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MTA’s ‘Hope’ for Eric Adams: ‘Stay With Us’ On Fordham Road

"Our hope is that we DOT stays with us and we're implementing this, hopefully, later this year," MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey said.

9:51 AM EDT on July 20, 2023

Fordham Road in the Bronx.

The MTA hopes Mayor Adams and the Department of Transportation don't bail completely from bus lane expansion on Fordham Road after the city canceled plans to turn the strip into a limited-traffic "busway," top transit officials said Wednesday.

"Our hope is that we DOT stays with us and we're implementing this, hopefully, later this year," MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey said during the MTA's July board meeting — referring to what he called a "reasonable compromise" that the city put forward in May after abandoning the busway amid unsubstantiated and disproven claims from local business owners that their customers drive to the congested, transit-rich corridor.

The "reasonable compromise" has not been enough to win over the project's most prominent critic, Council Member Oswald Feliz, who began his campaign against bus improvements last year as a push to cancel the busway but has refused to back down even after Adams and DOT did just that.

Opponents of the project include the leaders of the Fordham and Belmont Business Improvement Districts, St. Barnabas Hospital, Monroe College, the New York Botanical Garden, and Fordham University. The groups' opposition stands against the needs of 85,000 daily commuters who today suffer bus speeds as low as 4 mph on some segments of Fordham Road.

"We can't deemphasize and under-prioritize the lives of people of the Bronx and also Upper Manhattan who are trying to get east and west across this incredibly busy corridor," MTA CEO Janno Lieber said Wednesday in comments backing up his lieutenant Davey.

"The subways run north and south," Lieber said. "[People have] got to be able to get east and west."

Lieber pointed out that Adams and DOT committed to the Fordham Road busway and other bus service improvements, including 20 news miles of bus lanes each year, at their June 2022 policy summit. The Adams administration has so far fallen short.

"It is really important, it was the centerpiece of the agreement that the city and the MTA made after that summit that the mayor called at City Hall, to increase the pace of bus lane expansions."

Council Member Feliz on Tuesday broke weeks of silence about the project to pick a fight on Twitter with the pro-transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, which counts Fordham Road bus riders among its membership.

The first-term council member claimed in his tweets that the group had "spread misleading info" while making false claims of his own: that Riders Alliance spokesman is a "wealthy outsider" (Pearlstein lives near the Bx12 route) and that fixed-location bus lane cameras had not been installed on the strip (they have).

"Why lie just to deny your constituents the best bus service possible?" Riders Alliance posted in response to Feliz.

DOT is set to brief Mayor Adams on the project sometime this week, according to an agency source who expressed pessimism about how Adams — who reportedly killed the McGuinness Boulevard bike lane after a similar meeting — will ultimately decide.

The agency is "committed to improving bus service and supporting businesses across the Bronx," spokesman Vin Barone said in a statement.

"We have been presenting a refined proposal for upgraded bus priority on Fordham Road to the community and continue to develop designs for offset lanes with their feedback," Barone said. "This design would create dedicated curbside loading space to help keep our bus lanes clear for the 85,000 daily commuters on the corridor who deserve faster and more reliable service—and with minimal traffic diversions that would affect bus service on north and south corridors."

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