NYC Transit Boss: Sure, We Want 1,000 Miles of Bus Lanes, But We Love Working with ‘Bus Mayor’ Adams

Mayor Adams crosses Flatbush Avenue with New York City Transit President Richard Davey (left) and DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Mayor Adams crosses Flatbush Avenue with New York City Transit President Richard Davey (left) and DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

On Tuesday, Mayor Adams showed up at a rally by members of Riders Alliance, who are demanding better bus service in a city where bus speeds just don’t get better. The mayor’s presence was welcome, but he did not announce any new initiatives beyond his prior commitments to installing 20 miles of dedicated bus lanes this year (so far, only three-plus miles have been completed).

Far more interesting to transit fans has been the continued presence of New York City Transit President Richard Davey at events where the public and advocacy groups are openly demanding that his agency do better. On Monday, he showed up at the annual Pokey and Schleppie Awards honoring debasing the bus routes that are simply doing terribly. And on Tuesday, he was at the rally, again reiterating that bus riders need more bus lanes and more enforcement of bus lane blockers by the city authorities.

Our editor Gersh Kuntzman sidled over to Davey and asked him to drop the diplomacy and tell us what he really feels about the Adams administration. Here’s what he said (no, he did not drop the diplomacy):

Streetsblog: You did you did the sloppy and pokey was so nice to see you there and here today as well. And you’re very diplomatic about you know, the city’s your partner and everything but the city is ostensibly the key to your buses running as well as you want them. You know, enforcement, you mentioned yesterday, more bus lanes. So flat out is the city doing enough?

The partnership: (from right) NYCT President Richard Davey, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, Mayor Adams and Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The partnership: (from right) NYCT President Richard Davey, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, Mayor Adams and Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Richard Davey: We believe so. The mayor has said in his first four years of his term, he wants to get 150 miles. Obviously there’s work to be done, but as I said to the mayor on the bus, we will work with shoulder to shoulder to, I’ll go to community meetings if I need to. We obviously worked closely with the city to roll out the Bronx redesign, which was key. And so this is this is a partnership. I mean, we have a bus mayor, which is pretty cool. And so you know, we’re not going to do it alone. And we need to do it with DOT and with the City Hall and so far, so good.

Streetsblog: But when you’re talking to you DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, for example, how tough are you with him,  saying, “Look, that promise of 150 miles? Yeah, we need like 1,000 miles!” I mean, a lot of your buses run on streets that don’t have bus lanes at all, let alone a dedicated bus lane.

Davey: Look, 150 miles is a pretty darn good start — we’d be doubling the amount of lanes we have today in a four-year period, which took a decade or longer to get. So I think that’s certainly one. But enforcement, as we said, is key, but you know, we’re adding bus cameras, too. So, this is not about what they should be doing versus what we should be doing. The answer is we can be supporting each other and working together and that’s how it’s going to get done.

Here's the hardy group that greeted the mayor and the NYCT president. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Here’s the hardy group that greeted the mayor and the NYCT president. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

And, look, I wasn’t kidding when I said the mayor is really leading the country when it comes to pushing this question of buses. Some people would walk away from it and say, “It’s too controversial. I don’t want to deal with it. The businesses are upset.” But he’s been out there. So that to me shows he’s serious and deserving of a lot of credit. As I said, we have work to do though.

Streetsblog: But there’s pushback from the business community in Jamaica or in Flushing, for example, and the mayor cut the hours of two busways and is considering scrapping the ones in Jamaica. So…

Davey: Well, I respectfully disagree with the mayor on that. But you know, that’s why there are thousands of bus lanes in New York City or any other American city for that matter, right?

Streetsblog: Well…

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