Buses move slower than when Mayor de Blasio first took office in 2014, a sorry statistic that highlights his administration’s failure to rein in New York City’s notoriously congested streets during eight years in office.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority data released this week show the agency’s buses across the five boroughs averaged a speed of 8 mph last month, down from 8.2 mph in January 2015, the first month the MTA began publishing citywide bus speeds.
“The buses have gotten slower,” said Mario Rodriguez, 61, a museum
security guard, as he waited for the M101 bus on Amsterdam Ave. in
Harlem Tuesday. “I ride them four times a day so I’ve seen them slow
down over time. It takes an hour to get from my home uptown to Midtown.”
While the MTA is responsible for operating transit buses and depots, it’s up to city agencies to ensure they have a clear path to travel.
The city Department of Transportation under de Blasio has installed 67.8 miles of the city’s 141.7 miles of active bus lanes, DOT officials said. The DOT has also installed six new “busways” — or streets where most passenger car travel is banned during certain times of the day.
MTA data show those efforts worked. A busway installed on Main St. in Flushing, Queens earlier this year correlated with bus speed increases of up to 51% during peak periods.
But the mayor’s efforts to ensure lanes aren’t blocked have been limited to a select few major thoroughfares, while most buses that carry some 1 million New Yorkers a day still crawl along their routes, said Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter, an analysis and advocacy group.
“The decline of bus speeds on the network as a whole is swamping the gains from the busways,” said Fried. “We have a few islands of good bus priority in an ocean of increasing traffic and parking violations.”
That sentiment was shared by Stacy Britton, 56 a health educator who travels all five boroughs for work.
“The bus lanes actually make things slower,” Britton said as she waiting for the crosstown Bx19 bus on W. 145th St. “They are always blocked by people.”