2009-07-24 / Letters

MTA Accountability

Dear Editor,

I am publicizing an experience I had on Sunday, July 17. It should have been a pleasant morning on the porch with my children and wife, but unfortunately, it became a typical summer interaction with a driver of the Q35 bus route. In the past, we have been put in the position of interacting with the employees of the MTA and its predecessor, the Green Bus Lines, Inc., in an effort to encourage law and regulation compliance.

Below is a copy of the email complaint that I sent to the MTA via its website. I think the community and citizens of NY should realize that there seems to be a virtual complete lack of accountability when it comes to "authorities" such as the MTA. During the time that it took me to write this letter on my laptop, I witnessed MTA buses breaking a variety of rules and laws such as: idling beyond legal limit; dropping off passengers at non-bus stop locations; parking in right lane of Beach Channel Drive adjacent to Tribute Park; driving down residential side streets of Beach 118 Street and Beach 117 Street, off of their "official routes"; parking and/or standing in nonauthorized locations; etc.

Read the text below to get a synopsis of MTA bus activity on one "not so sleepy" Sunday morning in Rockaway. I sent this in to the MTA and I am copying both Senator Smith and Assemblywoman Pheffer with the hope that they can obtain a response from the MTA for one of their constituents.

"Today is Sunday, July 17. Attempts to find a phone number to contact the MTA on the weekend have failed. It seems there is no mechanism to contact MTA supervisors during weekend hours. There is limited or no information available to the public on the MTA buses or on the MTA website for contacting supervisors during the weekends. A call to 311 this morning indicated that MTA Offices are closed on the weekends. Hence, this email is being written. At 7:30 a.m. on July 17, Q35 Bus 3525 dropped off passengers between Beach 117 Street and Beach 116 Street on Newport Avenue. Bus 3525 then backed up, in reverse, across the entire Beach 117 Street, in order to park illegally under the tree at the corner of Beach 117 Street and Newport Avenue. Driver of Bus 3525 proceeded to remove his uniform shirt and exercise inside of the bus using a bungie band.

At 7:50 a.m., Bus 3526 pulled up directly behind bus 3525. Now, having two illegally parked buses directly in front of my house, I felt it was time to ask them to pull up across the street to the proper bus stop, away from the residential area. In front of my wife and children, I asked the driver of bus 3526 if he would be kind enough to pull up to the bus stop between Beach 116 Street and Beach 117 Street on Newport Avenue.

The driver of Bus 3526 turned off and departed his bus which was

Letters parked within one foot of Bus 3525. As I asked if he could move his bus because it is not a bus stop, the driver of Bus 3525 walked over from his bus wearing his MTA uniform shirt and badge. The driver of Bus 3525 interrupted the driver of 3526 and said, "The bus stop is wherever we say it is." When the driver of Bus 3526 began to say, "No disrespect sir." I stated that was very hostile, referring to what the driver of 3525 stated. The driver of 3525 then stated, "I'm being hostile. You don't own the street. We can park wherever we want." I asked him his name so that I may report this to Mr. Savage of MTA Surface Transit. He stated, "You can call whoever the hell you want. My name is Peter Pan." The driver of 3525 came across very confrontational and hostile making my wife and me feel threatened. I returned to my home, videotaped the two buses parked in their location for evidence. I called 311 to find out that there was no mechanism except to call 911 for support in this situation.

My complaints are: Drivers are improperly trained and improperly supervised. Weekend Accountability at MTA is "non-existent." The drivers of Bus 3525 and 3526 put forth an unprofessional and hostile/arrogant image of the MTA.

Acting as agents of the MTA, the driver of 3525 spoke in an aggressive and hostile manner to a citizen in front of his wife and two small children. Driver of Bus 3525 has caused my family fear of retaliation for any complaints to the MTA, due to his attitude, content of what he stated, and the fact that he gave a false name, "Peter Pan." Buses 3525 and 3526 illegally parked in a residential area creating a defacto bus depot. Bus 3525 "reversed" his bus creating a dangerous traffic condition, from Beach 116 Street to Beach 117 Street and Beach 117 Street to Beach 118 Street and Newport Avenue. Bus 3526 and 3525, parked illegally and in such close proximity to one another and the crosswalk at Beach 117 Street and Newport Avenue that a "blind traffic condition" was created for other motorists and pedestrians. Resolution: Given the history of this bus stop and chronic documented issues with buses idling, parking illegally, driver hostility, etc., I would like a weekend supervisor and frequent mid-week supervision of this "holdover point." I would also like a complete examination of the Q35 route's efficiency and efficacy to better utilize MTA resources/tax- payer funds. I would like the "holdover point" of Beach 116 Street and Newport Avenue re-evaluated, given its close proximity to residential homes. On this particular Sunday, during the time period of 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., eleven different buses of the MTA pulled up to and pulled out of this "holdover point." Given the small size of this peninsula, number of patrons on a Sunday morning, and the fact that the state of the MTA's budget is a mess, it seems resources could be and should be more efficiently and tightly managed.

Any retaliation or perceived retaliation by the MTA or any of its agents, employees, or affiliates of employees of the MTA due to this complaint will be responded to with criminal charges and legal action. The public interest and public should be protected from the agents that its tax dollars employ. A mechanism of weekend accountability must be made public so that police 911 resources do not become distracted by incidents of this nature."

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