NYC mayor announces more transit system improvements
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio placed an emphasis on improving transit to cut commuter times during his 2019 State of the City address.
- NYC Ferry will expand an existing route and add routes from Manhattan to Staten Island and Coney Island. The existing route expansion will take place this year and the new routes will be added in 2020 and 2021.
- De Blasio announced a commitment to improving bus service by doubling the pace of installing dedicated bus lanes, which he says will help individual buses move faster throughout the system, and doubling the number of intersections where buses get green light priority. AM New York reports de Blasio wants to improve bus speeds by 25% by 2020. He also announced the police department's addition of a tow truck dedicated to removing parked cars from bus lanes.
De Blasio had other transit improvements on his wish list, including a desire to "finally fix the subways," but said the city would need state funding to complete those goals. He also reported progress toward a congestion pricing plan and an idea to use revenue from marijuana sales for transit projects.
Congestion pricing has long been discussed as a prime way to cut down on the city's traffic gridlock, both at the city level and among state legislators. The city also encountered controversy last year with another plan partially aimed at cutting congestion: regulating ride-hailing apps and temporarily stopping the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses.
City leaders have been encouraging people to give up their cars and take more transit trips. But they recognize that a leading reason Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) subway ridership continues its multi-year fall is that lagging and unreliable transit service has not been adequately addressed. Plus, piecemeal fixes mean riders experience frustration when they encounter significant service disruptions on a variety of lines at any given time, rather than performing large-scale improvements all at once.
Last April, MTA launched the NYC Transit Bus Plan to overhaul the system, as the city's bus lines also have experienced a ridership decline. The plan involves redesigned routes, expanded bus lanes, all-door boarding, opening a new command center, adding electric and double-decker buses, and generally improving customer service. De Blasio's newly stated goals are an effort to further enhance the bus system.
New York's leaders have been working to identify and expand alternative transportation solutions such as bike-share, which is slated to have a three-fold increase in bikes over the next five years. The city also is uniquely positioned for ferries, a major commuter transportation source between Manhattan and surrounding boroughs, but the amount of service had dwindled for years until the city-subsidized NYC Ferry launched in 2017. Ridership subsequently has exceeded expectations and that ferry system has been deemed a success, hence the further expansion and investments.
Follow Katie Pyzyk on Twitter