Is “eternity” really a viable measuring unit when describing how long it takes to get to your destination via New York City bus? The MTA has created a new and unique bus performance dashboard that details customer-focused performance metrics for the city’s bus routes, which, as 6sqft recently reported, are considered among the country’s slowest. This new method of compiling and viewing data is part of the MTA’s plan to improve bus service across the city, and according to the MTA, no other transit system in the world offers the same level of detail in an online dashboard.
Image via Cubic Transportation Systems
The MTA’s new cardless fare system will completely phase out the MetroCard by 2023, and transit advocates from the TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign believe there’s more to gain here than strictly streamlining the swiping process. In a report released this week titled “A New Way to Ride,” the groups outline three main policy opportunities available through the new fare system–seamless bus boarding, fare capping, and enhanced service information–all of which have been implemented in other cities with similar payment technology.
A Brooklyn-bound bus, photo via Wikimedia
Among large cities, New York City’s bus system runs at the slowest pace in the nation, traveling at just 7.4 miles per hour, according to a report released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday. Due to an outdated fleet, inefficient routes and buses running at near-crawling speeds, the system lost 100 million passengers over the last eight years. And while it serves more than two million passengers each day, more than the daily ridership of LIRR, MetroNorth, PATH and NJ Transit combined, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has largely ignored the system’s failures. In his report, Stringer urges the MTA and city to better coordinate to address the bus system’s crisis and lists 19 recommendations, which includes updating routes, replacing old buses and introducing all-door boarding and tap-and-go fare payment options.
Photo via Peter Burka on Flickr
A new before-and-after study shows that in New York City thousands of potential bus rides are likely happening by bike instead, reports CityLab. Recent research published in a new journal article on bike sharing stations along city bus routes, by Kayleigh Campbell and Candace Brakewood, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the City College of New York, revealed that for every thousand Citi Bike docks situated along Brooklyn and Manhattan bus routes, bus trips dropped by 2.42 percent. The study includes trips made between May 2012 and July 2014 and controls for a wide variety of factors in order to show the impact of bike sharing on bus ridership.
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In recognition of Earth Week, Governor Cuomo announced a new pilot program to bring electric buses to New York City this year. The MTA board has approved to lease the first five electric buses, and the lease for the next five will be presented later this year. The program will cost $4 million for three-year leases, which includes six depot charging stations. A charging station will be located at the Grand Avenue Depot in Maspeth, where buses will charge overnight. The first leg of the pilot will also include one “en-route” charging station at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza in Brooklyn, which will serve as the hub for nine routes.
The NYC Bus Turnaround Coalition–a recently formed partnership of transit advocacy groups who believe the city’s bus system is broken–released a report over the summer that called on the city to make improvements to the system, which is one of the slowest in the nation. Their latest tactic to get the message across comes in the form of an interactive website that gives grades to all 307 bus routes based on speed, ridership, and bunching (when several buses arrive all at once), as Streetsblog explains. There’s also animated visualizations that illustrate the annoyances bus riders deal with compared to a hypothetical look at life riding a system not plagued by delays, outdated routes, and unreliable service.
One MetroCard. One map. Done.This new set of maps from map obsessive Anthony Denaro shows all the ways we can use the New York City transit system’s unlimited MetroCard and transfers in one convenient, color-coded place. This includes both subways and buses, and important junctions where you can transfer within and between them.
Included are all NYC transit services that can be accessed with an unlimited MetroCard. As the map’s creator puts it, “Millions of NYC residents live beyond a 15-minute walk to a subway station. Hundreds of thousands of people start their commute by boarding a bus and then transferring to the subway. This is a map for us. One complex transit map, for one complex transit-reliant city.”
On the heels of Governor Cuomo’s major announcement that the MTA will build 1,025 new subway cars and modernize 31 of the city’s more than 400 stations, some New Yorkers are hoping to turn the attention to buses instead of trains. The NYC Bus Turnaround Coalition, which the Wall Street Journal notes is a newly formed partnership of transit advocacy groups, hopes to fix “a broken system plagued by outdated routes and slow, unreliable service.”
Since 2002, subway usage has increased by nearly 25 percent, while bus ridership has decreased by 16 percent. And between 2010 and 2015 alone the system lost 46 million riders. In response, the group released a report titled “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses” that calls for more bus lanes and bus-boarding islands, queue-jump lanes (additional bus lanes at intersections that would allow buses to bypass lines of vehicles at red lights), reconfigured bus routes, and implementing “tap-and-go” far collection at all bus doors.
Earlier in the year, Governor Cuomo announced a plan to transform the subway with free WiFi, USB chargers, and mobile payment. Though the idea sounded great in theory, skeptics were quick to question where the funding would come from, a sentiment echoed now that the MTA has revealed renderings and details for the 2,042 new buses that will come on board over the next five years. They’ll include similar modernizations, including WiFi, between 35 and 55 USB charging ports, and two or three LCD information screens, according to Crain’s. The Governor touted the new bus design — “It has that European flair to it. It has almost a Ferrari-like look.” — but he still hasn’t spoken about how the state will fund the MTA’s five-year capital plan.