Long-Awaited Bus Fixes Unveiled

Paul Bass photoThomas Breen photoAfter riding New Haven’s broken bus system for a month and interviewing 5,000 riders, state officials recommend new crosstown routes, transfer mini-hubs, bus-priority traffic lights, fewer stops, and express routes.

About 40 New Haveners and local and state public transit officials heard about those new recommendations Wednesday night and weighed in on Phase 2 of a decade-old state Move New Haven transit study that now offers a roadmap for overhauling New Haven’s dysfunctional public bus system.

The meeting took place at a state-organized gathering in the basement meeting area of the Ives main library.

Lisa DiTaranti, the northeast director of transit and rail for the Wethersfield-based consulting firm VHB, walked the attendees through a detailed 28-slide presentation about how best to address the CTtransit New Haven bus system’s manifold delays, inefficiencies, needless complexities, and overall poor performance.

“It’s a big system that hasn’t really had a refresh in a long time,” DiTaranti said about the city’s public bus network. “There are so many opportunities to make this system better.”

Wednesday night’s presentation represented the culmination of over a decade of publicly-funded research into the city’s public transit system.

Click here to download the full presentation document.

What started out as a New Haven streetcar assessment in 2008 morphed into 2016’s “Move New Haven” transit study, a comprehensive review of the New Haven area’s 18 public bus lines, all owned by the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

Phase 1 of the “Move New Haven” study, a collaboration among the city, the state DOT, the Greater New Haven Transit District, the South Central Regional Council of Governments, and the Federal Transit Administration, resulted in the publication of a survey in late 2017 that confirmed what New Haven bus riders have known for years: The system is inefficient, inconsistent, incoherent, and all but broken.

On Wednesday night, DiTaranti presented the study’s Phase 2 findings: a suite of specific recommended improvements to the bus system based off of the data collected and analyzed in last year’s Phase 1 report.

The CTtransit New Haven bus system serves the Elm City and 19 surrounding towns, including North Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and Milford.

DiTaranti said that the Move New Haven team’s next steps are to come up with estimated costs and recommended implementation plans for these suggested improvements. She said in the next few weeks the group will hold another community engagement meeting to discuss how to go about making these recommendations a reality.

She explained that the Phase 2 recommendations are based not just on the data collected for Phase 1, but also on an origins and destination survey that her team conducted in April 2018. Every day that month she and her colleagues rode all of the city buses and spoke with 5,000 different passengers about where they got on, where they were getting off, how far they had to travel to catch the bus, and why they were commuting by bus at all.

Her colleagues discovered that:

• 60 percent of riders started and ended their bus commutes in New Haven.

• 43 percent of trips required at least one transfer.

• A majority of riders ended their trips in downtown New Haven or outside of the city. The CTtransit New Haven bus system serves the Elm City and 19 surrounding towns, including North Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and Milford.

• The majority of New Haven public bus trips took place on just four routes: the 243, which serves Whalley Avenue; the 265, which serves Congress Avenue; the 212, which serves Grand Avenue; and the 238, which serves Dixwell Avenue. Those are the very same lines that the Phase 1 study singled out as carrying the bulk of New Haven’s daily bus commuters.

Speed It Up

Move New HavenThe Phase 2 proposed solutions, therefore, focus first and foremost on how best to improve the former B bus Whalley-Congress line and the former D bus Dixwell-Grand line.

“Because improvements on these four routes will benefit the greatest number of people soonest,” DiTaranti said.

She said the six recommended improvements all focus on treating the city’s bus system as a network of corridors, as opposed to its current layout as one downtown hub with various twisting, turning, convoluted spokes.

“We want to make this a modern system,” she said.

Her first recommendation: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lite features. That translates to: faster service with fewer stops, frequent and reliable service with headways (or waiting times) of 10 to 15 minutes or less, and run times that extend from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day.

“When you go to the bus stop,” she said about the city’s current system, “you’re not really 100 percent sure when your bus is gonna come.”

Imagine, she said, if all day long you knew with confidence that the bus was going to run every 10 minutes.

To get to that reality, she said, the bus system needs to allow for bus priority at intersections, accurate real-time information and user-friendly maps, faster fare payment mechanisms to reduce the time spent at any given stop, and smart technology buses that communicate with city traffic lights to encourage a light to stay or turn green when a bus is approaching.

Fewer Stops

Recommendation number two: Bus stop consolidation.

“We know that a quarter-mile is not really a burden” for most bus commuters, she said about the ideal distance between bus stops.

But for the four mostly heavily trafficked routes in the city, she said, there are stops roughly every 700 feet.

