Bus Service Campaigns

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Advocates Release New Interactive Bus Report Cards As City Council Holds Hearing on Dramatic Declines in Bus Ridership

Bus Turnaround Coalition Launches Website with Bus Report Cards at BusTurnaround.nyc, Testifies on Bus Data and How to Improve Service

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New York – On Thursday, the Bus Turnaround coalition held a rally at City Hall to call on the MTA and DOT to undertake sweeping changes to fix bus service, where ridership has been in free-fall for a number of years. At the rally, the coalition released a new website, BusTurnaround.nyc, which features new route-level “report cards” with speed and reliability data for local buses and interactive “ride-along” stories where users can compare the buses NYC has today with the buses we could have if the Turnaround campaign’s practical strategies are implemented.


Riders can also visit the site to share their own stories about the bus, watch our recent short film on improving NYC buses, and join the campaign. “Riders can use the site to compare their experience on the bus with new quantitative analysis on the routes they use, and learn what they can do to support changes that would make their bus trips quicker and more reliable,” said Tabitha Decker, Director of the NYC program at TransitCenter.


At today’s press conference, transit advocates also invited bus riders to share their “Woes On the Bus” in an effort to demonstrate the hardships bus riders face on their daily commutes. Stories can be submitted at ridersny.org/buswoes and will be compiled on BusTurnaround.nyc. “Bus service is getting worse, but there are still 2.5 million riders on our buses every day—that’s 2.5 million reasons to fix the bus,” said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Nick Sifuentes. “We’re collecting riders’ tales of woe to make a point about just how bad service has become—and we’ll share those stories with our elected officials.”

After the rally, members of the Bus Turnaround coalition testified before the New York City Council Transportation Committee, where they noted that they hoped the MTA and DOT would take concrete steps in the next year to improve service, including developing a list of possible changes to routes that would speed service; service adjustments to redeploy resources to routes with heavy ridership; guaranteeing at least 25 routes with transit signal priority by the end of 2017; and developing a list of top bus delay hot-spots on which the MTA and DOT can collaborate to improve service in 2017.

“When it comes to improving bus service in New York City, thankfully we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “Thanks to a strong coalition of advocates, we have a clear roadmap in place, with innovative ideas and strategies to really turnaround flagging bus service that so many New Yorkers rely upon. I’m proud to join this call and I look forward to making real strides going forward.”


Advocates also noted that fixing bus service would reduce economic and geographic inequality, as bus riders are frequently from the outer boroughs and are more likely to be from neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income residents and people of color.


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, as the saying goes,” said Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney for NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. “But as New York City riders know from painful daily experience, often far shorter bus trips here take an eternity, plagued with long waits and long lines. There’re lots of steps that traffic and transit officials can take to make our lives better. It’s time they came to our rescue.”


The Bus Turnaround coalition is composed of Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign. In light of plummeting ridership and declining quality of bus service, the coalition is calling for City and State agencies to reshape the NYC bus system by rethinking bus service from the ground up, working with community leaders, bus riders and public officials to analyze, rethink and potentially redesign our streets, routes and bus operating system.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) and Department of Transportation’s (DOT) own data support the groups’ contention that buses are failing New Yorkers: according to the DOT’s “Mobility Report 2016,” New York City has seen increases in population, tourism, and employment, adding more than 500,000 jobs since 2010. However, this rapid growth has led to more congested roads, playing a major factor in declining average bus speeds: citywide bus speeds have fallen by more than 2% since 2010; Manhattan south of 60th Street has the worst year-on-year declines in speed, dropping 6% in 2014 and an additional 5% in 2015. As a result, MTA data shows that ridership is down nearly 20% from 2002 to 2015.


“The bus network faces large challenges, but these challenges have clear, proven solutions. By transforming fare technology and bus design to get riders on the bus faster, designing streets to prioritize buses, adopting better methods to keep buses on schedule, and redesigning the bus network and routes, NYC’s transit leaders can turnaround the decline of the city’s buses and attract riders back to the system,” said Vincent Pellecchia, the Associate Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

In July, the Bus Turnaround coalition released its report, “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses.” The report highlights cities like London and Seoul that have managed to transform their bus networks, leading to increased ridership system-wide, and identifies key steps to fix our city’s bus network:


  • More frequent service on routes with high ridership or high ridership potential

  • Redesign of routes with obsolete or indirect routing

  • Use the post-Metrocard fare payment system to allow all-door bus boarding

  • Overhaul bus dispatching and on-street control

  • Create more bus lanes and widespread traffic signal priority for buses

  • Report bus performance in ways riders can easily understand and institute a comprehensive open data policy

“New Yorkers deserve better bus service, and there are actions we can take now to transform our streets and provide relief to bus riders who are forced to spend too much of their commutes stuck in traffic,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “By adding dedicated lanes and signal priority for buses, and by prioritizing bus rapid transit on ‘PeopleWays’ like the one we’ve proposed during the L Train shutdown and beyond, we can cut commute times and keep the city moving. Investments in great bus service are an investment in transportation equity.”

Elected officials also offered their support for Bus Turnaround’s goal of fixing New York City’s ailing bus system:


“For too long, bus riders have been treated like second class citizens—enduring long wait times, and last-minute changes to routes and schedules that at any time can leave them stranded with no accessible transit options. Bus riders, particularly those living in transit deserts in the outer boroughs and in many parts of my Council District in Lower Manhattan, are tired of being left out in the cold. We urge NYCDOT and the MTA to work together to keep buses moving and to improve service for thousands of riders who depend on surface transit to get to work, school, visit family, or see the doctor. A 21st century City deserves a modern and reliable transportation system, which must include a resilient bus network that can connect all of our neighborhoods,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin.


“The outer boroughs are extremely dependent on bus service, and I’ve been strongly advocating for improvement of the system for years,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “I’ve made requests to the MTA to improve bus service, and funded $260,000 for the installation of real-time passenger information clocks along bus routes.  I look forward to partnering with the MTA and other elected officials to see improvements on all our bus routes, particularly those that are most heavily used.”


“As New York City continues to grow, we deserve to have a transportation system that allows our people to go about their daily lives without hindrance. Currently, we have not collectively made the investment necessary to bring the MTA into the 21st century. Our bus transit system is vital to moving our families, seniors and disabled community. They are often forgotten when upgrading our transit station without elevators, leaving many in our city with only surface transit as their only affordable option, but how long will that last. It is time our local, state, and federal government agree on what is necessary to keep our city moving forward by improving ridership, time schedules, and access,” said Council Member Inez E. Dickens.


“Our city’s bus service is in dire need of an upgrade,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst).  “The Big Apple is experiencing unprecedented growth—yet our bus service fails to meet the needs of the many New Yorkers who rely on mass transit for their daily commutes.  The time to act is now.  I stand with Council Member Rodriguez and transportation advocates in calling for comprehensive improvements to bus service in NYC,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.


“My East Side neighbors will be some of the first to tell you that our buses are too slow and unreliable for a 21st century city. Thanks to Transit Center and their partners for setting forth a variety of concrete and achievable ways to ensure that our buses are faster, more efficient, and easier to use. I look forward to working together to put these long overdue improvements into action,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, member of the NYC Council Committee on Transportation


“The Bus Turnaround Campaign is certainly on the right track towards improving our local bus service. Representing a district with a large population of seniors and college students who mainly rely on bus service for transportation, I have seen firsthand how local bus service is simply not up to par with what our riders deserve. This launch is a great start to get the wheels rolling towards efficient and timely bus service. I thank TransitCenter, Riders Alliance, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for laying this foundation of ideas that would greatly benefit bus riders citywide,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile.


“Thousands of my constituents rely on bus service to get to and from work, school, and medical appointments every single day. When that service is not reliable, families suffer, as the families of my district learned firsthand when B23 bus service was unfairly eliminated by the MTA. We can and must improve bus service for riders all across the city. I commend Councilman Rodriguez for leading the discussion about how we can best achieve that goal,” said Council Member David Greenfield.


“The residents of Queens need access to more reliable transportation. This is an especially serious issue in Eastern Queens, where we have no access to subways and rely heavily on buses. My Queens colleagues and I have been consistently advocating for various transportation improvements—from light rails to expanded select bus service to real-time information at bus stops.  We will continue to fight until the residents of our borough have access to quality public transportation,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.


“From lateness to inefficient routes, our City’s bus service continues to let down many New Yorkers who rely on this transportation option every day. We need to restore faith in bus service, and that begins with implementing clear, effective solutions. This report offers some excellent remedies, and it’s another example of how the Riders Alliance is bringing innovative problem-solving to our transportation system. I want to thank Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez for leading our City forward on many crucial transportation issues, and I’m proud to join him in support the Bus Turnaround Campaign,” said Council Member Corey Johnson.


“Whether the bus showed up doesn’t have to be a case of ‘he-said, she-said’ with the MTA when we can use MTA Bus Time data to know where every bus is in the city at every moment,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who began working with civic technologist Nathan Johnson in 2014 to use MTA Bus Time to measure performance. “Thank you to Riders Alliance and TransitCenter for launching www.BusTurnaround.NYC so that 2.5 million daily bus riders in New York City can share their experience and call attention to the need for better bus service.”


“New York City buses are unreliable and slow, pushing those who can to choose other modes of transportation. But many people in less affluent neighborhoods still depend on buses every day to get to work and school, and to see family and friends. As NYC continues to grow, we need to invest in improvements to our bus system—both big and small—from real-time information at bus stops to implementing reliable and full featured Bus Rapid Transit across the city. Thanks to Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for bringing this important call to action, and to Chair Rodriguez for holding today’s hearing,” said Council Member Brad Lander.


“Improving our bus infrastructure is the low-hanging fruit that could drastically improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “We need sound investment in best practices to reduce boarding duration, increase average bus speed, and improve fleet efficiency,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.


MTA Bus service is a critical piece of New York’s mass transit system, and yet countless New Yorkers, predominantly in low income communities, are still underserved by limited transit options, plaguing them with long commutes,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “We must do everything we can to reverse the trend of inadequate bus service in our neighborhoods. I applaud the Riders Alliance for their invaluable leadership on this issue, and I will continue advocating with them tirelessly to get the bus service that our communities deserve.”


