Strong Support for Citywide Bus Rapid Transit

BRT DR

The Progressive Caucus of the City Council released a Letter urging the commissioners of DOT and the MTA to prioritize bringing full-featured BRT to New York City because of its unique ability to address a number of critical issues facing low income and communities of color. The Caucus cited inequality of transit access across the city, job-growth in the outer boroughs least well served by the public transit system, as well as patterns of displacement that have further reduced access to faster transit options for lower income families and communities of color. At a hearing before the Council’s Committee on Transportation, Chair, Ydanis Rodriguez heard remarks from elected officials, transportation advocates, and New Yorkers tired of “extreme commutes” testified in support of a Int. 211 that will require the NYC Department of Transportation to develop a plan for a citywide network of bus rapid transit (BRT) lines stretching across the boroughs. Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg was among those who testified in support of the bill.

The bill, introduced by Council Member Brad Lander, requires that DOT identify the areas of NYC most in need of BRT, feasible corridors for routes, features of the planned BRT system, strategies for integration with existing transit systems, and anticipated capital and operating costs over the next 10 years. Under Lander’s bill, the final plan must also include input from the MTA and the public, and be shared with NYC officials including community boards, borough presidents, and the general public.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an innovative transit solution that combines the performance, speed, and reliability of rail, with the flexibility and substantially lower cost of buses. The most robust BRT systems are characterized by features including a bus-only lane separated by a center median, elevated boarding stations, pre-payment systems, and specially timed traffic lights. NYC’s existing “Select Bus Service” routes include some – but not all – of the elements of full BRT. BRT constructions costs are a fraction of subway construction, and BRT plans have been called a “game changer” for addressing transportation inequality. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“Expansion of a robust, citywide Bus Rapid Transit network would quickly improve transportation access in the parts of NYC that need it most, at a cost we can easily afford” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Low-income New Yorkers and communities of color have disproportionally long commute times. Meanwhile, jobs are growing in the outer boroughs, in parts of our city least equipped with the transportation infrastructure to sustain that growth. Adding new subway lines would take decades and cost billions of dollars. Fortunately, a citywide BRT network – with more of the features like protected lanes, center medians, and stations that characterize the best BRT – is something we can afford and must implement rapidly.”

“Building on the success of Select Bus Service, the Woodhaven and Cross Bay corridor represents an opportunity to deliver BRT for the more than 30,000 residents relying on bus service along the corridor every day – it is the right thing to do for the many New Yorkers who have a lengthy daily commute” said Co-Chair, Council Member Donovan Richards. “Protected bus lanes and center-median stations will help make one of the most dangerous and extensive transportation corridors in the city more safe, reliable and equitable for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. Bus Rapid Transit also gives us an opportunity to invest in our infrastructure system and our workforce.”

“Our city made incredible progress in 2014 with Vision Zero, reducing pedestrian fatalities to the lowest figures ever recorded. In 2015, we will take that same energy and commitment to increasing the efficiency of our transit network,” said Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez. “Too many New Yorkers have commute times well over 60 minutes. I am committed to working closely with the Administration, the Speaker, Council Member Lander, and advocates to ensure that our city comes closer together through easier access.”

“By prioritizing funding to expand Bus Rapid Transit service our City will provide better public transportation access to thousands of New Yorkers that are disproportionately faced with longer commutes in Queens,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Queens residents rely heavily on efficient public transportation every day to make a living. By bolstering full-featured BRT lines we will provide borough residents with a reliable public transportation alternative that they currently lack by putting in place a cost effective solution they can begin to rely on.”

“Cities around the world have shown us that bus rapid transit can move people as smoothly and effectively as trains, for a fraction of the cost,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “For this reason, I partnered with the NY League of Conservation Voters on a campaign calling on the governor to fund BRT in our city. I also support a comprehensive BRT plan for New York City, because too many of our residents – including many of my constituents on the North Shore of Staten Island – live in areas underserved by rapid transit. Developing and implementing BRT in our city will reduce commute times for many New Yorkers while making our city more resilient for future generations.”

“New York City has the most efficient public transportation system in the world, but commute times are growing longer, particularly for low income communities that are under-served by our transit system,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “By expanding Bus Rapid Transit, we can take great steps towards increasing efficiency and equalizing transit access across all neighborhoods in the City.”

“The initial implementation of Select Bus Service on 125th Street is a huge success, significantly increasing speeds along the portion of the route with a bus only lane and helping my constituents to navigate a bustling and recently revitalized business hub,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “Yet countless other New Yorkers, predominantly in low income communities, are still underserved by limited transit options, plaguing them with long commutes. Bus rapid transit is the fastest and cheapest way to create a more equitable transit system. Taking a comprehensive look at BRT is long overdue and I’m proud to join Council Member Lander in co-sponsoring this legislation.”

“BRT is an important tool for NYC to fill in gaps in our public transportation network and make our systems more equitable,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “I hope that DOT will work with MTA and our communities to make a BRT plan that focuses on our communities most in need.”

“BRT is an affordable and practical solution to help New Yorkers move throughout the City,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I am proud to support this legislation that would create a plan for a citywide network of bus rapid transit lines and thank Council Member Lander for his leadership on this issue.”

“Bus Rapid Transit would make a world of difference to the commute and quality of life of thousands of New Yorkers who live in ‘transit deserts,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “BRT would improve access to job opportunities, education, healthcare, and more — it’s an urgent need we cannot ignore.”

“The unreliability of City buses and transportation ‘dead zones’ within my district are issues that I’ve repeatedly discussed with transportation agencies during my time in office,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “If the current Select Bus Service – or lack thereof – has been problematic within my district in Manhattan, it goes without saying that the current system is in woefully adequate in the outer boroughs. I thank Mayor de Blasio for recognizing this and proposing an expansion of Bus Rapid Transit routes to a total of 20. This is a welcomed step in the right direction, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus until every New Yorker is able to access jobs, education and health care using public transportation.”

IN THE NEWS

Streetsblog NY: Progressive Caucus to de Blasio: Let Us Help Build New York’s BRT Network

Capital NY: Council to demand ‘robust’ citywide bus plan

NY Times: To Save Money on Building Rail, Spend Money on Marketing Buses

Queens Chronicle: BRT bus supporters gain in City Council

Gotham Gazette: Queens Deserves Better Transportation

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About nycprogressives

The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is dedicated to creating a more just and equal New York City, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all New Yorkers, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.
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