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Monday, March 2, 2009

Possible Roosevelt Island Red Bus Changes - Fare Increase, Route Change & Where Are The Missing 9:30 - 10 AM Buses?

Waiting For The Bus Image from MacLeod Gallery UK

On February 10, a reader of this post commented about the Roosevelt Island Red Bus GPS system and the lack of a bus schedule:
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.
and another on the dual Octagon buses and the lack of a Red Bus schedule:
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.
I don't use the Red Bus that often so I don't have any personal knowledge whether any improvement with the GPS system has been made but I asked RIOC President Steve Shane if there was a schedule for the Red Bus.

Mr. Shane replied:
The Red Bus has a schedule, but it is not similar to the MTA for a specific time expectancy at each stop, as it is specific as to starting and stopping time, frequency, route, and to meet the Tram after dark. There are periods when it runs continuously. With the short stretch of the entire route, specific dislocations (handicapped, traffic, etc.) are easily disruptive.
In a subsequent column for the Main Street WIRE, Mr. Shane elaborated in detail on the Roosevelt Island Red Bus schedule. From the President's RIOC Column of the 2/7/09 Main Street WIRE column.
Bus scheduling seems to continue to cause great confusion. Understandably! Follow this if possible:

Weekdays (Monday-Friday): The Octagon local leaves The Octagon headed south at 5:45 a.m., with a second bus leaving Motorgate at the same time heading south. These two buses work their way south towards the tram station, with the first bus arriving there at 5:52 a.m., an estimated seven minutes after departure. It then immediately proceeds north to The Octagon to drop off passengers, and pick up at 6:00 a.m., The second bus arrives a few minutes later to wait for the 6:00 a.m. tram. Every 15-20 minutes thereafter, they repeat the cycle until 7:00 a.m., when two more buses join the service, starting and looping at the firehouse, so that there are four buses on continuous loops from 7:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. We expect headway between buses, during this period, of approximately 5-8 minutes. From 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., three buses follow the schedule, two buses meeting the tram every 15 minutes and one on continuous loop. From 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., there are two buses on the schedule. From 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., there are five buses on the rush-hour schedule. From 8:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., there are two buses, always meeting the tram and, from 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., there is one bus on the route, meeting the tram. The Octagon Express, separately supported by The Octagon, makes no other stops southbound, begins at 7:00 a.m., then runs at 20-minute intervals until 10:00 a.m. It makes one northbound stop opposite Rivercross at 504 Main Street.

Friday: Same as other weekdays, except night service continues until the pickup from the last tram (3:30 a.m.).

Saturday: Local buses only, starting at 5:45 a.m., every 15 minutes, coordinated to meet each tram until pickup from the last tram trip (3:30 a.m.). Sunday: Same as Saturday, except the last tram from Manhattan is at 2:00 a.m. and the pickup is coordinated accordingly.

Holidays: Treated as either a Saturday or Sunday if added to the weekend, or as a weekday if mid-week.
Does that schedule help residents plan their commute or Red Bus usage?

In other Roosevelt Island Red Bus news, RIOC may soon examine the possibility of increasing the current 25 cent Red Bus Fare. During the 1/13/09 RIOC Operations Committee meeting, Mr. Shane raised the issue that RIOC Directors may want to consider increasing the Red Bus fare noting that the Red Bus system operates a $700,000 annual operating deficit and the fare has not been increased in the last 15 years. Mr. Shane repeatedly emphasized during the discussion that he was not urging or recommending a fare increase but merely raising the issue for the Directors to consider.

The Directors may also wish to consider making the Red Bus free if this can be shown to decrease the loading time of passengers getting on and off the bus. By removing the fare, passengers could get on and off the bus via both the front and back doors thereby reducing passenger lines that often cause delays in the bus schedule. The resulting decrease in revenue may be offset by the increased efficiency. Perhaps not but may be at least worth looking into.

RIOC is also considering changing the route of the Southbound Red Bus so that it travels down the Queens side of Main Street in Southtown stopping first at the Tram Station and then on to the Subway Station rather than the current longstanding practice of first stopping at the subway then on to the Tram and turning around back to the subway along the Manhattan side of Main Street. The web cast of the 2/12 RIOC Operations Committee meeting in which this was discussed is available here as well as a discussion of the Roosevelt Island Red Buses mysteriously disappearing from 9:30 to 10 AM and nobody knows where they go. RIOC will investigate.

The 2/21/04 Main Street Wire has an account of previous RIOC changes to the Red Bus schedule and route together with a sample of reader letters.

Matt Katz's 2004 RIRA Column included this nugget:
... I was told that there is no intention to schedule the buses so as to synchronize with the Tram; rather, the buses will space themselves by walkie-talkie communication between bus drivers...
More Red Bus problems from the 11/18/06 and 12/2/06 Main Street WIRE.

10 comments :

Anonymous said...

