NYC Bus Drivers Want to Get Cars Out of the Way of Transit

"Flexible bollards" at Sixth Avenue aim to keep motorists out of the way of buses. Photo: David Meyer
"Flexible bollards" at Sixth Avenue aim to keep motorists out of the way of buses. Photo: David Meyer

The improvements that would speed up trips for NYC bus riders are largely the same changes that would make bus drivers’ jobs less stressful and aggravating, according to a survey released today by TWU Local 100.

In a first-of-its-kind survey of 400 bus operators, TWU found that double-parked vehicles and motor vehicle traffic are the top sources of stress on the job, and that bus operators see all-door boarding and traffic reduction as the top two ways to improve their effectiveness.

Double-parked cars were the source of stress cited most often by bus drivers (29 percent said it was the biggest cause), followed by car traffic (19 percent). Car traffic was also pegged as the top cause of bus bunching, with 53 percent of bus drivers citing it.

The survey reinforces the union’s support for all-door boarding on every bus route. In October, the TWU joined advocates in calling for speedy adoption of fare technology that will enable systemwide all-door boarding.

The TWU told the Post’s Danielle Furfaro that it wants bus lane designs with physical barriers to keep cars from interfering with service. The union said in a statement that DOT should be “much more aggressive when it comes to making mass transit the top priority, not the movement of private cars and trucks,” and “should put physical barriers along some bus-only lanes to stop private cars and trucks from invading the dedicated space.”

NYC bus lanes mainly rely on camera enforcement to keep cars and trucks out, but it’s not enough — they’re often obstructed by parking placard holders or delivery vehicles. Curbside bus lanes with physical barriers, pictured at the top of this post, are extremely rare.

While the TWU hasn’t taken a position on congestion pricing, the survey suggests substantial support among bus drivers for reducing the amount of traffic on NYC streets.

Newly appointed NYC Transit President Andy Byford has said turning around the decline in MTA bus speeds and bus ridership is a top priority.

“We agree with the new president of NYC Transit that there should be a Bus Action Plan, and bus drivers should be heard on what’s wrong with the system and how to make it better,” said JP Patafio, a vice president at TWU Local 100. “That’s why we did this survey. To improve service and alleviate the conditions that make driving a bus in NYC such a stressful job.”

  • HamTech87

    I don’t understand how camera enforcement works. Does the driver have to push a button to take a photo of a vehicle blocking the bus lane? I asked an M60 driver once, and he seemed reluctant to have the vehicle owners get tickets.

  • Vooch
  • AnoNYC

    I thought the DOT was going to start rolling out fixed cameras?

    But yeah I think they have to hit a button.

  • Wilfried84

    A couple of things I’ve wondered: Is it legal to ride a bike in a bike lane? Do bikes in the bus lane present much of a problem to bus drivers?

    Also, the bollards in picture would make it impossible for a bike to merge in and out of the bus lane.

  • Larry Littlefield

    It’s probably illegal to ride a bike in a bus lane, but it doesn’t cause a problem.

    Because the buses are in the lane next to the bus lane, because the bus lane is obstructed by turning vehicles and double parking (based on what I see on 5th Avenue).

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here’s the problem. In dense Midtown, the buses are still going to get stuck behind cars marking right turns waiting for pedestrians. And that’s where the cars have to be — not turning from a center lane across the bus lane.

    Hard to see a way around this.

  • Andrew
  • Andrew

    I believe the cameras are mostly, if not exclusively, static. Enforcement isn’t up to the bus driver.

  • qrt145

    It is illegal to ride a bike in a bus lane, but I don’t think it causes a problem as long as you get out of the way when the bus is coming.

  • AMH

    I’ve wondered about this, since the bus lane is the logical place to ride on 5 Av along Central Park. Ideally there would just be a raised bike lane along the sidewalk there.

  • AMH

    But what about the parking?!

  • Duh! Just like bike lanes, bus lanes must be protected to improve service. The good news is that you need to protect only those segments in the very congested areas, in ordered to improve the service and reliability on the whole line.

    There is no excuse for DOT not to try it. This is absolutely the best use of roadway, and the most equitable way to apportion the road.

  • You have to install split phase signals where the bus and pedestrians have priority and no conflict and the turning cars go next.

  • George Joseph Lane

    Lol, screw parking.

  • Andrew

    Wait, isn’t that what the pretty red lane is for?

  • Wanderer

    It’s encouraging to see the TWU involved in issues about service. I hope this also happens elsewhere.