Transportation Updates

Press Release
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“We are finally using our waterways to improve commutes for thousands of Roosevelt Islanders who will be able to take the new ferry. Roosevelt Islanders can travel by air (by tram), land (by car, bus, and train) and now water (by ferry), all offering improved commutes. After advocating alongside the community since before I got elected and continuing that fight for ferry service every day since then, I am proud to be a part of a City government that finally made it a reality,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett for reclaiming our waterways and bringing ferry service citywide.”

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The lawmakers also demanded answers for why capital construction costs so much. At $4.5 billion for three new stations, the Second Avenue subway’s first phase was the most expensive subway project in the world, according to transit experts.

“In other parts of the globe, when subway systems are being built or expanded, they do not remotely come close to the challenges we are facing here in New York City,” Hakim said. “You see it when you go by an open utility construction pit and you look in at the maze, the spaghetti of utilities.”

Still, several council members felt that New York was falling behind other cities.

“What does Russia know that we don’t?” asked Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, who wondered why Moscow runs more trains per hour than the MTA.

Hakim pointed out that Moscow doesn’t run a 24-hour subway system. “Try to get the subway in Moscow at 2 o’clock in the morning; they’re closed,” she said.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Friday, August 4, 2017

UPPER EAST SIDE — Commuters will begin seeing new countdown clocks at more than a dozen bus stops in the neighborhood, as well as the area's final Citi Bike station, city officials said.

On Thursday, Councilman Ben Kallos and DOT Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez announced 15 countdown clocks have been installed or will be at stops along the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines.

The clocks will appear at 70th, 72nd and 75th streets along First Avenue; on Second Avenue at 94th Street; on York Avenue at 72nd, 74th, 76th, 77th, 79th, 84th, 86th and 88th streets; on First Avenue at 57th Street; and on First Avenue at 67th and 72nd streets.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com

On Thursday, Councilman Ben Kallos and DOT Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez announced 15 countdown clocks have been installed or will be at stops along the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines.

The clocks will appear at 70th, 72nd and 75th streets along First Avenue; on Second Avenue at 94th Street; on York Avenue at 72nd, 74th, 76th, 77th, 79th, 84th, 86th and 88th streets; on First Avenue at 57th Street; and on First Avenue at 67th and 72nd streets.

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Thursday, August 3, 2017

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Fifteen bus stations on the Upper East Side have brand-new countdown clocks thanks to neighborhood residents, City Councilman Ben Kallos announced Thursday morning. The clocks — located at stops long the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines — were a top vote getter in the district's participatory budgeting election years ago.

"I hope that new bus countdown clocks will bring more riders back to our buses, as they walk by and see a bus on the way to help get them where they are going faster,” Kallos said during a Thursday press conference. "Riders will finally know when the next bus is coming or if it isn’t coming at all, so they can make that crucial decision of whether it is faster to ride or walk."

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Press Coverage
West Side Spirit
Monday, July 31, 2017

“Benches are one of those things where you actually get them for free,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. Unlike, say, garbage cans and tree guards, which have to be funded by so-called member items, the city is brimming with available benches, he said.

 

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Press Coverage
PIX11
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Locally, officials hope the Astoria route will help alleviate the inundated 7 train and help commuters traveling to and from Roosevelt Island.

“Roosevelt Island has waited generations for ferry service which will finally arrive this summer,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the area.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, July 24, 2017

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz noted that the authority "reviews and evaluates bus schedules on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately match current rider demand and operating conditions, as well as to ensure there are resources available where needed to provide customers with the most efficient and effective bus service possible. 

"Schedule revisions also address the need to more accurately reflect changing traffic conditions which have generally slowed in recent years," he continued, without saying whether the agency is considering the community's requests.

Councilman Kallos said he and the other elected officials are pressing the MTA to release its swipe data to get the hard facts on how many people are using on the crosstown buses.

"They are not considering the Americans with Disabilities Act — this neighborhood has seniors almost more than anywhere else," he said. "We just have to keep making our voices heard."

