The New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force (of which Tri-State is a member) issued its Final Transit Recommendations today. The 119-page report details transit improvements along the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 corridor in Rockland and Westchester Counties. The recommendations propose sleeker, new buses with WiFi technology; bus stops transformed from a patch of grass or pavement to a station with pre-board fare collection, seating, shelter, and real-time bus information; and new technology improvements that will give buses lead time at intersections and improve travel flow on I-287. With the implementation of these recommendations by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Thruway Authority, transit between these two counties can be transformed from an experience that is tolerated, to an experience that is preferred. And, the Hudson Valley will have secured a big win.
This is great progress from a task force of 31 members who came to the table with varying knowledge about transit options and the new bridge project. Over the year, task force members were supported by a stellar team of staff members who shared technical and data analysis and expertise to guide discussions.
The recommendations include several features of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems like modern, branded buses, new bus stations and traffic signal priority technology. But one key amenity is missing: dedicated bus lanes that run the lengths of the proposed routes. While buses will travel in dedicated lanes on the 3.1-mile bridge span, they will then merge into unpredictable travel patterns beyond the bridge. For every case that can be made that dedicated bus lanes are not a defining characteristic of BRT, there is a case to be made that they are indeed essential to BRT — and Tri-State sides with the latter. We do not believe this proposal constitutes full BRT. Yet, we fully support the recommendations because they propose expanded and improved transit in the corridor, which we have consistently called for in the new bridge project.
A dedicated bus lane could be explored as part of the Corridor Preservation Study in the short term and be an added amenity to this new system, in the medium term, within the next 15 years.
Although the MTTF has convened for the last time, there remains work to be done. In order to advance the MTTF recommendations, the following steps must be taken:
- The identification of responsible parties and funding sources to implement the recommendations
- The creation of a toll/finance task force that addresses this transit proposal in tandem with proposed bridge tolls
- The creation of an oversight committee to convene quarterly to monitor implementation
- Implementation timeline for short-term transit proposal
Tri-State thanks Governor Cuomo, MTTF co-chairs NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison, the New NY Bridge project team, ARUP, and members of the MTTF for their efforts to improve transit in the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 corridor.