Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Roosevelt Island Transportation General Manager on the Job and the Street, Improvements Coming With Real Time Red Bus Information - Questions Continue On Scheduling, Bunching, Routing, Linkage and More

 Image of New Transportation Manager Cy Opperman at Red Bus Stop From Jonathan Kalkin at Yfrog

Roosevelt Island's new Transportation General Manager Cy Opperman has been on the job for the last two weeks having started last April 4. As reported in Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) President Leslie Torres most recent report:
... Red Buses Under New Management

I know many of you have expressed concern about the Red Bus schedule and stops. It is an issue we are concerned about too. Getting it right is one of our top priorities.

To that end, I am happy to report that we have hired Cyril “Cy” Opperman, a bus operations expert with over 31 years of experience. Cy comes to us from the New York City Transit Authority, where he worked his way up from bus operator to General Superintendant of the West Farms Depot. I know he’ll be a great asset to the Red Bus operations.

Cy’s priorities are safety and the schedule. He’s a hands-on manager and has been riding the buses for a few weeks prior to his official start. So if you see Cy on the bus, say hello. I know he’s eager to hear from residents about their Red Bus experience....
On Mr. Opperman's first day of work on Roosevelt Island, April 4, an Octagon resident sent me this message:
Thought you would be interested to know there was a rioc rep in front of the octagon this morning checking bus times and ridership numbers.
The RIOC rep referred to was Mr. Opperman. You probably will be seeing Mr. Opperman often on the Roosevelt Island streets and Red Bus.

RIOC Board Director Jonathan Kalkin adds:
At the last Operations Committee Meeting I was very excited to welcome Cy Opperman to the RIOC team. He has decades of experience and is exactly the kind of person we were looking for to finally give the people of Roosevelt Island the level of service they deserve.

Over the next couple of months I believe you will see a great change in our transportation system. We have added and tested a couple of improvements, however we needed someone to manage the system to make sure things are executed properly. During the meeting I said to Cy that his job is probably one of if not the most important on the Island.

The Columbia U study I commissioned stated we needed a schedule, a transportation manager, a supervisor outside at all times to make sure the buses are running correctly, enhanced driver training, and better coordination with our other forms of transit. I have been pushing for those transportation reforms and I'm excited that we can finally start to deliver on those promises.

You will also see many technical improvements from real bus time information and transit alert information at the bus shelters, to exciting mobile applications for us on the go. We have been meeting with a number of companies about this and we are excited to introduce them to you soon.

I have posted the question: How can we improve the Roosevelt Island Red Bus? on a site called Quora. Quora is a great resource for the community to give feedback on a number of topics. I look forward to hearing from you.

Here is link to the March 31 RIOC Operations Committee meeting audio webcast in which Mr. Opperman is introduced and speaks in great detail

Image of Mr. Opperman at RIOC Operations Committee Meeting Updated on 4/20

about his prior work experience with NYC Transit Authority as well as his initial impressions on the Red Bus and other Roosevelt Island transportation issues.

One of the possible real time mobile transportation applications Mr. Kalkin was referring to was Roadify.

You Tube Video Explaining Roadify Application

Here's Roadify's Dylan Goelz showing Mr. Kalkin how Roadify works and discussing how it may apply to Roosevelt Island. 

For the record, I was at this meeting as well and used the Roadify app last Sunday as I was waiting for the B61 bus in Greenpoint to take me to Long Island City. The application worked perfectly and the Bus arrived at my stop on Manhattan Avenue when it said it would. I would have walked but when the Roadify app reported the B61 bus was only a couple of minutes away, I decided to wait for it and walk another time.

As Mr. Kalkin noted above, Mr. Opperman's job supervising Roosevelt Island transportation is one of the most important jobs impacting the quality of life for all of us who live, work and visit here. Many of us have questions for Mr. Opperman. Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chairperson Frank Farance has some too. From Mr. Farance:
Question #1: I've heard about this problem with GPS and so-called wrong job numbers.  In other transportation companies, the solution to this problem is a start-up checklist (which includes turning on the GPS and setting the job number) and a shutdown check list (which includes resetting the job number and then turning off the GPS).  The operator might need to say the words out loud while he/she is performing it (just as pilots do), and he/she might need to radio the dispatcher that he/she has complied with the checklist before starting his route.  Whether these are included as a placard or a laminated hand-card, the technique is the same: requiring checklists to improve consistency and quality in the operations.  Why aren't these common operations management techniques being applied?

