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Bill de Blasio

The Mayor’s Time to Implement Bronx Bus Lanes is Running Out

Ashley Price speaking during rally. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong

Activists and politicians demanded on Wednesday that Mayor de Blasio fulfill his longstanding promise to begin work on multiple Bronx bus lane projects — and do so before New York City students head back to school this fall, an annual rite that leads to more traffic and slower commutes for everyone. 

Long-suffering straphangers and their advocates rallied in Fordham Plaza, home to a stop of the Bx12 that travels between Upper Manhattan and Co-op City at an average speed of 5.4 miles per hour during peak hours — 2.5 miles per hour below the city average. 

“As students prepare to return to in-person learning in the fall, it is critical that they are met with the grade A bus service that they deserve,” said Ashley Price, the senior associate for advocacy at TransitCenter. “And after nearly two years of interrupted education and the lingering effects of the pandemic, wondering whether or not you will make it to class or not should not be an added stressor.”

The mayor announced in May that schools will fully reopen this fall with no remote option for one million public school students — roughly 90,000 of whom take the bus, according to Price. (Many others are driven by parents, adding to the very congestion that slows down buses.)

Activists are demanding the city to get a start on these projects before the cold weather comes, and bus lanes can no longer be painted: 

    • Dedicated bus lanes along University Avenue between Washington Bridge and Kingsbridge Road with six new bus boarding islands. Improves Bx3, Bx9, Bx18 Bx32 and Bx36 buses.
    • Implement the Redesign Fordham Road plan to help nearly 100,000 daily riders and connect them to five subway lines. This would improve the Bx9, Bx12, Bx12 SBS, Bx19 and Bx22.
    • A dedicated bus lane along Story Ave between Bronx River Avenue and White Plains Road. This would improve the Bx5 bus that typically travels at 5 miles per hour during peak periods, almost 40 percent lower than the city rush-hour average. The Bx6 SBS is slated to be re-routed onto Story Avenue once MTA’s proposed Bronx bus network redesign resumes, so this project is especially important to activists.
    • Dedicated bus lanes on Gun Hill Road to improves the Bx10 Bx28, Bx30 and Bx38.
Sign at rally. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong
Sign at rally. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong
Sign at rally. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong

The request for improved service on Fordham Road will sound familiar to many, given that the de Blasio administration has been promising changes since taking office in 2014. All the while, bus speeds have declined on the Main Street of the North Bronx — and most recently, the DOT said it is awaiting "community consensus" before moving forward.

Riders Alliance said it is aware that some of the projects may not be completed during de Blasio’s current term, but organizers said they will hold the next mayor’s feet to the fire if bus lanes are not completed this year. Presumptive Mayor Eric Adams did not respond to Streetsblog's questions about Bronx bus lanes, but has previously said he supports bus rapid transit as well as Transportation Alternatives’s proposal to repurpose 25 percent of the roadbed away from cars.

The terrible bus service in the Bronx hurts residents' ability to connect to good jobs or limits their choices of schools, said Council Member Oswald Feliz.

“As a low-income student, we face various problems daily just being a student,” added Cecilia Ellis, Straphanger Campaign’s field manager. "The MTA should be the least of our worries. If we are still dealing with transportation issues during quarantine, I wonder how much worse it will be post pandemic when most people are outside.”

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