Some of Manhattan’s top elected officials last week lauded Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s announcement of a detailed Bus Action Plan with the goal of increasing bus speeds 25% by 2020; a plan to triple the number of businesses switching to off-hour deliveries; and pursue the creation of new pedestrian priority zones around Lower Manhattan.
These measures will help New Yorkers get around and complement the implementation of congestion pricing in early 2021. De Blasio made the announcement along Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side, among the corridors that will see major bus improvements this year.
The plan has three elements as part of the 2019 OneNYC strategic plan for the City. They are the Better Buses Action Plan, increasing off-hour deliveries and pursuing the creation of new pedestrian spaces in Lower Manhattan.
Better Buses Action Plan
In his 2019 State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio announced a citywide goal of improving bus speeds by 25% by 2020. The Better Buses Action Plan released today (see report here), identifies the specific routes and projects the City will undertake in 2019 to increase bus speeds in all five boroughs. These projects include:
Manhattan: 42nd Street, 12th Avenue to FDR Drive; 2 miles
Total daily ridership: 16,000
· Upgrade curbside bus lane to offset lane in at least one direction
· Update curb management along the corridor to prioritize transit priority, pedestrian space, and loading needs
· Extend/install turn bays at select locations and install turn bans at select locations to benefit the flow of buses and other traffic
· Adjust signal timing to improve crosstown travel
Increasing Off-Hour Deliveries
The de Blasio administration will work with MTA and the Port Authority to encourage efficient deliveries and support continued growth in freight activity, specifically by encouraging more businesses to accept off-hour deliveries in the Central Business District. Under the initiative this year, the number of business locations enrolled in the Overnight/Off-hour Delivery (OHD) program will triple — from just over 500 to 1500.
Increasing freight efficiency with an expanded OHD program promotes sustainable business practices with multiple benefits – from the reduction of daytime roadway congestion and double parking in active bus lanes to advancing the City’s Vision Zero goals with fewer truck-pedestrian conflicts. The city plans to spend $1 million on outreach to all businesses in areas of Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn to make the case for OHD or invite them to participate in the program.
New Pedestrian Spaces
In light of recent community based pedestrianization studies, the City is examining options for creating new pedestrian priority streets in Lower Manhattan, where streets are narrow and sidewalks often overcrowded. The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will work with communities, including within the Financial District, to identify locations.
As part of pedestrianizing streets in Lower Manhattan, DOT will look at using its existing toolbox – including potential changes to street-parking regulations and daytime events. DOT is also examining shared-street options. DOT is also examining shared-street options building off a summer Lower Manhattan neighborhood-wide shared street event that took place on an August Saturday in 2017, sponsored by DOT and community groups.
DOT will look to install treatments this year following a community engagement process, including with Manhattan Community Board One and the Alliance for Downtown NY. The formal study of the area will kick off this summer.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer hailed the initiative, saying a fair city needs fast buses. “I am especially encouraged about the upgrades coming to the 14th and 96th Street routes, which carry a combined 42,000 daily riders. I have long pushed for upgrades to these three bus lines, all of which move at under 5 mph. I thank Mayor de Blasio for these new plans, and I look forward to the increased bus speeds and reduced travel times that will make a meaningful difference for New Yorkers.”
“The changes included in the Better Buses Action Plan will help New Yorkers get around more easily,” said State Senator Robert Jackson (D-Upper Manhattan). “From monitored bus lanes to greater efficiency in the Bronx and Queens, from new pedestrian spaces downtown to increased off-hour deliveries for businesses, these reforms will clean up our streets and speed up traffic. As Chair of the Cities Committee in the New York State Senate, I heartily endorse these changes and look forward to seeing them improve bus service across New York City.”
“Making sure our buses run frequently and on time is vital for the many New Yorkers who rely on them,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Lower Manhattan, Northern Brooklyn). “I hope the City and the MTA will work with our communities to ensure that proposed improvements are implemented in ways that are most beneficial.”
“Buses are a lifeline for so many New Yorkers, especially seniors, but too often they are slowed to a crawl by congestion. The Better Buses Action Plan includes several critical steps that will help make bus service faster and more reliable, and create a positive feedback loop to get more people into buses and out of cars. I commend Mayor de Blasio for drilling down on the problem of congestion and exploring effective solutions,” said State Senator Liz Krueger (D-UES).
“As the fight for improved public transit continues, the Mayor’s Better Buses Action Plan has the potential to improve bus service for the millions of New Yorkers who rely on the MTA,” said Assembly member Dan Quart (D-Upper East Side, Midtown East, Turtle Bay and Sutton Place. “I am particularly pleased that my constituents will benefit from proposed improvements to service on both Madison and Lexington.”
“For many years I have said that we need to improve the services of our buses, I thank the Mayor for taking this initiative, taking our buses into the new century to better the lives of all New Yorkers. Together with our trains, the buses are the second largest mode of transportation for the City of New York, we need to ensure that they run efficiently and on time.” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill).