Congestion Pricing Would Cut Weekly Express Bus Commute Times By Hours: Report

This hurts our city — and our lungs.  Photo: giggel/Wikimedia Commons
This hurts our city — and our lungs. Photo: giggel/Wikimedia Commons

Money is time.

The proposed congestion pricing plan to create $1.5 billion in new funding for the MTA would also have the side benefit of saving express bus commuters up to two hours per week on their horrendously long commutes, a new report by the Riders Alliance reveals.

All commutes on MTA express buses would shorten dramatically, with the single best time savings along the X63 bus from Rosedale in Queens to Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan.

The Riders Alliance did the math by using Charles Komanoff’s seminal Balanced Transportation Analyzer to calculate the expected reductions in bus travel times based on the declining number of cars expected to enter Manhattan below 60th Street if a congestion pricing fee were to be implemented. Komanoff’s model takes into account the reduction in congestion both within the congestion zone and on streets in the outer boroughs that would also be carrying less traffic.

Traffic speeds are expected to increase by 20 percent inside the zone and by 7 percent outside of it.

Data analysts at the Riders Alliance broke up express bus route segments into those two portions and then calculated how much faster buses would be expected to run through both zones to come up with the overall time savings for commuters. Nothing came close to the two-hours-per-week that X63 riders might save, but the overall benefits were substantial for riders of the X64 (1:52 per week), QM8 (1:37), BM1 and BM3 (1:35), BM4 (1:34), and QM17 (1:26).

Source: Riders Alliance
Source: Riders Alliance

Despite those time savings, many elected officials in communities served by express buses have not signed on to support congestion pricing. Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, whose district includes the X63 and X64 buses, has opposed new tolls to enter Manhattan. Her neighboring Assembly Member Vivian Cook, whose district also includes those lines, also opposes congestion pricing. And Assembly Members Jeffrion Aubry, Ronald Kim, Michael Miller and Michele Titus, who all have express bus lines running through their districts, all have said negative things about congestion pricing, too.

That’s exactly the kind of opposition that the Riders Alliance can’t understand.
“Queens and Brooklyn express bus riders pay $6.50 each way to slog through traffic to and from neighborhoods far from the subway. Many spend over 15 hours a week in transit,” said Danny Pearlstein, the group’s policy and communications director. “An extra hour or two per week gained from congestion pricing would mean real time for real people to take care of themselves and their families. With so much talk about fairness, congestion pricing returns a truly priceless resource to folks who can spare precious little of it. Congestion pricing could mean an extra moment together over breakfast, a little more help with homework or housework, another chapter before bedtime, a longer kiss goodnight.
“When Albany takes up the issue next year, express bus commuters from the outer reaches of the city — and their families — should be high on the governor’s and legislators’ packed agenda.”
The Riders Alliance will share its full findings on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the BM1/BM2/BM3/BM4/QM7/QM11/QM25 express bus stop at Church Street and Park Place in Manhattan.

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Photo: Rebecca Bailin/Riders Alliance

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