She said she would recommend reducing the Grand Avenue bus’s current 115 stops to 73, the Dixwell Avenue’s current 96 stops to 66, the Whalley Avenue bus’s current 107 stops to 69, and the Congress Avenue bus’s current 106 stops to 71.

“We would only eliminate things based on common sense,” she said, focusing on underused stops and stops removed from important city landmarks and major institutions.

She said that every time a bus stops to pick up passengers is one, two, even three minutes added to a trip. Cutting 42 stops from the 212 Grand Avenue line could save 82 minutes for someone travelling from end to end, thereby freeing up buses to run the same lines more frequently.

Since 2012, she said, Providence, R.I., removed 1,000 bus stops, or 20 percent of the stops in the city’s entire public bus network, as a result of the city’s own public transit overhaul.

“And people love it,” she said. Even though there are bound to be some losers whenever a bus stop is removed, she said, targeted removal of underused stops could make the system dramatically more efficient and effective on its most trafficked routes.

Marion Sachdeva, a frequent rider of the Whalley Avenue line, said she hopes that Move New Haven and local and state transit officials embark on a serious education and community engagement plan before removing any bus stops, so that drivers and riders alike know where buses will no longer pick up.

“This isn’t happening tomorrow,” DiTaranti said. “This is happening maybe next year.” But in between now and then, she said, there will be plenty more public information sessions and community meetings about if, when, and where to remove bus stops.

Not Just The Green

Move New Haven’s third recommendation: Transit mini-hubs to supplement the current central hub on the downtown Green.

These mini-hubs would sit at the intersection of two or more well-trafficked bus routes, she said, and would allow passengers to transfer between lines without having to travel downtown first.

“Are there any crosstown buses now?” asked Dwight resident David Firestone.

“No,” DiTaranti replied. “Everything goes to the Green.”

She recommended four potential locations for different mini-hubs that would serve the four most popular bus routes:

• One in Westville at the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Blake Street, where the 243 splits into the 243A and the 243B

• One at Campbell Avenue and Main Street in downtown West Haven, where the 265 branches off into the 265B and intersects with the 271 bus.

• One at Grand Avenue and Ferry Street in Fair Haven, where the 212 branches into the 212W and the 212U and intersects with the 215 bus.

• One at Dixwell Avenue and Putnam Avenue in Hamden, where the 238 intersects with the 237.

While praising Move New Haven’s recommendations, New Haven Urban Design League President Anstress Farwell urged that any changes to the bus system should not remove the hub at the downtown Green altogether.

“The Green truly is an important transportation hub,” she said, considering its proximity to the city’s business and cultural and political epicenter downtown.

DiTaranti said that the goal of the mini-hubs recommendation is to ensure that the bus transfers that happen at the Green are only the ones that truly need to take place downtown.

“Does every bus have to stop there all the time?” she asked. “Maybe not.”

She said that CTtransit might also want to look into moving the downtown hub from the Green potentially to a parking lot on Tower Lane, but that that move would require changing every single bus’s route.

Keep A Straight Line

Move New Haven’s fourth recommendation: Route simplification and restructuring. That is: Ensuring that frequently used lines are as straight, direct, and simple as possible, and are not weighed down by little-used, out-of-the-way deviations.

Both the Congress Avenue/Whalley Avenue and the Grand Avenue/Dixwell Avenue routes have 12 variations each, she said. And some of those variations have as few as 40 riders per day.

“We’re going to take that money and reinvest it in the most-used routes,” she said about eliminating little-used route variations like the 265’s segment from West Haven Center to Savin Rock and West Walk.

She said that one potential replacement for the little-used route variations would be an on-demand service, like what the Norwalk Transit District currently operates. She described such as a service as a combination of public transit and the popular ride-sharing service Uber.

Downtown resident Miriam Grossman said that eliminating bus route variations based on their current low frequency of usage is a little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: A route may be seldom used because of infrequent service; that low ridership only drives less and less frequent buses.

That’s where on-demand service would come in, DiTaranti said. Because, she said, buses that run only a handful of times each day are not serving anyone well, even the few dozen people who still use those routes and have to plan their days around catching the few buses that do run.

“How can anyone plan their life around service frequency like that?” she asked.

Bus-Traffic Light Connection

Move New Haven’s fifth recommendation: Transit signal priority. By using traffic lanes prioritized for bus use and transponders that allow buses to communicate with nearby traffic lights, buses can get a head start at any given intersection instead of cars.

“This is not even new technology,” DiTaranti said about the bus-traffic signal transponders. She said they have been around for at least a decade, and are currently in use in New York City.

