Whether it's the morning ride from Staten Island to Manhattan or the return trip home in the evening, some commuters who take MTA Express Buses to and from Staten Island are furious.
"I'm adding about 30 minutes to my commute," one woman said.
"It used to take me, I'd say, about an hour," another said. "Now it takes about an hour-and-a-half."
Last month, the agency implemented a sweeping overhaul of the Express Bus system, redesigning routes to make service faster and more reliable.
But some riders say the result has been just the opposite.
"Overcrowding, people standing on buses, people waiting for buses for extraordinary amounts of time — there seems to be, really, a difference in the amount of frequency and the number of buses," one bus rider said.
The MTA said it was the biggest redesign of a system that had been in place on Staten Island for nearly half a century. The agency reduced the number of routes to 21 from 26 and spaced some stops further apart, the first step in what's supposed to be a borough by borough overhaul.
But it's had to keep tweaking the Staten Island plan. By mid-October, the MTA plans to add one route and increase service on 10 others.
Transit advocates applaud the MTA for trying to redesign the network. "It's something on a totally new scale when compared with previous agency revisions to bus routes," said Tabitha Decker, the executive director of the Transit Center. "Frankly, it's something that, if done well, can bring a lot of benefits to riders."
So far, some riders say they're not seeing enough of those benefits.
"They are supposed to make the system better, and it's gotten worse. There's no difference as far as saving any time," one commuter said.
Transit officials and Borough President James Oddo vow the overhaul eventually will improve the commute for more Express Bus riders.
"I am very much aware that we have not yet achieved that goal," Oddo said in a statement. "We will continue to grind at this until we have it right."
The bus route revamps are just beginning: After Staten Island, the MTA will set about redesigning how buses run in the Bronx.
Visit the MTA's website for more information on the new routes.
How's your commute on the new SIM routes? Connect with using the hashtag #NY1Commute.
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