Council Member Levine, Transit Advocates Call on City to Double the Pace of Bus Technology Upgrades

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Thursday, September 7, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn // 516-946-5253 // j[email protected]

New York, NY - Today, City Council Member Mark Levine was joined by several members from the Bus Turnaround Coalition, at a bus stop in Upper Manhattan to speak about New York City’s other transit crisis -- the bus system. There, Council Member Levine announced he would be working to significantly speed up the pace of implementation of Transit Signal Priority (TSP) technology on the City’s most beleaguered bus routes.

Currently, city buses spend an average of 21 percent of their time stuck at red lights on congested routes. However, on the five lines on which the City implemented Transit Signal Priority (TSP) technology - the M15, B44, S79, Bx41, and B46 - there has been an average reduction of 18 percent on travel times. A sixth line, the Bx6, was announced by Mayor de Blasio earlier this week. TSP allows buses to communicate with traffic signals, giving them the ability to hold green lights or shorten red lights, speeding up travel times and reducing bus bunching.

Standing on the Southeast corner of Broadway and 145th Street at a crowded Bx19 stop, Council Member Levine highlighted three bus routes central to his Upper Manhattan district which are among the most delayed in the City, including  the Bx19 which is currently rated the second most delayed bus route in the City by the Riders Alliance, making it a strong potential candidate for TSP upgrades.

  • The Bx19 has a daily ridership of 31,531, this route is the Bronx’s slowest during the morning peak with an average speed of 4.9 mph. During off peak hours however, the line averages 7.8 mph, meaning with the an upgrade, those morning commuters could get where they’re going much faster.

  • The M4 has an average speed of 5.1 mph, and has seen a 20.1% decrease in ridership since 2010, while the M5 has an average speed of 5.8 mph and saw a 23.3% decrease over the same period.

Compared to a citywide average of 7.4 mph, these lines are clear examples of how poor performance has turned riders away from an increasingly slow and unreliable bus system. Compared to other major U.S. Cities, New York ranks behind Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Chicago, all of which have average bus speeds of 9 mph or higher.


“New Yorkers have a right to a reliable transit system, but millions who rely on buses are suffering because of slower speeds and longer travel times,” said Councilman Mark Levine. “Unlike the subway system, major pieces of bus infrastructure are controlled by the City. That’s why I am working on legislation that would dramatically accelerate the pace of installation of advanced signal control across the five boroughs. Our proposed fixes for the bus system are faster, easier, and cheaper than solutions currently being weighed for our subways. Anything less risks the “Summer of Hell” becoming a year-round reality for New York’s commuters.”

"The fastest and most inexpensive way we can improve transit service in New York City is through enhancements to our bus system," said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "I'm glad to join any efforts to ramp up the speed of making these improvements. I thank Council Member Mark Levine for his leadership on this issue as we work together to increase the number of SBS routes to better serve New Yorkers."

"Better, more reliable bus transportation gives 2.5 million daily riders new opportunities for good jobs, affordable homes, and the chance to truly be a part of New York. That's why we support City Council Members Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez's bill calling on the Department of Transportation to increase the implementation of Transit Signal Priority to 10 bus routes for the next four years. Riders should have access to bus service they can rely on, and this bill is taking us one step forward to better bus service for all New Yorkers," said Stephanie Veras, organizer with the Riders Alliance.

"Select Bus is an undeniable success. But the program hasn't been enough to change the bus system as a whole, and ridership continues to decline steeply. To turn that around, we need much more widespread deployment of Select Bus' successful elements, like transit signal priority," said Tabitha Decker, NYC program director for TransitCenter.  

DOT’s plan currently calls for TSP to be implemented on another 10 lines by the end of 2020. Council Members Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez are working on legislation that would require the City to upgrade at least 10 bus routes per year over the next four years.

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Photos Courtesy of NYC Council, William Alatriste. 

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