Transit advocates with the Campaign for New York’s Future recently took to ten New York City local bus routes to survey riders on their commutes. The results: A majority of surveyed bus riders think traffic congestion delays buses, think that more buses would improve their commute, and support congestion pricing to pay for more buses and better public transit.
Bus riders traveling on some of the city’s most congested and widely used corridors graded their bus routes based on delays, wait times, adequate room, bus speed, and cleanliness. They were also asked whether or not they would support congestion pricing if it raised money for public transportation. 63% said yes, with the highest levels of support coming from Queens commuters; 80% of Q31 riders and 74% of Q60 riders supported congestion pricing. Not surprisingly, when asked if more buses would improve their daily commute, nearly 84% of those surveyed declared they would. Another large majority of respondents — 85% — agreed that traffic congestion caused bus delays.
The survey results make it clear that bus riders, many of whom are from lower-income communities, deserve faster transit. COMMUTE, a coalition of local organizations advocating for bus rapid transit, recently estimated that 750,000 NYC residents travel more than one hour each way to work. Two-thirds of these “extreme commuters” earn less than $35,000 a year.
Relief may be in sight. If congestion pricing is passed by city and state legislators by March 31, NYC will be awarded $354.5 million in federal funding, the majority of which is earmarked for improvements to bus service, facilities, and systems like bus rapid transit. 309 new buses will be added to 48 existing routes and 12 new routes throughout the boroughs prior to the beginning of congestion pricing. If congestion pricing is passed, the MTA will also increase service or capacity on the 1, C, E, and F trains. A system-wide improvement of this magnitude in this time frame would be unprecedented.
Over 2,300 bus riders were surveyed on the B41, B44, Bx19, Bx55, M14, M20, M23, M104, Q31, and Q60 routes during morning and evening peak hours.