Working Families Party Wants More Street Space for BRT

bx12sign.jpgPhoto: Brad Aaron.

Spotted in the Working Families Party candidate questionnaire (hat tip to Liz Benjamin) — the influential third party is asking 2009 City Council hopefuls to support dedicated lanes and automated enforcement for Bus Rapid Transit:

Expanded Public Transportation through Bus Rapid Transit

Due to a mass transportation system that leaves many City neighborhoods without access to fast, reliable service, today 750,000 New Yorkers travel over an hour to work (with two thirds of them on their way to jobs that pay less than $35,000). Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) dedicates lanes on existing streets and coordinates traffic lights to provide high-speed bus service to underserved neighborhoods — a far cheaper and quicker alternative to building new subway lines. Will you support the following actions to expand the City’s BRT network:

Calling on NYDOT to increase dedicated lane space, create the necessary bus stops, and plan for other capital improvements necessary to BRT expansion?

Passing a resolution in support of State legislation to install enforcement cameras on City streets?

Setting aside dedicated lanes is probably the toughest political lift for effective BRT implementation. Optimally, on a one-way corridor like First Avenue, two traffic lanes plus some portion of the parking lane would transfer from car traffic and storage to BRT service and stations. Meanwhile, enforcement cameras — a necessity for BRT corridors that lack physical separation — have already met stiff resistance from Assembly transportation chair David Gantt.

The party’s other transit planks don’t set the bar very high. (Candidates are asked to support "broad-based revenues" for the MTA — a demand that, like Albany’s latest transit-funding package, lets car commuters off the hook.) With the second phase of the city’s BRT roll-out gaining steam, and federal funding for future corridors looking likely, it helps to have the Working Families Party line up behind BRT as an electoral issue. To speed all trips for bus riders, it would help even more to have a strong political advocate for fees on driving.

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