The MTA is demanding the de Blasio administration almost double the length of the city’s bus lanes by adding another 60 miles as part of its coronavirus reopening strategy.
“A robust bus system will be crucial as workers look to return to their offices. It will also help alleviate crowding on the streets and underground,” Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg wrote in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday.
“But to make buses a more attractive option for commuters, they must be able to move freely around the city.”
City bus ridership has rebounded faster that subway ridership since both bottomed out at around 400,000 a day during the pandemic. New Yorkers took 715,000 bus trips on Tuesday, MTA officials said.
Officials suspect riders may be more comfortable traveling above-ground than in the more confined space of the subway, and are benefiting from reduced traffic during the virus crisis.
But with the city reopening, experts and advocates worry bus riders could get trapped in a mess of gridlock.
“With traffic resuming and more traffic on the road – including a large number of home deliveries continuing due to the pandemic – it’s more important than ever that buses get riders to their destinations more quickly and efficiently,” said Lisa Daglian of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, the MTA’s in-house advocacy group.
Feinberg’s letter identified priority corridors for bus lanes and busways — streets dedicated to buses — in all five boroughs.
The sixty new miles would mark a 43 percent increase compared to the 144 miles of bus lanes on city streets today.
De Blasio’s proposed budget slashes $7.9 million from his 2019 plan to increase bus speeds.
City Hall did not immediately return a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks
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