“I represent the transit-starved areas in Red Hook and Sunset Park that have dismal bus service. The MTA routinely ignores local residents’ demands for common sense, often low-cost solutions. I support the “Bus Turnaround Campaign,” because it could lead to more efficient boarding, better routes, more reliable schedules, and more ridership. Other cities have had success with what this campaign specifies. There’s no reason New York can’t have similar good results,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“With the upcoming shutdowns of the M and L trains, my community needs better bus options more than ever.  The Bus Turnaround campaign presents achievable goals for improving and expanding service, and I look forward to working with them to advocate for improvements in my district and citywide,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.


“The MTA and DOT must do more to improve our bus system, particularly in the outer boroughs, where subways lack efficiency and are just not convenient to many residents who live on the outskirts of the city,” said Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton). “While there are several projects and route improvements on their way, such as Select Bus Service and the brand new buses that were launched in my district earlier this year, a stronger push is necessary to update our bus system to accommodate the needs of New Yorkers today. I’d like to thank Riders Alliance, Straphangers and Council Member Rodriguez for ensuring that the needs of bus riders are being addressed across the city.”


“Transportation services are the fuel to our City’s economic engine, and each part is a necessity that must be maintained and improved including our public buses. Currently, the City’s bus system is in disrepair and in much need of reimagining how it can better serve residents. I look forward to working with my colleagues in order to bring improvements to our bus system to better serve commuters across the City,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.


“Buses are an integral component of our public transportation system,” said Council Member James Vacca. “We need to update our transportation infrastructure to support the increased utilization of buses throughout our city. It’s no secret that many of our subways are at, near, or over capacity.  Expanding the bus network is a common sense solution to the overcrowding that so many New Yorkers must deal with on a daily basis. Additionally, bus routes can be expanded to serve transit deserts such as certain parts of my neighborhood in the East Bronx. We must take a comprehensive look at all possible solutions which include improving express bus service, revamping boarding technology, continuing the build out of the bus network, along with other innovative ideas.”


The Bus Turnaround Coalition is a group of diverse New Yorkers determined to turn around the poor service that plagues the city’s bus system and the 2.5 million rides taken on it every weekday. We are winning increased attention from our leaders and greater resources for high quality, fast and reliable bus service for all neighborhoods in New York City.





Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

As Bus Ridership Plummets, Leading Experts Release Solutions to Fix NYC’s Struggling Buses


Based on Report, Transit Advocates Launch Bus Turnaround Campaign to Push for Common-Sense Fixes and Win Faster, More Reliable Bus Service

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NEW YORK — Seeking to reverse years of declining bus ridership and worsening bus speeds and reliability, New York’s leading transit advocates released a new report today that lays out how the city can fix its underperforming bus system.  The advocates also launched the NYC Bus Turnaround Campaign, which will apply pressure to win implementations of the report’s recommendations.


Reversing the decline in bus ridership and performance has become urgent as quality indicators have plummeted: from 2002 to 2015, bus ridership fell 16%, despite citywide population growth and record subway ridership. Today’s report, “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses,” draws best practices from other global cities that have reversed their own declining bus ridership and recommends a series of New York-specific changes that can fix buses in our unique city.


The report can be found here: http://transitcenter.org/programs/nyc/turnaround/


Despite declining ridership, adopting these changes would have an immediate impact on millions of New Yorkers’ lives: on an average weekday, New Yorkers take approximately 2.5 million rides on city buses.


Today’s report was released by the new NYC Bus Turnaround Coalition, which is composed of Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign. In light of plummeting ridership and declining quality of bus service, the coalition is calling for City and State agencies to fix the failing NYC bus system by rethinking bus service from the ground up, working with community leaders, bus riders and public officials to rethink our streets, routes and bus operations.


The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) and Department of Transportation’s (DOT) own data support the groups’ contention that buses are failing New Yorkers: according to the DOT’s “Mobility Report 2016,” New York City has seen increases in population, tourism, and employment, adding more than 500,000 jobs since 2010. However, this rapid growth has not been accompanied by increasing bus use—ridership has declined in the same period—and has led to more congested roads, which play a major factor in declining average bus speeds: citywide bus speeds have fallen by more than 2% since 2010; Manhattan south of 60th Street has the worst year-on-year declines in speed, dropping 6% in 2014 and an additional 5% in 2015.


Recommendations included in today’s report, which can be read in full at http://transitcenter.org/programs/nyc/turnaround, include


  • Redesign NYC’s bus network and routes for more frequent and efficient service

In order to run buses that suit New York’s current needs, the MTA and the City should redesign bus routes to fit people’s modern commuting patterns, remove detours and indirect routes, break up routes that are too long and consider more distinctions in service between busy routes and local access routes.


  • Transform how we get on and off the bus

New York should utilize modern technology that can allow riders to tap-and-go as they board and to board at every door instead of lining up at the front.  The MTA should also redesign bus interiors to facilitate movement and easy boarding and departing.


  • Adopt better methods to keep buses on schedule

The MTA should use real-time information to better control buses in the field, in order to prevent bus bunching and excessive waits.  The MTA can also improve bus dispatching to guarantee buses start their routes on time, and can prioritize maintaining headways instead of schedules for buses on heavily traveled routes with frequent service.


  • Design streets to prioritize buses

The City should add more dedicated bus lanes, which help buses move through congested areas, and the State should allow additional camera enforcement to make bus lanes effective.  The City can also increase use of bus bulbs and boarding islands to help riders, and can time lights and install bus queue jumps to help buses move faster.


  • Make using the bus easy and intuitive

The MTA and the City should prioritize improvements that make buses more understandable to riders, including countdown clocks and on-board announcements, and should consider clearly branding different types of routes that serve different purposes, such as subway connectors, neighborhood circulators and long-distance routes.


  • Increase transparency about bus performance

In order to improve accountability, the MTA should release bus performance information in ways that riders and analysts can understand and communicate.


Some of these proposed changes can be made by the MTA, some by NYCDOT, and some will require legislation or policy changes that can be made only by elected officials.  The new campaign launched today by a coalition of the city’s leading transit advocates will work in the coming months and years to win those changes, and to implement these comprehensive recommendations for how to fix buses in New York.


Tabitha Decker, NYC Program Director at TransitCenter, said, “Many of New York’s global peers, such as London and Seoul, have turned around bus systems that were in decline, even though these cities have large-scale urban rail too. They have done this by making bus travel fast, frequent, and reliable using tools like smart card based fare payment and the use of real time data to keep buses on schedule.”


John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “Buses are the unsung heroes of our transit system, reaching into every part of the city to guarantee that New Yorkers can live in affordable neighborhoods and still have access to jobs and education.  But buses are suffering: they’re slower than ever, notoriously unreliable and increasingly unpopular.  New Yorkers are voting with their Metrocards to abandon the bus, and we need to provide service good enough to convince them to come back.”


Gene Russianoff, staff attorney at the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said, “Riders can turnaround New York’s notoriously unreliable and slow bus system. What it takes is the same determination and optimism that helped turned around the City’s subway system from its greatest liability into to its greatest asset.”


Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said, “Select Bus Service has brought significant improvements to ten routes, but the entire bus network needs an overhaul. Congested streets, slow speeds and frustrating service are reasons why ridership is declining on New York City’s buses. It’s time to turn bus service around from a last transit resort to a preferred transit option.”


Public Advocate Letitia James said, “Every New Yorker deserves access to affordable, reliable, and efficient transportation, no matter where they live. Our lagging bus routes have become a source of anxiety and frustration to millions of commuters each day, and strain our already-overcrowded subway system as riders try to avoid taking the bus whenever possible. Rather than shifting the problem from one area of the transit system to the next, we must take concrete steps to improve our bus routes, and make life easier for the millions of New Yorkers who rely on them each day.”


Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “Public transportation pumps the lifeblood through the arteries that keep our beautiful city alive. In our ever-evolving and expanding New York City, it is critical to constantly improve our transit system, especially our buses that serve as a lifeline for tens of thousands of riders, including historically underserved ‘transit desert’ communities across Brooklyn. The Bus Turnaround Campaign report shows that, thanks in large part to 21stcentury technology, we have the ability to advance beyond a 20th century bus network. Upgrades such as bus queue jumping, real-time tracking, and off-board payment can no longer be delayed. These reforms will make traveling through our bustling borough better, faster, and safer.”


Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “New York City has the largest bus fleet in the United States, but travel times that lag well behind other cities have made buses unappealing.  We must work to reduce congestion and speed travel times, and many of this report’s proposals — from creating bus-only lanes to improving fare collection — should be top priorities.”


State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “With nearly 15 million individual rides each week, New York City’s bus service is an essential component of our public transportation system. For too many straphangers, however, bus rides have become an exercise in frustration and tempered expectations. A vibrant and growing city demands efficient public transport that includes properly functioning and efficiently run buses. I’m grateful to the Bus Turnaround Campaign for this report, which will serve as a useful road map for legislators, agencies and communities alike as we continue the long-term project of transforming New York’s transportation network.”


State Senator Liz Krueger said, “Efficient public transit is at the heart of any successful city, and none more so than New York. But if we don’t take bold action soon, our success will be stifled by a transportation network stuck in the last century. Buses are a vital lifeline for so many New Yorkers, particularly our elderly and low-income neighbors. The conclusions and recommendations in this report must be taken seriously if we’re going to have a bus system that continues to work for our growing population. I thank Riders Alliance and their partners for their invaluable advocacy.”


State Senator Jose Peralta said, “If we are to keep the City moving, and moving it appropriately, having an effective and frequent local bus service is essential. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have no choice but to take the bus to go to work, to go to school, because they live far from the subway, and this is why it is crucial to have a bus service that is faster and reliable. Currently, buses are very unpopular with New Yorkers. I am sure a modern bus network will not only attract more riders, but it will be a model for other large cities to follow. I want to thank the Riders Alliance, the Straphangers Campaign, and all those involve in this effort to fix and bring the City’s bus system into the 21st century.”


State Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “Improving the efficiency of our City’s bus system is critical for communities, like the ones I represent, who rely heavily on this essential transportation service.  I commend the efforts of the Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and other leading transit advocates for elaborating this report that puts forth solutions to help our bus system adapt to the constant changes facing our City.”


State Senator James Sanders said, “As someone who has taken public transportation for most of my life, I understand how important it is to have fast reliable options to get to work, school and important appointments. Our mass transit system is in need of many improvements, as illustrated by this report, which also outlines some solutions that are innovative and worth exploring. We need to encourage this kind of outside-the-box thinking, and I look forward to being a part of this conversation as we move forward.”


