Here's How Bill De Blasio Can Make Public Transit Work For A Lot More New Yorkers

Business Insider

View gallery

bill de blasio italian flag

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Even without direct control of mass transit, there are ways for Bill de Blasio to improve bus service for New Yorkers.

In many areas, New York City's bus system is slow, unreliable, and the only way for residents to get to work and school.

But incoming mayor Bill de Blasio could make things a lot better — even with no direct control of the city's public transit system.

The Problem With The Buses

In a recent report funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Pratt Center for Community Development noted that rising housing costs have pushed many New Yorkers from well-served areas, putting "a long, slow bus ride" between them and the nearest subway station.

More than 758,000 New Yorkers commute over an hour each way.

"There is no imaginable scenario in which the subway system could be expanded to meet the needs of fast-growing outer borough neighborhoods," the report says. Residents of "transit-starved neighborhoods need higher performance than SBS [Select Bus Service] can achieve — they need Bus Rapid Transit."

The Solution

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) offers some advantages of a subway, without the enormous cost and hassle of building underground. The buses have their own lanes and get traffic signal priority at intersections. Riders pay their fares at the station, so the boarding process is faster.

In the past few years, a few BRT-like routes have been created, dubbed Select Bus Service. (The Pratt report argues that full-blown BRT routes would do more good.) De Blasio has promised more. According to his website:

View gallery

new york city nyc select bus service b44 brooklyn

Flickr / MTAPhotos

Select Bus Service debuted on the B44 route in Brooklyn in November 2013.

"It's time to take the next step. Bill de Blasio will work to phase in the creation of a citywide Bus Rapid Transit network with more than 20 lines, linking communities underserved by transit to the city's primary transportation and employment hubs.

"These routes will offer one-seat commutes from Co-op City to the West Side, from Long Island City to LaGuardia Airport, and from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights."

Making It Happen

That sounds good, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs public transit in the region, is a state agency, so de Blasio has no direct control over how it operates.

Yet there are two key ways he can have an impact anyway, Gene Russianoff, chief spokesperson of the advocacy group Straphangers Campaign, told Business Insider.

First of all, de Blasio can choose a commissioner for the Department of Transportation who will work well with the MTA. The "long checkered history" of strained relations between the organizations improved during the tenure of Janette Sadik-Khan, the outgoing commissioner, Russianoff said. Transit groups are advocating for a nominee who will continue that good relationship.

De Blasio will take office on January 1, but has not yet publicly announced a choice for DOT commissioner.

Secondly, de Blasio can make good on his campaign promise to "allocate funding from the city's capital budget to accelerate implementation" of bus rapid transit, "at a fraction of the cost of major subway projects."

That's been done before. Under outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City funded the $2 billion extension of the 7 subway line to the West Side, a five-year project that should be complete this summer.

The MTA is eternally strapped for cash, so extra funding would be a huge help. If de Blasio "wants this to move ahead," Russianoff said, "having a financial contribution from the City would make a big difference.

More From Business Insider


View Comments (1)

Recommended for You

  • Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the time'

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pointing the finger at Republicans for congressional inaction, President Barack Obama chided lawmakers Wednesday for spending the waning days before their month-long summer break trying to sue him rather than addressing economic issues that could boost the middle class.

    Associated Press

    Argentina's stock market is tanking after the...

    Business Insider
  • Start a Family Tradition of Savings with USAA

    USAA auto insurance rates beat the competition 4 out of 5 times. When you switch to USAA you can save an average of $426 a year. Get a quote today.

  • Airbus adamant no room for more talks in cancelled Japan jet deal

    Airbus on Thursday said its decision to cancel a $2.2 billion jet order from Skymark Airlines was final, rejecting the Japanese carrier's suggestion that talks were still ongoing. The European aircraft maker said this week it had informed Skymark that its purchase of six A380 superjumbos "has been…

  • In San Francisco real estate, $1M won't buy much

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Association of Realtors President Betty Taisch has two words of advice for those who want to live here and think $1 million will buy them their dream house: Think again.

    Associated Press
  • Tesla posts 2Q loss, prepares Nevada factory site

    PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Electric car maker Tesla Motors widened its loss in the second quarter as it prepared for the launch of a new SUV and started work on a massive new battery plant.

