Transportation advocates are again asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to create 30 more miles of bus lanes before his tenure in City Hall ends in the coming months, this time sending their message with the backing of local politicians.
On Wednesday, in front of City Hall, the Riders Alliance told the de Blasio administration that it must work between now and the end of its run this December to break their own record set in 2020 with a total of 16.3 miles of bus lane during the height of the pandemic.
“Bus riders need our mayor to deliver on his promise to end the tale of two cities and make New York the fairest big city in America,” said Riders Alliance Senior Organizer Jolyse Race. “With 30 new miles of bus lanes this year, the mayor can leave City Hall with a progressive legacy of putting riders first on busy New York streets. After several decades of transit inequity, the mayor can finally enact a remedy that recognizes the role of working-class bus riders in New York’s COVID response, economic recovery, and civic life.”
After committing to improving citywide bus speeds by 25% in January 2019, advocates highlighted Metropolitan Transportation Authority data that showed how bus speeds in December 2020 averaged about 8 miles per hour, or 5% faster than the 7.6 miles per hour seen in December 2018.
While the administration did not commit to adopting the 30-mile goal, a statement from the mayor’s office left their intentions open-ended.
“We love advocacy for faster and more reliable transit, and we love busways even more,” Mayoral spokesman Mitch Schwartz said. “Our partners in government are right: busways work, and we look forward to building on the record-setting Better Buses initiative to improve service for even more New Yorkers this year.”
Manhattan City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee, was among a cast of elected officials calling for 30 miles of busway that included Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who are running for mayor and city comptroller, respectively.
“Bus riders come from predominantly Black, Latino, and underserved communities who have been living in transit deserts for years,” Rodriguez said. “By improving our bus service we will help connect these New Yorkers to our mass transit networks. We need to leave a legacy behind and ensure we’re leaving the next administration with a blueprint so that the City can continue expanding and improving our bus services across the 5 boroughs for all communities.”
Riders Alliance held a similar demonstration in front of Gracie Mansion two weeks ago, painting a large strip paper red – the color of bus lanes.