State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “For lots of New Yorkers in lots of neighborhoods, the bus is the best option to get around.  Anyone who depends on buses knows there’s room for improvement. Thank you to Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.”


Assembly Member Jim Brennan, Chair of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, said, “Bus service is essential for many New Yorkers. This is especially true for our growing elderly population and people with physical disabilities. The entire New York City bus system needs to be evaluated from the bus routes, to the boarding process and even the buses themselves.  This Report proves that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to fix New York City’s buses.  I join the transit advocates and call on New York City and MTA to learn from the Report and work together to improve the City’s bus system.”


Assembly Member Michael Blake said, “The 79th Assembly District is a subway desert.  We have very few subway stops within our borders, and over half of our district is more than 10-minutes walking distance from the nearest subway stop.  That means buses are a critical component of public transportation for our residents.  When the bus system fails, our community is left stranded—unable to get to work on time, unable to make doctors’ appointments, and unable to move throughout the city easily, efficiently, and affordably.  I am proud to back the city’s transit advocates in their fight for better, more reliable bus services in The Bronx and throughout New York City.  Improving our transportation systems is one way we are #BuildingABetterBronx.”


Assemblyman William Colton said, “Public bus transit can make a real difference in improving the ability of people to travel to their necessary destinations without contributing to traffic congestion and the environmental energy issues. Creative planning on how to utilize an efficient and affordable NYC bus system to meet the needs of changing communities is essential if our city is to continue to grow and prosper.”


Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz said, “Nearly every day, I hear from constituents who are frustrated by the amount of time they spend waiting for buses. Many of these constituents are seniors who want nothing more than to remain a vital part of their community but are discouraged by how poorly the bus system works. I commend this report for outlining the problem effectively and proposing some viable solutions that can improve the quality of life for the millions of New Yorkers who depend on our buses daily.”


Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “The MTA’s Bus Service is an integral part of New York’s transportation infrastructure, carrying commuters to and from work and school each day, yet they consistently fail to provide adequate service for the communities they supposedly serve. A particularly egregious example in my district are the constant delays, overcrowding, and long waits that countless commuters on the Bx7 and Bx10 bus lines face every day. I applaud the Riders Alliance for releasing this report uncovering the depths of New York City’s failing bus service, and I strongly urge the MTA to take action immediately to remedy the issues highlighted in this report.”


Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick said, “While New York City’s transit system is remarkable in its reach, it still suffers from inefficiencies. That is most readily seen in our bus service. Better use of new technologies and more rapid response to changing travel patterns would greatly enhance New York riders’ experiences.”


Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried said, “Two and a half million New Yorkers rely on MTA buses.  But bus service has become even slower and more irregular.  I support the new campaign to improve bus service through better planning, improved technology, and traffic management to promote mass transit.”


Assembly Member Pamela Harris said, “Having a safe and reliable transportation network is critical to the success of our community.  In order to better meet the needs of city residents, we must take another look at our outdated bus system and make the necessary investments to bring it into the 21st century.”


Assembly Member Ron Kim said, “I would like to thank the Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for organizing this campaign, and for coming together as transit advocates to bring attention to the important issues facing bus riders and services. Our city remains one of the largest and fastest growing in the world, and effective, accessible public transportation has always been an essential part of our identity as New Yorkers. The stark reality of declining bus ridership and an outdated system unable to fully meet riders’ needs is clear – the launch of today’s initiative is about finding solutions to those problems, and giving voice to the millions of commuters living in New York.”


Assembly Member Guillermo Linares said, “Our system of public transportation and its bus service in particular, is the face of this city. We must be able to talk about it with pride”, said Assembly Member Guillermo Linares. “I am confident that this program will have a profound impact on the revitalization and development of the New York City bus service.”


Assembly Member Felix Ortiz said, “Improved bus service is a top transportation priority. Residents simply have to be able to travel across Brooklyn to hospitals, schools, workplaces and the downtown business district. In my district, we need better service from Sunset Park and Red Hook to downtown, not less. Routes including the B37 have not been fully restored north of the Atlantic Terminal. We need more buses and better buses.”


Assembly Member Dan Quart said, “Although buses play a crucial role in helping New Yorkers get around, riders are all too aware that our current bus system does not properly serve our needs. In areas of the city without subway lines, buses are an indispensable link to schools, jobs, doctor’s offices, and more. New York City’s transit system, and especially our buses, need to be brought into the 21st century. New Yorkers deserve nothing less. A better bus system is possible–let’s work together to make it happen!”


Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said, “Bus service is a critical lifeline to thousands of my constituents and thousands more citywide.  After years of cuts resulting in unreliable service and reduced ridership that is used to justify more significant cuts, it’s crucial that we invest in bus infrastructure to help all New Yorkers get to their destinations safely, accessibly and sustainably.”


Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said, “As a representative of a district that does not have a single subway or train station, I know far too well the importance of buses as a means to connect people to jobs, schools, and other day to day obligations. This campaign to address the decline of reliable, efficient bus service will go a long way in identifying troubling similarities across routes that all too often become an added burden no matter how short or long the commute. I look forward to continuing my work with transit riders, advocates, and colleagues in government to ensure investments to improve bus service are being made with all communities in mind.”


Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright said, We need critical improvements to the bus service that meet the needs of an increased number of commuters in our urban communities. We need more frequent local buses, bus schedules that are reliable, and a bus system that is efficient and ensures adaptability in the 21st century. Many families, children, and seniors rely on the bus service as their primary means of transportation. New Yorkers need public transportation they can depend on to get to their grocery store, work, or school.”


Assemblywoman Latrice Walker said, “Buses are a critical part of New York City’s transportation infrastructure. New Yorkers rely on the public bus system to shop, go to work and school, and get to medical appointments. Slow or inconsistent bus service discourages riders from using the system they depend on.  I look forward to working with transportation advocacy groups and the MTA to brainstorm ways to improve the bus system.”


Assemblyman David Weprin said, “Bus transit is integral to the transportation network of New York. Millions of New Yorkers, including elderly and disabled riders, use New York City Buses on a daily basis. Each of these riders deserves to have a transit system that works for them and I am proud to join the Transit Center today as we call for innovative improvements to our public transportation network.”


Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee, said, “Buses in New York City should be a great way to get around, yet remain mired in traffic and are too unreliable for New Yorkers who can’t afford to wait. The Bus Turnaround Campaign has addressed these issues and more, with common sense ideas to improve service and speed up travel times. With our subways overcrowded and no quick fixes in sight, moving buses faster is one of the best ways to improve transportation in New York City across the board.”


Council Member Daniel Dromm said, “It’s time for a complete overhaul of bus service in New York City. Our city is experiencing unprecedented growth—yet our bus service fails to meet the needs of the many New Yorkers who rely on mass transit to commute to work and school each day.  The time to act is now.  I commend the Bus Turnaround Campaign for issuing this important report and am pleased to work alongside them to improve bus service in the Big Apple.”


Council Member Dan Garodnick said, “Bus service in New York City has become far too slow and very unreliable. Thanks to the Riders Alliance for setting forth a variety of concrete and achievable ways to help ensure that our buses are faster, more efficient, and easy to use.  I look forward to working with them to put these ideas into action.”

Council Member Vincent Gentile said, “The Bus Turnaround Campaign is certainly on the right track towards improving our local bus service. Representing a district with a large population of seniors who mainly rely on bus service for transportation, I have seen firsthand how local bus service is simply not up to par with what our riders deserve. While some tall measures would have to be implemented for bus service to dramatically improve, this action plan is a great start to get the wheels rolling towards efficient and timely bus service. I thank the Transit Center, Riders Alliance, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for laying this foundation of ideas that would greatly benefit bus riders citywide.”


Council Member Ben Kallos said, “Buses should run on time and we have transparency tools like Bus Time that should be expanded to help us measure performance and improve service in real time.  Time is money and the shorter the commute the better it is for our economy and for the quality of life of every New Yorker.”


Council Member Peter Koo said, “My district in downtown Flushing is a bus transit hub that is constantly growing, yet we recently lost an express bus line that provided critical service from Queens to Manhattan. If we are serious about fixing the myriad of problems with our bus transit system, we need bold, innovative ideas that explore new and creative methods of dealing with the age-old problems of congestion, over-crowding and inadequate infrastructure. I’d like to thank Transit Center and all the transit advocates involved in this report for getting serious about tackling one of our city’s largest ‘too-big-to-solve’ problems.”


Council Member Brad Lander said, “New York City buses are unreliable and slow, pushing those who can to choose other modes of transportation, said Council Member Brad Lander. But many people in less affluent neighborhoods still depend on buses every day to get to work and school, and to see family and friends. As NYC continues to grow, we need to invest in improvements to our bus system – both big and small — from real-time information at bus stops to implementing reliable and full featured Bus Rapid Transit across the city. Thanks to Riders Alliance, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for bringing this important call to action.”


Council Member Stephen Levin said, “New York City is a world leader in many aspects – speedy, reliable bus service is not one of them. Being able to charge a phone on a bus is great, but investing in a bus transportation system residents can count on is even better.”


Council Member Helen Rosenthal said, “I want to thank the Transit Center, the Riders Alliance, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for this Report to make our public buses more efficient. Policies like all-door boarding, providing real time information at bus stops, and optimizing traffic signals have already proven to be effective on routes with Select Bus Service, like the M86 in my district. I look forward to working with the MTA to see these successful policies implemented more widely on routes across the City.”


Council Member Rafael Salamanca said, “Residents deserve safe, fast and reliable bus service, notably in areas that are not serviced by the subway system such as the Lafayette-Boynton area of Soundview in my district.  As a result, I’m pleased to see these organizations coming together to help advocate for better bus service throughout New York City.”


Council Member Ritchie Torres said, “Bus service across the City has become increasingly unpopular due to slowness, unreliability and lack of access. In transit-starved areas across the City, including many sections of the Bronx, modernized and user-friendly bus service can improve quality-of-life for residents and help spur economic development. These recommendations should receive a closer look and could provide a roadmap for how to improve our City’s bus system.”


Friday, June 17th, 2016

New Report Shows MTA Might Miss Opportunity to Speed Up Bus Service Citywide

MTA’s Request for Proposals for New Fare Payment Technology Fails To Require Electronic Proof of Payment, Which Can Facilitate All-Door Boarding

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New York – On Friday, the Riders Alliance released a report, “Don’t Miss the Bus: How the Next-Generation MetroCard Could Miss An Opportunity to Speed Up Buses.” The report contends that the MTA is at risk of missing an opportunity to speed up bus service by requiring any new fare payment technology to allow for electronic proof of payment, which facilitates all-door boarding on buses system-wide. The report encourages the MTA to amend its RFP to require bidders to include the option for electronic proof of payment in their fare system proposals.