Question #2: You have experience in other bus operations, but it wasn't clear what experiences you had in bus scheduling.  Could you let us know about your experiences?

Question #3: Based upon your experience, which MTA bus routes a good analogies to the RIOC red bus route?  What are the similarities?  What are the differences?  How to you plan to apply these circumstances to the red bus?  [Note: I don't think any of the MTA bus routes are like the red bus (I could be wrong), but I think the Hertz-Avis-National-etc. car rental shuttle buses at airports have much in common with the RIOC red bus.  In the past, I've suggested that we use some kind of spacing timer (like airport shuttles) or clock at (say) the tram to enforce spacing.  As for the MTA, I think the Franklin Avenue shuttle in the subway service might be closest to the red bus in terms of stops/timing/distance, but (I think) it still doesn't have strong applicability to our scheduling issues.]

Question #4: You mentioned in the WIRE article that the secret is "headway".  That might reduce bunching, but I agree with Aaron Hamburger that headway doesn't improve reliability of the schedule.  What is your operational strategy for implementing "headway"?  What is your exception strategy when bunching occurs (regardless of your "headway" efforts)?

Question #5: In your WIRE comments, you mentioned concerns about someone getting a flat tire.  In 31 years, I can't think of any time when a flat tire (anyone's!) was notable for a significant change in red bus operating status.  Could you further explain yourconcerns?

Question #6: What kind of metrics do you plan on keeping?  What is your assessment formula/algorithm for determining individual and overall bus performance?  What, in a quantitative description, do you consider Good Service, Marginal Service, and Poor Service?  Or maybe you have some other stratification of service performance and its data?

Question #7: What is your plan, if any, for linking the red bus schedule to all/some/none of the daily events, including the Q102 bus, the Tram, the subway, the hospital shift changes, the school bus pickup/dropoff, the morning rush hour traffic (7-9AM in WIRE corridor), afternoon school traffic (2:30-4:30 in WIRE corridor), and night time subway/tram/bus services?

Question #8: What is your plan for providing consistent Island-wide service so, say, Octagon residents don't feel stranded and have to hire their own weekend schedule?

Question #9: What policies do you plan on changing/keeping with respect to passengers, such as wheelchairs, motorized wheelchairs, handicapped passengers, seniors with filled grocery shopping carts, parents with filled strollers?

Question #10: Have your evaluated the previous traffic flow on the Island, the recent changes (one way routing on West Channel), and other options for traffic flow?  What are your insights?
These questions from Mr. Farance were posed to Mr. Opperman in advance of a meeting between RIRA representatives, Mr. Opperman and other RIOC Staff and Board Members.


Dylan Goelz said...

Thanks for the opportunity to come out and see some of the amazing things John and Roosevelt Island are doing. You folks are leading this city into a new era of transit and we're happy to be a part of it.

Dylan Goelz

Anonymous said...

If they could implement the same technology for our yellow school buses, that would be awesome.

sam1602 said...

This guy was hired because Fernando Martinez is so utterly incompetent. Do we really need two 80-100K slots to do what is a pretty simple job for one person. In an era where nobody has money, RIOC has millions for all kinds of useless projects and staff to run them - 40+ Public Safety officers that do nothing, Astroturf Octagon, Southtown parking sensors so we know how many parking spaces there are from 90 miles away, a new Tram roof under the current tram roof, yet another upgrade for RIOC computers - the list goes on and on - and we are supposed to get excited because they have to hire yet another guy just to control the timing of 4 buses - amazing.

Anonymous said...

I believe I actually know the identity of poster SAM 1602 -- and as another long-timer here on RI along with him, I have to concur with many of his comments -- not so elegantly stated but extremely on-target. I have known this poster for a long time, and while I do not always agree with him -- he does the homework and he gets it right.

