Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More thoughts on the M15 Select Bus Service


Thanks to a reader for these thoughts...

Still happy with the ride, not so happy with the ticketing process. Seems like too few machines per stop. Understand that two or three is probably fine during non-rush hours, but when there's a rush and people have to line up for the machines, they get frustrated.

This is exacerbated when (1) a machine is broken, (2) you're waiting for the ticket to print--altogether would say that the actual ticketing process from time you press button until when you get the receipt takes >3 times as long as sticking a card in bus Metrocard reader--(3) people get especially frustrated when the bus comes but they are still lined up to get a ticket--old habits die hard, and people feel like they should be able to just walk on the bus and use the reader, and (4) the bus closes its doors and leaves while you're waiting to get a ticket from the sidewalk machine--have only seen this happen when another bus is coming right up, but it sure feels bad.

MTA seems to be dealing with by running extra buses and/or placing empty buses where they can fill in gaps--e.g., if you see a bus at 14th and 1st SE corner with "Next Bus Please", it's probably an SBS bus waiting for a delay, and the dispatcher at 14th Street stop will occassionally call up (seems like they can also get called up to stops farther on the line).

Again, the ride is faster--and probably will get even better as there's more enforcement of the bus lane. But the above is frustrating, and although was once a believer in the sidewalk ticketing, a bit more of a skeptic now. Time will tell.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Loved getting my tickets checked twice this morning on the same bus. Once at 14th and once at 34th. MTA must really be short on cash if they're so worried about fare jumpers getting on between 14th and 34th. It would be better if they would actually pick people up at 1st Ave and 2nd St. instead of constantly choosing that stop to go out of service.

Morgan Tsvangirai said...

I ride the SBS approximately once a day and have never gotten my receipt checked.

There definitely doesn't seem to be enough machines at each stop. Hurrying to the machine when you see those two blinking lights flashing down the street only to find a bunch of people struggling with it is pretty damn frustrating. The buses do seem to come much more frequently than before at least.

HippieChick said...

So if I get the Select bus (yeah, right) and need to switch to the local, how does that work?

MTA, I fucking HATE you.

Anonymous said...

I applaud this commenter for being rational about the process, and actually noting things that are changing for the better. Not something you see everyday on this site!

nygrump said...

1. so the bus skips the Houston St stop? So between 14th and Delancey there is no express?

2. Does my ticket allow me to transfer onto the local? Will my metrocard transfer? Can I transfer from Express to subway?

3. we want the 8th St Express stop back - stop with the petty political payback

4. Utterly inane one can't use the metrocard.

5. Were there any public meetings about this, especially in areas like the E. Vil where they were eliminating express service?

blue glass said...

and if you get a receipt for a select bus, and the next bus is a local, you're screwed. can't use receipt on the local.
and no more running to catch the bus before it pulls out (even 2 inches) from the stop.
think i'll just use the local for now.

Kevin said...

One of the major problems (that could be easily corrected) is the direction that the ticket machines face when getting a recipt. People have to line up to get their tickets right along side of people waiting to get on the bus, after people get their ticket they become jammed between the row of machines in front of them and the people behind them waiting to get on the bus and and the ticket line stops. If the MTA would just turn the ticket machine around so that the line to get a ticket and the line to get on the bus were on opposite sides of the machines the SBS would really improve alot.

k.r.b. said...

When the SBS was new and there were helper-people at every stop, I was told that as long as you're using your metrocard, you can transfer between the SBS and the local M15. You always get one free transfer to another bus line or a subway when you use your card. And since the SBS is technically a different bus line than the M15 local, you can use your transfer between the two (even if you just got your receipt and then the local comes first).

If you usually transfer to a subway from the bus, then i think you're screwed since you just used your transfer to go from the SBS to the local. Unless you have an Unlimited card. And if you paid with coins (really, the machines can't accept dollar bills?) I think you're stuck with your receipt and waiting for the SBS. But if you wanted to transfer to a local, I think you can still get a paper transfer from the driver.