 

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Monday, July 24, 2017

The cuts also caught the attention of a coalition of local, state and federal elected officials representing the impacted areas, which sent a letter to the MTA New York City Transit's acting president, Darryl Irick, objecting to the cuts and expressing concern that increased wait times “will leave our residents feeling abandoned by our buses.” The letter was signed by City Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright, state Senators Liz Kruger, Brad Hoylman and José Serrano, and U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler. And last week, Community Board 8 unanimously approved a resolution requesting that the MTA reconsider the proposed service reductions.

One source of frustration for elected officials and community members is that the MTA has thus far declined requests to release the underlying data used to evaluate service and ridership, such as farebox data. The elected officials asserted in their letter that the MTA's research and evaluation is “not done in a transparent manner that is subject to public review.”

“They have to show us the data that supports why they need to make these changes,” Kallos told Straus News after the cuts were announced.

Seawright echoed Kallos' call for the transit authority to release the data. “The MTA basically is refusing to share it, saying that it's not in a format that they're willing to distribute,” she said. “I think it's totally unacceptable.” Seawright said she planned to raise the issue of transparency at the MTA's next budget hearing in Albany

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At a July 7 meeting with elected representatives, MTA officials agreed to maintain current service levels on the M57 line, going back on an earlier proposal that would have increased headways on the route from 10 to 12 minutes during AM peak hours and from 12 to 15 minutes during PM peak hours. “The M57 was going to have the most cuts, and they’ve agreed to make no service changes to the M57,” Kallos said.

The proposed changes, scheduled to take effect in September, were first announced by MTA New York City Transit in a June 16 letter to elected officials and community boards. The letter also proposed reductions in service frequency on the M31, M66 and M72 bus lines that would increase scheduled wait times by 11 to 33 percent. Despite opposition from elected officials at the July 7 meeting, the MTA has not altered its proposal to cut service on the three lines, Kallos said.

 

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Press Release
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thank you to New York City Transit for your diligent evaluation of bus service routes, but we must express concern with regards to insufficient public notice and object to service cuts of up to 33% to four bus lines crucial to the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Midtown.

Bus Service Route Recommendations:

  • M31 - Reject increase in PM Peak headway from 8 to 9 minutes (12.5%).
  • M57 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 10 to 12 minutes (20%) and Evening headway from 12 to 15 minutes (25%).
  • M66 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 4 to 4.5 minutes (12.5%) and PM Peak headway from 3.5 to 4 minutes (14%).
  • M72 - Reject increase in AM Peak headway from 9 to 10 minutes (11%), PM Peak headway from 8 to 9 minutes (12.5%), and Evening headways from 15 to 20 minutes (33%).
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Press Coverage
FOX 5 WNYW
Thursday, June 8, 2017

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Bike lanes are all over New York City. And yet seeing bikers pedaling wherever they see fit is not uncommon. Many of these bikers are making deliveries.

City Councilman Ben Kallos is working to fix the problem with a bike safety initiative. The group stops by local restaurants and offers delivery people free helmets, safety lessons and more.

But things get more complicated when delivery men and women ride e-bikes. An e-bike looks no different than an average bike, except for a small electric motor attached to the frame. That motor makes the bike illegal.

 

New York's laws on e-bikes are murky. Selling motorized bikes that have a maximum speed of less than 20 mph is legal, but riding them isn't. If your e-bike is confiscated, you can get it back after a having a court hearing and paying a $500 fine.

photo

The NYPD confiscated 155 e-bikes in 2016 and a whopping 691 so far in 2017. While some lawmakers, like Councilman Kallos, favor the confiscations, others say e-bikes are just as safe as regular bikes. Assemblyman Nick Perry said e-bikes help people who have to pedal a lot during the day, especially low-wage workers who work hard to support their families. He has introduced legislation to legalize e-bikes in New York. The Transportation Committee is reviewing the bill.

Right now, pedal-assist e-bikes are classified as bicycles in New York City, meaning those are legal to use.

Citing safety concerns, the de Blasio administration squashed legislation in 2015 to include other forms of e-bikes.

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Press Release
Monday, May 29, 2017

Commutes are getting better on the Upper East Side. The lines that extended half a block on East 79th Street at York and First Avenues are a thing of the past. Waiting five minutes or more just for people to pay and board is no more.