With over two million daily riders, New York City’s bus network is a vital link to jobs and services. But bus ridership has actually been in decline: despite adding 370,000 residents between 2010 and 2015, there were 46 million fewer bus rides in 2015 compared to 2010.

The Riders Alliance report contends that the drop in ridership is in part due to a concurrent drop in bus speeds; systemwide, average bus speeds dropped from 9.1 mph in 1996 to 8.1 mph a decade later, and in the busiest locations in the system, like Downtown Brooklyn and Midtown Manhattan, travel speeds are often slower than a walking pace.

To counteract the declines in speed and ridership, the Riders Alliance argues that one way to make buses faster and more reliable is to replace the current system, where everyone boards one by one at the front, with all-door boarding, where people could get on the bus through any available door. In order to facilitate that, the MTA should ensure that riders can pay for their fare at any bus entrance and receive electronic proof of payment, or a non-paper ticket verification that they have paid for their fare. It is that electronic proof of payment that is missing from the MTA’s current Request for Proposals for the new fare payment system.

“Buses are notoriously slow and unreliable in New York, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “When people start paying with their personal phones and credit cards, they should be able to get on any door, tap and go. Buses will move faster and more people will take them. If the MTA takes advantage of the latest technology, we can make bus travel one step faster and more appealing. We’re not asking the MTA to switch to a whole new bus system now, but it should keep the option open so we can take advantage of it in the future.”

“New Yorkers are voting with their MetroCards, steadily abandoning the slow and unreliable bus system. The next generation farecard is a huge opportunity to turn the trend around,” said Tabitha Decker, Research Director for TransitCenter.

“Riders love buses with multiple entrances for the same reasons that subway riders are big fans of countdown clocks telling arrival times: these improvements make the daily commute much more convenient and tolerable. In just a few years, multiple bus entrances and subway countdown clocks have become strong positive signs for the future of transit in NYC. MTA officials must make both a top priority citywide,” said Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney with the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

“If done right, new fare technology has the ability to speed buses, make stations more accessible, and offer more fare options for riders,” said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association. “Electronic proof of payment is essential to realize these benefits.”


Tuesday, June 14, 2016



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NEW YORK, NY — Transportation advocacy groups Riders Alliance and Global Gateway Alliance (GGA) hailed Governor Cuomo’s announcement today of a rebranded “LaGuardia Link” shuttle bus that will connect airport visitors with the subway—an idea that the two groups had originally proposed last November. The rebranded shuttle bus will operate as a Select Bus Service route and will replace the current Q70 bus, offering airport visitors and transit riders a more convenient, intuitive way to take public transit to LaGuardia. Per Governor Cuomo’s announcement, “LaGuardia Link” service will begin in September 2016.

The original proposal for a rebranded shuttle between the subway and the airport, laid out in a report from the Riders Alliance and endorsed by the Global Gateway Alliance, can be found at www.ridersny.org/LGA.

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “Governor Cuomo is upending years of conventional wisdom that said you couldn’t get to LaGuardia easily by transit. LaGuardia Link will make public transit a more intuitive, convenient option for anyone flying into or out of LaGuardia. This is a simple, cost-effective way to improve public transit access to the airport, and to encourage more people to consider transit when they’re headed to LaGuardia.”

Joe Sitt, Chairman of Global Gateway Alliance, said, “The best mass transit option to LaGuardia shouldn’t be a secret, but for too long that’s what the Q70 has been. We’re thrilled the Governor and the MTA have heard the calls from GGA and the Riders Alliance to take the common sense step of branding this as an Airport Express. LaGuardia has the worst mass transit access of any of our major airports. Both passengers and airlines agree that transit to and from the city’s airport is in desperate need of an overhaul. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction for millions of passengers.”

The two groups cautioned that the success of the rebranded shuttle bus will depend in part on how the Port Authority labels and advertises the bus in terminals and to airport travelers, and on how aggressively the MTA markets the new service to transit riders.

Additionally, the two organizations continue to support one element of the proposal not adopted in the Governor’s announcement: the proposal to make the shuttle bus free, a cost-effective move that would attract ridership to the city’s transit system.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DOT and MTA Reveal New Designs for Woodhaven Select Bus Service;
Bus Advocates Express Support for Plan, Highlight Continued Concerns

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Queens, New York – On Tuesday, May 17th, the New York City Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transit Agency hosted the first of three open houses to discuss the newest iteration of designs for the Q52/53 Select Bus Service project along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. Tuesday’s open house was held in the Rockaways, where local bus riders were able to see plans for the forthcoming improvements to bus service along the Q52/53 route. There will be two additional open houses; Ozone Park on Saturday, May 21 and Woodhaven on Wednesday, May 25.

At that open house—the 34th such public event discussing the planned changes to the Q52/53—bus riders and advocates stated that they look forward to the DOT and MTA’s plans to create dedicated bus lanes and other features of Bus Rapid Transit, but worry that new elements in the plan, including revocation of planned left turn lane bans, compromise the safety of pedestrians and the efficiency of bus operations.

Currently, the agencies propose that 9 of the 11 left turns that were originally to be restricted, including Metropolitan, Myrtle, and Jamaica Avenues, be preserved. Allowing so many dangerous, obstructive turns to remain, advocates argued, means issues regarding safety and congestion will not be resolved and the benefits of the project may not be fully realized.

The DOT / MTA have taken extensive measures to consult with communities along the corridor, hosting dozens of public outreach events. At those events, riders along Woodhaven Blvd. have repeatedly expressed problems of overcrowding on buses and the need for additional fleet and more reliable service.

Members of local community boards have expressed interest in a more robust proposal that delivers the promises of bus rapid transit. “Unfortunately, these updates are a far cry from the ideal, which would begin to show that Woodhaven Boulevard is ready to handle the inevitably intensifying density of our 21st century city. The loss of left turn bans is a major disappointment for those who were hoping to see things move quickly along the corridor,” said Woodhaven resident and Community Board 9 member, Joel Kuszai. “Hopefully, the agencies and police departments will continue to monitor data on pedestrian safety, especially at the remaining left turns, and restore one of the original components of the plan: modification of the boulevard to improve travel times for busses.”

John Maier of Ridgewood and Community Board 5 member noted that, “The current proposal allows for dangerous left turns that create bottlenecks to remain, and is a hybrid of the first two options which are the weakest for improving transit. I am concerned that the full benefits of the original project will not be realized by commuters along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard.”

According to U.S. Census information, 400,000 people live within 15-minute walk to Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard. Of those, 43% do not own a car, while 60% of residents commute to work using mass transit. The majority of New York’s “extreme commuters,” who travel over an hour each way to work, earn less than $35,000 per year.


As a Q53 rider, I experience daily delays as we’re stuck behind double-parked cars on the congested corridor or at bus stops as people are waiting to board and pay their fares. I’ve seen SBS dramatically cut travel times in Manhattan, and I want the same for us in Queens. – Alice Ostrowsky, Rockaway Park

The City has a track record going on eight years delivering 20% faster bus service and valued safer conditions for pedestrians. Having regularly taken the Q52 / Q53 bus to the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering, and Architecture just south of Atlantic Avenue, I want commuters in Queens to experience the same benefits. It’s time we get the success stories celebrated in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and northern Queens, prioritizing people and alternative transportation. –Samuel Santaella, Queens

It’s essential that improvements on Woodhaven Boulevard prioritize making bus service more efficient, so more New Yorkers with little subway access can more easily connect to existing and emerging employment centers,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “If Select Bus Service can roll along this corridor with fewer impediments, and with well-enforced dedicated lanes, that will mean less congestion and faster trips for commuters.”

“The extension would provide faster service and a one-seat ride to over 61,000 Rockaway residents who currently only have local service on the Q22 and the inconsistent Far Rockaway A train. Extending the bus line would provide residents with multiple options and would potentially lead to less crowding on buses and trains. But most importantly the extension would provide Rockaway youth, who come from low to moderate income families, with direct access to central Queens, providing an easier and faster route to schools, various activities and job opportunities.” – Milan R. Taylor Chief Executive Officer


February 4, 2016

Riders Alliance Applauds City Council, Mayor de Blasio on Rollout of Bus Stop Countdown Clocks

 New funds means riders will see 350 bus stop countdown clocks in every borough

In Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City address, he announced that the City will install 350 bus countdown clocks by 2017. In addition to funds already allocated by members of the City Council, Mayor de Blasio committed additional funds for bus stop countdown clocks. In response, the Riders Alliance, which advocated for and secured funding from Council Members for countdown clocks in the City’s 2014 and 2015 budgets, issued the following statement:

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“Today, the Mayor has joined City Council in showing a real commitment to helping riders—especially low-income riders and seniors, who often do not have smartphones—get around New York City,” said Rebecca Bailin, Campaign Manager with the Riders Alliance. “Riders Alliance members began requesting bus stop countdown clocks in 2013 because they’re a simple way to make bus travel more convenient. Now, thanks to the Mayor and City Council, bus riders will soon see over 350 countdown clocks installed citywide. Knowing when your bus is about to arrive makes an often arduous trip a lot easier to handle. We’re looking forward to seeing bus countdown clocks get installed!”

The following Council Members have dedicated funds to bus stop countdown clocks:


Bronx: Council Member Andrew Cohen ($120,000); Council Member Ritchie Torres ($80,000)

Brooklyn:  Council Member Robert Cornegy ($40,000); Council Member Rafael Espinal ($180,000); Council Member David Greenfield ($200,000)

Manhattan: Council Member Helen Rosenthal ($240,000)

Queens: Council Member Julissa Ferreras ($229,000); Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer ($100,000)



Bronx: Council Member Fernando Cabrera ($113,000); Council Member Andrew Cohen ($40,000)

Brooklyn:  Council Member Brad Lander ($240,000); Council Member Mark Treyger ($100,000)

Manhattan: Council Member Margaret Chin ($260,000); Council Member Dan Garodnick ($950,000); Council Member Corey Johnson ($35,000); Council Member Ben Kallos ($640,000)

Queens:  Council Member Eric Ulrich ($180,000); Council Member Mark Weprin ($35,000)

Staten Island:  Council Member Steven Matteo ($200,000)


January 22, 2016

Riders Alliance, Global Gateway Alliance Applaud MTA for Increasing Q70 Bus Service, Renew Push for Fundamental Changes in Transit Service to LGA

MTA schedule change remains silent on Riders Alliance/GGA recommendations of instituting Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle, among other improvements

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Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin and Global Gateway Alliance Chairman Joe Sitt issued the following statements today in response to the MTA’s announcement that it will increase service on the Q70 bus between the subway and LaGuardia Airport.

