MTA Looks To Speed Up Bus Service….

B64 idle at the Mermaid Bus Loop in Brooklyn.
B64 idle at the Mermaid Bus Loop in Brooklyn; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

This past Tuesday, the MTA dealt with its annual embarrassment courtesy of receiving the “Pokey” award from The Straphangers Campaign. What made it worse this year is that the group debuted a new award called the “Schleppie” so it was double the embarrassment. However the MTA chose not to sit around & do nothing about it as they chose this day to announce their plans of speeding up bus service.

The agency is working with the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) on multiple initiatives to help speed up bus service. Some of these initiatives include signal light prioritization & Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Here is the full press release:

MTA New York City Transit bus customers could soon benefit from a series of initiatives aimed at making city bus service faster and more dependable than it has ever been. Combining technological advances with methods of bus operation new to the region, the era of slow bus service could eventually be left behind.

A major cause of slow and uneven bus service is the increasing amount of traffic generated by the city’s booming economy. Traffic congestion combined with a number of other factors can work to throw buses off schedule. Some routes must negotiate narrow streets while others serve heavily-traveled shopping areas. Also, some major routes run past bridge and tunnel approaches, which are prone to traffic back-ups.

With these and other problems in mind, NYC Transit is working closely with the NYC Department of Transportation to improve bus service for the city’s 2.5 million daily bus customers. The joint initiatives include signal light prioritization, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the identification of traffic congestion “hot spots,” where effective strategies can be developed in cooperation with NYCDOT to increase the speed of bus service operating through those areas.

Currently, NYC Transit and NYCDOT are pilot testing transit signal priority along Staten Island’s Victory Boulevard corridor between St. George Ferry and Forest Avenue, which is served by the S61/91 and several other routes. It is expected that bus speeds will be increased as they benefit by holding green lights a few additional seconds, so that buses will not be held up on the red signals.

Moving forward for implementation beginning in 2008, BRT involves the use of prioritized traffic signals, improved stop spacing, more efficient fare collection and the enforcement of dedicated bus lanes. Designed to improve the efficiency and dependability of the city’s buses, BRT will be a major step forward, with the promise of increased speed and reliability, making bus service more attractive for current customers while also attracting new ones.

After a lengthy examination and solicitation of riders’ opinions, NYC Transit and the NYC Department of Transportation have identified five corridors throughout the city for detailed planning and implementation of BRT.

Combined, these efforts should help bring NYC Transit bus service up to the level expected by our customers.

I think Benjamin Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas said it best when he wrote this the other day:

I wrote about these BRT lanes in July, and my feelings still hold today. If the MTA is going to improve bus service through the use of BRT lanes in the city, they will have to ramp up traffic enforcement measures.

How many times are buses delayed because cars are double-parking in bus stops or in the right line? How many cars have opted to ignore laws surrounding the new bicycle lanes popping up on streets across the city? The answers, in both cases, are too many to count.

His thoughts bring back an entry I wrote about this past September about the politician who wanted to tackle the issue of vehicles who block buses.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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