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Press Release
Sunday, May 21, 2017

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) NYC Transit and New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) together today began service on a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 79th Street in Manhattan. This busy 2-mile crosstown corridor links Manhattan’s Upper East Side to the Upper West Side and serves over 14,000 riders daily.   The M79 is the 13th Select Bus Service route Citywide and the 7th in Manhattan.  Using SBS’s signature combination of dedicated bus lanes, curbside fare collection, all-door boarding and transit-signal priority, the new line is expected to both reduce travel times and increase reliability.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Thursday, May 11, 2017

A number of East Side politicians, including Councilman Ben Kallos, Sen. Liz Krueger, and Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, along with the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, petitioned the MTA for the new buses after receiving a slew of complaints from commuters who wait long periods of time for their bus to come.

"Bus service on the East Side is about to get better with brand new buses that won’t cause disruptions in service from breaking down as often,” said Kallos. “Residents complain about poor bus service every day, but after years of advocacy, we are getting the new buses we need."

The new buses will eventually phase out the older buses, which is the primary cause of "missing buses," according to Kallos. 

The buses that run on all five routes come out of the Tuskeegee Bus Depot in Harlem and are some of the oldest, Kallos said.

"When local buses end up 'missing' that further compounds the problems," he said. "The M15 had the oldest fleet in the city. This is great news for M15 riders."

Locals and politicians on both the Upper and Lower East Side have for years been asking the MTA to fix the slow local M15 service or add additional Select Bus Service stops on the route.

Upper East Side residents have pushed for more local M15 buses or at least the addition of a Select Bus Service stop at East 72nd Street since the local bus takes too long to arrive. 

"You can stand there for 25 to 35 minutes and see three Select Bus Service buses go by," said Valerie Mason, president of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, last year. "In the last six years, local service has deteriorated greatly."

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Press Release
Thursday, May 11, 2017

79 New Buses Headed to East Side to Replace Oldest Buses in Fleet
M14, M15, M101, M102, & M103 

New York, NY – Manhattan’s East Side, where seniors and others depend on buses with slow service and long waits, is getting 79 new buses to help alleviate these issues. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA’s announcement of the new buses followed strong, data-driven advocacy from Council Member Ben Kallos, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and the East 79th Street Neighborhood.
 
The community and elected officials brought the issue of “missing buses” to the attention of then-MTA Bus Company President Darryl Irick at a meeting convened by Senator Liz Krueger. The MTA shared that bus lines based out of the Tuskegee Depot were amongst the oldest in the system, leading to more frequent than usual breakdowns, and agreed to prioritize these buses for replacement.
 
The MTA is now bringing 79 new buses with free Wi-Fi and USB charging to the Tuskegee Depot, which will provide 3 to 5 new buses per week to the M14, M15, M101, M102, and M103 lines.
 
The East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, led by Betty Cooper-Wallerstein, has been fighting for improved bus service for decades, from awarding bus operators for a job well done to distributing survey cards for residents to provide feedback on their experiences with the buses. This advocacy has ensured that quality bus service remains a top priority for elected officials who receive these cards with service complaints.
 
In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos presented at Beta NYC's National Day of Civic Hacking event and facilitated a conversation on using MTA BusTime data to track every bus in the system at all times in order to analyze bus service. Nathan Johnson took up this challenge. In his analysis, he found “missing buses,” where fewer buses ran per hour than were scheduled.
 
In discussions facilitated by TWU Local 100 with bus operators from the Tuskegee Bus Depot, they identified frequent breakdowns and insufficient buses as two primary causes of “missing buses.” Council Member Kallos identified these issues in multiple letters and meetings with the MTA, BetaNYC, and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).
 
