Home Buses Making buses ‘sexier’ to Millennials (or anyone)

Making buses ‘sexier’ to Millennials (or anyone)

by Benjamin Kabak
If buses are our future, improvements in service must be as well.

If buses are our future, improvements in service must be as well.

The MTA has developed something of a Millennial fetish over the past few months. These are the young adults of my generation or even younger, the city’s 20-somethings who don’t own apartments or cars. They rent and rely on the subway to get them anywhere at any time, and the MTA, in its twenty-year needs assessment, recognized this cohort as a key driver of transit needs and demands for the next two decades. This focus on one large and important demographic may be overblown, but here we are.

As much as Millennials embrace the subway system (and CitiBike and, yes, taxis), they do not like buses. Can you blame them? New York City buses are hardly a paragon of reliable transit. They’re slow and off-schedule. They run infrequently along routes that are often incomprehensible, and it can sometimes be quicker to walk. Millennials — and New Yorkers of any age group — are in a hurry, and the bus isn’t the thing to take if you’re in a hurry.

Yet, for some reason, buses have emerged as the center piece of the mayoral campaign and a significant component of the MTA’s attempts to expand the transit system. For those vying for Gracie Mansion, buses are an easy improvement to trump. NYC DOT has control over city streets which gives the mayor an opportunity to implement bus plans, and the MTA is willing to go along with just about anything DOT wants when it comes to reallocating street space to buses. They’re cheap and relatively quick to put in place, and they don’t involve digging up entire streets and disrupting life and commerce for nearly a decade as subway construction along Second Ave. does.

This love of buses isn’t a phenomenon unique to the mayoral campaign. The MTA too is pushing buses, and in a talk at NYU’s Rudin Center yesterday, William Wheeler, the MTA’s Director of Planning, spoke at length about getting more Millennials to ride the bus. On the one hand, I’m concerned that the MTA’s focus on buses isn’t completely genuine. Perhaps because subway construction costs are so high in New York, the MTA has decided to punt. Instead of tackling the root causes of high construction costs — a lengthy review process, the potential for protracted litigation, onerous union work rules — the agency can just turn to buses for a low-cost, but also low-capacity, fix. Put some flashing lights on it; require preboard fare payment; and voila, Select Bus Service.

On the other hand, it’s important to build out a bus network where subways right now cannot or will not go, and there’s nothing underhanded or even partly malicious about it. The city should, in fact, demand a better bus route with ridership climbing instead of declining, especially if public transit has lost much of the stigma it used to have. It’s not just for the lower and middle class workers; it’s safe at night; it’s the way to get around.

During his talk, Wheeler spoke at length about the need for the next mayor to fight for bus lanes. The debacles on 34th St. and 125th St. shouldn’t be allowed to happen, according to the planners. But Wheeler also spoke about making buses more attractive to a younger generation of potential riders. He discussed adding wifi to the city buses as though free Internet would somehow be a carrot for a bunch of young people who already all have smartphones that hook up to the next-gen LTE networks. It’s an unnecessary idea.

I think this is a problem with a rather simple solution: If you’d like to attract riders to buses, make it more convenient and quicker. Buses don’t have to stop every two blocks or be beholden to traffic. Fight for dedicated lands, signal prioritization and pre-board fare payment options. Increase service and let people know where buses are and where they’re going. If buses can be faster and just as reliable as subway service — which, for all of our complaints, is pretty reliable — people will ride them. But if buses show up once an hour, not on schedule, and inch their way down an avenue, people who value their time will not ride. Making buses sexier doesn’t require anything more than that.

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47 comments

Howard September 13, 2013 - 2:43 am

So true. Subways are faster and far superior to buses.

Bus lanes with idling tour buses/trucks? No thanks.

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Alon Levy September 13, 2013 - 2:59 am

It sounds like yet another marketing scheme that 45-year-olds try to foist on 25-year-olds. No thanks. I don’t want sexy transportation, I want reliable transportation.

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Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 10:29 am

It’s definitely haves marketing to have-nots. Almost without exception, people who want to inflict buses on everyone don’t need to ride buses themselves.

Granted, the haves have Escalades or chauffeurs even, so they probably don’t take public transit.

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Roland S September 13, 2013 - 4:10 am

I agree with most of this. A full-fat BRT line is an extremely useful investment, both for corridors with moderate demand and corridors that already have subway service with severe capacity problems (shorter trips shift above ground to open up subway space for longer-distance riders).

