New York has had the slowest bus service of any big city in the U.S. for quite some time now, averaging only 6.6 miles per hour in 2018. That is up to 30% slower compared to bus speeds in other major cities such as L.A., Philadelphia, or D.C. The drop in bus speeds has been accompanied by a drop in bus ridership, a decline of nearly 14% since 2013. It is clear action is needed to improve service.
In 2008, the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) initiated a bus rapid transit program known as Select Bus Service (SBS). A very effective element of the SBS program has been the addition of bus-only lanes and bus lane enforcement cameras, which resulted in bus speed increases as high as 30%, and ridership increases of about 10% along these routes. Urged by the need to improve our mass transit system, and encouraged by the initial success of this program, DOT and MTA have tried to expand the use of bus-only lanes and bus lane enforcement cameras along more bus routes in the city. Implementing these changes is also an integral part of the MTA’s Fast Forward plan, the long-term proposal to modernize New York City Transit. However, state law currently only allows up to ten bus rapid transit program routes and limits the use of bus lane enforcement cameras to only 16 bus routes in NYC.
To complement the recently-approved congestion pricing plan to decrease traffic congestion and make sure that buses provide riders with a reliable means of transportation, State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic recently introduced A. 6777-A/S. 1925-A to remove caps on the number of bus rapid transit programs and automated enforcement cameras for bus lanes. It also increases penalties and creates a graduated schedule of fines for repeat offenders.
Further, the bill removes the cap on the number of red light cameras in the city to improve pedestrian and bike safety. Currently, NYC DOT is only authorized to install and operate red light cameras at 150 intersections. The bill also raises red-light camera violation fines from $50 to $100.
NYLCV strongly supports the bill because it would enhance our bus service, alleviate congestion, and encourage more New Yorkers to leave their cars at home. Reduced speeding also cuts down on traffic congestion, which helps decrease vehicular greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution. Improving our infrastructure and establishing a more efficient transportation system are important elements of our 2019 State Policy Agenda. NYLCV will continue to strongly advocate for legislation that helps improve transportation.
You can show your support by telling your representative to pass this legislation this session.