Improve bus system, drive the economy
Nov 28, 2017 | 4881 views | 1 1 comments | 302 302 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report this week that won't come as a surprise to anyone who has ever had to rely on a city bus to get to a job or appointment: the MTA bus system is quite literally the worst in the nation.

You read that right, the worst in the nation.

To be fair, the system includes over 5,700 buses, 330 routes and 15,000 stops, which also makes it by far the largest in the nation, too. The system serves well over two million passengers each, which is more than the combined daily ridership of the LIRR, MetroNorth, PATH and New Jersey Transit.

There's bound to be delays, slow routes and a whole host of other issues for a system of that size in city with streets as clogged as New York's.

And the MTA has tried to make things easier for riders. Bus Time is a great tool to give you a sense of when the next bus is coming and, love it or hate it, Select Bus Service is at least an attempt (good or bad) to speed things up for bus riders and make street-level mass transit a more attractive option.

While the report's findings that New York City's buses are indeed as slow and discouraging as you thought they were, there's even more alarming details buried in the findings.

The report also found that bus riders have a far lower median income than the average New Yorker and are more likely to be a single parent. Furthermore, 75 percent of commuters who rely on city buses are minorities, and 55 percent are foreign born.

A bad set of demographics to also saddle with an unreliable commute.

The report also found that the current bus routes do a terrible job of servicing new economic centers in the city. In other words, outer-borough neighborhoods where new jobs are being created not only suffer from a lack of subway service, they also suffer from a lack of reliable buses.

It would be much easier for the MTA to change bus routes to get jobseekers to areas like Greenpoint, Williamsburg and the two airports in Queens, where jobs are being created at a fast clip, than it would be to build new subways to those areas.

Solving the problem of speeding up the city's buses is not going to happen over night, or in some cases, at all. There's just too many factors at play.

But bringing better services to new economic centers in Queens and Brooklyn would bring more opportunity to people who live in neighborhoods where the only option is a commute on the bus. It would create the opportunity for economic advancement through better mass transit.

The MTA also needs to recognize the fact that in today's economy, not everyone works a nine-to-five job. The report found that “off-peak” bus service is also severely lacking.

Not only are the roads less congested during those times, which would make bus service more reliable, but it would also better serve people who work in industries like healthcare, hospitality, retail, food service and cultural industries.

And by the way, people who work in those industries account for 49 percent of the commuters who use the bus system.

Improving the city's bus system won't happen overnight, but some changes could not only improve service, but also be an economic driver for the people who are creating jobs in the outer boroughs and the people who live there.
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December 01, 2017
Realistically, it will take several years to make it happen: The four main contributing causes for decreasing bus ridership in the past decade - 1) The rise of ride-hailing app services; 2) The rise of gridlock; 3) The rise of fare evasion; 4) The rise of dollar vans.