As you note, though, BRT is not just about physical improvements (which can be low-cost) but also about operational improvements – fewer stops, more buses, more drivers, changes to street-use policies, more enforcement – that can be costly and controversial. If MTA and city officials are not pursuing full-fat BRT of this kind, though, then they’re not truly proposing an alternative to new subway lines.

Admittedly, I’m not a New Yorker, but I haven’t seen the city or MTA make a strong case to sell BRT improvements to the public. They seem to have been rolled out one project at a time and pitched at the neighborhood level, but there’s never been a citywide messaging campaign, and I can’t blame New Yorkers for not seeing the bigger picture of a reliable BRT network when the only messaging is “we’re taking away your parking spots/lanes/loading zones”. There needs to be vision here, and without it, the MTA is vulnerable to grandstanders like Adam Lanza.

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Simon V September 13, 2013 - 9:42 am

I’m afraid that you are abusing the term BRT. A BRT implies buses on physically separated lanes from the rest of traffic and with priority at stop lights, that stops only at widely spaced stations where customers pay before boarding, to make boarding and alighting as quick as possible.

For example, New York’s Select Bus Service is not BRT though it includes pre-payment before boarding and is on a bus lane. A real BRT isn’t exactly cheap, most cost around 15-25 millions per mile.

Increasing the quality and performance of bus services is a good thing, no doubt about that. However just because you offer a few improvements doesn’t make a line “BRT”. More than that, it’s important to note that these quality bus lines aren’t a replacement for subways. Their capacity is limited to avoid undue effects on the are they serve. For example, LA’s Orange Line is limited in capacity to around 2 000 passengers per hour, running 15 articulated buses an hour, because any more than that would create a barrier to cars crossing the bus lane at intersections.

Buses also remain inherently less desirable than rail transit from the point of view of users, as they are jerky and noisy, less comfortable in every way. Not important for a transit planner who cares only about beancounting, but important for users.

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Larry Littlefield September 13, 2013 - 9:47 am

“LA’s Orange Line is limited in capacity to around 2 000 passengers per hour, running 15 articulated buses an hour, because any more than that would create a barrier to cars crossing the bus lane at intersections.”

Add grade separation at intersections with major streets for the criteria for real BRT. It doesn’t have to be all streets, just the heavily trafficed streets.

We need to skip the all or nothing mentality. That’s now how the NYC transit system came to be. Subways replaced elevated replaced electric streetcars replaced horsecars replaced horse and carriage omnibuses.

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Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 10:24 am

Add grade separation at intersections with major streets for the criteria for real BRT

This is why “real BRT” is kind of obnoxious. You probably get a tiny operational improvement over the SBS we already have from doing this, but you spend enough to build an elevated train line, which would be quieter, faster, cheaper, blah blah. And, as we all know, an elevated viaduct for a bus is probably going to be much more ugly and and destructive to the landscape.

The only places in NYC where you can kind of make a case for “real BRT” are reclaimed elevated highways.

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Jonah September 13, 2013 - 2:59 pm

Given that “real light rail” doesn’t necessarily have grade separation as often as we would all wish, it seems pedantic to say that the Orange Line is not “real BRT.” Yes, in an ideal world no train or bus or transit vehicle would ever be held up by personal vehicles, but that’s just not the world we live in.

Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 5:01 pm

I don’t think grade separation is always a great thing. Being able to step off the curb into a vehicle has its benefits too, and separating everything can make it difficult to navigate on foot.

Larry Littlefield September 13, 2013 - 5:18 pm

I’m not suggesting the transit system not be at grade. I’m suggesting underpasses for the motor vehicles on a crossing arterial.

Alon Levy September 14, 2013 - 8:16 pm

$$$

Mike September 16, 2013 - 10:47 am

The key difference is that rail can make up for frequency limitations of grade crossings with longer trains. Even double articulated buses can’t touch that advantage.

Larry Littlefield September 13, 2013 - 10:41 am

If it were possible to get two bus only lanes down the center of the road with stations, say on a corridor like Union Turnpike in Queens (which has limited access highways for motorists only to the north and south), perhaps the bus would be more desirable.

And then it could eventually be replaced with this.

http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?27371

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Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 11:04 am

We already have the ridership on many surface corridors to start with two of these trained together, coming several times during rush hour. It could be the local to the SAS’s “express.” Low-floor stations could be not much more than a raised sidewalk.

Railstitution is great for the bus network, since old buses can be redirected to experiment with new routes.

