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Street Journal notes is a newly formed partnership of transit advocacy groups, hopes to fix “a broken system plagued by outdated routes and slow, unreliable service.”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.
The Turnaround Coaltion, which is made up of, among other organizations, the TransitCenter, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Straphangers Campaign, gathered outside City Hall yesterday to address their points. Other criticisms include slow speeds (NYC buses travel at an average of seven miles an hour on a normal weekday, whereas other major U.S. are closer to nine or 10) and unreliability (there are often long waits with several buses showing up at once). The group also points to the fact that bus riders are generally older and lower income than the city as a whole, creating a demographic-based disadvantage.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said in a statement that the agency “is constantly re-evaluating bus routes to improve reliability and to optimize routes in order to serve areas where the demand is highest.” He also noted that ridership has remained steady trafficked areas outside Manhattan and that a new fare system is planned for 2018. This is part of Governor Cuomo’s plan to add 2,042 new buses to the streets over the next five years. These will boast WiFi, between 35 and 55 USB charging ports, and two or three LCD information screens.
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