MTA wants you to give your two cents on the Bronx bus network redesign at one last virtual meeting next month.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is moving ahead with its proposal to overhaul the borough’s 46 bus routes next year and the agency’s acting chief hopes Bronxites will give their feedback on the changes one last time during a Zoom webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
“Buses are the engines of equity in our city,” said Janno Lieber at a press conference at Lou Gehrig Plaza on Thursday, Oct. 28. “Make your voices heard about a proposed — and it is a proposal — but it is also something we’ve worked on with Bronx leadership and Bronx advocacy groups.”
The final input session for the so-called Bronx Bus Network Redesign comes after the agency restarted it this fall following an 18-month hiatus of the project along with two other borough-wide network redesigns in Queens and Brooklyn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bronx plan looks to make the borough’s bus routes more efficient for its 635,000 riders who used the people movers pre-pandemic.
“The Bronx Bus Network Redesign aims to simplify the local bus network while enhancing connectivity and building an all-day frequent network of transit for our customers,” said New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano, who oversees the city’s subways and buses.
The redesign is part of MTA’s Fast Forward plan pushed by former NYCT President and “train daddy” Andy Byford.
During the height of the pandemic, ridership on the Bronx’s 46 local, limited, and Select Bus Service routes dropped less than in other boroughs, due to the large number of essential workers commuting from the borough, according to Cipriano.
Bus ridership across the city has rebounded faster than on the subways at 62% of pre-COVID levels on buses over the past week compared to 56% on the trains.
However, bus speeds have slowed down slightly in recent months to 7.9 miles per hour in September 2021 compared to 8.3 mph in September 2020, and to 7.4 mph in the Bronx down from 7.7 mph during that timeframe, according to recent MTA board committee books.
The redesign proposes to change 16 routes and add two new ones, increase service during off-peak periods and work with the city’s Department of Transportation to add red-painted bus lanes and other ways to give buses priority on some high-traffic corridors.
The new M125 route will replace the southern portion of the Bx15 running along 125th Street in Manhattan and to the Hub via Willis Avenue, and the Bx25 roll out to serve Co-op City and the eastern Bronx.
The revamp also includes an 18% reduction of bus stops from lines across the network, or roughly 400 stops, as part of what transit officials call “bus stop balancing,” which includes removals and adjustments of stations to run faster service.
On average buses have to wait between 20 seconds to one minute to re-enter traffic after each stop and the city’s bus stops are closer together than with mass transit systems elsewhere, at an average of 805 feet between them and 882 feet in the Bronx.
For other public transportation around the world, stops are usually 1,000-1,680 feet apart and the redesign would space out Bronx stops at an average distance of 1,092 feet.
The revived plan comes with some changes since it was first unveiled in the fall of 2019.
After pushback from locals and politicians, MTA will not change the Bx28 and Bx34 and proposed cuts to express buses into Manhattan are also on hold for now.
MTA wants to implement the changes by summer of 2022, but other boroughs will have to wait longer for updates to their ancient bus networks.
While Staten Island got a redesign of its express bus network in 2018, the agency revealed last month that the pandemic pushed back the finish date for all borough redesigns by five years until 2026.
Cipriano insisted that work continues on the other boroughs, which were at different stages before the COVID outbreak.
“First implementation post-pandemic is the Bronx because we had the most work there, but we’ve also restarted in Queens, Brooklyn, and then we’ll be moving on to Manhattan and the other boroughs,” the transit leader said.
The Bronx Bus Network Redesign meeting will be held online via Zoom on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. Register to speak by 3 p.m. of that date on the project’s website at new.mta.info/bronxbusredesign.