Transit Advocate Report Notes Ways MTA and DOT Can Improve Bus Service

With bus ridership plunging, transit advocates call on the MTA and the city transportation department to make improved service a priority. NY1's Jose Martinez has the story.

Nearly six million straphangers are stuffing into the subways every day.

On MTA buses, ridership is heading in the opposite direction — down 16 percent since 2002.

Some of those nearly 2.5 million daily riders say they know where the blame lies.

"I think a turtle would go a lot faster than a bus these days," a man in Flatbush said. "It's sad to say, but when you have to get somewhere, you really want to rely on the bus but sometimes you can't."

"I don't know how you get rid of the traffic in New York City, honestly," one woman said.

Wednesday, a coalition of transit advocates released "Turnaround," a report proposing how the MTA and the city can pick up the pace and build ridership.

The proposals range from expanding the number of routes with all-door boarding, to increasing the number of bus-only traffic lanes with surveillance cameras to keep other vehicles out.

The report also calls on the MTA to make better use of real-time information to keep buses from bunching.

"These are all things that New York can do," TransitCenter Director Tabitha Decker said. "Many of the changes that we are proposing can be rolled out in months or in years, not in decades or a generation."

The report says city buses typically poke along at 7.4 miles per hour on weekdays, a speed that's been slipping for years.

"We found that, on average, some buses have moved slower than a bumper car, a herd of lumbering elephants, and a Hawaiian lava flow," said Jacquelyn Cohen, a project coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign.

MTA officials say the transit agency is already acting on several of the recommendations in the report, and that ridership outside of Manhattan has largely remained steady.

"Several studies have been completed or are underway in neighborhoods like Northeastern Queens, Co-op City, and Staten Island to look at bus routes and make improvements," MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said in a statement.

The snail's pace plaguing bus service has been driving riders into the subway, contributing to congestion there. Extensive service cuts six years ago haven't helped.

Advocates say whatever remedies are chosen, the decline in ridership needs to be tackled now.

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