Hamden resident and New Haven Public Schools teacher Yasmin Amico asked about how separated bus lanes would work on a street like Dixwell Avenue, which already has bike lanes, parking spots, and frequent car traffic.

DiTaranti said that there is indeed enough space on Dixwell and other similar thoroughfares for a designated bus lane.

“And in the hierarchy of users,” she said, “maybe the car shouldn’t be king anymore. Maybe buses and bikes should go first, then cars should go third.”

She recommended four New Haven stretches as ripe for transit signal priority technology: Elm Street and Broadway between Howe Street and Temple Street, Chapel Street between Church Street and York Street, Grand Avenue between Olive Street and Ferry Street, and Congress Avenue between Cedar Street and Davenport Avenue.

Express Routes

The sixth and final Move New Haven recommendation, DiTaranti said, is frequent and diverse transit networks. Translated as: express bus routes.

“In New Haven,” she said, “every single route is a local route.” That doesn’t need to remain the case.

She said adding express lines to the city’s four most-used bus routes could reduce headways to 5 to 6 minutes each.

“The majority of people taking the bus now are not choice users,” DiTaranti said, meaning that most riders do not ride because they want to, but because they have no other transportation options.

With a modern, connected, frequent, diverse, reliable, and easy-to-use bus system, she said, she believes that people who may otherwise commute by car or Yale Shuttle may opt to take the public bus instead.

Hamden City Councilman Justin Farmer asked if Move New Haven is looking into how better to encourage students and staff at Yale, Southern Connecticut State University, the University of New Haven, Albertus Magnus College, and Gateway Community College to use the city’s public transit system.

State DOT Transit Manager Lisa Rivers said that earlier that day she received a call from a representative at Yale asking about the U-Pass system, which provides free access to CTtransit buses and trains for students at participating schools.

“What we would like to do is make Yale not feel obliged to provide public buses,” DiTaranti said.

City transit chief Doug Hausladen reminded attendees that this year’s general election ballot includes two proposed constitutional amendments, including a transportation lockbox amendment that, if passed, would ensure that state dollars budgeted for transportation projects are actually used for transportation projects.

“How are we voting on that?” Hausladen asked across the room to local voting rights advocate Aaron Goode. Goode gave him a double thumbs up. A dedicated transportation lockbox, Hausladen said, could help pay for the capital and operational costs necessary to realize Move New Haven’s various recommendations.

“What if only one of these was done?” DiTaranti asked about the bus system recommendations. “What if all were done? What would that mean to New Haven?”

Learn more about Move New Haven and its upcoming public meetings at http://www.movenewhaven.com/

Click on the Facebook Live video below to watch Wednesday night’s public meeting.

 

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posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 25, 2018  9:44am

The proposals are great (full disclosure, I was involved in the consultant selection process). But the question is how to pay for them. Some measures, such as transit priority signals, are relatively inexpensive and would noticeably increase the efficiency of the system. But establishing bus rapid transit lines, even in the light form proposed here, would have substantial capital and operating costs.

One obvious funding source would be tolls. But even if the transportation lock box is approved in this election and the legislature authorizes tolls next session, it would likely be five years before they begin to bring in revenues. The Environmental Impact Statement process would in itself probably take a couple of years.

Another potential issue is a Title VI challenge. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits federal agencies and their grantees from spending money in a racially discriminatory manner. In this context, the test is disparate impact. Most riders (who are largely people of color) would benefit from the proposals. But a substantial number would bear costs. These include riders who use the route variations proposed for elimination or who would face longer walks to their bus stops. A challenge would not be fatal, but would extend the implementation time.

posted by: robn on October 25, 2018  11:13am

The bus hub should NOT be at the New Haven Green.

posted by: 1644 on October 25, 2018  11:36am

As far as dedicated bus lanes, New Haven Streets are pretty crowded as it is.  Moreover, Connecticut drivers are pretty bad at following rules, such as stopping before turning right on red, or not running over pedestrians.  Moreover, NHPD does pretty much zero traffic enforcement.  On the other hand, just keeping or turning traffic signals green for buses may be doable.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 25, 2018  11:45am

We also need 24hr transit.

posted by: TheMadcap on October 25, 2018  12:29pm

While some routes could be terminated or consolidated, it does stand to reason that some part time routes serve a practical purpose and are never going to be loaded with passengers. What brings this to mind is what is shown above. The extension to Savin Rock is not only about easier bus access for that neighborhood, but it is clearly meant to bring people to the West Haven beach and boardwalk

posted by: concerned_neighbor on October 25, 2018  1:22pm

The Green is no place for a transit hub. Move the hub adjacent to the train station. Like Bridgeport.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on October 25, 2018  2:05pm

Honestly, I think the Green would be better as a “mini-hub” rather than as the main hub.

