Photo Courtesy of Marc Hermann/NYC Transit
MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority officially launched its “comprehensive, ‘clean-slate’ redesign” of the entire borough bus network, with the first of numerous public meetings held Monday evening at Borough Hall.
During the regular monthly meeting of the Borough Board, MTA Bus Operations President Darryl Irick presented New York City Transit’s fast-tracked public outreach and planning process to come. That process will be informed by public input solicited at several public workshops and through in-person and online surveys over the coming months. Ultimately, that public input combined with several other sources of data and analysis will lead to a comprehensive redesign of the borough’s local and express bus network, Irick noted.
According to the agency, 107 local, limited, Select Bus Service, and express routes move more than 714,000 weekday riders in Queens. Many of those routes follow old trolley routes, and no longer reflect the travel needs of residents, MTA officials said. Major commercial, residential, and institutional developments have changed the dynamics of the borough, affecting where residents go and how they get around. Buses in the borough average 8.9 miles per hour. As congestion has worsened, buses have slowed, making service more unreliable.
“The Queens bus network has not substantially changed in decades and the people of Queens deserve better. I’m immensely proud to begin the process of bus network modernization in the city’s largest borough,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “The reality is that as our city changes, so too must our bus routes. It’s imperative that New York City Transit do its part to keep up with the rapid and changing nature of growth in one of the city’s most bus-dependent boroughs. Bus network modernization is absolutely critical to the continued success of Queens and I look forward to being a part of it.”
The World’s Borough is the third to undergo a bus network redesign, with similar efforts already having led to positive improvements in Staten Island where bus speeds have already increased by up to 12 percent, according to the MTA. A draft redesign plan is also set to be released as early as next month following a similar public input process in the Bronx. As part of Byford’s plan to modernize New York City Transit, the bus networks in all five boroughs will be “reimagined.”
“We strongly encourage all Queens bus riders to take an active role in planning the new network so that bus service best meets their needs,” the Bus Turnaround Coalition, comprised of the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said in a statement. “We are eager to work closely with the MTA and elected officials to make the Queens bus network redesign a success and model for smart policy that delivers for millions of New Yorkers.”
In addition to community feedback, MTA’s assessment of borough bus routes will include a review of all local, SBS, and express bus service in Queens. Planners and MTA officials will also conduct analysis of both current and future market needs, travel trends, and current bus performance and reliability. According to the agency, all of this work will help identify which areas are in need of enhancements such as bus priority signaling technology.