John Raskin said, “This added service is a great step toward implementing a real airport shuttle from the subway.  The MTA seems to recognize that improving subway access to LaGuardia is a cheap and immediate way to make a difference to transit riders without billions of dollars in construction costs and years of delay.  I consider this a down payment on the real changes that have to happen in order to make public transit an easy and intuitive way to get to the airport.”

Joe Sitt said
, “LaGuardia has the worst mass transit access of any of our major airports, and poor transportation to and from the airport is a top complaint of passengers and airlines alike.  Adding more service to the Q70 is a positive step, but until the MTA and Port Authority stop making the service the best kept secret at the airports and instead make it a free, well branded, shuttle, it won’t achieve its real potential as a true quality transportation option.”

Background information:

The MTA announced today that it would increase service on the Q70 bus that connects LaGuardia Airport to the E, F, M, R and 7 trains at Roosevelt Avenue and to the LIRR at Woodside.  The bus will now run every ten minutes at all hours and every eight minutes during weekday mid-day and evening peak hours, compared to its previous schedule of every 12 minutes throughout the day and night.

The Riders Alliance, with the support of the Global Gateway Alliance, has proposed more fundamental improvements to LaGuardia transit access, which can be found in detail at http://www.ridersny.org/2015/11/23/lga/

The Riders Alliance proposal includes more frequent service, as the MTA is implementing, as well as other improvements including:

•    Turning the Q70 bus into a Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle

•    Re-branding the bus to make clear to New Yorkers and visitors that it is the fastest route between the airport and the subway

•    Posting on-board signage and audio announcements that tell travelers which airlines stop at which terminal

•    Upgrading signage at LaGuardia Airport to make clear to travelers that the bus is the fastest route to the subway


Tuesday December 22, 2015

Queens Bus Riders Call for Faster Implementation of SBS on Woodhaven – Cross Bay Blvd.

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Last week, as reported on StreetsBlogDOT: Full Woodhaven Boulevard Upgrades Coming Sometime Next Decade,” the City’s Department of Transportation and the MTA presented an updated proposal for implementation of Select Bus Service (SBS) on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.  The new timeline includes:

  • 2016: Continued community engagement and public input,

  • 2017: Implementation of the first phase of SBS, including 1.3 miles of upgraded median bus stops with main road bus lanes (between Park Lane S. and Rockaway Blvd.), installation of bus-only lanes, off-board fare collection, transit signal priority (TSP), real-time bus arrival information, and protected bus shelters,

  • There is no timeline for full-featured BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) including median bus lanes for the remainder of the corridor.

Woodhaven Blvd. serves over 30,000 bus riders per day.  Of all commuters during peak hours, 1/3 are on buses.  More than 1/2 of residents along the corridor depend on mass transit to get to work.

Members of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, are optimistic about the 2017 rollout.  However, bus riders are disappointed that after two years of public engagement on planning and design, and a congested corridor study that began in 2009, implementation of the highest quality BRT for the rest of the corridor has been delayed. Woodhaven Blvd. has been found to be one of the most congested and deadly roadways in New York, and not all major bus stops or intersections will receive full BRT treatment anytime in the near future.

Despite years of studies that highlight the dangerous design of Woodhaven Blvd., the City and MTA’s incremental approach fails to address the erratic geometry of the street that contributes to congestion for drivers and buses and makes Woodhaven among the most dangerous streets in NYC.

  • John Maier, Queens Community Board 5 Public Transit Services Committee co-chair and member of the Riders Alliance, said, “We appreciate that the City and MTA are taking the right measures, but this is a major step back from the original timeline.  The process is too slow and bus riders need improved travel times now.  Beyond just travel, commitments to key safety measures in the original concept, such as pedestrian safety improvements, at locations like Metropolitan Ave., have disappeared for the foreseeable future.”

  • Katherine Stier, Riders Alliance member and Glendale resident, said, “While the plans are headed in the right direction, I don’t feel reassured  that the current proposal addresses ongoing vehicular injuries and fatalities. The City and MTA should prioritize the reliability and safety of bus riders and pedestrians alike.  The exclusion of critical parts of Woodhaven Blvd. such as the Metropolitan Avenue stop is an issue.  We needtransit upgrades now.”

  • Toby Sheppard Bloch, Riders Alliance member, neighborhood resident and CB5 member, said, “DOT has been studying Woodhaven Boulevard since 2009; drivers, bus riders and pedestrians have been waiting for more than 5 years for badly needed improvements, and the City and MTA’s departure from their own process is a further delay we can’t afford.”


December 1, 2015

Bus Riders Applaud Launch of New Q44 Select Bus Service Route in Queens

Riders Alliance Members Host Inaugural Bus Ride on Q44 SBS, Running from Jamaica to the Bronx

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Jamaica, Queens – On November 29th, Riders Alliance members gathered for a celebratory bus ride to mark the first day of the new Q44 Select Bus Service in Queens, which serves 42,000 daily passengers along its route from Jamaica, Queens to the Bronx. The Q44 is the first Select Bus Service line with a route predominantly in Queens.

The new Select Bus Service (SBS) route incorporates off board fare collection and, along some segments of the route, a dedicated bus lane. According to the Department of Transportation, previous SBS routes have improved bus speeds by as much as 15-23%–a significant improvement and one riders said was very necessary along the Q44, which travels at an average of 5-10mph for most of its route in Queens.

On Sunday, riders immediately noticed a difference. While riding the route from Jamaica to the Bronx, Riders Alliance members noted faster commute times and substantial improvements to the bus riding experience, including less dwell time at stops as riders purchased tickets before boarding, as well as new buses that allow for the elderly and disabled to board more easily.

After a year-long push by riders for better bus service along the Q44, Riders Alliance members applauded the improvements, which will help alleviate problems caused by overcrowding, infrequency, and bunching. “I work long hours at Jamaica Hospital—days that are only made longer by long bus rides—so I’m really excited about SBS on the Q44,” said Celine Paul, Riders Alliance member and Jamaica resident. “I joined our inaugural ride this past Sunday and you can really feel the difference. Mass transit in Queens is so bus-heavy—it’s about time that we started seeing bus improvements here!”

“The Q44 marks an important time for bus riders, who have worked for a year to make this a reality. For Riders Alliance members who ride the Q44, SBS isn’t just about better commutes. It also shows that when bus riders speak up, we can make change happen,” said Riders Alliance organizer and Queens resident Josselyn Atahualpa.



Before Thanksgiving Travel Weekend, Report Reveals: Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle Bus Would Revolutionize Transit Access to LGA—at No Cost to the MTA

Riders Alliance Study Finds Free, Rebranded Shuttle Would Increase Ridership, Bring New Revenue—and Can Be Implemented Today With No New Construction

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New York, NY—A report released today by the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of transit riders, showed that turning the MTA’s Q70 route into a Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle would result in thousands more travelers using the subway to get to LaGuardia—and could be implemented immediately with likely no net cost to the MTA.

The Riders Alliance report recommended turning the Q70 into a free shuttle bus, rebranding it as the “Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle,” and implementing basic user- and traveler-friendly improvements like regular ten-minute departure intervals, countdown clocks at bus stops, clear signage at LaGuardia and the bus’s two other stops, and on-board signs and announcements showing which airlines operate at which terminals.

Global Gateway Alliance, a regional airport advocacy group that has long made the case for better access to LaGuardia, joined the call today for a free airport shuttle to provide passengers with a viable mass transit link to the city and boost LaGuardia’s reputation in an increasingly competitive global market.

The Riders Alliance proposal was also endorsed by Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the City Council Transportation Committee, and by the Regional Plan Association and NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

The Q70 currently connects LaGuardia terminals with the E, F, M, R and 7 trains at 74th Street-Roosevelt Ave and with the LIRR at Woodside, running on the highway and making no local stops.  The Riders Alliance report recommended keeping this well-planned route intact, but repurposing the service into a Free LaGuardia Subway Shuttle.

In a survey conducted of more than 700 Q70 bus riders and travelers landing at LaGuardia airport, as well as a review of official Port Authority travel statistics, the Riders Alliance found that:

  • Only 12.5% of people going to or from LGA currently use public transit; but

  • An additional 49% said they would do so if there were a free shuttle to the subway;

  • 85% of people on the Q70 bus already transfer to or from the subway, meaning that their Q70 ride is already a free transfer that brings no revenue to the MTA;

  • If just 1% more travelers chose public transit, the new revenue would more than offset the cost of making the bus free for the riders who are not already getting a free ride—and precedent from Boston shows that making the airport shuttle a free ride increased ridership by 18% there in just one year.


In 2014, the Q70 carried 3,419 riders on an average weekday, and 1,185,485 riders total over the course of the year.  An 18% increase, comparable to Boston’s, would bring another 213,000 LaGuardia travelers to public transportation, more than off-setting any revenue lost by making it a free shuttle to the subway.

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “Transit access to LaGuardia shouldn’t be New York’s best-kept secret.  It should be intuitive and simple.  Turning the Q70 into a free LaGuardia subway shuttle is a cost-effective improvement that could revolutionize how New Yorkers get to the airport.  It’s not a billion-dollar project; it’s a free project with billion-dollar returns.”

Joe Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities and Chairman and Founder of the Global Gateway Alliance, said, “Mass transit access to LaGuardia is limited at best, and complex and convoluted at worst, costing passengers time and money and our region its reputation.  A clearly branded, free airport subway shuttle, however, is a low cost solution that would provide LaGuardia’s 27 million passengers with a 21st century access link.  And with plans to modernize LaGuardia underway, the time to act is now.”

NYC Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said, “I have long been an advocate for a rail connection to Laguardia airport to allow for individuals to travel as efficiently as possible to one of our nation’s busiest airports. Though we must continue to work towards that goal, we must also develop alternative strategies to close this transit gap faster than a decade. Converting the Q70 will provide the MTA with revenue generating user friendly mechanism of getting to the airport. I commend the Riders Alliance for their continued leadership in advocating for the needs of New Yorkers.”

