Letters to the Editor, Jan. 1

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

MTA not responding to M15 concerns

To the Editor:

As a former chair of the Transit Committee of the City Council, I was interested to read about the M15 bus’s “most unreliable” award (December 18 T&V). There is a lot wrong with the way the local and the Select Bus Service operate – but the MTA does not seem inclined to evaluate the situation from the passenger’s viewpoint.

Dr. Fernandez is right in pointing out that SBS buses frequently take off while people are on line trying to buy their tickets. This route is a busy hospital corridor, and many people are using this system for the first time. So they have to read the instructions – but if it’s dark out, or if they have to reach for their glasses, or if their MetroCard doesn’t go through on the first try, they and those standing behind them are likely to miss the bus.

Bob Kaplan (writer of letter, “M15 bus’s ‘award’ is well-deserved,” T&V, Dec. 18) is right in commenting on the many times would-be passengers at a local M15 stop see “at least three ‘Select’” buses roar by while they wait – seemingly for an eternity – for the local…

If there exists any signage informing people that there are two different bus lines serving the same route, I haven’t seen it. That’s why so many people wave frantically, wondering why the bus doesn’t stop for them. How about signs explaining the situation? – and even informing the public where the alternate bus stop is – say one block north or one block south? Even an arrow would be better than nothing.

Which brings us to a major passenger objection to the way these buses operate. Many people are willing to take whatever bus comes along first – local or express – but it is virtually impossible to do so on First and Second Avenues. Even where the two stops are next to each other as at 14th and First, and one could manage to sprint from one stop to the other, the conflicting ticket-buying procedures would almost invariably render impossible this hypothetical “choice.” Once again passenger options are severely limited.

What I’ve cited above are largely procedural difficulties, some of which could be rectified, or eased, by an innovative MTA. But there are policy questions largely ignored by said agency.

Buses are the transportation method of choice for a growing segment of the population: many elderly (who are increasing in numbers) as well as others who, whatever the reason, cannot climb subway steps. And if they can’t climb steps, it seems reasonable to assume that they might have difficulty walking extra blocks to find a bus stop that works for them.

There was a time in our city when this population was served by more frequent bus stops – not fewer. Today the goal of Select buses is to make the trip faster — regardless of how many people are inconvenienced by the process.

Giving customers what they want is usually the formula for a successful business. Before expanding the Select service, perhaps the MTA should identify its customer base – and then take steps to accommodate these frustrated riders.

Carol Greitzer,
Former City Council member representing
Peter Cooper Village

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