Further analysis by the Bus Turnaround Coalition at BusTurnaround.nyc found:

  • M15: has the highest ridership in Manhattan at 46,029 daily riders, with more than 1 of 8 buses arriving bunched and an average speed of only 4.8 mph.
  • M101: is one of the top ten most bunched buses in the city at 1 of 6 buses arriving bunched, with the fourth highest ridership in Manhattan at 26,127 riders per day, and an average speed of only 4.9 mph.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Until recently, the most crowded bus route in Manhattan also had the oldest buses in the fleet. According to data analyzed by the Bus Turnaround Coalition, which advocates for better bus service citywide, the M15 carries more than 46,000 passengers every day, though ridership has decreased roughly 10 percent since 2010. Thanks to a combined community effort, 79 new buses have already begun to replace the vehicles on the M15 route, as well as on the M14, M101, M102 and M103 routes.

“We spent an enormous amo”unt of time demonstrating the need for the buses,” Council Member Ben Kallos said. “When residents complain about bus service we pass it on to MTA and MTA usually tells us the buses were there.” Kallos, who has a background in software development, partnered with Civic Hackers to collect and assess bus data in order to demonstrate that bus service on the Upper East Side was spotty and often bunched. Between gathering the data and convincing the MTA, Kallos said the project “ended up soaking up about two years of my life.”

Betty Cooper-Wallerstein, the president of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association and a former Council member, began collecting her own data many years ago by compiling results from survey cards she would hand out at community meetings. She would ask bus riders to note the route they took and their driver’s punctuality, both to monitor service standards and to give awards to the highest ranking bus drivers. “We have very many seniors,” Cooper-Wallerstein said, emphasizing the need for more reliable service so older riders aren’t waiting as longer or having to walk far away to a better line. Cooper-Wallerstein said she expects the new buses will be “a big help.”

Kallos credited state Senator Liz Krueger with helping set up the meeting last fall with Darryl Irick, the president of the MTA Bus Company, who confirmed that the M15’s vehicles were the oldest in the fleet and agreed to provide the new ones. “The MTA has advised me that the 79 buses is enough for a full replacement on the M15,” said Kallos, who takes that route to work. The remaining new buses will be distributed across the M14, M101, M102 and M103 routes, he added, “where we will continue advocating for more buses.”

The Bus Turnaround Coalition shows that the M101, M102 and M103 have the fourth, 15th and 22nd highest ridership in Manhattan. On the M101 route, one of every six buses arrives bunched.

The 79 new buses will have Wi-Fi, USB charging ports and digital displays displaying upcoming stops. They are also equipped with a pedestrian warning system to prevent collisions. “It can be tough to balance trying to keep people getting to work on time with pedestrians in the intersection who may or may not be obeying the law,” Kallos said. “This technology will really help drivers avoid any mishaps.

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Press Release
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and transportation advocates today announced that an array of transit improvements over the last year have transformed the Upper East Side from a so-called “transit desert” into a “Transit Garden.”   They stood together at a new Q station stop at 2nd Avenue and 86th Street, celebrating the numerous transit, traffic, and safety improvements that now complement the new Second Avenue Subway -- including faster MTA Select Bus Service (SBS), a new Second Avenue protected bike lane and Citi Bike.   The Commissioner also released a progress report on the success of the M86 SBS route, while noting TLC data showing a 32 percent decrease in taxi trips from the Upper East Side to Midtown since Q train service began.  She also noted that starting next year, the Upper East Side would be serviced by the new NYC Ferry.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One of Manhattan’s busiest — and slowest — bus routes will soon join the growing list of select bus services (SBS). The M79 crosstown bus, which serves more than 14,000 riders each day, is expected to make the change in service later this May. The select service will require riders to pay at kiosks on the sidewalk before boarding the bus, in an attempt to cut down on time spent idling and improve the route’s 4.3 mph average speed. Signs with real-time arrival information will also be installed at each stop. The annual operating budget is expected to be approximately $1.73 million, according to the January 2017 MTA Transit and Bus Committee meeting handbook.

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, personally requested that the service be implemented.

“Our crosstown buses serve tens of thousands of passengers a day and it makes a huge difference and cuts a lot of time off people’s commutes,” he said. “On 79th Street I, like many residents, have had to wait in lines around the block to get on the bus and I’ve often found that when the lines get that long it’s faster to just walk where I’m going instead of waiting for the bus.”

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Friday, March 10, 2017

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who has been pushing for the stops to be returned, posted photos on Thursday of MTA workers installing the ticketing machines.

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