Mayor de Blasio is Apparently Not Aware of Stalled Busway

The city has to get moving on more of these if it doesn't want bus service to go back to the bad old days. Photo: Dave Colon
The city has to get moving on more of these if it doesn't want bus service to go back to the bad old days. Photo: Dave Colon

No, you didn’t check the busway box yet, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor de Blasio seemed to not be aware that his Department of Transportation has failed to create any of the new busways that he promised would start being built in June.

On Thursday, in response to what the mayor dismissed as the same old question from Streetsblog (about his administration’s failure to mitigate the coming influx of cars), de Blasio boasted of one specific thing he’s done.

“We have now added the busways, which is a brand new thing and something I think is going to have a big impact,” he said. “I think that’s a really exciting, positive addition.”

Except for one thing: no busways have been added beyond the existing 14th Street car-free transit route that was created in 2019. The mayor had promised that a .3-mile car-free busway would be built in June, but it is stalled amid protest from anti-transit Queens Council Member Peter Koo, who offended many (including the DOT commissioner) when he appropriated the message of Black Lives Matter to oppose an improvement for transit riders.

At the same time, the DOT has also scaled back a dedicated bus lane project on Staten Island’s Hylan Boulevard, also afternoon car drivers objected.

The mayor’s answer on Tuesday deeply troubled advocates, many of whom have spent considerable time meeting with Koo to show him data attesting to the benefits of busways for commuters and business owners. Koo, a millionaire businessman who represents Flushing but apparently lives in posh Nassau County, maintains that business owners want drivers to be able to have access to Main Street, though studies show a tiny portion of Flushing shoppers arrive by car.

Transit supporters said on Thursday that the mayor needs to battle back against the likes of Koo, who is fighting City Hall and winning (defying the old cliche).

“Mayor de Blasio’s plan to install 20 miles of bus lanes and busways has been heavily delayed and so have bus riders,” said Riders Alliance Senior Organizer Jolyse Race. “The mayor must stand strong and communicate the benefits of bus lanes rather than let wealthy drivers block his essential street equity projects.

“Hundreds of thousands of transit-dependent bus riders need their mayor to deliver on his promise of faster, more reliable service. Better bus service is integral to the equitable recovery New Yorkers need now.”

As part of his answer to Streetsblog, the mayor did say he intended to roll out more transit improvements during the last 500 days of his tenure, denying a recent report that he was ignoring recommendations from his own Surface Transportation panel.

“This, to me, is the beginning of a lot of other things that we need to do,” he said, referring to his ferry system and, oddly, Citi Bike, which the city does not subsidize.

“And, yes, I’m a big believer in HOV lanes. And that’s something we’re looking at right now,” he added. “So we appreciate the advice from everyone, but we already are there in terms of wanting more and more alternatives, more and more options. And we’re going to be working on them for the next 500 days nonstop.”

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