Bay Ridge

Stringer audit shows express buses habitually late

May 6, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Express buses in Brooklyn are habitually late, according to an audit conducted by Comptroller Scott Stringer. The X28 bus runs along 86th Street in Bay Ridge for part of its route. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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If you ride the X27 or X28 express buses from Brooklyn to Manhattan and feel like you wait a long time for your bus to arrive, City Comptroller Scott Stringer says you’re right.

An audit conducted by the comptroller’s office of express bus service operated the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) revealed that the buses missed their scheduled departure times more than 30 percent of the time.

In Brooklyn, the BM1, X27 and X28 bus routes had late departure times an average of 33.7 percent of the time, according to Stringer’s report. The audit also uncovered the fact that commuters waited anywhere from 6 to 28 minutes after a scheduled time for the next available bus.

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The BM1 travels between Mill Basin and midtown Manhattan. The X27 route runs from Shore Road in Bay Ridge to midtown. The X28 carries passengers between Surf Avenue in Coney Island and midtown, traveling through Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge along its route to Manhattan.

Staten Island’s X1 and X17 buses displayed the worst performance, leaving either too late or too early an average of 35.9 percent of the time, Stringer said.

Bronx buses also had frequent delays, the comptroller found.

“Living in Rosedale, New Dorp, Bay Ridge or Co-Op City shouldn’t mean you get less reliable and efficient mass transit. There’s a real human cost when long commutes separate people from their jobs and families and it’s one our city can’t afford,” Stringer said.

The audit examined timeliness, wheelchair functionality, and customer satisfaction of express buses run by two agencies within the MTA: MTA Bus Company and New York City Transit (NYCT). The two agencies carried more than 9 million and 11.5 million commuters on express buses, respectively, in 2013 and each operates a fleet of over 500 express buses.

“Millions of New Yorkers rely on express buses each year. When one out of every three buses is not on time, it impacts every borough and hits at our city’s economic competitiveness,” Stringer said.

The comptroller’s office issued the following recommendations to the MTA: continue to use the system known as Bus Trek to modify and improve express bus schedules so that they are more reliable; develop on-time performance targets for its express buses and publicly report progress toward meeting those targets; and update its procedures for inspecting wheelchair lifts.

Transit advocates said improvements are badly needed on express bus service.

“Express buses serve the people who need reliable public transit the most: residents of the boroughs, far from the city’s core, who have few other options for how to get to work,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance.

“Express bus riders are paying much higher fares but aren’t getting reliable service in return. Comptroller Stringer’s audit shows that they just aren’t getting their monies worth,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders group.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz sent a response via email to the Brooklyn Eagle.

“Our goal with all of our buses is to achieve faster travel times, more evenly spaced arrivals, and overall better service for our customers. Buses are scheduled in accordance with MTA Board approved loading guidelines that are based primarily on customer demand. We conduct regular ridership reviews of bus routes to ensure that they operate within guidelines,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz also said the MTA uses different tools to measure the performance of buses.

“While we use On-Time Performance (OTP) data internally to assist us in benchmarking our service management and schedule making, OTP is not the best measure of the customer experience so we focus more on the evenness of service, or wait assessment. In other words, how long a customer waits for a bus. Wait assessment is what we will continue to focus on, not OTP, because customers generally arrive at their boarding locations at a continuous rate and their primary concern is that we have even service, not if specific buses are meeting their scheduled times. In addition, there are other extraneous factors such as traffic and road conditions that we unfortunately have no control over,” he said.

The MTA is using new technology to improve service, according to Ortiz.

“We also completed a system-wide roll-out of MTA Bus Time in April 2014, which customers now use to get real-time information on every bus and every route on their cell phone, tablet, or computer and save time by going to the stop when they know that a bus is approaching. And as part of our efforts to actively provide more automated bus information, the MTA has launched a number of initiatives including providing next bus information on our ‘On the Go’ kiosks, NYC Wayfinding machines, intermodal solar powered signs, and is currently working with NYCDOT to install LED/LCD signs providing bus real time information at bus stops,’ Ortiz said.

Read the full audit here at http://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/audit/?r=04-22-15_MH13-118A

***CLARIFICATION***

Earlier version of photo caption failed to indicate that the X28 bus pictured was running on schedule.


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