M.T.A. introduces “Bus Plan” to fix troubled bus system

On Monday morning, the M.T.A. introduced its “Bus Plan” to turnaround the City’s troubled bus system, with resounding applause from transit advocates and riders.

The City’s bus system, which is run by the M.T.A., has seen a large drop in ridership over the past few years, with a 14% reduction in passengers since 2007.

“We’ve listened to our riders’ concerns and are working tirelessly to create a world-class bus system that New Yorkers deserve,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford.

The plan works on several fronts to improve service, but the most critical changes are redesigning the decades-old bus network, speeding up buses along their routes, and installing additional countdown clocks at stops.

Within the agency, large changes are already starting to take place, with a revamp of the Staten Island express bus network currently in progress, and a systemwide redesign of all bus routes to be completed by 2021. Also included in the plan are upgrades to the aging bus fleet, with a pilot of zero-emission vehicles underway, and double-decker buses being tested in the near future on Staten Island express routes.

In the longer term, agency plans to roll-out all door boarding, a major request of advocacy groups, but it is largely dependent on the launch of the M.T.A.’s all-agency New Fare Payment System.

The agency will be partnering with the City Department of Transportation to expand traffic signal priority technology (allows for longer green or shorter red lights), and also step up NYPD enforcement of bus-only lanes.

“Hallelujah!,” said Jaqi Cohen, the campaign coordinator of the Straphangers Campaign, a transit advocacy group. “The New York City Transit Bus Action Plan is one of the biggest wins for our City’s 2.5 million daily bus riders in more than half a century,” she added.

Several advocacy groups, including Transit Center, Riders Alliance, the Straphangers Campaign, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, had previously formed the Bus Turnaround Coalition, which created so-called “report cards” outlining service quality on all bus routes.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who had previously issued several reports on the slumping bus system, noted that, “the bus action plan released today by the MTA is a clear step in the right direction.”

Byford and Darryl Irick, the highest-ranking M.T.A. official for bus service, will be holding an “#AskNYCT” Twitter Q-and-A session, exclusively focused on bus service, on April 26 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

The full plan is available here.

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