— In my mind, the smartest thing would be to move the main hub from the N.H Green to the current Tower Lane Parking lot that’s off of Church Street South—but also let the Shuttle that goes to Union Station connect there and Downtown before heading back to the train station. I believe it’s a great location because people who would be living in the area once all the building is completed would have great access to take a train or a bus. I think overall that would be a good and efficient transit hub for local bus commuters.

posted by: Patricia Kane on October 25, 2018  2:26pm

For 3 months this summer, I had to travel downtown by bus, so it’s exciting to see the thought going into a re-design of the routes and the operations.
  The City is responsible for the bus stop shelters and they are miserable. The stop on Chapel between Church and Orange has NO seating.  The seats were removed so people couldn’t sleep on them. So now the elderly, women with babies, people with disabilities, etc. are forced to stand for up to 20 minutes.
    Some stops from Downtown to East Grand Avenue have NO shelter and NO seats.
    Why must riders be hot in the summer and cold in the winter? If you want to encourage public transit, then make it more attractive and user friendly.
    Most of the ridership is at peak commuting hours, but the big buses roll all day long. Why not shift to smaller vehicles off peak?
    The Schedules are difficult to read. People advised me to call and simply ask for a particular time and when to go where.
    Bus drivers are an amazing group of people who know the riders, are especially kind and caring to the disabled who require a special set up, and seem to be the most helpful and patient people any where. It was fun to see the friendly banter between them.
    As far as the numerous stops on Grand Avenue, the bus doesn’t stop at most of them, except at rush hour. An occasional express on the route is worth a try.
    The bus is critical to people without cars. For many it’s the way to their job. A lot of people have shopping carts and manage to get a week’s groceries into them. There are lots of moms with baby carriages and children. And disabled people use them too.
      I hope the Legislature will NOT approve tolls. It will be another tax on an already burdened population.
    Malloy should not have threatened to veto a tax on the uber-rich (or his “base”, as George Bush the son called them).
      Eliminate the exemptions for wealthy non-profits and the $$ will roll in.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on October 25, 2018  2:31pm

I like a lot of the ideas about fixing the bus system, but New Haven still shouldn’t take its mind off of the idea of streetcars potentially coming back. I believe that a streetcar system would thrive here along with the improved transit of the buses.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 25, 2018  7:48pm

Robn et al., as Anstress pointed out, the Green is the center of jobs and other destinations for bus riders. While setting up additional hubs makes sense, most of the buses will have to stop at the Green if the system is to serve its users.

Robn, full-blown BRT involves dedicated bus lanes. What is being proposed here is BRT lite, which involves more frequent service and fewer stops, not necessarily bus lanes.

3/5ths, 24-hour service would be nice. How do you propose to fund it?

Patricia, the last time I checked (many years ago) 85%  of operating costs were driver and support staff salaries and benefits. Moving to smaller buses would not reduce these costs and would involve substantial capital costs for the new buses. Fares only cover a fraction of operating costs and none of the capital costs.

_quinchionn_, there are two options regarding a streetcar system. A two-track system would require eliminating lots of on-street parking downtown, for example on Chapel Street. A one-track loop would require lengthy trips; in some cases it would be no faster than walking. And while the operating costs of streetcars is comparable to buses, there is the small matter of capital costs.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on October 26, 2018  8:49am

The people requesting the Hub be moved from the Green to the Train Station are clearly not bus riders, and simply want those bus riders away from their Green. Keep the poor people out of sight, I get it. But the Green is downtown, and is where most people are traveling to/from. The train station is not the destination for most people, nor does Union Ave really have the space, etc for a full transit hub.

Stop trying to hide poor people.

posted by: robn on October 26, 2018  10:15am

BTR,

You’re right and you’re wrong.

You’re right that many people in New Haven don’t like negative bus hub activity on the New Haven Green (litter, drinking, drug dealing, drug using, loud profanity and carousing;  generally performed by a minority of hub goers, but capturing the majority of downtowners’ and visitors’ attention).

You’re wrong that this is war upon the poor (or bus riders in general) because bus lines will still pass through downtown; they just won’t transfer there.

posted by: Patricia Kane on October 26, 2018  11:03am

I second BetweenTwoRocks on NOT relocating the bus hub from the Green. The City continues to promote the downtown as a central destination. Don’t even think about diverting the people who get their by bus.
As for hiding the poor, just pay them a guaranteed annual income and move them up a notch.
FYI, not all bus riders are poor. Even Yalies ride the bus.
More to the point, it was not bus riders who collapsed in the recent drug poisoning on the Green. Most of the bus riders have jobs, are off grocery shopping or have medical appointments. Stereotypes are easy but seldom accurate.
Beware of creeping elitism in things like peak pricing for meters downtown and tolls. We already have an enormous number of nuisance taxes and should look to the “haves” and not to the ‘have nots”.
Carry on.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 26, 2018  12:05pm

I suspect moving the hub from the Green would prompt a Title VI, challenge,  especially since there would be a perception, valid or not, that the move was based on racial animus.

