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Mayor de Blasio Announces Plans to Expand Select Bus Service to 500,000 More Bus Riders, Speed Bus Routes Citywide

October 20, 2017

DOT "Bus Forward" report targets more than 21 new bus corridors, will almost triple the number of commuters served by faster SBS, commits to expanding bus-priority treatments to local routes across the city

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that New York City would dramatically expand Select Bus Service (SBS), pursuing upgrades on more than 21 new routes over the next ten years, reaching a half-million more bus riders each day. The City and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will also expand bus-priority improvements to make buses faster on key non-SBS corridors in all five boroughs. The Mayor made the announcement after riding an MTA M23 SBS bus to Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

The DOT report on the planned expansion, Bus Forward, is available here.

"Bus riders deserve faster, more reliable service -- and the growing number of riders on SBS buses has found that they are getting to work on-time, and getting home to family faster," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "With even more Select Bus Service routes coming on-line in the years ahead and a commitment to bring SBS-style treatments to other routes, more communities in every borough will see their bus service improve. These improvements have been proven effective, by reducing travel time, increasing bus reliability and helping us meet the goals of major initiatives – both for a safer city under Vision Zero and a more equitable one under OneNYC."

"Select Bus Service has been a truly great partnership for the DOT and the MTA, as hundreds of thousands of daily riders citywide enjoy its real benefits that make buses faster, more reliable, and more convenient," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "But as the Mayor notes, our success means we now have much more to do, and so we will now tackle other corridors in neighborhoods around New York City where we believe the addition of SBS and the expansion of our bus-priority treatments on local bus routes could make a major difference. Whether it's all-door boarding, dedicated bus lanes, or bus countdown clocks, hundreds of thousands of riders have come to rely on the innovations of SBS that we want to bring to even more routes."

A joint initiative of New York City DOT and MTA New York City Transit, SBS has expanded dramatically over the last four years, increasing ridership as travel times on those routes have improved by as much as 30 percent. Right now, 12 percent of bus rides are taken on an SBS route, and with the Mayor's commitment that number will rise to 30 percent -- nearly one in three bus riders. The Mayor has provided $270 million for Select Bus Service, and in 2014, the Administration introduced the first-ever baselined funding to deliver SBS upgrades, support that will now enable SBS on the following targeted corridors and areas, where DOT expects to work with the MTA:

Select Bus Service began in 2008 on the Bx12 route along Fordham Road in the Bronx, bringing bus rapid transit to New York City for the first time. According to data collected by DOT on each of the established routes, Select Bus Service's signature features – all-door boarding, dedicated bus lanes, and signal priority -- have led to faster travel times, increased ridership, more reliable service, and safer streets. The rate of SBS expansion has grown dramatically under Mayor de Blasio -- from 6 routes at the start of 2014 to 14 currently. In the next year, Select Bus Service is expected to arrive on at least two more corridors that serve nearly 50,000 daily bus riders: Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens and Flatlands Avenue/Kings Highway in Brooklyn.

Additionally, the City and the MTA have worked together using MTA Bus Time GPS data to identify locations around the city where bus routes are slow and unreliable. The agencies will work together to create a new program focused on improving local bus speed and reliability -- applying treatments in the SBS toolbox that include dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority, better bus stop spacing, fare-collection improvements, and other tools to improve bus service for the majority of MTA bus riders who ride local buses. Over the next decade, two or three major corridors will be tackled per year. New bus-priority projects have been and will be undertaken this year on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, Fulton Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and along Main Street in Flushing, Queens – targeted improvements that will speed rides for more than 130,000 daily bus riders.

"Declining bus ridership citywide and increasing traffic congestion are key reasons why bus riders need an action plan of their own," said Veronica Vanterpool, MTA board member. "The successful partnership of NYCDOT and MTA can turnaround the bus riding experience, as we have seen with 9 years of SBS projects. Mayor de Blasio's announcement of priority corridors echoes what advocates, riders and transit planners have been saying for years--dedicated bus lanes, new technology and better route planning will bring riders back to buses. The Mayor and agencies deserve our support for increasing the focus on bus improvements over the next 10 years."

"Buses are notoriously slow and unreliable, and the consequences are severe: when we surveyed bus riders this summer, we heard from people who missed work, lost wages, and sometimes even lost jobs because of poor bus service," said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. "But Select Bus Service works: riders know it from experience and the data shows it's true. It's time to apply lessons from the successful Select Bus Service experiment to the rest of the city. We need more SBS routes. We need more improvements on local routes that serve hundreds of thousands of riders. We should work to make buses modern, convenient and attractive to riders, so people who have given up on buses will come back. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Transportation for taking this important step of committing the City to improving bus service for hundreds of thousands of riders in the coming years."

"The DOT's new Bus Forward plan shows a real commitment to improving bus service for over two million daily riders," said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "We're glad to see the mayor and the DOT committing to additional Select Bus Service routes—but we're most excited to see the expansion of SBS treatments like bus lanes and transit signal priority to local bus routes. We've learned that SBS works; it's time to spread the benefits of Select Bus Service far and wide so that bus riders have faster commutes no matter what bus they board."

"Expanding NYC Select Bus Service is absolutely critical, especially for residents in the outer boroughs" said Congressman Eliot Engel. "I am pleased the city will be upgrading more than 21 city routes, including the Bx9, Bx28, and Bx38 lines in the Bronx."

"We have seen what a great improvement SBS has made in the lives of the commuters on currently existing lines," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. "Thanks to SBS, New Yorkers can get where they are going faster and more reliably. I am thrilled that Mayor de Blasio and the DOT are expanding SBS to more lines in my district."

