The MTA is getting a facelift in the upcoming years, which hopes to keep commuters connected from the moment they hop on a bus to when they get off a train.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast announced Tuesday that the agency would be adding 2,042 new state-of-the-art buses to its transportation fleet in the next five years.
The buses — which will begin to hit the streets next month — are expected to be equipped with USB charging ports and free Wi-Fi hotspots, and will replace close to 40 percent of the MTA’s current fleet.
“We’re reimagining the MTA to improve services for all New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “Today’s world demands connectivity, and we’re meeting that challenge with state-of-the-art buses and a major overhaul of the MTA’s fleet. This upgrade will create a stronger, more convenient and more connected mass transit system for years to come.”
The first batch of 75 of the new buses — which are being manufactured by New Flyer Industries — will make their debut later this year in Queens and over the next two years another 70 buses will hit the streets in Brooklyn, 209 in the Bronx and 18 in Manhattan. The remaining buses will be assigned throughout the five boroughs from 2018 through 2020.
New buses will have a range of 35 to 55 USB ports, which will be located throughout the bus.
The MTA is also in the process of upgrading existing buses with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports and by the end of 2017 all express buses will include the amenities.
“[This generation] grew up with a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other,” Prendergast said. “Customers expect this level of technology in the system they use because it is available in other aspect of their lives.”
The agency has also begun a new pilot program this year to install two to three LCD digital information screens on 200 buses.
Commuters will be given up to date information available on upcoming stops, available transfers, weather and other information — including real-time communication from the bus command center.
Cuomo added that the new buses — which he said had almost of a “Ferrari-like look” to them—are a part of the state’s efforts to significantly transform and modernize the MTA and its infrastructure. The state is contributing $8.2 billion to help fund the MTA’s $26.1 billion 2015-2019 Capital Program, of which $1.3 billion is being used on the new fleet of buses.
“Part of this is just modernizing the service,” Cuomo said. “This is going to be a new day and what the MTA is trying to reach is mobility plus productivity.”
During Tuesday’s announcement, Prendergast also said that the MTA is rolling out two new bus safety programs. One of the programs will allow buses, through the use of outdoor speakers, to alert pedestrians that a bus will be turning. A total of about 40 buses will have this new system by the end of the year. The second program, called an active collision system, will alert surrounding vehicles that they are too close to a particular bus.
“More than 2 million people depend on New York City buses on its busiest days, and as the Governor has made explicitly clear, we must enhance our transit system to improve everyone's daily experience,” said Ronnie Hakim, MTA NYC Transit President.