcrowded buses and trains,
    which you see much more often here than in Switzerland.

    There isn’t a meaningful difference between New York and Switzerland (or other western countries that follow that approach) in that regard.  It pisses the fascist-ish law and order types (Guten Tag, Switzerland! Buon giorno, Rudy! Hello, Ray Kelly!) off to hear, but some evasion is a good thing in a POP inspection regime. Zero evasion = zero fines, which means no revenue to pay for the inspections to begin with.  Actually, the sweet spot with POP is probably a small profit on enforcement. You don’t want evasion too low, or you aren’t even covering the cost of inspectors, much less making up for lost revenue and potentially other anti-social behavior. Obviously, if it’s too high, you probably aren’t charging high enough fines….

    the one reason i would see that you still need to validate a
    monthly/weekly/annual pass in NYC is for auditing purposes.  There has
    to be some way of way to count up how many trips are taken for a
    particular bus/subway line.

    It’d be nice to be that exact, but you can probably get more than reliable enough numbers with queue and flow modeling and other statistical measures.

  • Eric McClure

    A quick NY Post rewrite:
    A deliveryman was injured last night on the Upper East Side, when careless actor Tracey Morgan illegally swung open the door to his Jaguar directly into his path. The unidentified deliveryman was going about his business on Third Avenue when the “30 Rock” star slammed his door into the cyclist. “I mean this guy was just sitting in his car,” the deliveryman told The Post’s Kevin Sheehan. “If you want to write a story about something, write a story about how these entitled and careless motorists should look before breaking the law by swinging their doors into cyclists,” the deliveryman said as he waited for EMTs to arrive and fix his damaged body. The deliveryman, who said he was just doing his job, was wearing the type of outfit one can afford on the paltry wages of New York City delivery people. He said these types of incidents are nothing out of the ordinary for a deliveryman. “This kind of stuff happens all the time in the city. I make deliveries seven days a week. I’ve been dealing with this stuff for years. I know I may get killed but I have to make a living,” the deliveryman said before hopping into the ambulance and taking off with the EMTs. Tracey Morgan’s car wasn’t seriously hurt and was towed to an auto-body shop for repairs.

  • IanM

    I don’t know why, but I was absolutely sure at first glance earlier this morning that “Tracy Morgan’s Jaguar” referred to him owning an actual jaguar cat. Perhaps wishful thinking, or too much 30 Rock. I even pictured it as one of the rare black jaguars. Anyway, I totally lost interest as soon as I realized we were talking about a car.

  • PAY YOUR FARE SHARE

    Lhota has it wrong; it is the misguided MTA fare policy that charges the same fare across the system that is partially to blame for their funding issues.  The more you ride, the more you pay is standard in other world class transit systems so let’s do it here.
    You ride from NJ to NYC you pay more; you ride the A train its full length you pay more.  And the misguided free bus/subway transfers are a tax on the financial viability of the system.

  • carma

    @383746d9c5c9149e0de6667272c220cc:disqus 
    the only way to do so would be to introduce exit fares like they do in DC and other world class systems like HK and Tokyo