Alon Levy September 13, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Add grade separation at intersections with major streets for the criteria for real BRT. It doesn’t have to be all streets, just the heavily trafficed streets.

I don’t think Curitiba has a single BRT grade-separation. That’s how it was so cheap to build – Lerner just took lanes from cars on very wide streets.

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Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 10:19 am

Forgive him his transgressions. Afterall, if you want to be rigid about it, the RT in BRT is an abuse of the term “rapid transit.”

Well, except this transgression: why Adam Lanza?

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Roland S September 13, 2013 - 6:23 pm

Andrew Lanza. Sorry, my bad.

Also: I didn’t abuse the term “BRT” at all. MTA is abusing it – that’s my whole point. So are many other city transit agencies and planners. That’s why I was careful to say “full-fat”.

BRT, as it is installed in various model cities in Latin America, should be the goal for American cities – usually an at-grade busway down the middle of a wide arterial street, with infrequent stops and shelters that act like rail stations.

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Bolwerk September 14, 2013 - 12:58 pm

Why the obsession with imitating Latin America? Not to knock them, but they have less to invest and lower labor costs. BRT makes at least a little more sense there, though it will bite them in the ass when their labor costs approach first world ones.

Alon Levy September 15, 2013 - 7:43 am

Not will, does. Curitiba has so many cars that it’s looking at a subway system now that it’s an upper-middle income city rather than a lower-middle income one.

Henry September 15, 2013 - 11:39 pm

The problem is that a “wide-arterial” street in Latin America is very wide – the Curitiba setup is two lane one-way roads separated from a two-lane bus-only road with two planted medians. In Bogota, it’s two three-lane carriageways with a four-lane bus-only road. There aren’t that many roads in New York City that meet this criteria, and the few that do often have rail either already running under the street (Grand Concourse, Queens Blvd), or have/could have rail running alongside it (Prospect/Ocean Pkwy, Woodhaven/Cross Bay Blvd, Linden/Conduit). The few roads that have this feature that don’t parallel transit lines are not optimal – the segments of Pelham/Fordham/207 west of Crotona/Southern are the narrowest and are heavily congested, yet this is the section that connects to three subway lines. Southern Blvd could potentially host a median BRT segment, but it would destroy some landscaped median and would be very short. There just aren’t many places to put full-fat BRT in New York.

John September 13, 2013 - 5:16 am

“I” am one of said coveted twenty somethings and I flat out love the subway. For me, a bus is more often than not, nothing more than a faster than walking alternative to transfer from one subway line to another, or to get across Manhattan quicker than by foot.

I hate taking buses for any more time than absolutely necessary. All the free wifi, select service, and bus lanes (which annoy me to no end when they increase traffic on major avenues for when I occasionally want/NEED to take my car, or a cab) won’t sway me.

They should be left to the dirty job of filling in for subways in under served areas, and covering for subways as shuttles during service disruptions.

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Douglas John Bowen September 13, 2013 - 8:06 am

Mr. Kabak argues eloquently, and quite well, for a massive investment in the default U.S. public transport mode employed for the last 60 years — and found wanting even during that period.

One need not look further than the Lincoln Tunnel XBL, or the Pittsburgh or Ottawa Bus Rapid Transit, to see the lack of panacea.

And please, please, make it clear that buses are “cheaper” as an initial investment, but not cheaper to operate, or maintain, than other options. Granted, the anti-streetcar MTA is more enamored with buses as the quick fix (and Mr. Kabak firmly deals with reality on this point), but are they “cheaper” in the grand scheme? Hardly.

This, I submit, from someone who does ride buses, and not just on one route.

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Boris September 13, 2013 - 8:09 am

The MTA Director of Planning should be a visionary, and Wheeler is most surely not. For several years now, he has been giving these talks about the Millenials, about the growth of jobs in the outer boroughs, about people commuting more outside of regular rush hours, etc. The stats are accurate, but he has no big ideas. Like so many people at the MTA, he just wants to protect the status quo while talking about miniscule changes that take generations to implement.

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Michael_G September 13, 2013 - 8:26 am

Faster and reliable service with more dedicated lanes, yes, yes and yes. Free WiFi is probably a distraction. But one thing not mentioned here: Wait until Bus Time usage expands, is available citywide and more people begin to rely on it for their daily commute and goings about town. Some attitudes might change about riding the bus.

