Photo Courtesy of Assemblyman Dinowitz’s Office
Elected officials and advocates from the Bus Turnaround Coalition called the 2.5 million daily bus riders the “forgotten victims of the transit crisis.”
By Michael V. Cusenza
Elected officials joined the Bus Turnaround Coalition on Tuesday in Manhattan to demand better bus service in the five boroughs.
The rally sought to address the problems that plague the 2.5 million daily bus riders – the often forgotten victims of the transit crisis: frequent overcrowding, slow travel speeds, and inaccurate schedules.
According to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, the improvement needs of an aging and neglected bus system are typically overshadowed by the attention given to the subway system, which serves 5 million people a day. Despite high-profile troubles with subway service and planned service changes – the “Summer of Hell” – bus ridership has declined 2 percent compared to last year over the same time period, Dinowitz noted at Tuesday’s event, which took place at the Warren Street and Broadway bus stop near City Hall.
This isn’t the first time this year that the Bus Turnaround Coalition, which is composed of the Straphangers Campaign, the Riders Alliance, the TransitCenter transportation reform foundation, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, has urged the State to improve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ailing bus service. In May, a cohort of dozens of elected State officials and the BTC released a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to direct the MTA to commit to two low-cost solutions to improve the bus system: In order to help speed up buses and reduce bus bunching, the agency should deploy a robust transit signal priority network by 2018; and ensure that all-door boarding is a prominent part of the MTA’s plans for implementation of the MetroCard replacement payment system.
According to the coalition, transit signal priority reduces bus “dwell time” at traffic lights by holding them green at intersections for a few extra seconds as buses approach to allow them to cross the intersection and maintain a constant speed. Now, advocates and elected officials are calling on the MTA to expand transit signal priority, currently operating on small handful of select bus routes, citywide.
The BTC has also advocated for all-door boarding, which the coalition has said would also help to reduce dwell time at bus stops. According to the group, the MTA’s Select Bus Service has demonstrated how much more quickly buses can move when riders pay before boarding: With the introduction of off-board payment collection, dwell time reduced 40 percent on the M15, Bx12, and B44.