To the editor:
(re: “Riders express outrage at service cuts,” Oct. 31)
We recently released the final plan for the Bronx bus network redesign, which was the first time we closely re-examined every local, limited, SBS and express bus route in the Bronx as part of a unified network.
MTA New York City Transit inherited a bus network created decades ago in a piecemeal fashion: Some routes were old trolley lines, while others were operated by private bus companies. No one had the wherewithal to step back and comprehensively review the system borough-wide.
Under my direction, we are re-imagining the bus map to better reflect our customers’ needs and to account for substantial development and growth in the Bronx. We invited Bronx residents to more than 60 community meetings so far to gather your feedback and input, and we heard you: The buses aren’t working, and something needs to bed one.
To do nothing is not acceptable. As my friend, Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr., said a few weeks ago when we announced the final plan for the Bronx bus network redesign: “For us to keep going about providing bus service in the way it is now and expect a better outcome, well that’s the definition of insanity.”
We have completed a data-driven analysis and found that some of our Bronx express routes are only carrying an average of two to three passengers, while other local lines are over capacity. As a result, our redesign adds three new routes, improves frequency on 11 routes and nine corridors, and balances stop spacing to speed up commutes.
We are proposing increasing frequency on our most heavily used corridors so that we can serve the largest number of customers, and adding service elsewhere — where fiscally possible — to make buses more attractive.
We must use our limited resources efficiently and effectively, which means recognizing that our Bronx express bus service requires close attention. The vast majority of ridership occurs during peak periods, and off-peak ridership has plummeted. We are proposing to change some service during off-peak times as a result.
I can assure you, personally, that we have planned alternative routes for the small number of customers affected.
I am enormously proud of our work on the Bronx bus network redesign. It will increase service reliability and intermodal transfers for 675,000 customers throughout the Bronx. We are adding frequency, reducing travel times, speeding up buses, and reducing circuitous routing.
In addition to being customer-led, we are working closely with the city’s transportation department, the New York Police Department, and our labor partners to harness the on-the-job knowledge of our bus operators and field staff.
Our bus customers have much to look forward to: A new modern fleet that will become increasingly zero-emission with new state-of-the-art technology that improves service management, improves pedestrian and vehicular safety, enforces bus lanes, and coordinates buses with traffic signals.
We are rolling out a new contact-less fare payment system to implement all-door boarding that will further decrease dwell times at bus stops.
Together with the bus network redesigns, we are making every effort to improve bus service. We welcome you to give us a try.
The author is president of Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit.