Transit experts search for solutions to a subway, bus system in a ‘state of crisis’

Transit advocates will attempt to find solutions to the city’s transportation challenges in a panel discussion slated for Thursday, March 1.

“Finding Solutions to our Transportation Crisis,” hosted by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-27) and Sen. Liz Krueger (D-28), will focus on addressing poor subway and bus service, increased congestion in the city and the MTA’s budget problems.

“Our subways and buses are the lifeblood of our city,” Krueger said in an emailed statement. “Millions of New Yorkers rely on them every day, and they are falling apart before our eyes while our streets are more crowded and chaotic than ever.”

Speakers for the panel discussion include Alex Matthiessen, executive director of Move NY, Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, and Nick Sifuentes, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Several sponsors for the event, including the nonprofit TransitCenter, recently released a report card in which they gave nearly 75 percent of the city’s buses a D or an F letter grade, based on average speed and reliability.

For the first time in 15 years, bus ridership decreased by six percent last year, Hayley Richardson, a spokeswoman for TransitCenter, said in an emailed statement.

“This has tremendous consequences — some riders are switching to Uber and Lyft or driving themselves, adding to worsening traffic conditions,” she said. “People who can’t afford alternatives are stuck with deteriorating service.”

In order to tackle the increasing congestion in the busiest parts of Manhattan, a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a congestion pricing proposal on Jan. 19 called Fix NYC.

The plan, which could charge private drivers who come into “congestion zones” below 60th Street more than $11, is designed to raise up to $1 billion per year for the city’s transit system.

“If we are going to do congestion pricing, we have to make buses better,” Sifuentes, who will speak about the subject at the event, said. “The people who usually drive down will be looking for alternatives, and buses are the option.”

Taking Krueger’s district, which includes the Upper East Side, as an example, Sifuentes said that the subway is in a state of a slow meltdown.

“Do we want to see trains come every 90 seconds on the 2nd Avenue subway? Or on the 4,5,6? Absolutely we do,” Sifuentes said. “The only way we can get to that density of transit is we raise congestion pricing and use that money to support development of the subway.”

Other issues that will be targeted at the forum include curb management, freight traffic, cost control measures for the MTA and bus route adjustments, according to a spokesman from Krueger’s office.

“We are in a state of crisis, and we have got to fix it,” Sifuentes said. “The solution is on the table. People need to know that this is the time to either fix transit, or let transit collapse.”

The forum will be held at 6 p.m. March 1 at the CUNY Graduate Center.