Stuy Town bus terminal proposed for L shutdown

MTA graphic depicting proposed mitigation plans during the L train shutdown

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new temporary bus terminal may be headed for under the FDR Drive across from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the MTA and the city have announced. The terminal will act as a transfer point for ferry riders during the 15-month L train shutdown, with more than 60 buses per hour going through the space under the FDR.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation both discussed the plan while testifying at a City Council Transportation Committee hearing last Thursday. During the hearing, they provided information on the proposed terminal and other mitigation plans for the shutdown, including a new, also-temporary ferry route that will end at the planned Stuyvesant Cove ferry stop at East 20th Street and connect with the M14 Select Bus Service (SBS), which is expected to launch in time for the shutdown.

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Select Bus Service planned for 14th St. and 20 other city routes

Mayor Bill de Blasio was all smiles on the M23 on the way to announce an expansion to Select Bus Service (SBS) throughout the five boroughs. (Pictured) Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, State Senator Brad Hoylman, de Blasio and straphangers (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to speed up bus rides citywide by adding 21 new Select Bus Service (SBS) routes. The new routes will be in all five boroughs with Manhattan getting new crosstown routes, so far unspecified except for 14th Street.

De Blasio cheered the plan after boarding an M23 (twice the winner of the Straphangers Campaign’s Pokey award for being the slowest route) on Ninth Avenue. He was joined by local elected officials including State Senator Brad Hoylman — who noted that the bus has been nicknamed “the turtle” — as well as a gaggle of reporters. From there the pols rode to Chelsea Piers, where the mayor announced details over nearby construction noise.

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Bus service will soon be increased at Waterside Plaza

An M34A bus at Waterside Plaza (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of Waterside Plaza, who for years have complained of limited access to mass transit, will soon be seeing a major increase in the number of buses coming to and leaving from the complex each day.

Normally, only M34A buses come and go directly to Waterside, but the additional service will come through the M34 Select Bus Service (SBS), starting on September 3.

On weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m., the following day, there will be 22 additional trips (an increase of 44 percent). On Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. the following day there will be 14 additional trips (an increase of 30 percent). On Sundays from noon to 1 a.m. the following day, there will also be 14 additional trips (an increase of 39 percent).

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Hoylman wants audit of MTA over ‘dismal’ bus service in district

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a report that showed the buses in his district were the slowest in the city, State Senator Brad Hoylman has called for an audit into the MTA’s bus service and wait times.

Hoylman made the request via a letter to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Monday, calling the local bus service “dismal.” His district, the 27th, includes Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, the East Village, midtown, East Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Columbus Circle and the Upper West Side.

“Here in my own district, we’ve nicknamed some of the buses across town: The Turtle, The Sloth and The Slug,” said Hoylman, of the M42, the M50 and the M23, respectively.

One of those buses, the M23, is a two-time recipient of the Straphangers Campaign’s infamous Pokey award, which is given to the slowest route in the city.

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14th St. SBS route planned ahead of L shutdown

The MTA and the city are working on plans to enhance bus and ferry service, including Select Bus Service for 14th Street. Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the Avenue A entrance of the First Avenue subway station just west of Avenue A. (Corner pictured here opposite Stuyvesant Town) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA has announced that preliminary street work on the new entrance for the L train at Avenue A and East 14th Street will begin this month. The new entrance is planned for the north and south sides of East 14th Street, just west of Avenue A.

Additionally, the MTA recently discussed plans for a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 14th Street to help make the looming L train shutdown less of a nightmare.

The plans for mitigation were discussed at the last Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting.

The shutdown, which is expected to begin in April 2019, will affect about 225,000 riders and cuts off train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan so the MTA can make repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The MTA is working on plans with the Department of Transportation for a series of buses, road improvements and ferries.

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Bus lane violations will now be issued along M23 SBS route

 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The violations are an attempt to speed up service along the route. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, the city began issuing violations to keep the bus lane clear along the M23 Select Bus Service route on 23d Street.

Doing so, the Department of Transportation said in a press release, is aimed at making the famously pokey route less so.

Each corridor has signage indicating the hours that the bus lanes are operable, and that the lanes are camera enforced. DOT will be letting drivers off with a warning for the first 60 days the cameras are first operated. After that, however, the penalty for driving in a camera-enforced bus lane will be $115. Additionally, since violations are issued against the vehicle, not the driver, points are not deducted from motorists’ licenses.

According to a spokesperson for the department, cameras, bus lanes and other SBS elements, like pre-paid boarding, have already improved bus speeds by up to 30 percent while also increasing ridership and even customer satisfaction.

So far, according to DOT data, 667,859 bus lane cameras violations have been issued and there are nine camera-enforced SBS routes.