Having bus-arrival times available via smartphone has made riding Metrobus in D.C. very useful and more convenient compared to taking Metrorail (especially when rail service is so infrequent or disrupted on the weekends because of maintenance). Relaying bus arrival times to display screens at bus stops is also nice, but are not an insignificant investment to do it on a mass scale.

Taking some guesswork out of waiting for the bus is a good first step to getting millennials (or anyone) on the bus.

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Tommy P September 13, 2013 - 1:13 pm

Yes, this. I was waiting for a bus to Atlantic Terminal from Court and Atlantic (just close enough to walk, just far enough to take a bus) when I noticed a QR code on the timetable. I scanned it with my phone and was shown a map that, despite its crude design, told me the next bus was only 2 stops away.

HUGE help, and I really wish that this was (1) advertised better, and (2) available on all bus routes. The day Bus Time is available to the M14D will be the day I’m no longer late for work.

Not to mention this is the only time in history that QR codes have been useful.

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Boris September 13, 2013 - 11:31 pm

BusTime has not been advertised in Brooklyn or Manhattan because that part of the system is still being worked on. Manhattan will go “live” in a couple of months and Brooklyn early next year.

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Duke September 13, 2013 - 8:34 am

Pre-boarding fare payment is such a no-brainer that it should be implemented everywhere. But not using paper receipts. Once we have a tapcard technology, just store the validation on the card like other cities do.

Frequency is another common problem. I live in Astoria and the Q104 would be very convenient sometimes… if it came more often than once an hour. You can walk the entire length of the route in less time. It’s pathetic.

As for bus lanes, it’s interesting how traffic on Webster Avenue has actually improved since they were put in. Despite the fact that a lane has been taken away, buses are no longer mingling with other traffic and slowing it down, and people can’t double park and force sudden lane changes anymore.

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Alon Levy September 13, 2013 - 9:27 pm

Actually, the cities that have pioneered systemwide prepayment use paper tickets. Most of the prepayment in question is not at bus stops as on New York SBS (or in Singapore, which has systemwide prepayment with a smartcard), but using monthly unlimited tickets. The ratio of the unlimited monthly fare to the best fare one can get with buying in bulk is much lower than in New York: 35 in Berlin (link) versus 47 in New York. As a result, a much larger fraction of travelers use it, and don’t need to pay the driver.

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Erik September 13, 2013 - 8:47 am

Making buses “more attractive to younger people” is as insulting a concept (to people of any age) as it is a ludicrous one.

It’s not some strange psychographic/demographic grudge against buses that puts young people off. It’s the intolerable service, particularly in Manhattan and the parts of Queens and Brooklyn where 20-somethings tend to concentrate.

It’s not like other cities where riding the bus is looked down upon as something only poor people do. It’s the intolerable service.

The only demographic issue is that people with limited mobility have no choice but to take the bus because they can’t walk and can’t manage the station depth of many subway stops. They have no choice but to put up with the intolerable service. Which, by the way, only makes things worse because a kneeling bus that has to kneel at every stop, every three blocks, provides even more intolerable service.

I lived in NYC for 13 years before moving to Boston. Boston’s subway/trolley map is not nearly as comprehensive as NYC’s. All services run through downtown… it can be maddening. However I learned to love the bus system. There is an open data app that tells me exactly when I need to be at the stop. The street traffic is not so bad that buses can’t manage through at a decent speed. There are few enough stops en route that you actually feel like you’re making progress. There is a touch-free card reader on every bus that makes loading extremely fast even without pre-pay fare booths. There are a handful of express lines that fill in the gaps on the subway/trolley map. All in all the buses are very useful and laid out to be highly complimentary to the trains.

However none of this will work in NYC. NYC is stuck with the metro card because outfitting 468 stations with new readers is too big a lift (plus the entire bus fleet).

Until true congestion pricing or real support for dedicated bus lanes and signaling happen, traffic will always kill efficiency and scheduling. Without reliable scheduling an app/google maps can only take you so far.

Having and app that tells you where the bus IS will only lead to more people walking more of the time instead of playing the old game of waiting for 5 minutes, then another 5, then realizing that you no longer have time to walk, then hoping that the bus will be faster, and then being late anyway.

If any mayoral candidate had the guts to talk about a fundamental redesign of New York City and Manhattan’s transit and traffic design, I’d be willing to hear what they have to say about how buses fit in (or, for cross-town, dedicated light rail – tracks scare drivers from double parking!). Until that day, it’s just a convenient talking point.

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Alon Levy September 13, 2013 - 9:31 pm

However none of this will work in NYC. NYC is stuck with the metro card because outfitting 468 stations with new readers is too big a lift (plus the entire bus fleet).

