Fixing New York
City’s Buses

Presented by The Bus Turnaround Coalition

Every weekday, New Yorkers take more than 2 million rides on the city’s buses.

But today, buses in New York City are slow, unreliable, and getting worse.

As a result, New Yorkers are voting with their MetroCards: they are steadily abandoning the bus. Between 2002 and 2017, bus ridership dropped nearly 21%.

New York City’s buses are in crisis.

Ridership decline is a dangerous trend,

not only because New Yorkers who give up on the bus may travel in single-occupancy cars instead, but also because low ridership can cause a destructive spiral in which bus service is slashed as riders choose to avoid it. Unreliable bus service is hurting New Yorkers. As travel times become increasingly long and unreliable, bus riders lose time and money. Poor service can make them late to work and school and force them to spend money on cabs.

But our buses can be fixed—other cities have done it.

It’s time for a turnaround. Fast, reliable buses are possible in NYC. Other dense cities have turned around their ailing bus systems and we can too! Using best practices from around the country and the world, we have developed practical strategies for fixing New York’s buses.

Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses is presented by the Bus Turnaround Coalition, a diverse group of New Yorkers determined to turn around the poor service that plagues the city’s bus system and the more than 2 million rides taken on it every weekday.

Rider Stories
Report Cards
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Meet Beth

Beth is a retired high school English teacher who is originally from Texas. She moved here in the 1980s because of a lifelong desire to live in NYC and for the freedom public transportation gave her. Beth lives on the Upper East Side, near the Queensboro Bridge. She is an active swimmer who practices three times a week to strengthen her bad knees and is also heavily involved in her church community on the Upper West Side. She got involved in the Bus Turnaround campaign out of frustration over inaccurate bus schedules and the poor and inaccurate information provided to riders.

“I‘m a retiree. Whatever time I may have left shouldn’t be spent waiting for the bus.”

As a resident of the Upper East side, Beth relies on buses like the M57 to get across town. She often has to wait a long time for the bus, typically without a shelter or place to sit. Once the bus does arrive, she then faces the frustration of a slow ride stuck in mixed traffic with single occupancy vehicles.


  • Non-existent or unreliable bus countdown clock information

  • Bus is very slow: 4 mph

  • Bus is unreliable

Report Cards
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Meet John

John is a father of three who works and lives in the Bronx. He is a librarian at the Van Cortlandt branch of the New York Public Library. He uses multiple buses, most often the Bx17 and Bx1 to take his kids to school and go to work. John got involved in Bus Turnaround out of frustration over poor service that continues to deteriorate while fares continue to increase. Bus service is so unreliable that John often ends up walking over a mile with his children when his bus does not arrive.

“New York needs a bus system that beats like the heart of the city.”

As a father with three kids to get to school before he gets to work, John gets up at 6:00AM. His first journey of the day begins on the Bx17 to take his children to school. After that, he takes the Bx1 along the Grand Concourse to get to work. Long wait times and unreliable service mean that John builds a lot of buffer time into his morning to ensure that he and his kids get to work and school on time. John typically spends over an hour and half traveling on slow buses each morning. He repeats this routine at the end of each weekday.


  • Bus is highly unreliable and as a result, actual service is often less frequent than what the schedule indicates.

  • Bus is very slow.

Report Cards
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Meet Natasha

Natasha is a small business owner from Eastern Queens. Her main bus route is the Q83, which she takes to get to the subway to reach Manhattan. Natasha grew up in the St Albans neighborhood and has depended on buses her entire life. Since the bus is slow and unreliable, she sometimes takes taxis to or from the Long Island Railroad station or dollar vans to get to and from the subway. Natasha got involved in the Bus Turnaround Campaign out of frustration over having to spend extra money when the bus doesn’t come. She’s tired of using resources that she could be investing in her business to compensate for undependable buses.

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“Within the last decade bus service has seriously declined, making a significant difference in the amount of time I spend commuting and my overall peace of mind.”

To return home from work in the city at the end of her workday, Natasha takes the E train to Jamaica Center, a ride that often takes more than an hour. She then waits 20 minutes for the Q83, the only bus she can take to reach her home. When the bus arrives, it is usually already crowded. She and dozens of bus riders squeeze their way into the bus, making boarding uncomfortable and slow. The bus moves slowly out of Jamaica, and takes 25 minutes to travel 2 miles to her home. In total, it takes Natasha 2 hours to get home after a long day.


  • The bus is often late, which can mean a long wait at the bus stop. When the bus finally arrives, it is often very crowded.

  • Boarding the bus can be slow, especially when many people are waiting at transfer points in Jamaica

  • The bus often gets stuck in traffic, especially at the transit hub in Jamaica, and becomes bunched

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Ways to get involved

  • When your bus is late or moving too slowly, tweet at @NYCMayor and @NYCTBus and use the hashtag #busturnaround
  • Join the grassroots effort by contacting Stephanie at stephanie@ridersny.org
  • Sign the Riders Alliance petition for better buses here.
  • Share your woes on the bus here.
  • Join us in testifying at an upcoming MTA Board Meeting. See Straphangers’ helpful tips on testifying here.

