New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New Buses Arrive to Improve East Side Service Following Advocacy by Kallos, Krueger and Seawright

79 New Buses Headed to East Side to Replace Oldest Buses in Fleet
M14, M15, M101, M102, & M103
New York, NY – Manhattan’s East Side, where seniors and others depend on buses with slow service and long waits, is getting 79 new buses to help alleviate these issues. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA’s announcement of the new buses followed strong, data-driven advocacy from Council Member Ben Kallos, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and the East 79th Street Neighborhood.
The community and elected officials brought the issue of “missing buses” to the attention of then-MTA Bus Company President Darryl Irick at a meeting convened by Senator Liz Krueger. The MTA shared that bus lines based out of the Tuskegee Depot were amongst the oldest in the system, leading to more frequent than usual breakdowns, and agreed to prioritize these buses for replacement.
The MTA is now bringing 79 new buses with free Wi-Fi and USB charging to the Tuskegee Depot, which will provide 3 to 5 new buses per week to the M14, M15, M101, M102, and M103 lines.
The East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, led by Betty Cooper-Wallerstein, has been fighting for improved bus service for decades, from awarding bus operators for a job well done to distributing survey cards for residents to provide feedback on their experiences with the buses. This advocacy has ensured that quality bus service remains a top priority for elected officials who receive these cards with service complaints.
In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos presented at Beta NYC's National Day of Civic Hacking event and facilitated a conversation on using MTA BusTime data to track every bus in the system at all times in order to analyze bus service. Nathan Johnson took up this challenge. In his analysis, he found “missing buses,” where fewer buses ran per hour than were scheduled.
In discussions facilitated by TWU Local 100 with bus operators from the Tuskegee Bus Depot, they identified frequent breakdowns and insufficient buses as two primary causes of “missing buses.” Council Member Kallos identified these issues in multiple letters and meetings with the MTA, BetaNYC, and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).
Further analysis by the Bus Turnaround Coalition at found:
  • M15: has the highest ridership in Manhattan at 46,029 daily riders, with more than 1 of 8 buses arriving bunched and an average speed of only 4.8 mph.
  • M101: is one of the top ten most bunched buses in the city at 1 of 6 buses arriving bunched, with the fourth highest ridership in Manhattan at 26,127 riders per day, and an average speed of only 4.9 mph.
“Bus service on the East Side is about to get better with brand new buses that won’t cause disruptions in service from breaking down as often,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Residents complain about poor bus service every day, but after years of advocacy, we are getting the new buses we need. Thanks to partners like Nathan Johnson at BetaNYC and TransitCenter, community advocates like Betty Cooper-Wallerstein, elected officials like Senator Krueger, Assembly Member Seawright, and of course Governor Andrew Cuomo and a responsive MTA, we are getting the new buses we need and the service residents deserve.”
“These new buses are desperately needed on the Upper East Side,” said Senator Liz Krueger. “So many people in our communities, especially seniors, rely on buses every day. Long wait times, missing buses, and a general lack of dependability have a significant impact on the lives of riders. I thank the MTA for making this important investment, and community advocates and my elected colleagues for their continuing efforts. This is a good step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to provide the reliable public transit system New Yorkers deserve."
“We will not stop fighting for continued improvements to the bus system that our neighborhood needs and deserves. I am pleased that our budgetary efforts in Albany and partnership with local elected officials and community members have resulted in new buses in our neighborhood.  We need more frequent local buses for our families and seniors, a bus schedule that is reliable, and a bus system that is as efficient as it is tech savvy. This is a critical step in the right direction,” said Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright. 
“Council Member Kallos has been a pioneer in using analysis of Bus Time data to advocate for better bus service for New Yorkers. We commend him for this work and thank the MTA for releasing the real-time data that made it possible. We look forward to continuing to work with Council Member Kallos and others to bring New Yorkers faster and more reliable bus trips,” said Tabitha Decker, Director of Research and NYC Program at TransitCenter.
John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, "New Yorkers take more than 2.5 million bus rides a day, but buses are slow, unreliable and unfortunately getting worse.  It will take a concerted effort to turn around New York's declining bus service, and the leaders of that effort are communities like the Upper East Side who have come together to demand change.  We are happy to support the efforts of the elected officials and community leaders who focused attention on the problems with bus service in the community and won improvements that will make a difference in riders' lives."
“We're excited to see open data help improve bus services. We hope the MTA uses this data analytics model to improve service for all New Yorkers,” said Noel Hidalgo, founder of BetaNYC.

The buses will also include:
  • Digital Information Screens: The digital screens offer audio and visual route information and display next stop information, service advisories and travel information, including transfers. They also have the capability to display geo-specific advertising, enabling the potential opening up of a new avenue of advertising revenue.
  • Pedestrian Warning System & Collision Avoidance Technology: The new technologies aimed at improving customer and passenger safety, including a pedestrian turn warning system.

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