Return to Headlines

NYC Buses Disappoint

NYC Buses      Many students enjoy going into Manhattan in their spare time.  But how many of us use MTA buses? They operate in cities for several important reasons.  People choose to ride buses when they feel they cannot handle strenuous walking, especially when dealing with large crowds of people.  In other cases, people who like to walk throughout the city must use buses as backups when the weather is inclement. Many other families enjoy spending time getting around certain sections of a city.

     As many people continue to rely on buses as an effective way of transportation, they will need to consider these questions, especially if they move to New York City.  Have they noticed the speed of the buses on the routes they have taken? Was there a time they complained that you were late to work or a special appointment? Did you see the need to stop riding the buses for good?  If the third above question is coming into their mind, they may realize this: all of New York’s bus routes, except one, have received very low scores on a recent report card that rated each route.

     248 bus routes currently serve New York City.  According to an early 2019 Bus Turnaround Coalition Report Card that described the quality of NYC’s Bus Routes in 2018, the number of bus routes increased, but the improvement prolonged the problems with the routes.  According to Caroline Spivack from CurbedNY, the results indicate that nearly three-quarters of the bus routes received near to actually failing marks, whereas the other quarter scored around the C to B range, and only one bus route scoring an A.  The route that scored an A operates in Queens, which is the Q52 Bus Service that runs from Cross Bay Boulevard to Woodhaven Boulevard. While some routes in the remaining quarter maintained decent results, the overall average for each boro ranged between C to failing.

     The NYC report card also graded the bus speeds and reliabilities.  It gave a “D” average for speeds and reliability. The average speed of the bus routes landed at only 6.6 MPH, dropping 0.2 MPH from the 2017 average speed.

     Gersh Kuntzman of NYC Streets Blog explains that some local buses averaged out at speeds at around 5-6 MPH, even slower than rarely-seen subway rats, which can run up to 8-9 MPH.  The overall bus speeds have fallen to only half the average subway speed, which is 17 MPH, with some subway segments reaching a top speed of 55 MPH.

     Another likely cause of New York’s failing bus systems is a significant decline in bus ridership.  The decrease in bus ridership has been occurring for years, as transportation engineers designed multiple bus routes that people would find the “most convenient.” The opposite of the engineers’ hopes occurred instead.  From the time the “bus traffic congestions” commenced, officials in New York have long-promised to improve the condition of the bus routes. Yet, they did little to resolve the problem. Officials who fail to follow through their promises to reshape bus transportation hurt many residents in the city.  Many people who live in or close to the city, or travel there for important reasons such as work, have been complaining about the bus routes they have taken. “Many times, people say, ‘My bus is the worst,’ when actually (almost) all of the buses are terrible,” Riders Alliance senior organizer Stephanie Burgos-Veras says.  “Riders deserve much better than service that betrays them.”

     City councils also complain about how the very slow bus speeds continue to frustrate New York residents and degrade the routes themselves.  Councilman Andy King says that “the poor marks on much of the bus routes reflect a poor partnership between the City Hall, the Metropolitan Transportation Association, and the people.”

     The city councils have been claiming that faster speeds, even by an increase of 5 MPH, would establish a tremendous difference for the people who heavily rely on the buses.  The Bus Turnaround Coalition in New York agrees that expanding lanes can help bus speeds increase by at least 2-4 MPH, slowly increasing the reliability. The coalition also confirms that several bus routes need “route redesigns” so that there will be minimal congestions.  The City Hall, MTA, and City Council must agree first, however. If all three associations agree to these steps, then the grade ratings could increase from failing marks to more C’s, B’s, and A’s, with the least routes having poor marks.

Johnluke Sabile