George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16 and Global Gateway Alliance Board Member, said “A free LaGuardia subway shuttle would boost ridership and access to an airport that is a job engine for New York. City residents depend on LaGuardia for jobs, from pilots and maintenance workers to facilities and security staff. Improved access would be a win for visitors, New Yorkers, and workers alike.”

Gene Russianoff of the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign said, “There are simple and cost-effective ways to help revive the spirit of LaGuardia while the airport awaits a proposed $4 billion overhaul by 2021. As our colleagues at the Riders Alliance show, heading the list is vigorously promoting and expanding the current non-stop shuttle bus to the subway.”

Tom Wright, President of Regional Plan Association and Global Gateway Alliance Board Member, said, “As RPA’s 2011 study of the state of the region’s airports made clear, travelers face significant challenges reaching LaGuardia without the use of a personal car or taxi.  Bus service remains the best option for public transit access to LGA, especially for the outer-boroughs, but routes must be branded and managed to attract ridership and serve airport travelers.  This report presents some strong recommendations that will provide better options for customers.”


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Riders Alliance to Deliver Over 2,000 Petitions in Support of Better Bus Service for Flushing-Jamaica Corridor

Riders will deliver petitions supporting Bus Rapid Transit to be delivered to elected officials, MTA, DOT

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Queens – Gathering at a Queens bus stop on Saturday, August 15th, the Riders Alliance announced that over 2,000 bus riders in Flushing and Jamaica had signed petitions calling on the MTA and NYC Dept. of Transportation (DOT) to improve bus service on the Q44 bus route, especially along Parsons Blvd. and Main Street in Flushing and Jamaica. The petitions, collected over the last several months, call for city agencies to adopt Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, along the Q44 route in Flushing and Jamaica.

The Riders Alliance plans to deliver copies of the 2,000 petitions to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the MTA, and elected officials who represent districts through which the Main St. corridor runs. Currently, the DOT is studying implementation of Select Bus Service along the Q44 route—a move bus riders have applauded, saying it would speed up travel times in Queens and the Bronx.

Bus riders spoke at the event to signal their support for SBS and call on their elected officials to do the same. As a senior, I don’t drive and I can’t walk long distances,” said Jeanne Majors, Jamaica resident and member of the Riders Alliance. “I often rely on buses, but I’m tired of their unreliability and how overcrowded they’ve become. Buses come late, and older buses are difficult for me to board. I want reliable service and Select Bus Service can provide that. I’m excited that bus riders are coming together to demand better buses—the next step is for our elected officials to really represent the needs of their bus rider constituents and to fight for better buses with us.”

Fortunately, elected officials along the corridor are standing with bus riders. “Advocating for better bus service begins with hearing directly from those who know firsthand what issues prevent our transit system from providing reliable, accessible service. These petitions not only show how much support there is for Select Bus Service, but also how much community organizing has gone into ensuring that riders, drivers, and pedestrians benefit from a transit system that prioritizes safety and efficiency,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows). 

The Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders dedicated to improving transit in both Queens and citywide, has been organizing bus riders in Flushing and Jamaica since late 2014. At community meetings, riders have spoken in favor of the DOT’s proposal for SBS along the Q44, citing both the need for improved bus service along one of the most congested, unsafe corridors in Queens and the increased bus speeds along other SBS routes across the city.

At the event, bus riders reiterated their support for the DOT’s proposal for Select Bus Service. “It often takes me over 45 minutes to travel between Flushing and Jamaica on the Q44,” said Josselyn Atahualpa, community organizer with the Riders Alliance. “The Q44 is a major artery in Queens and the Bronx, but Q44 riders have to endure hour-plus commutes to get to work, school, and home. We need to fix the Q44—and that’s why over 2,000 riders say we need SBS now.”

“Jamaica was recently named New York’s neighborhood with the longest public transportation commute. We would love for travelers to better reach us from all parts of the borough and the city, with less travel time so that they can spend more dollars and time patronizing our vibrant shopping district, diverse foods and enjoying Jamaica’s rich cultural institutions.  SBS Service creates an easier route to travel to experience Jamaica in a fraction of the time,” said Rhonda Binda, Executive Director of the Jamaica Center BID.

This fall, the Department of Transportation plans to hold community meetings to discuss proposed Select Bus Service along the Q44 route.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Riders Alliance Gives State Senator Martin Golden “Bus Champion” Award for Sponsoring Legislation to Improve Bus Service 

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Brooklyn, NY – Gathering at State Senator Martin Golden’s district office on Friday, bus riders who are part of the Riders Alliance presented the second of two “Bus Champion” awards to Sen. Golden for his work advocating for better bus service in New York City.

Sen. Golden sponsored legislation allowing the City’s Select Bus Service system to expand, speeding up commute times for over 2 million New Yorkers who rely on bus service every day. Bus lanes are a crucial part of Select Bus Service, or “SBS,” the city’s rapid bus model, now in operation along eight routes citywide.

“As a frequent bus rider from Bay Ridge, I want to thank Senator Golden for consistently standing up for bus riders. With only the R train serving my neighborhood, fast and reliable bus service is necessary. Senator Golden’s push for bus improvement legislation will help make sure that happens. And this isn’t the first time he’s stood up for buses. During Hurricane Sandy he fought for more bus service to make sure we stayed connected to the rest of the city—I’ll never forget that. Thank you, Senator Golden, Bay Ridge’s Bus Champion!” said Donna Lubrano, Bay Ridge resident and Riders Alliance member.

“Today, I am honored to receive the Riders Alliance’s Bus Champion Award,” said Senator Martin Golden (R-Bay Ridge). “New York City has the highest bus ridership in the United States, with over two million passenger trips made daily. Consequently, we must find ways to move commuters effectively and efficiently throughout the city. This legislation will help ensure that bus lanes are clear of unauthorized vehicles so we can increase ridership while improving traveling times. I want to thank my colleagues for passing this bill and congratulate the Riders Alliance for their valuable commuter advocacy.”

Select Bus Service has sped up bus and vehicle traffic along the corridors where it has been deployed; along 125th Street in Manhattan, for instance, bus speeds are up in excess of 30%, speeding up riders’ commutes by implementing a bus lane, off-board fare collection, and improving traffic flow.

In addition to the eight Select Bus Service routes in operation across the city, the state Legislature passed a measure this year in support of ten more SBS routes in the five boroughs. The NYC Department of Transportation is currently studying implementation of another SBS route in Brooklyn, on the B46 route along Utica Ave., and two routes in Queens, along the Q52/53 route on Woodhaven Blvd. and the Q44 from Jamaica and Flushing into the Bronx.

“Buses are a lifeline for New Yorkers who don’t own cars and are far from subways—and remain vitally important even for those who do live near other modes of pubic transit. Now, thanks to Sen. Golden’s leadership, buses will be faster and more reliable for the two million New Yorkers who ride the bus every day,” said Nick Sifuentes, Deputy Director of the Riders Alliance.

Today’s award is the second, and final, “Bus Champion” award from the Riders Alliance; the first was given in late July to Queens Assemblywoman Nily Rozic for her role sponsoring bus lane enforcement legislation in the State Assembly.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic Receives “Bus Champion” Award from Bus Riders for Sponsoring Legislation to Improve Bus Service

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Queens, NY – Gathering at a bus stop in Flushing on Friday, bus riders and transit advocates presented one of two “Bus Champion” awards to Assemblywoman Nily Rozic for her work advocating for better bus service in New York City.

Asm. Rozic sponsored legislation allowing the City’s Select Bus Service system to expand, speeding up commute times for over 2 million New Yorkers who rely on bus service every day. Bus lanes are a crucial part of Select Bus Service, or “SBS,” the city’s rapid bus model, now in operation along eight routes citywide.

“I live far from the train and I depend on buses a lot. I use the Q44 and the Q46 to move around, but would like service to be more frequent. I want to see smart and efficient bus service and am excited to see Assemblywoman Rozic fighting for it! Better buses in Queens is beneficial to all Queens residents and I look forward to the implementation of Select Bus Service on the Q44,” said Handel Forde, Kew Gardens Hills resident and Riders Alliance member.

“Whether it is calling for better bus service in my district that does not have a single subway or train station or increases in funding, teaming up with riders and advocates to ensure that our transit system meets the needs of today’s ridership will remain a priority of mine,” said Assemblywoman Rozic (D,WF- Fresh Meadows).

Select Bus Service has sped up bus and vehicle traffic along the corridors where it has been deployed; along 125 th Street in Manhattan, for instance, bus speeds are up in excess of 30%, speeding up riders’ commutes by implementing a bus lane, off-board fare collection, and improving traffic flow.

In addition to the eight Select Bus Service routes in operation across the city, the state Legislature passed a measure this year in support of ten more SBS routes in the five boroughs. The NYC Department of Transportation is currently studying implementation of two routes in Queens, along the Q52/53 route on Woodhaven Blvd. and the Q44 from Jamaica and Flushing into the Bronx.

“Bus riders all over the city want faster, more efficient public transit—but change has been slow in coming. Now, thousands of bus riders’ commutes will improve, thanks to Assemblywoman Rozic’s leadership,” said Josselyn Atahualpa, a Jackson Heights resident and organizer with the Riders Alliance.

On August 11th, bus riders and transit advocates will present Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn with the second “Bus Champion” award for his role sponsoring bus lane enforcement legislation in the State Senate.


July 1st, 2015

Bonus for Buses: City Council Members Allocate  $1.2 Million for New Bus Stop CountdownClocks

Bus Riders Hail Citywide Progress on Funding For Clocks

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New York, NY — Countdown clocks: coming soon to a bus stop near you?  Members of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, applauded members of the City Council on Wednesday for allocating City funds in the budget to bring countdown clocks to more neighborhoods around New York. Thebus stop countdown clock program has been popular in its first locations on Staten Island, and new Council funding will help take the program citywide.

Eight City Council members set aside funds in this year’s City capital budget, some by allocating funds directly and some through a participatory budgeting process that allowed neighborhood residents to vote directly on preferences for capital investment.  In total, the Council Members allocated a total of $1.2 million to install new bus stop countdown clocks (details below).