Local ones are the M15, along First Avenue and Second Avenue and the M34 along 34th Street. Others in the city are M60, Bx12, Bx41, B44, B46, S79 and Q44.

Letters to the editor, Nov. 24

Bernie bashing is unsubstantiated

Re: Letter, “Hillary pilloried for not being perfect,” T&V, Nov. 10

I’ll never understand why people with strong opinions are not strong enough to sign their names to their letters.

For example, a “Name Withheld” writer confidently states: “I am proud to vote for Hillary Clinton who is intelligent, competent and completely qualified,” but is not proud enough of her views to sign her name. She states that Bernie Sanders “ran on a platform of grandiose ideas that he did not have a hope of getting through Congress.”

How does she know this? Did Bernie tell her, “Hey, Name Withheld, I know these ideas of mine don’t have a prayer for success, but when you run for public office, you gotta say something?” And did she tell Bernie he is “not qualified to head the Executive Office,” to which he replied, “Who is?” Although being a mayor or governor might offer some experience, I doubt that anything prepares one for being the president of the USA. What were Obama’s qualifications? Or W’s? Or (are you sitting down down?) Trump’s?

After trashing Bernie, Name Withheld defends Hillary by writing that voters “struggle to see a woman in office. They find reasons to attack her over not very much. Misogyny, unfortunately, is still alive and well.” But maybe it’s not Hillary’s gender that voters find troubling, but rather the appearance of years of dishonesty and corruption.

I can’t speak for others who find Hill and Bill so untrustworthy there’s not enough space in T&V to list their reasons, but I did vote for a woman. Her name rhymes with Hill. She heads The Green Party and because I want a third party, independent of the two giants in America, I voted for Jill Stein. Stein’s platform was almost identical to Bernie’s.

And maybe she lost like Bernie because she didn’t have a hope for success either.  But I do. We have the knowledge and the ability to clean up all the mess we have created in our society. We just need the will.

John Cappelletti, ST

Editor’s note: At Town & Village, we agree that signed letters have more credibility than anonymous ones. However, in this case, it was the editor’s mistake to sign the author’s letter as “Name withheld,” when in fact, she hadn’t made a request to remain anonymous. The author of the letter is Harriet Gottfried, a retired librarian living in Stuyvesant Town. We regret the error.

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Former city councilwoman: London buses better than SBS

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Carol Greitzer, a former City Council member representing Peter Cooper Village, reached out to T&V this week to respond to the story, “Select Bus Services arrives along M23 route,” in T&V, November 10.
The article cited city data claiming SBS has sped up service on participating routes by 10-30 percent. Its launch on 23rd Street was cheered by local officials, who pointed out the M23 crosstown’s infamous pokiness.

However, in Greitzer’s view, the city came up short in its response, and would have done better if it had followed a fare payment system similar to one in London.

There, she noted, there are two ways to pay a fare, one with a pre-paid card called an “oyster,” bought ahead of time, while another option is paying with a credit card, as long as the card has a readable chip in it, and getting billed monthly.

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Select Bus Service arrives along M23 route

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After months of planning — and a canceled plan to remove a Stuyvesant Town bus stop — Select Bus Service has come to 23rd Street.

SBS buses have sped up service by 10-30 percent, according to the mayor who made the announcement via a press release on Monday. The news was cheered by local elected officials, who pointed out that the M23 has been one of the city’s slowest buses, even twice winning the annual Straphangers Campaign’s Pokey Award for the slowest route.

“My constituents agree: the M23 is one of the slowest bus routes in the city and it’s often faster to walk than take the bus,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

State Senator Liz Krueger said the SBS couldn’t come at a more needed time: ahead of the dreaded L-pocalypse.

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MTA says Stuy Town M23 bus stop won’t be removed

The MTA is planning  an SBS route for the M23, but had initially planned to scrap a stop on East 20th Street to help speed it up. (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

The MTA is planning an SBS route for the M23, but had initially planned to scrap a stop on East 20th Street to help speed it up. (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA will not be removing the M23 bus stop at the 20th Street Loop when Select Bus Service is implemented on the route, following the plan being blasted as being a hardship to elderly and disabled riders.

The agency’s decision was announced on Monday by City Councilmember Dan Garodnick at a Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting.

MTA President Veronique Hakim had informed Garodnick of the agency’s decision earlier that day, noting in a letter that the MTA had decided to keep the stop based on his input and input from Community Board 6.

Hakim noted in the letter that the agency had also taken a suggestion of the councilmember into consideration and as a result, will be moving the 20th Street Loop stop slightly east to “improve access and spacing for our customers, and to improve overall operational performance.” This change means that the westbound stop, which is between First Avenue and Avenue C, will be moved about 150 feet to the east.

