On this Valentine’s Day, Council Members and Transit Activists Ask De Blasio, Will You Be Our Bus Mayor?

New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

On this Valentine’s Day, Council Members and Transit Activists Ask De Blasio, Will You Be Our Bus Mayor?

 Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, City Council Colleagues and Transit Activists Call on Mayor de Blasio to Improve Bus Service by Implementing Simple Solutions to Turnaround Bus Service for 2.5 Million New Yorkers

 New York, NY- Today on Valentine’s Day, Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, Council colleagues and members of the Bus Turnaround Coalition stood on the steps of City Hall to ask Mayor Bill de Blasio to be the city’s bus mayor and implement policies that will dramatically improve service for New York’s 2.5 million daily riders. Bus riders and council members also tweeted Wednesday at Mayor de Blasio: “Will You Be Our Bus Mayor?”

 Transportation chair Rodriguez circulated the attached letter in recent days highlighting several fixes and policies Mayor de Blasio can implement to increase bus speeds and improve riders' commutes. A majority of council members signed on in support and doubled-down on their request today on the steps of City Hall, urging the Mayor to make turning around our failing bus service a high priority.

 Bus report cards released last week from the Bus Turnaround Coalition show that New York City buses now travel an average of seven miles per hour citywide, the slowest ever in New York and more slowly than in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia or any other major US city.

Slow and unreliable buses impact millions of New Yorkers citywide, a steady decline in service has caused riders to arrive late to work, miss doctor’s appointments and sacrifice time with family members. Bus service plays a vital role in New Yorkers’ lives – especially in the outer boroughs, low-income communities, immigrant neighborhoods, and among the mobility-impaired.

Amid a wider transit crisis and disputes between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo about responsibility to fix the transit crisis underground, council members and transit advocates agree City Hall can play a significant role in improving bus service.

The city controls the streets, the intersections, the traffic signals and the bus stops and shelters, all of which can be revitalized to make buses a faster and more dependable option for New Yorkers. Redesigning streets to add bus lanes and prioritize buses at traffic lights, require the leadership of the NYC Department of Transportation, which Mayor de Blasio controls.

The Bus Turnaround Coalition has produced six key tools that the MTA and New York City DOT can use to improve bus service, and the letter urges Mayor de Blasio to implement three vital steps in 2018 to overhaul the failing bus service. These recommendations would notably improve bus service, providing a faster and more reliable transportation option for millions of New Yorkers.

Bus Lanes

  • Install bus lanes on the 10 local routes the Bus Turnaround has identified as priorities during the 2018 painting season


  • B41 (Livingston Street, Cadman Plaza, Flatbush Avenue below Lincoln Ave)
  • Bx19 (Harlem 145th Street, 149th Street in the Bronx)
  • Q58 (Broadway, Corona, 108th Street)
  • Bx28/B38 (Gun Hill Road)
  • M57 and M31 (57th Street)
  • Bx9 (West Kingsbridge)
  • M101 (3rd Avenue bus lane)
  • Q66, Q69, Q100 (21st Street in LIC/Astoria)
  • B35 (Church Avenue)
  • S48 (Victory Boulevard) 


  • Have NYPD and DOT jointly enforce lane restrictions with Quick-Curb traffic barriers, bus lane enforcement cameras and strategic patrols

Transit Signal Priority

  • Accelerate the rollout of Transit Signal Priority to 60 routes by 2020 by enacting Intro 163 sponsored by NYC Council Member Mark Levine.

Countdown Clocks

  • Expand bus stop countdown clocks (with real-time passenger information) to the 1,000 busiest stops by 2020

Details about all of these recommendations can be found on the Bus Turnaround Coalition website at www.busturnaround.nyc.

Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Senior Organizer at the Riders Alliance, said, “Riders are fed up with slow and unreliable buses, and it’s costing riders time, money and frustration. This year, riders are asking Mayor de Blasio to be the bus mayor and stand up for bus riders. When it comes to improving bus service for New Yorkers, there are many things the City can do: bus lanes, transit-signal priority, and countdown clocks are solutions that can turnaround our buses.”


“Select Bus Service has demonstrated that fast and reliable buses are possible in NY, but we need an approach that's appropriate to the scale of the problem. Bus ridership dropped a whopping 6% in 2017, alongside decreasing bus speeds and reliability. NYC's bus crisis won't be remedied by upgrading 2-3 routes per year. Leadership from Mayor De blasio is needed to create an ambitious, ongoing program to turn around local buses,” said Tabitha Decker, Deputy Executive Director, TransitCenter.


