The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it’s committed to speeding up buses as New York works to find itself on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s unveiling a multi-pronged approach state officials say will make it happen.
What that calls for are 20 miles of new bus lanes, expanded enforcement of keeping bus travel lanes clear, and another 750 “smart” traffic lights that could either shorten a red light or lengthen a green light whenever a bus approaches an intersection.
“For entire neighborhoods across the city — including many disadvantaged communities and communities of color — our buses are the only mass transit option to get to work, to get to school, and to access all the opportunities New York has to offer,” said Janno Lieber, acting chair and chief executive of the MTA, in a release. “Our goal today — and every day — is to provide bus service for our customers that is faster, more reliable, and more accessible.”
Dedicated bus lanes can significantly speed up service, MTA officials said, as proven by Bx2 and other buses traveling down East 149th Street in the South Bronx. Buses through there traveled 14 percent faster than they did in October 2019.
Keeping that speed requires more enforcement, however. Lieber wants to have cameras along 85 percent of the existing bus lanes by the end of 2023, including 900 cameras on-board buses, and a number of fixed cameras along the routes.
Working like speed cameras, these devices could record license plates of vehicles blocking lanes, automatically generating a ticket to the vehicle owner through the mail.
To speed up traffic lights, the MTA already partnered with the city’s transportation department to install sensors at 1,700 intersections in the city with plans to add 750 more by the end of next year. The MTA already has installed more than 650 last year alone.
“We have a responsibility to run more buses and speed up bus times so that New Yorkers who rely on them can get where they need to go faster and safer,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose area includes Marble Hill, in a release.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Key to NYC” vaccination mandate began Tuesday, requiring vaccinations for anyone attending a number of indoor entertainment and restaurants in the city.
Full enforcement — complete with fines of up to $5,000 — begins Sept. 13.
For a list of affected businesses, visit NYC.gov/keytonyc.