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Letters to the Editor, May 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cutting ST bus stop would harm seniors

Re: “Stuy Town M23 bus stops may be consolidated,” T&V, Apr. 14

The following is an open letter to Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg regarding the possible/closure elimination of the mid-block East 20th Street Crosstown 23.

I write to inquire the reason for/logic of the proposed consolidation of this bus stop. As well, I write to bring to your attention some other information which should be in the file, whilst the matter is being reviewed. Information perhaps not known to the expert sitting at a desk in an office devising a plan.

I live in Stuyvesant Town, just across the street (south) from the bus stop. As you know, 20th Street is very wide. There is ample room for other vehicles to pass a stopped bus. That is if the operator follows the rules and pulls into the curb. This rule is frequently not observed by drivers.

This is a very busy stop, serving diverse populations. I see the young with their hockey sticks and golf clubs en route to Chelsea Piers. I see parents with toddlers. I see seniors with their walkers — as many as three! They ride the bus over to Second to the grocery or Epiphany Church or the next stop to the Epiphany Branch Library and the Stein Senior Center. They could make it to the stops on Avenue C or First Avenue. To eliminate the mid-block stop would seriously circumscribe the possibilities for seniors. If not eliminate them entirely. Have you seen the New York Times science section this week on this very subject?

I am 80 years old and quite limber. I walked from the stop on Avenue C to the mid-block stop and then on to the First Avenue one. My stride I would estimate at 2.5 feet. Here are the number of strides; I’ll let your staff do the math. From Avenue C to the mid-block stop is 500 strides. From mid-block to First Avenue it is 200 strides plus 10.

I look forward to your reply. Or, if you prefer, I could come to your office to discuss the matter at hand.

Catha Grace Rambusch, ST

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CB6 urges city not to eliminate M23 stop

Request a condition for support of M23 SBS plan

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Transportation Committee for Community Board 6 voted for a resolution in support of the Department of Transportation and NYC Transit’s plan for select bus service along the M23 route, but only on the condition that the proposal reconsider the elimination of bus stops near Peter Cooper Village along the route.

The DOT and NYCT presented the plan to the committee at last month’s meeting and one part of the proposal included consolidating the East 20th Street stops at First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop on the westbound side of the route. The plan would relocate the First Avenue stop closer to the existing Loop stop, to a location between the two but closer to First Avenue.

The proposal argued that the distance between the two stops is short, even for local bus spacing, and the stop at First Avenue would need to be lengthened anyway to install the fare payment machines for Select Bus Service, so consolidating the stops would potentially decrease travel times along the route.

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Stuy Town M23 bus stops may be consolidated for SBS

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bus stops in Stuyvesant Town along the M23 may be consolidated when Select Bus Service is implemented along the route, Department of Transportation and New York City Transit representatives said last week. The reps from DOT and NYCT discussed the issue at a recent meeting for Community Board 6’s transportation committee, where they also discussed existing conditions for the route for the M23.

Regarding the stops near Stuyvesant Town, NYCT is considering consolidating the stops at East 20th Street/First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop because they are about 450 feet apart, which is short even for local bus spacing, according to NYCT. The two stops are only on the westbound side of the route.

Committee member Gene Santoro argued that consolidating the two stops might not be beneficial for residents who regularly use the M23, specifically because of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper’s population.

“Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are a mixture of older people and younger people with kids,” he said. “I would bet that’s why that stop is there in the first place. (The stop at Avenue C and East 20th Street) is all the way at the river. That’s a longer distance than one city block.”

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Letters to the Editor: Jan. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows



Subletting requires more than just matchmaking

To the Editor:

Your story of January 8, 2014, entitled “New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town,” may lead to a misimpression, namely, that making arrangements for a sublet through Lucas Chu may be the complete, legal process.

Tenants should be aware that ST/PCV sublets are governed by rent stabilization regulations. DHCR Fact Sheet #7 lays out the obligations of the prime tenant which include, among other things, informing the owner of an intent to sublet 30 days in advance by certified, return receipt letter and spelling out the terms of the sublease.

Unsuspecting tenants may not realize their obligations or even that they may be in violation of rent regulation laws and unknowingly circumventing these requirements. The result could be eviction should the landlord choose to pursue it.

Ultimately, the approval of a sublet rests with landlord. As CWCapital’s spokesperson pointed out, Mr. Chu is marketing a legal service. This “legal service” is essentially a matchmaking service, but will CWCapital/Compass Rock vet the subletters? Is CW/CR now relaxing subletting requirements?

It used to be – and may still be – very difficult, if not impossible, for long-term tenants to get approval for a sublet. Are students in a privileged position?

Frequent short-term subletting increases the transient nature and instability of our community. It depletes our quality of life. It undermines our security. Characterizing Mr. Chu and the landlord’s apparent comfort with his services as outrageous is understating the case.

Sincerely,

Susan Steinberg,
Chair, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association

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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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