Borough Beeps Join City Transit Advocates for Better Bus Service
Promises to improve the city’s bus service have stalled, transit advocates said, so they made a pit stop at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday to call on the new mayor to get progress moving again .
The original Better Buses campaign for better service in New York City was launched in 2016 with the help of the Bus Turnaround Coalition, which brought together advocacy groups like Riders Alliance and Straphangers Campaign to offer policy recommendations to revamp routes buses and increasing bus speeds. And while there has been progress as a result of those efforts, advocates said it’s time for Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to get back on the gas.
Pedro Valdez-Rivera, 30, of Riders Alliance, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and said the bus route he frequents is often blocked by vehicles in the bus lane.
“There are so many double parking lots around commercial areas,” he said at the rally. “The bus often has to let us out onto the street because it can’t reach the sidewalk.”
Riders Alliance called previous efforts such as the 14th Street Bus Lane and the redesign of the Bronx Bus Line – which is currently underway – a success under former Mayor Bill de Blasio. They also announced the installation of Transit Signal Priority, a technology that turns red lights to green as buses approach.
A statement from Riders Alliance said that while things like pilot bus routes, all-door boarding and revamped bus network plans were in the works, they still needed another boost under the new leadership. of city and state to cross the finish line.
“New York’s millions of bus riders need our mayor and governor to do more and better than anyone who’s come before them,” Riders Alliance lead organizer Jolyse Race said in the statement. “The last City Hall administration laid the groundwork and built a toolkit for faster buses. It is now up to Mayor Adams to scale the program and provide much faster service to riders buses to all areas of the city Governor Hochul must in turn ensure that the bus network overhaul is successful and that the MTA has the resources to add service on key routes – and finally open the backdoor for passenger boarding throughout the city.”
On Monday, the coalition proposed that the city restart the bus network overhaul, invest in expanded and more frequent service, start all-door boarding to speed up routes, improve traffic flow and parking in bus lanes and improve bus stop facilities and pedestrian connections.
Buses were measured at an average speed of 8.1 miles per hour citywide in December 2021, which was below the target de Blasio set when he promised in 2019 to increase the average bus speed to 9.03 mph by the end of 2020.
In its early days six years ago, Adams spoke out in support of the coalition while serving as borough president of Brooklyn. And on Monday, the support system was bolstered when the borough presidents of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan said they were all on board, along with newly elected Brooklyn Councilman Lincoln Restler and Comptroller Brad Lander.
“Our city’s workers and commuters depend on a public transit system that serves our city fairly and reliably,” Lander said in a statement. my office will monitor compliance with these plans. But these expanded bus routes must also match 21st century travel habits, as outdated route patterns drive service cuts and prevent passengers from having crucial access. Our city cannot move forward without a robust bus system, and riders deserve nothing less. »
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso joined Borough Presidents Donovan Richards of Queens and Mark Levine of Manhattan to throw their weight behind the revival of Better Buses.
“Developing more efficiency on our bus routes, integrating technology into the driver experience and investing in our commuters will help New Yorkers live easier lives but also encourage them to be less dependent on the car, a step necessary in our fight against climate change,” says Reynoso.
Transport Ministry Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said he was willing to work with the coalition to see more of its policy proposals come to fruition.
“We’ve worked closely with the MTA, community advocates and residents to dramatically improve bus speeds, but there’s still a lot of work to do – that’s why Mayor Adams and I have a bold plan. to create 150 miles of new bus lanes and bus lanes across the city, speeding up buses and reducing wait times for New Yorkers,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Bus Turnaround Coalition and others committed to helping buses get New Yorkers around the city faster and safer.”
In August 2021, the MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation launched a joint initiative to improve bus service with several measures that were pushed by the Bus Turnaround Coalition, including better enforcement of cars blocking bus lanes with automated ticketing and the installation of transit signal priority at 750 locations across the city. The MTA’s 2020-2024 capital plan called for spending $3.5 billion to improve service by purchasing more than 1,500 new buses, 500 of which would be all-electric buses.
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, who has led the group since July 2021, said he would prioritize bus service as a “key part” of the group’s commitment to fair labor public transport.
“The bus system serves all New Yorkers. This is especially critical for those who live farther from the subway, and bus riders tend to come from New York’s economically disadvantaged communities,” Lieber said in a statement. “That’s why every investment in bus service is a capital investment. We need more bus lanes and lanes, better signal prioritization, a strategic overhaul of the bus system, and stronger camera enforcement. These are key ingredients that make bus service faster and more reliable.