The schedule posted by Mr. Shane, although nice in theory, is completely useless. We tried for a week using the so-called schedule posted in the paper - half the time the bus was already gone when we got to our stop. The GPS system continues to be useless which is a shame . I can say from weekly experience that the 8:40 Octagon Express often leaves at 8:30. My husband has overheard the drivers be told to switch on the GPS and seen that request ignored. Anyone who uses the Red Bus knows that it is an absolute crap shoot as to when or if the bus is ever coming. The Express bus in the morning during 7-9am is pretty full usually. And the majority of individuals get off at the train stop - why change the stop order to keep MORE people on already crowded buses? Maybe the RIOC should actually take a week or two and time the buses and use the Nextbus system during rush hour or the weekend. Then perhaps they would see the actual issues at hand. This system needs to be sorted out BEFORE the tram shut down in months as the Red Bus system will be more vital than before in actually getting off this godforsaken rock to civilization.

Anonymous said...

The schedule posted by Mr. Shane, although nice in theory, is completely useless. We tried for a week using the so-called schedule posted in the paper - half the time the bus was already gone when we got to our stop. The GPS system continues to be useless which is a shame . I can say from weekly experience that the 8:40 Octagon Express often leaves at 8:30. My husband has overheard the drivers be told to switch on the GPS and seen that request ignored. Anyone who uses the Red Bus knows that it is an absolute crap shoot as to when or if the bus is ever coming. The Express bus in the morning during 7-9am is pretty full usually. And the majority of individuals get off at the train stop - why change the stop order to keep MORE people on already crowded buses? Maybe the RIOC should actually take a week or two and time the buses and use the Nextbus system during rush hour or the weekend. Then perhaps they would see the actual issues at hand. This system needs to be sorted out BEFORE the tram shut down in months as the Red Bus system will be more vital than before in actually getting off this godforsaken rock to civilization.

Anonymous said...

The schedule posted by Mr. Shane, although nice in theory, is completely useless. We tried for a week using the so-called schedule posted in the paper - half the time the bus was already gone when we got to our stop. The GPS system continues to be useless which is a shame . I can say from weekly experience that the 8:40 Octagon Express often leaves at 8:30. My husband has overheard the drivers be told to switch on the GPS and seen that request ignored. Anyone who uses the Red Bus knows that it is an absolute crap shoot as to when or if the bus is ever coming. The Express bus in the morning during 7-9am is pretty full usually. And the majority of individuals get off at the train stop - why change the stop order to keep MORE people on already crowded buses? Maybe the RIOC should actually take a week or two and time the buses and use the Nextbus system during rush hour or the weekend. Then perhaps they would see the actual issues at hand. This system needs to be sorted out BEFORE the tram shut down in months as the Red Bus system will be more vital than before in actually getting off this godforsaken rock to civilization.

Anonymous said...

"godforsaken rock of civilization"? Please, just walk, will you? It is not going to kill you.

But, yes, that schedule is overly complicated and not usable nor reliable at all. Maybe the RIOC should do it like the MTA. Those folks actually know a little about public transit.

I don't get why the Red Bus should be free. The main issue with the bus is the crowding. Making it more expensive will definitely do something about that. $1 would be a fair price. $.50 for seniors and free for students.

Anonymous said...

Just make a schedule, period. There is NO excuse for not having one. The buses going crosstown in manhattan have one. The M60 that has to go allllll the way down 125th has one (and god knows there are tons of delays on that street with excess double parking and your fairly frequent handicapped passengers.)

Anonymous said...

Try walking with two kids in a stroller for 20 minutes on a sub-arctic day like today - that's why I take the bus! Oh wait, I can't take the Red Bus because it never shows up. No walking wouldn't kill me but hauling 70 extra pounds around makes living here difficult. No the Red Bus shouldn't be free but charging a dollar for a crappy service? C'mon, give me a break. I'm not sure that the MTA knows much about transit service honestly but it has to be more than the RIOC.

Is it fair to expect people to walk with groceries, children or other heavy items for the distance of the entire island? Not particularly - especially when a simple schedule would work. The GPS service is a nice idea but when it doesn't work and isn't fixed it seems like a way to rub it in your face that the bus quite simply is never going to show up at your stop.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I've been doing the children and stroller thing for quite a few years here on RI and it never killed me. Rain or shine, grocery bags or not. And I live at the Octagon just like you. Are you one of the people who got upset when the "no stroller during rush hours" rule was implemented (but hardly enforced, unfortunately)?

Anonymous said...

You know, Thats nice you want to walk everywhere, reallly. More power to you. But personally, I'm a young student with some unfortunate knee problems that means, Can I walk? Yes. Is it pleasant? No.

I can't imagine what that means for those on the island who are really disabled. If you haven't noticed, there are quite a few senior citizens and disabled people on this island who would greatly benefit from a timely bus running. Also, Morning commuters would also benefit from a bus running a decent time schedule. The fact is that there is no excuse to have a bus without a schedule. It's not unreasonable for people to expect these buses to work. If midtown manhattan can do it, why can't they?

Anonymous said...

Actually the stroller fold up rule is enforced - or at least it seems to be for my case. And for a mom who is wearing a 20 pound baby, folding up a stroller and trying to contain a toddler it's a bit of a pain. Love those stares from the other commuters while I struggle. I don't have a choice though as my kid needs to get to school and on a cold day like yesterday the bus is the logical choice for all of us to get there.

I agree with a previous poster - there is no excuse for no schedule being established.

Anonymous said...

Pay $1 for the red bus? Hahahahaha, kiss my ass. I don't even know why people take the bus. If the bus is so important, do make it a dollar. So the lazy people who are capable of walking will avoid the bus. And the people who can't walk for some reason will be paying for good service that they need.