    Associated Press
  • US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to the three West African countries hit by an outbreak of Ebola.

    Associated Press
  • Play

    Why Do Millennials Prefer Cash to Investing Money?

    In the last year, the S&P 500 delivered 17% and cash investments delivered 1%. Which would you rather have? In a Bankrate study, millennials said they'd rather have the cash. The Mutual Fund Store's Senior Vice President of Investments Andy Smith joins Simon Constable on the News Hub to discuss.…

    WSJ Live
  • Asia stocks dip on Dow drop, China data cuts loss

    HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets dipped on Friday following a big sell-off on Wall Street but losses were limited by optimistic reports on China's economy.

    Associated Press37 mins ago
  • Record up to 6 shows at once with FiOS Quantum TV

    Get superior entertainment with FiOS TV, Internet & Phone at a great price & a Free Upgrade to FiOS Quantum TV-Enhanced Service with 2/yr. agreement.

    AdChoicesVerizon FiOSSponsored
  • 4 Unusual Savings Strategies That Really Work

    It's just one of those facts of life: Saving money can be really hard. If you're trying to save and not getting ahead, it might be time to try one of these easy, everyday savings habits that will help you tighten your finances.

    U.S.News & World Report LP
  • What SunPower Earnings Mean for First Solar and SolarCity

    After markets close Thursday, solar panel maker SunPower will report second-quarter results. Competitors First Solar and SolarCity are scheduled to report results next week.

    24/7 Wall St.
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

    MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The fight over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's signature policy achievement, a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public employees, ended Thursday with the state Supreme Court declaring it to be constitutional.

    Associated Press
  • Sanctions will damage Russia if not lifted quickly

    MOSCOW (AP) — U.S. and European sanctions against Russia's energy and finance sectors are strong enough to cause deep, long-lasting damage within months unless Moscow persuades the West to repeal them by withdrawing support for Ukrainian insurgents.

    Associated Press
  • Adidas shares plunge 13% after Russia warning

    Adidas shares tanked more than 13 percent after it cut its profit targets for 2014, warning "tensions" in Russia would hit its bottom line.

  • Why You Should Prepare for the Next Bear Market Now

    The stock market is going gangbusters these days, with the S&P 500 close to surpassing 2,000 points. While the index may never fall back to that level, bear markets will one day hit us hard again. It's a good idea to develop a plan for the next bear market now, while your asset values aren't free…

    U.S.News & World Report LP
  • Life Insurance Doesn't Have To Be Complicated

    We'll help you understand the basics. Create your personalized estimate with USAA Life Insurance Company. Life brings obstacles, We bring advice.

  • Bank of America ordered to pay $1.27 billion for 'Hustle' fraud

    By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Bank of America Corp to pay a $1.27 billion penalty for fraud over shoddy mortgages sold by the former Countrywide Financial Corp. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ruled after a jury last October found the…

  • 5 Little-Known Ways to Boost Your Retirement Savings

    Saving for retirement is no easy task. Fortunately, we have several tools and strategies that can help us reach our retirement goals. Maintain your asset allocation. When you begin investing you typically select an asset allocation that suits your risk tolerance and investment goals.

    U.S.News & World Report LP
  • Panasonic, Tesla to build giant battery plant in US

    Japanese electronics giant Panasonic and US electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors said Thursday they will jointly build and operate a huge lithium ion battery plant known as the Gigafactory. Under the deal, Tesla will run the operations at the proposed US-based plant, while its Japanese partner will…

  • Play

    Tesla's Earnings: What to Watch For

    Electric-car maker Tesla is scheduled to be released after the bell Thursday, and Mike Ramsey joins MoneyBeat with Paul Vigna to preview the results.

    WSJ Live
  • Alcatel-Lucent cuts losses but shares slump

    Telecommunication equipment group Alcatel-Lucent said Thursday it cut net losses by more than half in the second quarter as it battles to rebuild after years of setbacks. Alcatel-Lucent said its quarterly net loss was 298 million euros ($399 million), down from 885 million euros for the same period…

  • 3D Systems Shares Are Cratering

    Shares in 3D Systems were down more than 12% in...

    Business Insider
  • Get to Know Your Great-Great-Great Grandmother

    And get to know your great-great-great grandpa. Track down new cousins, too. Find them all with the world's largest online family history resource.