Robn, if multiple bus lines pass the Green, riders will transfer there whether or not it is labeled a hub.

posted by: 1644 on October 26, 2018  12:38pm

Put the bus hub at the spot of Pareto optimality for user convenience.  A spot at Union station would be good if many riders are going on Amtrak, which I doubt.  State Street might work if they are traveling on Metro North, SLE, or CT rail, which some may.  Otherwise, the Green is pretty much the hub of the trunk road spokes of New Have: Whitney, Dixwell, Chapel, Whalley, etc., so is likely the best spot for the shortest journey for those transferring.  As for anti-social behaviors on the Green, they will persist so long as New Haveners want them to.  The criminal justice system can be a stick to suppress them, incent malefactors into diversionary programs, or just remove them for a time.  Yet, New Haveners complain about the presence of quality of life crimes yet protest any enforcement of quality of life issues, and have nothing other to offer.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on October 26, 2018  1:10pm

@BTR,

— The problem has nothing to do with “Poor people.” It’s really just about re-fixing a broken transportation system that is nothing but inconvenient for most people who get around by bus. Something got to give and changes should be made in order to see improvement, but to your point— “Poor people” was never the problem. Personally, I never even had any problems with anyone on the streets who was poor or homeless or whatever the case was… Honestly to God— and I usually see those people on the bus all the time!

“ALL LIVES MATTER.”

posted by: robn on October 26, 2018  2:18pm

KM,

I suspect you’re right but also suspect that a majority of riders who want the fastest transfer or a comfortable place to wait, will go to wherever is the official hub (presumably a place where a reasonably shelter can be built, unlike the Green.

posted by: Sabrina-in-NewHaven on October 26, 2018  4:55pm

Who did they speak to exactly?? No mention of how disgusting the bus stop shelters are, no discussion on how filthy the buses are themselves. There aren’t even that many shelters. The ones that do exist smell like piss. The shelter at the corner of Whalley and Ellsworth smells like some jerk defecated there.

Or how about the stench that is left behind by random transients waiting for their next fix on the Geen. They ride the bus passed out. New Haven does not clean its buses. The heat we get just causes the foul odors to emanate even more.  Oh, and no one mentioned the fact that bus drivers (except for one female driver on the 212 line who is my hero) tolerate aggravating behavior like cell phone use (loud conversations and music) and constantly wave on passengers that pretend to not know the fare or always happen to be short of change. Really?? Because I run into you every day on my way to work and you still don’t know the cost of riding the bus. I’m sorry but this study was bogus.

And the new fare boxes. All they’ve done is replace the ones that didn’t work. CT transit can raise the money because all last year I road the bus and one-half the time they didn’t work so no one had to pay. The new ones are starting to break down. The fact that the new fare boxes give you 4 ways to pay (cash, scan, swipe or dip) shows poor planning. Why didn’t you choose a system that can automatically give a transfer on the same card.

The bottom line: You all decided what you wanted to do and said we wanted it. If you really wanted to know what citizens thought you would have emailed a survey or used the number that is used to remind residents of street sweeping that there is a survey available or about the meeting. Smoke and mirrors people. Smoke and mirrors.

Be committed to making riding the buses enjoyable and train your bus drivers to stop entertaining scammers. If you can’t do that, then don’t add more stops and mini-buses for them to end up just as nasty and filthy.

posted by: Sabrina-in-NewHaven on October 26, 2018  4:58pm

@__quinnchionn__ I would totally love that idea. Are you thinking electric street cars?

posted by: JCFremont on October 27, 2018  4:33pm

A big problem New Haven Transit has revenue wise is that many residence can use The University Transit system for “Free.” Second the other universities and the hospital run shuttle busses to Union Station. Has there been a study on how people arrive at Union Station? I know the parking lots are filled, Uber drop offs and pick ups are growing and mini buses from SCSU, Yale, UNH, Quinnipiac and YNH Hospital are all lined up in the bus areas. Ask people would they use CT Transit I think a large percentage will say that they would begin there commute at least .45 minutes earlier and that they would have to wait up to an hour if I arrive late. Many cities have loop systems, smaller trolley on wheels type vehicles that run frequently why is it so difficult for this city to link downtown to their train station? We don’t need designated lanes. will these be inside or outside the bike lanes? We don’t need a return to street car tracks. Why can’t there be a designated train or tram from Union Station to the State Street Station, something about AMTRAK and its ownership rights, I think. It’s not about rich and poor much it’s about time and destination..