The card readers are very cheap. In Singapore, they cost S$960 (~US$700) a few years ago and trending down. New York has 15,000 bus stops and 5,700 buses: 2 readers per bus and 1 per stop would cost less than $20 million, or three orders of magnitude less than the capital plan’s overall cost.

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Alan September 13, 2013 - 10:02 am

In my experience, mixed-traffic buses are slower than bicycling at any distance, up to 20+ miles. So, as a young person, when I have a choice between biking and taking a bus, I bike unless there are overriding factors like awful roadway conditions, terrible weather, or I’m going to have a few drinks. When I lived in Pittsburgh and San Diego, I used the bus-based mass transit very rarely, as biking was pretty much always better. As better bike infrastructure spreads and makes utility bike more accessible, I’m willing to bet more and more folks will make the same choice, unless bus-based systems step up their game.

Chicago and San Francisco seem like they are finally implementing legitimate BRT on busy city streets, and hopefully that will serve as a model for other American cities. But it’ll never replace subways– I visited Bogota, and though their system is impressive, even frequent tri-articulated busses were packed to the gills, and the concrete busways were already worn enough that there were a lot of unpleasant jolts.

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John-2 September 13, 2013 - 10:09 am

The geography of New York serves to restrict the ability of buses to provide the types of connections and travel times that would appeal to millennial (or other age demographics).

Most major cities have at least one river that in some way restricts motion between areas. If you throw in the buses commuting to and from New Jesery, New York has a river. And two tidal channels masquerading as rivers. And a bay. And a sound. And two kills. All of which serves to divide the city into four distinct zones — Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn/Queens and Staten Island — that (along with New Jsersey) can’t intermix their bus routes without going through bridge and tunnel choke points. Only San Francisco of the major cities in the U.S. has anything close to the same water-created bottlenecks.

The MTA might be able to make north-south bus travel on selected Manhattan streets faster and more attractive to younger riders already in Manhattan. They’re not going to do it for those in Williamsburg or Long Island City (and they’re never going to do it for crosstown service in Manhattan, even if they put SBS on every major route).

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paulb September 13, 2013 - 10:12 am

There’s 20 busy intersections every mile in Manhattan. Even if you could control the signals to stop the other traffic, how do you stop pedestrians crossing the street? No alleys for business deliveries or trash pickup. 15,000 medallion cabs picking up and dropping off… There’s a good reason the city built first the elevateds, then the subways. Where I live, we have BRT: it’s called the Flatbush avenue dollar vans. Apologies for all these nonsequiturs, but I think BRT is BS. One thing that might improve bus service: make the buses free, put at least three doors on every new bus. No need for fare control or onboard payment, board/exit at all doors.

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Tower18 September 13, 2013 - 11:10 am

Young people will ride buses if they’re decent alternatives. Chicago has decent (not impressive by any stretch) “choice ridership” along their lakefront express lines, as well as the 151 local that parallels them. These riders are by and large young, “hip”, wealthier than average, and are riding because they choose transit over driving. But these lines typically make local stops for 1-2 miles and then run express the rest of the way downtown. They overlap each other, so that each of the buses serves a specific part of the city, and run express until that point. These routes are busier than any Brooklyn, Queens, or Bronx express route, and busier than all but 2 Staten Island express routes.

Now, further proving the larger point, this ridership would skyrocket if they were somehow able to build a subway along the inner lakefront neighborhoods on the North side, as they are one of the densest parts of Chicago, and are not served by rail transit.

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Serge September 13, 2013 - 1:02 pm

Let’s keep expanding the Bus Rapid Transit. Then, the next phase should be to convert the most important BRT lanes into light rail.

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David Brown September 13, 2013 - 1:19 pm

Good luck trying again with busses, starting with the M-60 SBS, if Inez Dickens becomes Speaker of the City Council. Not only does she oppose projects like this, but she is the wife of Charles Barron, and we know what he thinks of anything that can be considered Redevelopment, and that includes opening up areas for that via improved transportation (busses included).

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Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 1:32 pm

Uh, no. This is Inez Barron. This is Inez Dickens.

