FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM AUGUST 22, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Queens pols attack MTA’s decision to remove bus arrival schedules
BY MAX PARROTT
Th e Metropolitan Transit Authority’s
(MTA) decision to get rid of printed arrival
schedules buses across the city has incurred
the ire of Queens politicians.
Aft er the MTA began removing the
printed schedules in July in order to save an
estimated $550,000 and modernize its system,
16 Queens lawmakers signed a letter a
the beginning of August attacking this policy
as disproportionately aff ecting low-income
and senior New Yorkers who may not
have access to a cellphone or smartphone.
“Replacing bus schedules with only a
notice that commuters may text MTA
or call 511 for an updated schedule does
not help those riders without access to a
charged cellphone, especially our senior citizens,
low-income New Yorkers, and event
tourists,” wrote Councilman Peter Koo,
who penned the letter.
In lieu of the arrival schedules, the MTA
has printed placards that give directions on
how to get arrival information by using a
smartphone from the MYmta app, texting
their route and intersection, calling 511 or
tweeting at the @NYCTBus account. In July
the agency changes the signage on 83 bus
routes across the city.
Th e MTA argued that its decision follows
other transit systems across the country
who have already gone paperless, as
a result of high rates of cellphone and
smartphone usage. Th e last time the NYC
Department of Consumer Aff airs commissioned
a mobile services study in 2015, it
found that about 96 percent of New Yorkers
own a cellphone and 79 percent own a
Th e change originated from the MTA’s
eff orts to update bus schedules across the
city. Th e agency stated that replacing the
printed materials every time a route is
aff ected is and expensive and time-consuming
“Moving to paperless schedules helps
reduce our paper waste and makes the
most of new technology that puts real-time
information in customers’ hands whenever
they need it. Th e $550,000 in recurring
annual savings from this initiative
allows NYC Transit to redirect our resources
to maintaining bus service levels,” MTA
NYC Transit Chief Customer Offi cer Sarah
But cost effi ciency isn’t the complete
motivation for the MTA’s decision.
Another part of the MTA’s reasoning
stems from the challenges that buses have
keeping up with the timeframe set by the
printed materials. A response from the @
NYCTBus Twitter indicates that traffi c has
become so erratic that a regular time schedule
for buses is simply not realistic.
“We made this change because we’ve
found that our real-time data is much more
reliable than schedule data, especially with
traffi c conditions delaying buses and our
dispatchers making schedule adjustments
in real-time to even out waits,” @NYCTBus
account has tweeted to several customers
who inquired about the changes.
Koo closed his letter with a call on the
MTA to reconsider this policy and replace
the fl iers at all bus stops in the city. Th e
MTA has not yet responded to Koo’s
The MTA has replaced bus arrival schedules with printed placards that give directions on how to use
a cell phone or smartphone to get arrival information.
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