Advocacy Campaigns
November 20, 2019
Fixing NYC Buses: 2019 Report Card

The Bus Turnaround Campaign has released its 2019 assessment of agency progress on improving NYC bus service, the third progress report since the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and TransitCenter launched the campaign. NYC DOT and the MTA received largely positive grades for 2019, reflecting that the agencies have each charted a path to better bus service at the scale of the entire city, moving beyond the old one-route-at-a-time approach, and have taken concrete steps toward implementation.

Advocates call on NYC DOT and MTA to solidify tentative progress and follow through on commitments to robust bus network redesigns, rapid expansion of bus lanes, and the rollout of citywide all-door boarding. With the upcoming launch of congestion pricing, improving bus service is especially urgent in the year ahead. If NYC DOT, the MTA, and New York’s political leaders deliver on these bus improvement agendas, the recovery of NYC bus service will grow and flourish over the next 18-24 months.

The progress report awards high grades to NYC DOT for accelerating the implementation of bus lanes in 2019. DOT garnered an A- for new bus lanes on 14th Street, Fresh Pond Road, and Church Avenue, as well as fortifying existing bus lanes by lengthening them, improving design, and extending the hours they’re in effect.

New York City Transit’s received a B+ for keeping buses on time with better dispatching, which has reduced the rate of bus bunching on frequent routes, and another B+ for making progress toward faster boarding, with OMNY farecard readers now installed on some Staten Island buses (though not yet in use at rear doors). Results from the redesign of Staten Island’s express bus network are also promising, with an 8.4 percent speed increase and improved reliability.

There are signs that these improvements are winning back riders, with citywide bus ridership ticking up in September. This progress remains tentative, however, and needs to be solidified and expanded. To sustain a citywide turnaround in bus service, NYC DOT and the MTA must follow through on their ambitious bus policy agendas. It’s especially urgent to deliver improvements in the next year, so New Yorkers can count on the bus system when congestion pricing goes live.

Other grades in the 2019 Bus Turnaround progress report:

  • MTA received a B- for improving bus stop spacing in its Bronx bus network redesign, but a C- for route optimization and scheduling that didn’t yield substantial improvements in frequency on major routes.
  • NYPD got a B for coordinating with DOT and MTA on bus lane enforcement, but still gets failing marks for an agency culture that looks the other way when officers obstruct bus lanes and bus stops.
  • NYC DOT and the MTA got a B- for coordination with each other. Teamwork between the agencies is essential to maximize the effect of bus lanes, bus network redesigns, and for upgrading bus stops with shelters, benches, and better pedestrian connections.

Read the full progress report.

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