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David Brown September 13, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Bolwerk: I looked it up, and you are correct. Dickens however, will be like a DIFFERENT Dickens (Charles) character: “The Ghost of New York (oops Christmas) Past” (that past being 1977 instead of England of 1843). People like her think anyone (except her clique) are basically “Scrooge” and, and must be stopped (I shudder to think what she and fellow Luddite, New Manhattan BP Gail Brewer will do with Eastside Midtown Development (Transportation included)). I could also easily see them coming out against SAS Phase II, and even Metro_North Expansion to Columbia University. Assuming di Blasio wins, he is going to have to be tough and not get rolled by those two (that is exactly why I supported him, particularly against a weakling like Quinn

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Rob September 13, 2013 - 2:13 pm

Gee, with the BRT line to the rockaways, we could have just saved half a bil $ or so rebuilding the parallel rail line.

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Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 2:54 pm

How?

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Tsuyoshi September 13, 2013 - 4:58 pm

I think part of the problem is, few people in New York are aware of how much better the bus service could be. Buses are inherently inferior to trains, of course, since they are less comfortable and they carry fewer people. But they absolutely do not have to be a slower way of getting around than riding a train or driving a car. If you’re not ready to dig a tunnel, signal priority and stop consolidation can do wonders, if you’re willing to screw over drivers (and you should be!).

If younger people are avoiding the bus, it’s probably because they haven’t yet become so fat and lazy that they can’t walk or bike a few miles. And walking or biking is rarely any slower than using the bus service we have now.

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Woody September 14, 2013 - 12:40 pm

Technology is moving fast, and in favor of rails in cities instead of buses. Low-floor buses are better than the old high-floor buses, but in Europe the low-floor trams are even lower and better.

Now we’re seeing great moves in streetcar and light rail running without needing overhead wires. A few years ago, the newest trams from European equipment makers could wirelessly scoot across your historic city square in front of the cathedral, say, for 2 or 3 NYC blocks. Soon they’ll be selling trams to run a mile or so without wires, getting their power from charging stations embedded in the pavement.

Thinking of running a streetcar down Fifth Avenue, with overhead wires? Nobody ever thought such a thing. Run a low-floor streetcar across 42nd Street, with no wires? Why not?

If Monday morning de Blasio asked for planning to start on a wireless streetcar project, by the time that’s done, environmental issues resolved, paperwork cleared, and funding arranged, he might possibly get a new wireless tram on the streets of NYC before his second term ended. Might. But there’s no time to waste.

Meantime, what we got for him? Perhaps starting Phase 2 of the SAS, or extending the R train on the abandoned Rockaways line, neither doable in two terms. Or lots and lots more buses. Lots of buses.

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Mark Lacari September 14, 2013 - 1:17 pm

I am literally laughing hysterical at how the MTA thinks making buses “Sexier” will help benefit them. YEAH RIGHT, like that’s ever worked for buses in the past 50-60 years they’ve been in operation. They are a joke of an operation, and many citizens on Staten Island say they’re “Ugly” instead of “Sexy.” Heck, even on my way to College while riding the S62, some of the students I overheard were discussing how they hated the bus rides and wanted a change from the Bus Culture. I 100 percent agree with Bolwerk’s comment on BRT’s and how he states “This is why “real BRT” is kind of obnoxious. You probably get a tiny operational improvement over the SBS we already have from doing this, but you spend enough to build an elevated train line, which would be quieter, faster, cheaper, blah blah.” That comment is true, the S79 surely rings an alarm bell. That SBS has been causing a political and social outrage, most have even said it helps “Brooklyn Citizens” more than Staten Islanders. I think most people, especially the MTA have not looked at the consequences of when a BRT fails, that has happened in several cities. Most recently last year in Ottawa, Canada, they decided to get rid of their BRT because the system became over congested, was causing street traffic problems (sounds like what’s happening in NYC), and was also having all sorts of operational costs. Ottawa has already begun to get rid of their BRT with a Light Rail System.

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Alon Levy September 15, 2013 - 6:53 pm

Let me just note how, at the same time the MTA is thinking of how to market slow buses to people my age, politicians are proposing to spend billions on low-performing subway extensions to woo the business class. You know what would be really nice for Millennials (and Gen Xers, and Boomers, and Silents)? If the $2 billion spent on the 7 extension, the $2 billion spent on the AirTrain JFK, the $1 billion Christie wants to spend on PATH to EWR, and the $3.5 billion PATH WTC station had instead gone toward another 2 phases of Second Avenue Subway.

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Bolwerk September 16, 2013 - 11:56 am

Great point, but if you want to invest in the young, I think it should go toward [rail] transit between the outer boroughs and Manhattan. SAS is a good project, but it’s for the business/residential upper middle class too.

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