NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA and New York City Department Transportation unveiled plans Monday to upgrade MTA bus service.
The initiatives include more bus lanes, hundreds more on-board cameras and a network redesign that lines up with ridership numbers.
The ambitious expansion plan is set to make the commute faster and more reliable.
"We carry more people on our buses than the next four largest systems in America combined, and for entire neighborhoods across the city - including many disadvantaged communities and communities of color - our buses are the only mass transit option to get to work, to get to school and to access all the opportunities New York has to offer," said Acting MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. "Our goal today and every day is to provide bus service for our customers that is faster, more reliable and more accessible. This package of initiatives, including more bus lanes, more busways, better bus lane enforcement, and better accessibility at bus stops, delivers on that promise."
New and Improved Bus Lanes and Busways
Starting in 2022, NYCDOT will embark on major projects to add or improve 20 miles of bus lanes, including up to five new busway pilots.
These projects, developed over the next several months in coordination with the MTA, will be designed to serve bus riders in critical areas of the city.
Expanded Bus Lane Camera Enforcement
Bus lane camera enforcement technology currently exists in all five boroughs, and MTA and NYCDOT have agreed to expand camera enforcement to cover up to 85% of existing bus lanes by the end of 2023.
To reach that goal, the MTA has committed to more than tripling the number of cameras onboard buses in 2022, adding 300 cameras, with the plan to add at least 600 more in 2023. Approximately 30% of bus lane miles are covered with onboard bus cameras. NYCDOT will complement this effort by adding fixed cameras on up to 15 new corridors in 2022. The fixed cameras will work in concert with the bus cameras to reduce the number of illegal cars and other vehicles in bus lanes.
Transit Signal Priority Expansion
The MTA and NYCDOT will expand Transit Signal Priority (TSP) to up to 750 additional intersections throughout the city in 2022.
TSP helps buses spend less time at red lights by allowing buses approaching an intersection to get a shortened red light or an extended green light in real-time.
Bus Network Redesign
The MTA will restart its Bus Network Redesign program this fall, beginning with the resumption of the Bronx local bus redesign that will be implemented next summer.
The MTA will monitor emerging ridership patterns and incorporate these patterns in its upcoming redesign to better match bus service with current and future travel demands. Public outreach is expected to begin as early this fall. The MTA will coordinate redesign plans with NYCDOT to ensure that the redesigned networks have the needed bus priority.
OMNY All-Door Boarding Pilot Coming to 10 Local Bus Routes
In December 2020 the MTA announced that approximately 15,000 OMNY readers have been installed on the MTA's 5,800 bus fleet. On pilot routes, customers using OMNY will be able to enter through any door in an effort to speed up boarding times. Exact routes are still in the process of being selected. The pilot will help give the Authority a better understanding of the impact all-door boarding can have on travel time, boarding times and OMNY usage. The expectation is to implement all-door boarding on all buses by the time the MetroCard is retired by the end of 2023.
Commitment to Accessibility
The entire MTA bus fleet has been made ADA accessible, but other barriers remain. NYCDOT will pursue new projects focused on improving the physical accessibility of bus stops across the city, and has targeted accessibility improvements for 25 bus stops in 2022.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, the MTA expects to put more than 800 new buses, approximately 17% of its local fleet, into service with more flexible seating options in the priority and courtesy seating area designed to accommodate diverse customer needs. The buses will feature three new, single seats indicated by decals that will be able to flip up to accommodate customers with walkers, folded strollers, and other belongings. Two are single aisle-facing seats on the bus operator's side and one is a forward-facing seat on the curb side. The new buses will also feature wider doors and ramps designed to make it easier to enter and exit the bus.
Improved Bus Schedules and Real-Time Information
To take advantage of all the existing and upcoming improvements, the MTA will improve bus schedules on at least 15 routes in an effort to reduce travel times.
In addition to improving schedules, the MTA and NYCDOT will upgrade real-time information for bus riders. The MTA is adding over 1,000 onboard digital information screens by the end of 2022, bringing the total number of buses equipped with these screens to approximately 64% of the fleet. NYCDOT are in the process of developing a new prototype bus time pole that will provide bus riders with real-time information signs at bus stops.
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