The tin ears of Mr. Martinez and Ms. Torres on improving Red Bus service are not resolved with another overpaid "expert" paid exclusively for this particular aspect of Island service.

This is not brain surgery or rocket science, especially at rush hours am and pm. Send a bus out - fill it, get it to the Subway and Tram stations, repeat.

ALL DRIVERS USING THEIR RADIOS ALL THE TIME to make sure everyone is moving and no one is just sitting.

Evening rush hour -- extend Red Bus service to 9 pm with more buses -- those 7:30 - 9 pm crowds are a killer.

Bus drivers MUST instruct / remind passengers to move to the rear and up those steps -- and our neighbors could use a little more common sense and step back and up so they do not have to be reminded. And when there is a huge crowd at the subway - drivers should be calling for another bus IMMEDIATELY. Some of our drivers do this - the others ? Need a strong reminder.

Lets remember too that priority goes to wheelchair users and persons with disabilities -- stroller users and shopping cart pushers should recognize that bus service for them is a luxury and not an entitlement. I do feel a little more discretion and manners from some drivers about allowing some strollers and carts on the bus at rush hours should be considered on a case by case basis -- this should not be a fight each time.

I cannot believe that after 28 years here, and especially with the growth here, no one can figure this out -- fill the bus, drop the people off, pick them up and repeat.

Anonymous said...

We should be glad that at least the government is hiring. Last time I checked almost nobody is hiring for meaningful jobs anymore. So, let's be happy for the lucky folks who have a job at the RIOC so they can pay their rents and their bills.

Anonymous said...

9:03am - Well, obviously, it is not as easy as "fill the bus, drop the people off, pick them up and repeat". If you cannot see that maybe you should a bit more homework yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the new Red Bus czar will be empowered to return Main Street to limited traffic and
strictly enforced short time parking - maybe even move the PSD cars back off the street. In addition he should be empowered to limit big delivery trucks to off hours and maybe have students attending off island schools board their buses at the helix i.e. get to the pickup on their own instead of having the buses get to them.He can get successful ideas from the SBS bus service run by the MTA in Manhattan on 1st and 2nd Avenue.

Anonymous said...

please remember that when you see someone with a small cart, 9 times out of 10 they are disabled and need that cart because they cannot carry things, are not physically able to cary items. For them the cart is a needed tool, not a luxury...everyone takes their hands and arms for granted, till something happends and you are struck down. The buses just need to run more often during the rush hours, it is not a big deal.

Anonymous said...

It's not a big deal if the owners of those carts would be a bit more considerate. Same, of course, for the stroller crowd.

Anonymous said...

SAM1602 and Poster from 9:03 should have put in for the job, since they are experts in Bus Transportation. I would rather put my trust in someone that has worked for the MTA for a long time. And, I actually commend Martinez & Torres for finding someone that knows what they are doing, since the person they had running that shop couldn't get it right. So kudos to them & the new guy for a change for the better!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

People who comment on this blog can choose how they wish to be identified, whether anonymously, a pseudonym or their real names. I would prefer less anonymous comments but that is not my decision to make.

Outing individuals with their real name is not right even if the outed person used their real name on an identical Facebook comment. It is particularly wrong when the person doing the outing does so anonymously.

This is the reason why the comment at 2:50 PM was removed.

Anonymous said...

This is a tiny island with one street. How difficult it is to fix the bus route that it requires consultants? Puhlease!

I think that the money RIOC pays this guy for consulting could be better spend to hire one more bus driver and get one more bus on the route.

Anonymous said...

5:20PM doesn't pay much attention.

The guy is not a consultant. He is an employee who took over the job somebody else had. The money paid to him to do the job right is money they were paying another guy who apparently didn't know what he was doing.

And, it's so easy to just put another bus on the route, huh? These buses cost over $600,000 each. Last I read on this blog, RIOC loses money on the Red Bus System by only charging a quarter for the fare. Are you planning to donate the money for another bus?
I don't think so!