“Sometimes it feels like buses haven’t changed much in fifty years, but that is starting to change, thanks to new technology like GPS and countdown clocks for riders,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.  “This is an example of the small improvements that make life more tolerable for bus riders.  We appreciate the City Council members and the communities that have prioritized the needs of bus riders and allocated more than a million dollars to expand this popular program.”

Riders Alliance Member and Corona resident Samuel Santaella said, “My bus is usually late and I often don’t have access to BusTime or the internet on my cell phone. One time, two scheduled buses didn’t arrive. My sister and I were standing in the freezing cold for at least 40 minutes. If I’d known how far away the bus was, I could’ve walked to the train or waited inside a store instead of being stranded. Busstop clocks will be a big help. I want to thank my Council Member, Julissa Ferreras, for helping bus riders plan our commutes better!”

In 2014, Riders Alliance members first requested that City Council members allocate discretionary funds to bring bus countdown clocks to communities around the city.  One year ago, 11 City Council Members and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams dedicated approximately $3 million to install bus stop countdown clocks; this year, an additional 8 Council Members dedicated almost $1.2 million more.  The firstclocks have already been installed on Staten Island and at a Lower Manhattan express bus stop, and the City Council funds mean that they will now be available in many more neighborhoods citywide.

The clocks are installed and maintained by the City Department of Transportation (DOT) and are built on GPS “BusTime” technology already installed by the MTA that shows where each bus is in real time.  In each community, NYC DOT has pledged to work with the local City Council member to determine optimal locations for theclocks.

Thanks to City Council members who allocated the necessary funds, bus stopcountdown clocks will now be installed in the following City Council districts:


Bronx: Council Member Andrew Cohen ($120,000); Council Member Ritchie Torres ($80,000)

Robert Cornegy ($40,000); Rafael Espinal ($180,000); David Greenfield ($200,000)

Council Member Helen Rosenthal ($240,000)

Julissa Ferreras $229,000; Jimmy Van Bramer ($100,000)

Council Member Andrew Cohen of the Bronx said, “I am proud to fund the installation of two bus countdown clocks in my district. Commuters will now know how long they have to wait for the bus which will make their trip less strenuous.  This technology is widely popular among subway riders and I am certain it will be just as popular with commuters who ride the bus.”

Council Member Robert Cornegy of Brooklyn said, “I’m funding countdown clocksat Fulton & Utica to make my constituents’ bus commutes more efficient and less frustrating. This is simple technology that will benefit everyone and I look forward to hearing how it makes a difference in residents’ lives.”

Council Member Rafael Espinal of Brooklyn said, “It’s important to improve the quality of mass transit service in the city. When you take the bus, it’s difficult to know if it is on time or delayed, often times turning people off from using the service. The clocks will ease riders  concerns and make taking mass transit more attractive. I believe these clocks will attract more of my constituents to use mass transit, reducing the amount of cars in the city.”

Council Member Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan said, “I am delighted thatcountdown clocks resonated with Upper West Siders during Participatory Budgeting. UWSers chose to fund it along with three other terrific projects. For those without smart phones, bus countdown clocks will offer a helpful service.”

Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx said, “I am proud to have allocated council funds to a bus countdown clock in my district, a decision that was made through the innovative process of participatory budgeting. This user-friendly technology makes bus transit more accessible to my constituents and helps create a more efficient and enjoyable rider experience.”

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said, “Bus Countdown Clockswill be a major victory for straphangers throughout the 26th district. These clocks will let bus riders know when a bus is running behind and when it is on time. The information empowers the riders and helps them make a decision as to which form of transit to take. I am thrilled to have supported this important capital program.”


June 29, 2014

Bus Riders Hail City Council For Allocating Funds to Install Over 100 New Countdown Clocks at Bus Stops

Council Members Cabrera, Chin, Cohen, Garodnick, Johnson, Kallos, Lander, Matteo, Treyger, Ulrich and Weprin Guarantee That Bus Stop Countdown Clocks Will Now Expand to All 5 Boroughs

Clocks Tell Riders in Real Time When Bus Will Arrive

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New York, NY— Members of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, thanked members of the City Council on Sunday for allocating City funds to expand the successful “bus countdown clock” program that has been popular in in its first two locations on Staten Island.  The clocks are installed and maintained by the City Department of Transportation (DOT) and are built on new MTA technology that shows where the bus really is at any given moment.

Riders Alliance members had requested that the City Council allocate discretionary funds to bring bus countdown clocks to more communities around the city, and 11 City Council Members responded with funds.   In total, Council Members allocated almost $2.8 million, enough to install more than 100 bus countdown clocks.

Bus countdown clocks will now be appearing in the following City Council districts:

  • Bronx:  Fernando Cabrera ($113,000); Andrew Cohen ($40,000)

  • Brooklyn:  Brad Lander ($240,000); Mark Treyger ($100,000)

  • Manhattan: Margaret Chin ($260,000); Dan Garodnick ($950,000); Corey Johnson ($35,000); Ben Kallos ($640,000)

  • Queens: Eric Ulrich ($180,000); Mark Weprin ($35,000)

  • Staten Island: Steven Matteo ($200,000)

The City’s Department of Transportation has estimated that each bus stop can be outfitted with a real-time countdown clock for approximately $20,000.  The Riders Alliance is pushing for all the clocks to be installed in 2015, after DOT consults with each local Council Member about where the clocks are most needed in each district.

Bus riders hailed these 11 members of the City Council for allocating funds, and thanked the City’s Department of Transportation for working with the Council to make the funding possible.  The riders also recognized the MTA for installing GPS on all its buses, a project that was completed this past year and that allows for the countdown clocks to work.


John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, “These clocks will be a great service to frustrated riders waiting in the heat or the cold for their buses.  With real-time arrival information, riders can decide if they’d rather walk, or wait in a store, or take a different bus that might arrive sooner.  Once the clocks are installed, a lot of happy bus riders will have these 11 members of the City Council to thank.  We also appreciate the willingness of DOT to work with the City Council, and we note that it’s the MTA’s technology that has made the entire program possible.”

“This is one of the best things that Council Members can do for their constituents who travel by bus,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders group.

I prefer taking the bus to get around the city as a greener alternative to taxis – but unpredictable schedules made it difficult to plan my trip,” says Riders Alliance member Thomasin Bentley from Windsor Terrace.  “Countdown clocks will make bus transit so much more convenient. Thanks to the City Council for making this important investment in our community.” 

“The quickest way for me to get to work is by bus. Having information about where the bus is at the stop can help me decide if it’s worth waiting for it or if I should just walk to work,” said Nigel Teekasingh, a Riders Alliance member who lives in Queens. “I want to thank all the City Council members for supporting this; it is a great step forward in providing better, clearer and more accessible transit service in New York City.

“I am excited about the partnership between my office and the Department of Transportation to bring the countdown clocks technology to bus stops in district 14 of the Bronx. The $113,000 I secured will give passengers an improved ride experience by making accurate timetable information accessible. This valuable addition will be beneficial especially among the elderly and parents with children in days of extreme hot or cold,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

“I’m excited about the benefits these countdown clocks will provide for seniors who sometimes struggle with public transportation, and that’s one of the reasons I provided $260,000 in capital funding to start installing the clocks along bus routes in my district,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging. “Along with the modernizing of our transit system and making it more accessible to everyone, the clocks will really help seniors who don’t have access to smartphone apps and can become nervous or anxious about long waits at the bus stop. I’d like to thank Riders Alliance for their advocacy on this, and I look forward to working with the Department of Transportation to implement the program.”

“I am proud to fund the installation of two bus countdown clocks in my district. Commuters will now know how long they have to wait for the bus which will make their trip less strenuous.  This technology is widely popular among subway riders and I am certain it will be just as popular with commuters who ride the bus,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

“New Yorkers hate to wait,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “While we can’t make a bus materialize on demand, we can give a time frame so people can make the best possible choices.”

“Knowing when the next bus is due to arrive will benefit thousands of riders who depend on the bus to access their jobs, families, and then entire city,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “I’m especially proud to support this program because anyone without the right smartphone or app will now have information to make decisions that will improve their daily commute.”

“Residents overwhelmingly voted to fund bus countdown clocks through participatory budgeting so we can all get where we want to get by the fastest route possible.  It’s nice to know when the next bus is coming without having to pull out your phone, text or check an app, especially for our seniors,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Riders Alliance and advocates for ensuring that all communities that want countdown clocks can get them in order to improve their daily commute.”

“Bus arrival countdown clocks are part of a robust transit infrastructure and a recognition of the importance of busses and bus riders,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “We have all experienced the real benefit of countdown clocks in the subway system: knowing how long until the next train makes waiting more tolerable.  Bus riders deserve this service as well.   But what is more, for seniors, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations who often rely the most on bus service, and who frequently don’t have smartphones that allow New Yorkers to access this real time information for all bus routes, knowing bus arrival times can be critical.   The commitment by 11 Council members in this budget cycle to expanding this service, in all five boroughs, is a great step forward and I commend my colleagues for supporting it in their districts.”

“I am glad that I was able to dedicate funds to make the lives of Staten Island bus riders a little easier,” said Council Member Steven Matteo. “Countdown clocks will make a world of difference to the many borough residents who rely on MTA buses to commute, to run errands, or just to simply get around. This will also tremendously help seniors and other riders who might not have access Bus Time.”

“I am very committed to making sure that Southern Brooklyn is not left out of the technological movement that is taking shape across the city. These clocks will make catching the bus more convenient and less frustrating for thousands of residents each day,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “We must continue to find ways to use technology to improve transit option for all New Yorkers, so I am proud to fund this great initiative and to work with the Riders Alliance on its implementation at key locations throughout Southern Brooklyn. With so many constituents relying on buses to get around, this is something that I am very excited to bring to the district.”

“We are very excited that bus count down clocks will be coming to Community Board 9,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich. “My constituents voted for these through the participatory budgeting process and they proved to be one of the most popular items on the ballot.  We should always be looking for new and innovative ways to make people’s commute easier and I look forward to expanding this system to other parts of my district in the future.”

“Countdown clocks have been a huge success on subway platforms. By bringing solar powered countdown clocks to bus stations, we are improving the rider experience for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Mark Weprin.

“We thank the Council for championing bus countdown clocks in the City budget. Now New Yorkers will be able to get real-time bus information without having to download a smartphone app,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “When riders know what time to expect the bus, it takes the guesswork and frustration out of people’s commutes.”

