In September, local resident Joe Hanania started an online petition, urging the MTA to improve service on the 14A bus line. To date, 235 of his neighbors have signed on, agreeing that there’s a desperate need for more frequent 14A buses headed down Grand Street. A few weeks later, he received a pretty discouraging letter from an MTA official.
In the Nov. 24 reply, Peter Cafiero, chief of Operations Planning, said the MTA does not see a need for enhanced service:
(The MTA) schedules all of our bus services, including the Ml4D and Ml4A based on observed ridership and our customer loading guidelines. We regularly perform ridership counts on all of our bus routes; and, as a result, we schedule bus service with sufficient frequency to meet customer demand at the “peak load point” (the point on the bus route where the bus has the most passengers) per our passenger load level guidelines. Ridership is higher on the Ml4D line, which is why there are more scheduled M14D buses than Ml4,A. buses. However, do be aware that the Division of Operations Planning will continue to monitor ridership on these bus routes and will make adjustments when necessary and feasible.
Hanania fired off another letter, disputing many of the MTA’s claims:
…You cited ridership numbers (without actually giving them) to justify not switching 14D buses to the 14A line. But your argument may be off in a few respects. Many times, Grand St. residents returning from shopping or working on 14th St. take the 14D to Delancey, and then walk the extra blocks home. Since this walk largely follows an otherwise deserted sidewalk under the Williamsburg Bridge, it feels unsafe, especially after dark. Still, this is preferable to often interminable waits for the 14A. More 14As would therefore translate into more riders taking their first choice, rather than substituting a ride on the 14D. 14A ridership numbers would reflect this. Also, along 14th St., the A and the D run the same route, and people take the first bus that comes. So, with three Ds for every A, it is not surprising that ridership reflects this. Put in more 14As, and watch the numbers change.
Meanwhile, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver this week got in the letter-writing mix, addressing this missive to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast:
I am writing to you concerning the M14A bus, which serves my Lower East Side neighborhood. Many of my constituents, who rely on this bus, have complained about a lack of reliable service as well as the frequency of service. As you know, the area served by the M14A – the eastern portion of Grand Street, as well as Madison Street – is lacking in subway service and must rely on surface transportation. My neighbors, many of whom are senior citizens, need a dependable bus to commute to jobs, school, attend doctor’s appointments and connect with other transportation hubs. It is essential that the M14A become more frequent, and certainly more reliable, with fewer service interruptions and delays, as well as better on-time performance. This is not a new problem and, in fact, I have communicated many times over the years with the MTA to express my desire to see better service on the M14A. I am asking that you examine ways the MTA can improve reliability. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.