mta buses
More than 2.5 million New Yorkers rely on the city's bus service. Photo: Flickr/MTA

New York City may be fast paced, but some of its buses are not. On Tuesday, transit advocates urged officials to speed up MTA buses by bringing the typical frustrating New Yorker morning commute, experienced by transit riders across all boroughs, to the steps of City Hall.

 

Activists from Riders Alliance, New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and Tri-State Transportation Campaign, along with MTA bus riders and elected officials gathered at City Hall on Tuesday to act out a scene showcasing the struggles they face when trying to get to work or school on time via city buses. 

 

In front of City Hall, a mock-up foam-board bus was blocked from moving forward along its route by Little Tykes cars. Riders waited impatiently at a bus stop ahead, reliving the reality for many who are kept waiting for their MTA buses every day.

 

“Each day, over a million New Yorkers are subjected to excruciatingly slow bus speeds, endless delays, and meandering routes that don’t get them where they need to go, when they need to go,” Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve a modern transit network – and that includes our bus system.”

 

Transit activists argue that MTA bus riders have to endure some of the worst commutes in New York City, and this has real damage, limiting their access to jobs as well as their time home with family. The failing MTA bus system also predominantly affects those who are lower income, people of color (who make up 75 percent of city bus riders) and immigrants (who make up 55 percent of riders), activists say.

MTA buses need improvement to make NYC Fair: Activists

After depicting their dreadful commutes because of slow or unreliable buses, the actors then rolled out a red carpet, symbolizing a red-painted bus-only traffic lane. With that, the foam-board bus was able to bypass traffic and get the New Yorkers to where they needed to go.

This, the activists said, is what the city needs to do to improve bus service and thus the lives and millions of New Yorkers.

The transit advocates and elected officials presented their proposal for MTA bus improvements, called “Fast Bus, Fair City.” The plan calls for 100 new miles of bus lanes in the next five years, increased enforcement against vehicles that block bus lanes, “green light" transit signal priority for buses at some intersections and countdown clocks and bus shelters at all bus stops.

mta buses | transit advocates nyc

They also called on the mayor to make MTA buses faster by setting a target of an average bus speed of 11 mph — up from 6.7 mph in 2017.

“Our city’s buses provide a vital transit link to low-income communities where subway service is often scarce,” said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign, in a statement. “Yet citywide, the quality of bus service continues on a downward spiral, forcing many low-income New Yorkers to endure longer and more excruciating commutes. If New York is to truly become a fair and equitable city, Mayor de Blasio must step forward as a champion for bus riders everywhere and commit to adopting the 'Fast Bus, Fair City' plan."