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NYC Buses: Time for a Turnaround

New Yorkers take 2.5 million rides on the city's buses every day. While NYC's buses provide essential transit, especially in areas beyond the reach of the subway, they are among the nation's slowest and least reliable.

Now a coalition of transit advocates are promoting practical strategies to improve the performance of NYC buses systemwide.

Transit advocates knew something was wrong when they observed declining bus ridership despite increasing population, a growing economy, and record-high subway ridership. To figure out what could be done about it, they spoke to industry experts and researched successful efforts in peer cities to identify common sense solutions to NYC's bus problems. This research is summarized in their report "Turnaround: Fixing New York City's Buses".

The bus system faces big challenges, but these challenges have clear, proven solutions. By transforming how riders get on and off the bus, designing streets to prioritize buses, adopting better methods to keep buses on schedule, and redesigning the bus network and routes, policy makers in city government and the MTA can turn around the decline of the city's buses and attract riders back to the system.

We'll get to see how serious public officials are about tackling these problems on October 6, when the City Council transportation committee holds an oversight hearing on how to improve the quality of NYC bus service.

This Streetfilm was produced in partnership with TransitCenter, the second in a series of four films examining transit in American cities. If you enjoyed this one, check out the first film, "High Frequency: Why Houston is Back on the Bus."

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

9 Comments
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  • Joe R.

    Here's my list in no particular order:

    1) Enforced bus lanes
    2) Traffic signal preemption
    3) Prepaid boarding
    4) More frequent service, especially off-peak and late nights
    5) Higher speed limits for buses in bus lanes, particularly in parts of the run where stops are more spread out
    6) Multidoor boarding and deboarding
    7) Level boarding platforms

    As everyone in the video mentions, buses in NYC are painfully slow. Especially in areas where buses are the only form of public transit, we need to do much better than this.

  • Vooch

    just painting red deducated Bus lane on every avenue and arterial would solve 50% of the challenge

    this could be completed in 18 months citywide

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    "We’ll get to see how serious public officials are about tackling these problems"

    How about we get one public official to take a bus once?

  • Kevin Love

    Here's my list in no particular order:

    1. Car-free New York City.
    2. All-door embus and debus.
    3. Prepaid fares.
    4. Most routes with guaranteed 5-minute service.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Clarence Eckerson Jr.
  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Yes, the Cars Parked on Borough Hall Plaza Belong to Eric Adams & Company

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/11/23/yes-the-cars-parked-on-borough-hall-plaza-belong-to-eric-adams-company/

  • neroden

    NYC buses are slow because they're stuck in traffic. The only way to fix this is enforced bus lanes. Period end of story.

  • Joe Commuter

    The LA Metro buses may be fast by comparison but believe me, it's only because LA is so large and have so many streets. There really isn't much traffic in LA most of the day and an average speed of 10mph is still slower than biking and much (much!) slower than driving. As a result, not many people ride the bus if they have an other means.

  • wklis

    If you're going to have bus lanes, they have to be segregated from the automobile traffic. Else you'll have delivery vehicles or automobiles "stopping for just a few seconds" in the ordinary painted bus lanes.