For the first time ever this year, technology now exists to allow bus countdown clocks to be posted anywhere in the city: the MTA’s “Bus Time” program has placed GPS devices on all MTA buses in the city, and riders can already access real-time bus information on their smartphones or by using SMS texting in those locations.  Bus countdown clocks, like the more than 100 clocks that received funding in this year’s budget, use GPS data from the buses to tell riders how many stops away their bus is right now.

In February, Riders Alliance members began reaching out to members of the City Council, requesting that they use their discretionary capital funds to expand the initial pilot project and install more bus countdown clocks.  Target bus stops could include stops that serve multiple routes, stops that have particularly heavy ridership, or stops that serve communities with less access to smartphones, such as senior citizens.

Other cities already have bus countdown clocks, including: Chicago, Washington DC, Vancouver (Canada), Portland (Oregon), Albany, and Syracuse.  Boston is currently installing them.


February 23, 2014

It’s Time: Bus Riders Rally For Countdown Clocks 

After Successful Pilot on Staten Island, Riders Call for Real-Time Countdown Clocks at Major NYC Bus Stops

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New York, NY—Bus riders from around the city rallied Sunday at a bus stop across from City Hall to urge the Mayor, the Borough Presidents and members of the City Council to expand to all five boroughs a successful “bus countdown clock” program that has worked on Staten Island.  New technology allows for real-time clocks at bus stops that tell riders how far away their bus really is; bus riders called for New York to join cities from Chicago to Vancouver that have already installed similar signs.

The riders asked city government officials to expand the pilot program in the city budget and bring countdown clocks to heavily used bus stops throughout New York City, which has a daily bus ridership of more than two million people.  Specifically, the riders asked the officials to use capital funds in this year’s budget—decisions that generally must be made before April.

“Countdown clocks have been a huge hit on subway platforms,” saidJohn Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.  “Now it’s time to bring them to bus stops.  We have the technology and we have the interest from riders.  It’s time to bring bus countdown clocks to New York.”

“Bus clocks at key intersections are a logical next step to bringing real time arrival information to riders, especially those who don’t or can’t use cell or smart phones,” said Cate Contino of the Straphangers Campaign, who noted that  MTA’s “Bus Time” lets riders use electronic devices to find how many stops away their bus is.

For the first time ever, technology now exists to allow bus countdown clocks to be posted anywhere in the city: the MTA’s “Bus Time” program has placed GPS devices on all MTA buses in the city, and riders can already access real-time bus information on their smartphones or by using SMS texting in those locations.  The Bus Time program already covers all buses in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, and will also cover Brooklyn and Queens within the next few months.

“I take the bus every day after work to get my errands done. I look up the street and don’t see the bus coming, so I ask myself: should I tough it out and take the train? Should I give up and try another time? As I enter geezerhood, buses are increasingly a better option for me, but I don’t have a smart phone to check when the bus is coming. Bus countdown clocks at my stop would help an older person like me plan my day,” said Bob Nelson, a member of the Riders Alliance who lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and takes the 5th Avenue buses in Manhattan, near his office.

Pilot bus countdown clocks, funded by the Staten Island Borough President, have been installed by New York City Department of Transportation at two locations in Staten Island (see example in attached photo, credit Riders Alliance).  The clocks use GPS data from the buses to tell riders how many stops away their bus is right now.

Advocates are calling on the Mayor, the five Borough Presidents and members of the City Council to use their capital funding allocations to expand the pilot project to key locations around the city.  Target bus stops could include stops that serve multiple routes, stops that have particularly heavy ridership, or stops that serve communities with less access to smartphones, such as senior citizens.

Other cities already have bus countdown clocks, including: Chicago, Washington DC, Vancouver (Canada), Portland (Oregon), Albany, and Syracuse.  Boston is currently installing them.

Each countdown clock will cost $20,000 to install, according to an estimate that the Department of Transportation has provided to members of the City Council.  That estimate is for a free-standing solar-powered sign, not hooked into the electrical grid.  Other cities provide the signs much more cheaply—for example, the Washington DC transit authority has estimated installation costs of $4,000 per sign in its system.

Jordan Reisner, a member of the Riders Alliance who rides the B63 in Brooklyn, said, “I am excited about the prospects of bus countdown clocks, not only to improve bus service but also to encourage more people to take MTA buses, helping to alleviate strain on our subways and roads.  We have the technology and resources.  In a city with an ever-expanding population and an aging infrastructure, we should do whatever we can to improve it.  Let’s get it done now.”

Thomasin Bentley, a member of the Riders Alliance who lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, and takes the B61 bus to go grocery shopping and the B68 bus to visit friends in Ditmas Park, said, “The best way to get where I’m going is the bus.  I try to time it using printed schedules but most of the time the bus doesn’t follow the schedule. If there’s bad weather, I find myself hailing a cab because I have no clue how long I will have to tough it out and I don’t want to be late.  I want to use the bus. It’s clean and affordable. Bus countdown clocks would allow me to make the most of an otherwise great system. The text messaging service is a good start but I find it difficult to understand, and I’m a real tech person. I can imagine that it’s hard for other people to figure out as well.”


Monday, September 9th, 2013 

State Senator Gianaris and Riders Alliance Members Welcome New Bus Improvements for Astoria and Long Island City’s Waterfront

 Increased, Faster, and More Reliable Local Bus Service

Riders Alliance marks additional wins for Astoria/LIC campaign

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QUEENS, NY—Riders Alliance members and State Senator Michael Gianaris, who have been pushing for better waterfront bus service for Astoria and LIC’s waterfront, praised the MTA today for responding to their advocacy and making improvements to the Q103 bus. The MTA will be implementing bus service improvements to the Q103 on Monday, September 9th.

Improvements to the Q103 include:

  • The MTA is adding 20% more service in total: there used to be 25 runs a day on the Q103 and now there will be 30.

  • The new service is concentrated during the morning rush, when buses used to come every 20 minutes and now will run every 15 minutes.  That’s 33% more service during the morning rush.

  • The service will start earlier and end later: the first bus will run at 5:40am instead of 6:10am, and the last bus will end at 7:50pm instead of 7:18pm.

The MTA also announced that it will adjust Q102 schedules so that the posted schedules will more accurately reflect when the bus is expected to arrive.

These bus improvements for local riders follow months of advocacy from State Senator Gianaris and members of the Riders Alliance. In early March through May of this year, Riders Alliance members surveyed bus riders to identify the problems Q103 riders were experiencing.  Riders identified frequency and reliability as their greatest concerns.  The Riders Alliance then wrote to the MTA requesting improved bus service, and followed up by asking riders to sign a petition calling on the MTA to improve service.  The changes being implemented today are positive steps toward achieving the goals the riders laid out.

As Astoria and Long Island City have become New York City’s hottest neighborhoods, Senator Gianaris has fought to ensure transportation infrastructure keeps pace with the rapid growth of these areas. Senator Gianaris has worked with community groups like the Riders Alliance and local residents to fight for increased service on the Q102 line and has repeatedly called for expanded Q103 service to include nights and weekends. Senator Gianaris first officially requested Q103 service be expanded in a letter to the MTA in August 2012 (see attached). Since then he has kept the pressure on the MTA to make improvements to these two bus lines and elsewhere in western Queens to ensure that transit options increase as neighborhoods in this community continue to grow and thrive.

Bobby Preti, Riders Alliance member and Astoria bus rider, said, “Knowing that my bus will come more often and according to schedule is a welcome change. It’s clear that our petitioning worked, the MTA heard us, and we thank them. ”

State Senator Michael Gianaris said, “I thank the MTA for instituting these sorely needed bus service improvements, and for recognizing that our community’s need for better mass transit is real and pressing. As western Queens continues to include our city’s fastest growing neighborhoods, we need to make sure public transportation keeps up. I look forward to continuing to work with the Riders Alliance and members of our community to improve mass transit in western Queens.”

State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said, “These improvements will provide a more efficient and reliable bus service for the Long Island City and Astoria communities. I would like to thank both the Riders Alliance and Senator Gianaris for pushing for these changes that will help both residents and businesses in the area.” 

State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas said, “The expanded Q102 and Q103 bus service will be a major resource for all western Queens commuters, especially for our seniors. This fast-growing community can only continue to flourish with effective transit options for its residents and workers. I congratulate Senator Gianaris and the members of Riders Alliance for their hard work on behalf of commuters throughout NYC.”

City Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. said, “The population of western Queens is continually growing, and public transportation options in the community need to expand along with it. The improvements to these two bus lines are a good start, and I will continue to work with Riders Alliance to ensure our borough gets its fair share of services.”

Amy Hau, Director of Administration and External Affairs at The Noguchi Museum, said, “For those of us who live and work in LIC, we rely on the Q103 to connect vital North/South points along the western Queens waterfront. The influx of new residents have brought more cultural programming and neighborhood activities on weekends (from events at SculptureCenter, MoMA/PS1, The Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park to the LIC Flea).  Residents and visitors alike need the Q103 service to run on Saturdays and Sundays more than ever.”

Sheila Lewandowski, Executive Director of the Chocolate Factory Theater, said, “The Q103 bus is the only means of public transportation that connects the western Queens waterfront communities where important cultural and destination groups like The Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, MoMA/PS1, The Chocolate Factory Theater, Long Island City Community Boathouse and others serve hundreds of thousands of visitors and local residents each year with arts programming, farmers’ markets, free kayaking, and more.  Increasing service to our venues and services means more customers to our local businesses, better access to the beautiful waterfront and improved quality of life for western Queens residents!”

Bethany Goldszer, Program Director of Jobs Plus at East River Development Alliance, said, “At ERDA, we are excited to celebrate the MTA’s announcement of expanded service on Q102 and Q103 bus lines. Improved bus service will impact Astoria Houses residents in a meaningful way, in terms of better access to educational, employment, and cultural offerings that NYC has to offer. We can’t wait to help spread the good news!”

Dana Frankel, District Services Manager at the Long Island City Partnership, said, “Increased frequency and reliability of these bus lines is a step in the right direction for improving public transportation in western Queens. “As LIC welcomes new residents, visitors and businesses, these linkages have become increasingly important.”

Sarah Jonker-Burke, Riders Alliance member who has lived in Astoria for 70 years, said “My husband and I use the bus to connect us with Manhattan and Brooklyn and to get us to our doctors’ appointments. We’re grateful that it will run more frequently and according to schedule. Thank you MTA for your continuing progress with our bus transportation.”