Brooklyn, NY – The head of New York City’s transit workers union is urging concrete action — including congestion pricing — this
week, to finally address chronically slow buses, saying, it’s time to “stop tinkering around the edges of this problem.”
TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano’s comments come on the heels of a sobering new report from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer uncovering, among other disturbing findings, that MTA buses are the slowest in the nation among large cities.
According to the comptroller’s study, the average city bus crawls along at just 7.4 miles per hour along local, Select Bus Service and express routes.
With the average Manhattan bus clocking in at a dismal 5.5 mph, many commuters there might be better off just getting off and walking.
Worse yet, the comptroller report finds that poor bus service is failing to adequately serve the increasing number of New Yorkers who work outside of Manhattan.
In the past decade, the number of Brooklyn-based jobs jumped by a whopping 49-percent. The Bronx saw a 35-percent rise in neighborhood jobs, while Queens saw a 34-percent rise and Staten Island experienced at 27-percent increase. At the same time, Manhattan saw just a 5-percent rise in jobs.
From 2006 to 2016, the overall share of New York City Jobs located outside of Manhattan shot up from 35-percent to 42-percent.
Mass transit busses that crawl along meandering routes, at less than optimal hours to accommodate the increasing number of service employees working non-traditional hours, lost 100 million passenger trips over the last eight years. Those hurt most by declining service are workers who can least afford it — the average personal income of bus commuters is $28,455.
To remedy the situation, Utano is calling on the MTA to implement a collection of technological improvements that Comptroller Stringer is also advocating, as well as urging the deBlasio administration to push for congestion pricing.
“TWU Local 100 agrees with the Comptroller that all-door boarding, and signal priority for buses on many more routes, would lead to improved service,” Utano told LaborPress in an email. “But far more aggressive measures also are needed. City Hall should support Congestion Pricing, which will reduce the number of cars entering Manhattan and raise needed transit funds. City Hall, which controls the streets, also should create real Bus Rapid Transit routes with barriers to keep cars out of bus-only lanes.”
New York State politicos have been kicking around the idea of congestion pricing — or charging motorists for the privilege of riding through densely-packed areas of the city — for decades.
Just this past August, Governor Andrew Cuomo called congestion pricing, an idea who’s time has come. Again.
The comptroller’s new bus report favors a slew of technological improvements like driver-controlled traffic signals, in addition to other managerial upgrades, without pushing congestion pricing.
As it stands now, city buses only spend half their time rolling — the rest of the time, they are either at a stop light or a bus stop.
Read the complete bus report here.