Resident Experience Cuts Through the Fog

Octagon Express Change Spurs New Thinking, Better Ideas

Updated 13 weeks ago David Stone
Sensible change brought extra morning red bus service to Good Shepherd Plaza. Why not extend the fairness to evening rush?
Sensible change brought extra morning red bus service to Good Shepherd Plaza. Why not extend the fairness to evening rush?
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal cited "the spirit of being good neighbors" in making a change, reducing longtime Octagon Express service in morning commutes to "limited" status, adding a stop and extra commuting time for passengers from the housing complex most distant from primary mass transit.

Some gained and some lost when RIOC made what some believed much needed changes to express service, ordering drivers to now interrupt an established practice by adding a stop at Good Shepherd Plaza where waiting riders have fumed for years as half-full buses whizzed by.

Express service started a decade ago and continued while debates went on about fairness. Octagon, after all, has a much greater need for service and pays extra for it. But even so, half-empty buses ignoring waiting riders in all weather didn't make a lot of sense either.

Octagon Express Change Spurs New Thinking, Better Ideas

Rosenthal told The Daily that RIOC's requirement for Octagon never mandated express but, instead, service "of a similar nature to that provided … to other residents."

Does requiring rush hour passengers to sit through 5 stops before making the last leg to the subway really fit the bill? 

Are Octagon residents being asked to carry the load for inadequate bus service during morning rush, adding extra time to commutes to accommodate others unwilling to walk a few hundred feet to the subway?

Is RIOC leading or following here?


Lost in the raw debate is RIOC's lack of any kind of imagination when it comes to handling bus scheduling. Does it always have to be a zero sum decision? Can't decisions be made on the fly?

Why for example couldn't one of the local buses skip the Octagon, turning around at the FDNY circle, shorting the time frame and opening space? Passengers to the north could help fill up the express.

If fairness is really RIOC's goal and not simply responding the squeakiest wheels in town, why not follow the lead of a longtime resident who suggested a smart change two years ago and was ignored?

Why don't we have an express bus for evening rush? 

If you think Good Shepherd Plaza riders are unfairly inconvenienced in the morning, you may not have noticed that passengers destined for Manhattan Park and The Octagon - complexes that actually pony up for Red Bus services - are frequently unable to board buses at the subway stop at all. When they're able, the crush is terrible as riders with much shorter commutes jump aboard first with little regard for need.

And when the frequently unwise MTA opted for a single Roosevelt Island route for the Q102, it eliminated bus service as an option for riders north of the helix, adding extra load for Red Buses.

Typically, RIOC failed to respond to the growing demand. You might wonder why the organization that created friction by sending Octagon Express buses chugging past active bus stops lost track of the fact that demand late in the day is as great or even greater... and that "service of a similar nature" is not really being activated.

Maybe it's just RIOC being RIOC...

So, come on now, Susan and Cy, you've made a good neighbors inspired change that takes away from one group to help another. Why not balance it with an evening express with a first stop at 40 River Road?

It's the neighborly thing to do, and certainly, good neighbors to the south would appreciate one more act of fairness to make a community more fair and whole.


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