Op-Ed | Congestion Mitigation is a must for New York City

MTA buses in Manhattan
Buses traveling in Manhattan
File photo/Todd Maisel

Congestion Mitigation is vital for NYC today. The MTA Board at their meeting made next steps in the Central Business District Tolling Program. Recommendations include the recognition of privately owned commuter bus operators. Over the last 120 years, NYC public transport was primarily served by private transportation companies.

Chair Leiber announced at the press conference following that increases in BUSWAY and Bus Lane programs will expand. Great news, as all buses mitigate congestion. 14th Street is a wonderful example for the riding public on all buses. Both private and public-owned buses provide both local and express commuter bus services for the riding public.

Congestion programs in London and other international cities set High Occupancy Vehicle  HOV levels for establishing criteria of moving people in a bus, the vehicle that can transport up to 55 or 80 passengers. Less space than 55 cars, less than 55 bicycles, and less than 55 pedestrians!  Passengers deserve the same level of service and transport efficiency.

Requirements of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (F.A.S.T. Act) detail that parity in tolling for private and public entities is mandated as they serve the same riding public on a bus. 

BUS4NYC Coalition is a group of private bus operators providing daily commuter services with and without government contracts, locally, regionally and inter-city supplemented with charters, tours, shuttles, conventions and necessary transport for groups. Not to mention Broadway.  Additionally, buses are a backup and emergency response for government agencies, Military, Medical, and Special events including weather-related shutdowns at airports and other transportation modes.

Congestion is exacerbated in the CBD by excessive private autos, truck deliveries to workers and residents who order online, rather than shop retail. Daily bus traffic into the CBD is the lowest point in decades, while automobile traffic has increased significantly. The collection of tolls to passengers on private buses will only increase car traffic.

Buses are the solution, not the problem, whether public or privately owned. The number of buses occupying surface space is minimal compared to other passenger vehicles and truly the most efficient and safe passenger vehicle on any roadway, anywhere. Buses are less than 1% of vehicle count in CBD on any given day. All Buses should be exempt from tolling for the benefit of the riding public.

BUS4NYC Coalition supports Congestion Mitigation and the efforts of the MTA to reduce congestion and look forward to an increase in expeditious Bus Lanes.

Patrick W. Condren is the Administrator of the BUS4NYC Coalition Inc.  www.bus4nyc.org