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Opinion

All aboard for improved NYC bus service

Advocates and riders have won commitments from city leaders. Now comes the hard part: implementation.

People board an MTA city bus in Manhattan

People board an MTA city bus in Manhattan on March 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Roman Tiraspolsky

NYC buses provide more than 2 million rides per day. Riders have won many commitments for better service. Now our leaders must deliver on their promises.

Faster buses make a fairer city. Standing up for riders means supporting immigrants, seniors and working people — those most directly impacted by bad service.

For three years, the advocacy group Bus Turnaround Coalition pushed for a streamlined bus network, dedicated lanes, priority at intersections, all-door boarding, and no more bus bunching.

Last spring, NYC Transit’s Andy Byford promised a redesign of each borough’s bus network, better dispatching to stop buses from bunching and all-door boarding. This winter, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to double the pace of new bus lanes, better enforcement and bus priority at traffic lights. And last week, Council Speaker Corey Johnson devoted his State of the City address to transit and proposed more improvements.

Advocates and riders have won commitments. Now comes the hard part: implementation.

Byford is a proven transit leader, and riders need to help him prioritize his promises to improve buses by rallying support for his agency. The MTA must act with urgency because riders shouldn’t have to wait.

De Blasio’s other initiatives won’t succeed without a robust transit system to get people around. Riders’ problems are obstacles to making NYC the fairest big city in America, as he promised. We need our mayor and his Department of Transportation to deliver on his promises.

Johnson can help determine how easily the MTA and the mayor can keep their promises. They’ll need the support of other officials throughout the city. The speaker should build momentum for bus service improvements.

State leaders have a big role, too. Automated enforcement is the best way to keep bus lanes clear. Legislators should let the MTA and DOT to use cameras throughout the city to ensure bus lanes are respected.

It is rare that elected officials in city and state government have such clear agreement about anything. Let’s seize this time and take advantage of it.

Darlene Jackson lives in the Bronx and is a member of the Riders Alliance, which along with NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign is part of the Bus Turnaround Coalition.

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