The Turnaround Campaign is currently calling on Mayor DeBlasio to:

  • add 100 new miles of bus lanes in the next 5 years, prioritizing the highest ridership and most routinely delayed routes,
  • improve enforcement of existing bus lanes,
  • expand transit signal priority to all intersections appropriate for the treatment by the end of 2020, and
  • ensure all bus stops have shelters and real-time information once the bus network redesign is complete.

Please scroll down to learn more about our current campaign asks and related actions.



Mayor de Blasio commits to speed bus trips 25% by 2020 with expanded and strengthened bus lane network

City Hall now has an ambitious plan to prioritize buses on city streets that incorporates our calls for more bus lanes with better enforcement and faster deployment of signal priority.


Fixing NYC's Buses: 2018 Progress Report

Two years after the launch of our campaign to bring New Yorkers fast and reliable bus service, we offer the following review of progress made by New York City Transit, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the New York City Police Department on the Bus Turnaround agenda. View the report here.

Bus Turnaround Coalition releases Fast Bus, Fair City report

On Tuesday morning the Bus Turnaround Coalition gathered on the steps of City Hall to announce the Fast Bus, Fair City Report- a set of Action items the City of New York can use to bring fairer and more equitable bus service to millions of riders. View the report here.

Top 10 nominees for bus lanes

The Bus Turnaround Coalition has identified the top ten prime streets for practical, near-term bus improvements across all five New York City boroughs.

Waiting for the light

New Yorkers are stuck spending 21% of their bus rides stopped at red lights—but they shouldn’t be: transit signal priority (TSP) can be used to extend green lights or shorten red ones when a bus is approaching, speeding up trips and improving schedule reliability.
MTA commits to a full network redesign by 2021


The MTA bus action plan is exactly what NYC bus riders need

Today NYC Transit released its Bus Action Plan, a comprehensive vision for rethinking New York City’s bus system. The Bus Action Plan includes many of the solutions advanced by the Bus Turnaround Campaign, including a full bus network redesign, commitment to all-door boarding, improved dispatching, and a plan to prioritize buses on city streets.  
MTA commits to all-door boarding systemwide when the MetroCard is replaced

We called on MTA leadership to bring all-door boarding to local buses when they replace the MetroCard and they committed to doing so in their April 2018 bus plan.


Riders stage skit to demonstrate the hardships of boarding buses through single door

Members of the Riders Alliance gathered outside of the MTA headquarters before the February MTA board meeting for a theatrical demonstration of the hardships of boarding buses through only one door. They renewed their call for New York City Transit President Andy Byford to commit to implementing all-door boarding city-wide.
MTA implements new bus performance dashboard with better metrics


New MTA NYCT bus performance dashboard is a win for riders

The Bus Turnaround Coalition commends the MTA NYCT for providing riders with the ability to track bus speeds and reliability via its new dashboard. The metrics included in the dashboard reflect what matters to riders, such as time spent at bus stops, travel time, and bus speeds.  
Other actions and events

This Valentine’s Day: Mayor de Blasio, will you be our bus mayor?

This Valentine’s Day, join us in tweeting @NYCMayor to ask him to be a champion for NYC bus riders by prioritizing buses on city streets. #busmayor #busturnaround

Join the #BusTurnaround conversation on social media

The Turnaround Campaign in the News


The Bus Turnaround Coalition is a diverse group of New Yorkers determined to turn around the poor service that plagues the city’s bus system and the more than 2 million rides taken on it every weekday. We are winning increased attention from our leaders and greater resources for high quality, fast and reliable bus service for all neighborhoods in New York City. We launched our campaign in July 2016.


The website’s content was developed by the Bus Turnaround Coalition, including Tabitha Decker, Zak Accuardi, Mary Buchanan, Al Beatty, Jon Orcutt, Hayley Richardson, Ashley Pryce, and Chris Pangilinan of TransitCenter; John Raskin, Stephanie Veras, and Danny Pearlstein of Riders Alliance; Nick Sifuentes and Vincent Pellecchia of Tri-State Transportation Campaign; and Gene Russianoff and Jaqi Cohen of New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign.

Many people have contributed to the data analysis that underlies the bus report cards. The Bus Turnaround Coalition is particularly indebted to Nathan Johnson, Neil Freeman and Kuan Butts. We also thank City Councilman Ben Kallos, who first pitched the idea of using Bus Time data to measure bus performance, and who continues to be a champion of bus riders in the fifth district and beyond. JD Godchaux and Lela Prashad of NiJeL created an earlier version of the bus report cards on which the current version is based. Finally, the report cards were produced in partnership with and using technology from Carto.

The recommended changes in the “solutions” section are derived from analysis conducted by Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, an effort led by Larry Gould and David Fields.

This website was designed and built by Objective Subject. Original Turnaround illustrations were created by Max Halton.

Coalition Members