@nygrump - there is a stop at Houston, although technically it's at 2nd street and 1st Ave.

I'm missing the express stop at 8th st as well. And they completely removed the M15 local stop by my office downtown. Loving the idea of SBS but it's not really helping me out too much.

Jill said...

Wait what? You can't use a metrocard for the express bus now? Is that true?

Anonymous said...

I have been taking the SBS a lot between 14th Street and 68th Street and find it is a distinct improvement. Yes, the first time I missed an SBS waiting for a receipt when I could have flung myself on with a metrocard was frustrating. But every time I look at the lines slowly getting on a local bus, or find myself holding up a line as I fumble with my metrocard and purse and packages, I am grateful SBS is here.

Chris said...

blue glass: and if you get a receipt for a select bus, and the next bus is a local, you're screwed. can't use receipt on the local.

That's flat-out not true. The MTA changed this a week into the SBS service after complaints from riders. If you have a receipt from the Select Bus, you can show it while boarding a local and use it the same way.

And if you switch from an SBS bus to a local, a free transfer is encoded in your Metrocard anyway.

Chris said...

nygrump:
1. so the bus skips the Houston St stop? So between 14th and Delancey there is no express?

The downtown bus stops further down Houston between Allen and Eldridge.

2. Does my ticket allow me to transfer onto the local? Will my metrocard transfer? Can I transfer from Express to subway?

Yes, yes, and yes.

3. we want the 8th St Express stop back - stop with the petty political payback

Please explain what "petty political payback" was involved in a process that involved stakeholders from this neighborhood and feedback directly from CB3. Your conspiracy theories are baseless, especially considering the MTA - an apolitical corporation - had final say in determining the stops.

4. Utterly inane one can't use the metrocard.

Why? The whole system is designed to speed buses up, and the major roadblock in speeding them up was how long it takes to board a bus when everyone has to swipe their Metrocard. In the Bronx, the Bx12 switched to this system two years ago, and buses are 20% faster than before.

5. Were there any public meetings about this, especially in areas like the E. Vil where they were eliminating express service?

Yes, there were plenty. The plans were on the CB3 agenda at least three times just in the past year. The MTA held workshops on SBS all over the city over the past two years. A community advisory council met a half-dozen times to guide planning the corridor, which included neighborhood stakeholders, community groups, and elected officials. And the MTA held workshops and information sessions - mentioned even here on this site - in the weeks leading up to the start of service.

If you missed all this, I'm sorry, but it's not for lack of effort on the city and MTA's part.

Brandon said...

They should definitely make it where you would just swipe at the machine and it would confirm, like a turnstile.

Proof of payment would be the fare inspector having a portable swiper to check that you swiped at the machine.

ShutUpHooker said...

All I can say is I agree with HippieChick:
MTA I FUCKING HATE YOU!!!

[thanks for making my visit to family on aveD now more of bitch since you eliminated a limited crosstown stop on 2nd@ St.Marks.... and skipping all of Chinatown? ... Real Smart for tourism and way to foster up with the asian community]

Anonymous said...

I e-mailed the MTA last night asking if anyone has been saying anything good about the new system. I got this form response (which didn't answer my question:

"MTA New York City Transit is committed to providing safe, courteous, reliable, and accessible bus service. We were sorry to learn that you were not pleased with the implementation of M15 Select Bus Service which began on October 10, 2010.

The Select Bus Service (SBS) program is designed to speed the movement of buses along the M15 corridor. In addition to specifically marked bus lanes, limited stops, and paying before entering the bus eliminates time spent at the farebox dipping Metrocards or depositing coins. Allowing customers to enter through both the front and rear doors lets the bus leave the stop considerably sooner. Over the course of the route, this moves our customers much more quickly to their destinations. This system has significantly improved the daily commute of our SBS customers on the Bx12 route in the Bronx and we are confident that, over the course of time, the benefits of this service will become more evident on the M15 route as well.

Sincerely,

Ivy Taradash
Senior Customer Service Associate
MTA"

Anonymous said...

blue glass: and if you get a receipt for a select bus, and the next bus is a local, you're screwed. can't use receipt on the local.
That's flat-out not true. The MTA changed this a week into the SBS service after complaints from riders. If you have a receipt from the Select Bus, you can show it while boarding a local and use it the same way.

WRONG.....GOT KICKED OFF THE LOCALBY A NASTY DRIVER (ONE OF 5 STRAIGHT WITH NO SELECT) ON NOV18!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Words cannot express how much I hate the new "express" buses. This morning I waited in a line of at least 20 for the ONE working machine at 1st Ave and 2nd street while three buses came and left. each of them nearly empty because we were all in line.

This stop has had only one working machine each time I have used it for the past two weeks. It is especially frustrating because the regular bus stops a block away so you have to give up your place in line and run a block, but if you miss that bus you have to get back in the first line...

I'm so frustrated by the time i get on the bus in the morning I'm ready to scream. MTA needs to deal with this.

Good Dog! Groomer said...

Out of paper?
So they can put machines on the sidewalk to print receipts but when they run out of paper the machine is completely useless.

Oh, they say someone is notified that it is out of paper - a little late isn't it? how long does it take someone to get to the machine and add paper? How about a reserve? - notify the guy that the machine is ALMOST out of paper. Duh! Whose relative is making big bucks to design these machines so poorly???

Why can't we buy a metrocard or just pay the fare with credit card or atm card?
If the machine can communicate with someone somewhere about the paper, then why can't it take credit cards to either pay the bus fare or buy metrocards? I just love going to a subway station to refill my metrocard when I don't need to take the subway! Not!

Why do unlimited metrocard holders have to get a receipt?
The best is when you can't get a receipt and you're carrying an unlimited metrocard. Maybe the unlimited metrocard could be a different color than regular metrocards and maybe the expiration date could be printed on it when you first use it. Then unlimited metrocards holders could just jump on the bus.

Saves you time? or Leaves without you!
One time I was running for the bus but it was sitting about 20 feet before the machine so I had to run past it to use the machine and then it left before could get to the door. If I'm not on the bus it can't be saving me time.

Coin machine break down - already? really?
I've already seen a machine that takes coins become useless because someone's quarter was stuck in the slot.

These machines are soooo poorly designed.
They don't leverage any previous knowledge on how to use a metrocard - you don't swipe, you don't dip, you don't touch the screen - No, you have press the start button!!! Why? Where did this idea come from? Why can't the machine just let you insert the Metrocard and spit out a receipt. I've seen people who can't read the instructions and get left behind. Everyone doesn't read English or Spanish - what about everyone else? An image of the metrocard showing which way to insert it should be good and a flashing light on the receipt dispenser should be good. Don't the designers know anything about making things that work for everyone regardless of language skills?

Good Dog! Groomer said...

Why do unlimited metrocard holders have to get a receipt?
The best is when you can't get a receipt and you're carrying an unlimited metrocard. Maybe the unlimited metrocard could be a different color than regular metrocards and maybe the expiration date could be printed on it when you first use it. Then unlimited metrocards holders could just jump on the bus.

Saves you time? or Leaves without you!
One time I was running for the bus but it was sitting about 20 feet before the machine so I had to run past it to use the machine and then it left before could get to the door. If I'm not on the bus it can't be saving me time.

Coin machine break down - already? really?
I've already seen a machine that takes coins become useless because someone's quarter was stuck in the slot.

Good Dog! Groomer said...

These machines are soooo poorly designed.
They don't leverage any previous knowledge on how to use a metrocard - you don't swipe, you don't dip, you don't touch the screen - No, you have press the start button!!! Why? Where did this idea come from? Why can't the machine just let you insert the Metrocard and spit out a receipt. I've seen people who can't read the instructions and get left behind. Everyone doesn't read English or Spanish - what about everyone else? An image of the metrocard showing which way to insert it should be good and a flashing light on the receipt dispenser should be good. Don't the designers know anything about making things that work for everyone regardless of language skills?