posted by: 1644 on October 27, 2018  7:18pm

Fares are a small portion of CT Transit’s revenue.  Most of its costs are covered by state taxpayers.  If some entity other than the state wants to lessen demand for taxpayer subsidized transit by providing privately funded transit, we should welcome it, because there is less burden on the taxpayer.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 27, 2018  7:30pm

JCFremont, there actually are trains running between the two stations now. Shoreline East does not charge for this trip. I don’t know whether CT Rail does, but as a practical matter it would be hard to collect fares in the few minutes between stations. I think it would cost the city virtually nothing to publicize this de facto shuttle, which runs fairly frequently in peak periods.

There is also the free shuttle bus that runs every 20 minutes weekdays between downtown and Union Station. The green shuttle is smaller than typical transit buses.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 27, 2018  8:59pm

1644, you’re right about fares. But I think everyone would benefit if there was more collaboration among transportation providers. This can go in different directions. Currently Yale Transit and CT Transit run service along similar routes in East Rock. CT Transit could agree to carry people with Yale IDs, in exchange for a payment from Yale that would be less than its cost of operating its East Rock lines, or vice versa.

The study only addressed fixed route bus services. But there are opportunities for collaboration for other services. For example, both the Greater New Haven Transit District and Yale provide dial-a-ride services for people with disabilities. Yale could assume the responsibility for providing dispatch services for both systems, in exchange for a payment from GNHTD equal to Yale’s added costs (which would likely be less than GNHTD’s cost for running a stand-alone system).

posted by: 1644 on October 28, 2018  8:48am

Kevin:  Telling Yalies to ride CT Transit buses negates the primary purpose of the Yale buses: to isolate and protect Yalies from unpleasant and dangerous townies.  The system was set-up in response to various robberies, rapes, murders, etc.  As far as on-demand service, My Ride covers the distant suburbs as well as downtown, and regardless, I think Yale would decline for the same reason it wouldn’t want to manage New Haven’s pension and OBEB funds: New Haven’s propensity to blame Yale for any ill.

posted by: Esbey on October 28, 2018  1:50pm

The big “advantage” of having a terribly designed bus system is that there is a lot of low-hanging fruit to be picked.  Great ideas: spacing out stops in a sensible way, eliminating low-ridership route variations, investing in redlight priority and then trading all this for ensured, consistent 10-15 minute headways (time between buses) throughout the 5am-1am period.

Let’s do it!

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 28, 2018  5:17pm

1644, I don’t think the city residents who ride CT Transit are the criminals you make them out to be. As for My Ride, I suggested that Yale take over dispatch services, not actually operating the vans. There are potential economies that could be mutually beneficial.

Esbey, I agree that the ideas you mention are low-hanging fruit. But even they will prompt push-back from riders who are adversely affected.

posted by: 1644 on October 29, 2018  6:05am

Kevin:  I wasn’t speaking specifically of city residents who ride buses, just stating the facts that Yale’s Transit system was created to protect Yalies from townies in response to crimes, including murders and rapes,  suffered by Yalies in New Haven.  While the “Gay Ivy” label of today’s Yale may dissuade some from attendance, my guess is New Haven remains a major negative for Yale.  I do remember when that I was graduating from secondary school, New Haven was the primary reason many of my classmates did not attend Yale, which otherwise had a reputation as the best undergraduate college.
  As for Yale taking over dispatch, sure, it might make sense financially, but it would require an cooperative and trusting atmosphere, which does not exist.

posted by: JCFremont on October 29, 2018  7:43am

@Kevin, I do know that some East Shore Trains link the two stations but are only based on East Shore’s schedule. At 85% of revenue going to staff salaries nothing will change except for the amount of debt.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 29, 2018  1:56pm

JCFremont, actually all Shoreline East and CTRail trains stop at both stations. My response to Patricia is that note that small buses have nearly the same operating cost as big buses, with less capacity.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 29, 2018  2:40pm

1644, the potential for saving money can help create a “a cooperative and trusting” environment :-).

If New Haven is a major negative for Yale, why have applications gone up consistently? And Yale’s purported label as “the Gay Ivy” doesn’t seem to be hurting either.

