MTA buses are grossly ‘neglected’ compared to subways: report

NY Post

And you thought the subway was bad.

The city’s MTA buses are grossly “neglected” compared to the rest of the Big Apple’s massive transit system — and are the slowest coaches in the country, according to a new report Monday.

“Within the sprawling Metropolitan Transportation Authority, [the bus system] is overshadowed by subways, commuter rail, and bridges, which enjoy more attention and resources,” the 62-page report by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office states.

According to the report: “[T]he bus system has been stifled. Its routes are often slow, unreliable, long, meandering, confusing, congested, and poorly connected,” the report says.

The bus issues are “not the result of unavoidable circumstances, but rather a product of age-old institutional failures by the City and MTA to maximize the system’s potential,” it states.

The MTA bus system lost 100 million passenger trips in the last eight years and ridership is down in Manhattan by 16 percent since 2011, according to the report.

With the average MTA bus traveling at a “dismal” 7.4 mph along its local and express routes, city buses are the slowest among the 17 largest bus companies in the nation, the report says.

A typical Big Apple bus spends half its time in motion and in traffic, while 21 percent of the time is spent at red lights and 22 percent of the time is spent at bus stops, according to the report.

Low-income and immigrant New Yorkers, the report says, “are hurt by this lack of service most of all” as the average personal income of bus commuters is $28,455 — $11,545 less than the average income of subway commuters.

The declining bus service is “due, in part, to the MTA’s failure to follow its own standards and schedules,” according to the report.

The city’s flailing bus system is also “hampered by a fractured management structure” between two agencies — the New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company, the report says.

The report charges that the MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation “have struggled to implement new technologies and core amenities that could improve the speed and reliability of bus service.”

Stringer doubled down on the aspect that there’s a disconnect between the city and the state-run MTA when it comes to the bus system, saying: “The city, who controls the [traffic] lights, and the state, who controls the buses, can’t work together effectively.”

“We can no longer kick the can down the road because the can is in little pieces,” Stringer said. “The MTA cannot think they don’t have a role in the bus crisis and keep their head in the sand. They can’t keep playing the blame game.”

He added: “Sixty percent of our buses are over 12 years old. I think we have the means to fix this if the agencies work together.”

The comptroller’s office provided 19 recommendations in the report to make for the “fast frequent, and reliable bus system that New Yorkers deserve.”

Recommendations include: upgrading the fleet with battery-electric buses, more bus terminals and depots, the adoption of a “more rapid, direct and grid-like bus network,” the introduction of “all-door boarding” to reduce time spent at bus stops, and a “comprehensive review of the bus network to better align routes with a changing city.”

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota responded to the report by saying, “The city comptroller should know better than to blame the victim.

“The MTA bus system is a victim of inadequate traffic control and failure to enforce the traffic laws by the city of New York,” Lhota said. “The city comptroller would be well-served to focus on the city’s incompetence than blaming the victim.”

City Department of Transportation spokeswoman Gloria Chin said in a statement that her agency was “surprised that a few recent and quite major bus-related developments — both current achievements and announced plans — went unmentioned in the report.”

Among the examples, Chin said, were how Mayor de Blasio announced last month that the city and MTA will add at least 21 new Select Bus Services routes over the span of a decade.

“So while we are grateful to get the comptroller’s support for all of these efforts, several of the report’s recommendations will require his office’s active assistance,” Chin said.

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