"New York City's buses need love, and for service to improve New Yorkers need leadership from the Mayor," said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign. "There are a number of ways Mayor de Blasio can act now to improve service for the 2.5 million New Yorkers who take the bus, like adding more dedicated bus lanes to our city's busiest streets, and accelerating the roll out of transit signal priority to keep more buses moving on time."

 “If New York City is to meet its climate goals in the transportation sector, turning around the trend of declining bus ridership is going to be key. While the MTA must be a willing partner, there is much in the City's power to improve the quality and reliability of bus service such as accelerating the rollout of transit signal priority, installing bus lanes on local routes, and increasing bus lane enforcement. These inexpensive steps will help our transit network move more people faster and with fewer emissions,”said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

 “2.5 million New Yorkers are depend on the city having an efficient bus system. Our public transit system is falling far behind that of many modern countries around, but our bus system is an area where the city can show leadership in recognizing the importance of public transit with heaving investments in service improvement,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. “In my first four years chairing the Committee on Transportation, I have worked in partnership with the Department of Transportation, the Administration, and my Council colleagues to prioritize the expansion of bike lanes in the city. These next four years I will prioritize bringing our bus system to the 21st century . I look forward to working with Speaker Corey Johnson, the Administration, DOT, Council colleagues, and advocates on building a bus system everyone can count on.”

 “The subways have gotten so bad you could almost forget how awful bus service is. Many fixes, like easier boarding, exclusive lanes, traffic signal optimization, and taking a good look at the design of longer routes can be done quickly and with serious return on investment. Seoul, London and others are eating our lunch when it comes to surface transit. New York is the greatest city in the world and New Yorkers deserve the best bus system in the world to get them around,” said Council Member Justin Brannan

 "Mayor de Blasio must make improving bus service a top priority as quickly as possible," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Whether it is more bus lanes, modernizing transit signaling systems to prioritize buses or simply speeding up the rollout of bus clocks throughout the five boroughs, New York City has no choice but to make these upgrades in order for our residents to compete globally in the workplace with the rest of the world. Thank you to Riders Alliance and Council Member Rodriguez for their continued fight for these implementable solutions to improve bus service."

 “Buses are often invaluable means of transportations for neighborhoods – especially for New Yorkers with disabilities, seniors, and those who live outside of subway zones. Focus on bus service is a quick way to provide public transit and improved service for 2.5 million New Yorkers quickly – and offer another means of reliable transportation for the millions of other New Yorkers tired of being delayed below ground,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “If buses could match how New Yorkers travel today, we could easily offer a robust accessibility-friendly option for many commuters, and better serve transportation-challenged areas. Public transportation is the lifeline in New York City and connected neighborhoods are important to invest in.”

 “We can’t keep playing the blame game forever,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Pointing fingers does not get people from A to B any faster – investing in our lagging bus system will actually get results. Millions of riders are counting on us to implement common sense solutions that will increase average bus speed, reliability, and safety for everyday New Yorkers.”

 “When our bus system doesn’t work, our residents are vulnerable to losing income and valuable time with their families. We need a mass transportation system that is both reliable and accessible to all New Yorkers. Mayor Bill de Blasio needs to be our champion when it comes to advocating for those changes needed to improve public transportation in our City. I want to thank the Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and the Bus Turnaround Coalition for their tireless work around this issue,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca

 “Based on the recent report that found New Yorkers could walk faster than the bus, it’s clear we need to address service,”said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Faulty MTA operations extend beyond the subway, and bus service can’t be ignored. The Mayor’s investment in more bus lanes, especially with the looming L-Train shutdown, is critical to stabilizing transportation.”

 “Fast and reliable bus service is an essential component of an effective NYC transportation system, especially for seniors and people who use wheelchairs. Unfortunately, constituents in my district and around the City have endured a bus system that crawls along at slow speeds and is often unreliable. I credit the Bus Turnaround Coalition and Council Member Rodriguez for bringing strap-hangers and policy makers together to discuss solutions to these problems,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

 "Many of our city's most vulnerable residents, particularly in the outer boroughs, rely on our bus system to commute to work, attend classes, get to medical appointments, or conduct other important daily activities. I urge Mayor de Blasio to expeditiously implement these critical service adjustments, ease the burden on our city's working families, and increase ridership while reducing emissions harmful to our environment," said Council Member Mark Treyger.


The Riders Alliance is a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders pushing for better service at affordable fares and a stronger public investment in mass transit. Visit us at ridersny.org.


The Bus Turnaround Coalition is a group of diverse New Yorkers determined to turn around the poor service that plagues the city’s bus system and the 2.5 million rides taken on it every weekday. 


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