I accept that you did not mean to label CT Transit riders as criminals. But that is the logical implication of what you said. You said Yale Transit was created to protect Yalies from crimes committed by townies. But the transit system cannot protect Yalies against crimes or anti-social behaviors committed on Chapel Street, Broadway, etc. or the property crime that occurs in East Rock. It can and does reduce their interactions with bus riders, who are predominantly lower income POC.

posted by: 1644 on October 29, 2018  5:36pm

Kevin:  Applications are up everywhere because students take a shotgun approach.  When I was applying, I applied to six schools: two a uncertain, two solid, and two safeties. These days, applicants apply to 20 or more schools.  A better measure of desirability is yield.  Yale’s yield is way below that of Harvard and Stanford, and less than MITs. 
  I would like to know by what rule of logic you inferred I thought bus riders were criminals,  I am sure some are, but most not.  NHI has documented the dangers and crimes committed on buses, and their general unpleasantness.  Historically, Yalies have preferred to walk than take the unappealing public buses.  So, when walking to off-campus residences in particular, they are vulnerable to robbery and worse.  The blue light phones were installed to enhance safety around the campus, and the shuttles to enhance it off and around campus.  Yale, also, bought most of Broadway and Chapel to control help control what happens and who lives in those areas adjacent to campus.  The campus itself, of course, is largely protected by moats, heavy gates, and electronic locks for both the gates and entryway doors.  Gone are the days of propping open doors for convenience. Do the names Stein, Prince and Jovin mean nothing to you?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 29, 2018  7:20pm

1644, high school seniors are certainly applying to more schools than we did. But if New Haven was a big negative, the growth in applications to Yale would be substantially below the growth at peer schools. It hasn’t been.  If perceived safety is a major factor in yield rates, why is Yale’s rate substantially higher than Princeton, Dartmouth, or Cornell (where I earned my Ph.D.)?

I’ve lived in East Rock (aka the grad ghetto) for 30 years. Property crimes are not rare here (I get the police reports every month).  But these crimes are unaffected by how a student gets to school. The only type of crime that could be affected by a student’s commuting choice are crimes against persons, such as robbery. These are uncommon in East Rock and a disproportionate number of robberies are in Cedar Hill, where very few Yale students live. Students walk and bike on Orange Street day and evening even though there is a Yale Transit Line there.

NHI has documented “unpleasantness” on the CT Transit buses. But I read it regularly and don’t recall any descriptions of crimes on buses. How many stories have there been in say the past five years?

The article is about transportation, not blue lights. But FWIW, there are blue lights at Cornell, in bucolic Ithaca, NY.

posted by: 1644 on October 29, 2018  7:53pm

Kevin, Yale’s yield is a percentage point or two higher than Princeton’s, not “substantially higher.  Dartmouth has gotten a lot of bad press recently about sexual harassment (Animal House was based on a Dartmouth frat), and bucolic schools seem to be out of fashion, with the urban Columbia and Penn have risen from also-rans in my day to the top tier.  Cornell, when technically Ivy League, has never been considered top tier.

BTW, here’s an article where bus drivers say they need protection from assaults by passengers.  I guess other passengers are fair game.  (Assault is a crime.)
“Drivers called on CT Transit to provide buses with protective barriers for operators to guard them against assaults that they say are on the rise…”
https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/bus_drivers_safety_upgrades/

posted by: Pat from Westville on October 30, 2018  4:34am

Re the Green I’m with Anstress, keep it as a major hub and add cross town routes & mini-hubs. Though Whalley & Blake seems a bit congested for a mini-hub as that is where Whalley has narrowed to the bottleneck of Whalley.
I use the Q (I use old bus route names, for space considerations) to go to Elm City, the Q & the F or G to go to Saturday’s Wooster Square farmers market. the Q & the B to go to doctor’s appointments at 40 Temple, 779 & 800 Howard. Hub and spoke, Green as hub & transfer point.

Where I could have used a cross-town route was going to a doctor’s appointment on Campbell Avenue in West Haven instead of taking the B to & through downtown—when I had a car, taking Forest Road past route 34 & I95 to Campbell Avenue was much quicker & more direct. Likewise a cross-town route would have helped in my travels to Trader Joe’s & Barnes &Noble; on the Post Road. The involved taking the Q to Elm & Temple to catch the O bus and taking it all the way to the Post Mall & coming back, as the 1st place to safely cross the Post Road is at the intersection where the Post Mall is.