"Our mass transit system is the lifeblood of our city and the investments we make in it are critically important for our vitality and economic growth," said Congressman Joe Crowley. "Select Bus Service is a cost-effective option that reduces travel times and increases connectivity for thousands of New Yorkers. I'm thrilled to see the program expand to reach even more riders, while meeting the needs of countless communities. I thank DOT and the MTA for collaborating on this initiative to ensure New Yorkers are able to get where they need to go, when need to get there."

"I commend the Mayor's efforts to expand our City's Select Bus Service with the addition of new routes," said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. "For countless New Yorkers, commuting via bus is a fundamental part of daily life. These new and improved bus lines are outfitted with innovative technology that will promote timeliness, comfort and accessibility. This expansion will signal a new era for our City's residents, and I look forward to the implementation of this project."

"My Senate district has the slowest buses in the city, with an average speed of only 4.7 MPH," said State Senator Brad Hoylman. "The Bus Forward plan aims to triple the number of Select Bus Service routes and increase bus speeds and reliability, making a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of straphangers in my district. I thank Mayor de Blasio, DOT, and the MTA for listening to riders for this initiative."

"New Yorkers deserve a bus service that is fast and effective, and a key factor for achieving that goal is increasing the number of Select Bus Service routes throughout the City," said State Senator Jose Peralta. "By expanding this particular service, all communities will benefit and commuters will have a more reliable public transportation system and better travel times. I applaud Mayor de Blasio, DOT and the MTA's efforts in expanding Select Bus Services, an initiative that next year will celebrate its 10th anniversary."

"The service expansion of the SBS buses and the implementation of critical improvements on key non-SBS corridors across the five borough will allow thousands of bus riding New Yorkers to get where they need to be in a faster and more reliable way," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I commend Mayor de Blasio, the DOT and the MTA for implementing common sense measures that will increase the efficiency and reliability of our City's public transportation system to provide New Yorkers with the service they need and deserve."

"Mass transit is the lifeblood of the city," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried. "It is great for people who live, work and visit here that the de Blasio administration and the MTA are working together to improve bus service for passengers and bus drivers alike."

"This additional service will be a major boon to Bronx bus riders who have to contend with limited 'cross-town' routes," said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda. "The implementation of SBS buses has already shown its value, as evidenced by the Bx12 Local/SBS route across Fordham Road, with 15,576,377 riders last year making it the most used route in the entire city.
Glad to see that Mayor, the DOT and MTA are making strides in serving transit riders."

"For many years, I have been calling for expanded bus service, so I am very pleased to hear that the Mayor plans to add over 21 new routes for Select Bus Service (SBS) over the next decade, which will accommodate another 500,000 new bus riders each day. Additionally, part of this plan includes a new route for riders from Southwest Brooklyn to East New York. This will add service for many more New Yorkers, and provides an alternative for cross-Brooklyn travel," said Deputy Leader Vincent Gentile.

"New Yorkers want the ability to travel between and within boroughs, and do so efficiently, safely and by accessible means. Select Bus Services have been successful in delivering that," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. "Many of my colleagues in the Council and I have been advocates for more SBS routes, supporting work for its expansion through legislation, including Local Law 36 of 2015 and Local Law 71 of 2017 sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander and myself. I believe we must deliver reliable public transportation to New Yorkers in all five boroughs, including those in transportation deserts. We must connect commuters to various parts of the city and encourage the use of mass transit. I am excited to see the SBS system grow and look forward to working on more innovative ways to improve bus service."

"Today's 'Bus Forward' report is an important next stop on our route to better bus service for New Yorkers," said Council Member Brad Lander, who sponsored the legislation leading to the report. "The routes in this plan will extend bus rapid transit (BRT) and improve congested local bus routes, providing a faster commute to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who today have some of the slowest ones, and opening up new job opportunities as well. I look forward to working with the de Blasio Administration, DOT, the MTA, my colleagues, transit advocates, and communities to move along this route as quickly as we can."

"The SBS program is a safe and efficient transportation alterative to get New Yorkers to where they have to go. Throughout the City, and especially in Council District 34 the amount of commuters in the last decade has increased significantly- so the need for options to traditional public transportation are key for sustainability. I was proud to be a part of the City Council that pushed for an expansion of the SBS program to improve the way we get around. I am especially excited that two of the proposed routes for expansion will run through my district and provide services to my constituents," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

"The expansion of Select Bus Services in the Bronx will give our residents more frequent and reliable transportation services. Public transit is vital to a growing Bronx economy and to the Bronx residents driving its growth everyday," said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

"Whether you use the bus to get to work, shop for groceries, or visit your friends and family, you deserve to get to where you're going on-time." Said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Health Committee. "As the population of our City continues to grow, expanded and improved bus service is a common-sense step to meeting the transit needs of many New Yorkers. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for this exciting development."

SBS Routes are currently active along the following corridors:

Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway (Bx12)
First/Second Avenues (M15)
34th Street (M34/M34A)
Hylan Boulevard (S79)
Webster Avenue (Bx41)
Nostrand Avenue (B44)
125th Street-LGA (M60)
86th Street (M86)
Bronx-Flushing-Jamaica (Q44)
Woodside-Jackson Heights Airport Connector, LaGuardia Link (Q70)
Utica Avenue (B46)
23rd Street (M23)
79th Street (M79)
Washington Hgts-Crosstown Bronx (Bx6)

For more information about Select Bus Service, please visit www.nyc.gov/brt

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958