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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Message From RIRA President On Roosevelt Island Budget, Red Bus, Submetering and Clarifications/Corrections

Image of RIRA Common Council Meeting

Roosevelt Island Residents Association President (RIRA) President Frank Farance sends the following message to the Roosevelt Island community. This message was also published as the RIRA column in the 2/7/09 Main Street WIRE. Mr. Farance addresses issues on the RIOC Budget, Red Bus schedule, Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings submetering and various clarifications/corrections from prior columns. Mr. Farance also blogs here. I have offered RIOC President Steve Shane the same opportunity to share his views with the Roosevelt Island commuityl

1. RIRA forms RIOC Budget Analysis Committee. On Monday, February 2, I announced the formation of the committee "RIOC unwilling to provide long-term budget estimates, RIRA subcommittee to fill the gap" -- see my blog at "http://blog.rira-council.org" for the correspondence with RIOC. Unfortunately, Steve Shane characterized our request for long-term budgetary information as No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Gee, that's a really unhelpful response, especially considering how it will negatively affect all Island residents, and its negative affect on: the Island's rental market, the value of Island condos/co-ops, and the desirability for merchants to locate here.

2. Red Bus gets a GPS system and makes your commute longer. Whoda thunk that technology could make things worse? Octagon management has installed a GPS system on the buses that is viewable on the web, see "http://nextbus.com", select New York, RIOC, and Red Bus. Does it help you get to work faster? No, the fundamental problem with the Red Bus it is scheduling, which RIOC refuses to do. Every other transportation system has a schedule, which reduces the bunching that cause the wide schedule variances. It's the variances that cause residents to add 15-20 minutes each way for their commute. This problem has only existed since circa 2005 when RIOC decoupled the bus schedule from the tram schedule. The solution is simply to have a schedule (whether every 15 or 20 minutes) and to synchronize the bus runs, which means that buses might wait a couple minutes at the end of their run (see my blog for more info).

Now with the GPS system, if you plan on leaving as the website might direct, you will be adding 10 minutes to your schedule because the GPS system has its own significant inaccuracies on what is reporting on the web. Followup: RIOC Board Member and RIRA Common Council Member Jonathan Kalkin said Nextbus will be tweaking the system to improve predictions. We'll see.

With the present non-schedule, what is the fastest way to get to the tram? For Southtown, just walk. For the WIRE and Manhattan Park buildings: (1) go to your bus stop, (2) look if a bus is coming, (3) if you see a bus, get on, otherwise (4) start walking to the next bus stop, (5) go back to step #2. For Octagon, the GPS system offers no help on decision-making — your best bet is always to wait for the bus, regardless.

The only advantage to the GPS system is that we can now document in minute detail how RIOC poorly manages its bus system. RIOC, why are you so stubborn?

3. Roosevelt Landings (Eastwood) tenants throng to RIRA meeting. The WIRE is covering this story. FOR ISLAND NEWCOMERS: This is a quintessential Roosevelt Island community moment: you need to support your neighbors just as they have/will support your building.

4. February 18, 8PM RIRA Town Hall meeting. Again, RIRA will hold a residents' forum for discussing the RIOC Board Agenda for its board meeting on February 19. Residents and RIOC Board members are welcome.

5. Clarifications/corrections. In my last column, I reported four items, three needing correction and one in dispute. I reported that Public Safety incidents were going down, when in fact they are going up. I reported that Public Safety was planning on putting "holding cells" in the basement where the Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance and from the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation are located. RIOC is still planning on taking their space, but the holding rooms will be upstairs at street level, not downstairs. Still, the space should be preserved for the MSTDA and RIJC without encroachment by RIOC. PSD Director Keith Guerra complained that I used the term "holding cell" when the proper term is "holding room" because they have no bars and do not resemble a jail cell. Guerra was also disappointed that I reported, contrary to Guerra's statement, that Island youth organizations were not invited to participate in the PSD Gang Summit. Again, I checked with PS/IS 217, its PTA, Roosevelt Island Youth Program, and the Beacon Program — they all confirmed they were not invited to participate. Regardless, Guerra and I spoke about ways to do this better in the future and I wish him well.

53 comments :

Anonymous said...

The Nextbus system is useless right now. I can say that my husband stood at the subway station yesterday with his iPhone looking at the website which stated there was not one but two buses that should have been there in 1 minute. No buses arrived in the next 10 minutes. Why bother spending the money on the system when it doesn't work out of the box? A simple schedule would be brilliant but that would be too easy I suppose.

Anonymous said...

The red bus situation has become worse ever since the Octagon buses started running both express and local (mostly half-empty buses) and making the residents wait for even longer stretches of time. Also, the buses continue to arrive in packs of 3. There's no way one can get information or simply reason with the drivers.
Again, what was the reason we couldn't have a red bus schedule? Even the worst city bus lines post some sort of a schedule.
Looking forward to clarifications.

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