Fixing New York City's Buses


Redesign the bus network and routes

New York has changed a lot over the last 50 years, but its bus routes haven’t. Many of the city’s current routes are based on old streetcar lines and don’t always meet the needs of New York today. Most buses remain within the boundaries of a single borough, despite growing demand for inter-borough travel. Changes that have been made to the network have often been piecemeal in nature, resulting in a network that doesn’t add up to provide the direct, fast, and frequent service New York needs.

Determine how and where the current bus network is failing and redesign as needed. Bold reconsideration and revision of our bus network is overdue. New routes may be needed. Some existing routes may be obsolete or need substantial adjustment. Our current network provides thorough coverage of the city, but too many routes are intended to serve all types of trips and end up not serving any of them as well as they could.

Redesign indirect routes. Many of our routes have unnecessary turns and deviations. We should take a fresh look at routes, revising them to take the most direct path between major destinations.

Rightsize the distance between bus stops. New York is a global outlier in terms of how closely stops are spaced, and on many routes, stops are even closer together than our own standards dictate. Optimizing the number of stops will speed trips for riders.

Bus Stop Balancing from TransitCenter on Vimeo.

Break up routes that are too long. The longer a bus route, the less reliable its performance. Many New York buses currently take more than two hours to travel end to end, but few customers ride these routes end to end. Dividing these routes just past their highest turnover points can create more reliable service for all while minimizing the number of riders who will need to make an additional transfer as a result of the change.

Bus Breakup Chronicles M5 Edition from TransitCenter on Vimeo.

Redesigning indirect or obsolete routes and rightsizing the distance between bus stops can significantly reduce travel time and improve reliability.