In my early AM travels on the B Whalley Ave bus I see no one who seems going to either train station, so moving the main hub to Union Station makes no sense. And the buses are not crowded just at AM & PM rush; mid-day Whalley buses at Ellsworth are already crowded with some standees.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 30, 2018  6:03am

1644, a single assault on a bus driver is one too many (the NHI reported on one substantiated case). But you were talking about crimes against Yale students, I.e., passengers. Passengers are certainly subject to aggravating behavior, as Sabrina describes. But you have provided no evidence that passengers are the victims of crimes while on the bus.

posted by: Pat from Westville on October 30, 2018  1:40pm

“We know that a quarter-mile is not really a burden” for most bus commuters, she said about the ideal distance between bus stops.”

Who is “we”, Ms. DiTiranti? And I have to say I can’t quite visualize how long a quarter-mile is, as I suspect might be the case for a lot of my fellow bus riders. How many (city) blocks it is does give us urbanites a picture. If the distance between York & Broadway & Elm & Temple (3 blocks) would be a quarter-mile, then that definitely IS a burden for some of us—did not Ms. DiTaranti notice in April how many of us riding the buses are members of what I think of as the “cane club”? It is not only people in wheelchairs who are disabled, those of us using canes or other assistive devices are in that category. Mass transit should aim at serving as many people as possible, not just those who, as the folk song puts it, are temporarily able-bodied.

Saving time by eliminating stops is not taking into account the amount of time the bus is stopped, getting people on and off. For example, stops B, C & D are eliminated. Passengers originally from those 3 stops now join those getting on or off at stop E. There are those who seem to be the $1.75 cash fare in nickels and dimes, those needing transfers still need to wait for the fare box to register payment before the transfer pops up, a wheelchair getting on or off takes about 5 minutes—rolling down the wheelchair ramp, flipping up the front seats & securing the wheelchair, rolling the wheelchair ramp back up. Whether it is at 4 separate stops or one, the total time remains the same.

posted by: Pat from Westville on October 30, 2018  1:41pm

One thing I notice is nobody seems to have considered winter’s effect on bus travel. MoveNewHaven’s survey was conducted in April, of course. And their promotion of mass transit never seems to be in February.

If nobody is thinking about winter, I bring the topic up because taking the bus in the winter is truly a NIGHTMARE. I know about this in great depth, being about to start my 12th winter as a bus passenger. The problem is one little word: snow. Getting on or off the bus involves navigating over or around or through the white stuff. I challenge Mr. Hausladen and his transit colleagues to come to the intersection of Whalley & Ellsworth just after this winter’s 1st snow storm—they will see at that one intersection all the different snow-related obstructions to bus travel in winter.

posted by: robn on October 30, 2018  2:06pm

A walk diagonally across the Green is a quarter mile…like from the old New Haven Savings Bank on Elm&Church; to the Info New Haven Visitor Center on Chapel&College;.

posted by: Patricia Kane on October 30, 2018  2:25pm

Yale need not have its own transit system. Perhaps it was necessary at one time, but that time is over.
    Harvard doesn’t put its students in a bubble; why should Yale?
    Instead of dropping students into New Haven to do “good works”, there might be more benefit to simply being part of the mass of humanity here and learning to get along.
    Not all students at Yale are children of privilege, but those who are would benefit the most.
    One of the joys of urban living is the chance encounters with new people, new ways of looking at the world and new ways of being. You don’t get that from sticking around the same kinds of people.
    As for Pat from Westville’s observations and recommendations, you should be on a public transit committee because you know what you are talking about.

posted by: Pat from Westville on October 30, 2018  5:24pm

robn, thanks for the visual reference of a quarter-mile, but even the diagonal across the Green would be a burden, for me at least. And that would be in good, dry weather. Mass transit may never be a comfortable or convenient as one’s own wheels, but it should not be unnecessarily difficult.

Patricia Kane, thanks for the compliment. Maybe I will send my thoughts in more detail directly to Mr. Housladen,

posted by: 1644 on November 2, 2018  9:13am

Kevin:  Okay, here’s is a recent article about violent crime on CT Transit.
//www.wtnh.com/news/connecticut/new-haven/two-teen-boys-brutally-attacked-on-cttransit-route-238/1567466526
NHI has had other articles about “fights” on the public buses, but I think the agitation of the drivers for secure cubicles is evidence that the drivers who spend more time on the buses than anyone else see their customers as violent criminals from whom whom they must be separated, leaving the customers fending for themselves in a Spencerian cage fight. Of course, that’s not the reality, but it is the perception the drivers want the public to have.
  As for Yalies walking on the streets, there’s this:
https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/snapscam/

Overall, Neighborhood Scout says New Haven is safer than about 5% of US cities, while Cambridge is safer than 16%, Palo Alto is safer than 29%.  Ithaca, by the way, is safer than 8% of US cities.
https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ny/ithaca/crime