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Fed Up Bronxites Tell Mayor To Forget About Bus Ride Invitation After Fordham Road ‘Betrayal’

"I really would think that our mayor would be a little bit more active and speak with us, because he hasn't really made any time with riders. We're not the enemy. We just want better bus service."

Riders Alliance is asking Mayor Eric Adams to return the jacket the group gave him last summer.

Bronx bus riders have disinvited Mayor Adams from joining them on a ride on Fordham Road — challenging his self-declared status as the city's "Bus Mayor" days after City Hall bailed on a plan to install upgraded bus lanes on the contested strip.

In a letter to Adams, 10 Bronx residents who are members of the Riders Alliance told the mayor they'd lost faith in his ability to deliver for bus riders in light of Adams's decision last week to upend months of Department of Transportation planning to trash the Fordham Road bus upgrades, leaving tens of thousands of daily bus riders in the lurch.

"You turned around and caved to a handful of drivers who don't even live in the Bronx. How could you betray us like that?" the Bronx bus riders wrote Hizzoner. "We rescind your invitation to ride the bus with us on Fordham Road.

"You promised [MTA Chairman and CEO] Janno Lieber that Fordham Road would be your top bus priority — last year. And you promised to ride the bus with us just this month," continued the letter to Adams, who had earlier agreed to join the group to inspect the traffic-choked conditions.

The group cited a meeting Mayor Adams had with Lieber last summer in which Adams specifically highlighted Fordham Road as a bus corridor that his DOT would improve. Once a shining star of the city's bus service when the Select Bus Service program service launched there 15 years ago, bus speeds and ridership both plummeted on Fordham Road and the BX12 bus that goes east and west across the corridor.

Council Member Oswald Feliz — with the help of Rep. Adriano Espaillat and business and cultural interests whose leadership don't even live in the Bronx — lobbied against not just to a proposed busway, but even a compromise plan to shift the existing bus lane away from the curb.

The letter from Riders Alliance member noted that even Adams's predecessor, Bill de Blasio, who the organization began calling Bill "de Bus Is Slow" as bus speeds and ridership collapsed during his mayoralty, installed more bus priority projects than Adams.

"Mayor Bloomberg started Select Bus Service. Mayor de Blasio built busways in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn in the face of powerful local opposition. It's impossible to imagine that kind of progress under these conditions in your administration," the letter said.

Members who signed the letter said that the debacle on Fordham Road left them feeling like Adams — who donned a spiffy "Bus Mayor" jacket last summer on a ride with the group down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn — had forgotten about them. (The jacket was a gift from Riders Alliance, which on Thursday asked the mayor to return it.)

"When I'm thinking about Bronx and how things have just not gotten any better, you would think that our mayor would actually not forget about us," said letter signatory Norma Ginez. "We're really considered a forgotten borough."

"It's just sad. I really would think that our mayor would be a little bit more active and speak with us, too, because he hasn't really made any time with riders. We're not the enemy. We just want better bus service," she added.

The organization's letter is a stark turnaround from how Riders Alliance first greeted Adams when he took office. Then, the group took him at his word that the mayor would paint 150 miles of dedicated bus lanes in just four years, a hyper-ambitious promise that would remake bus service around the city if it happens. The organization even presented him with the jacket.

But almost two full years into Adams's tenure, bus speeds have remained stuck in the mud. Citywide, buses were moving at 8.4 miles per hour when the mayor took office in January 2022. As of August 2023, average bus speeds in the city were were 8.2 miles per hour, according to the MTA.

And despite the mayor's grand promise to prioritize bus lanes, the Department of Transportation has only installed fewer than 20 miles of bus lanes around the city. The administration has only proposed one busway, on Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn, and has actually rolled back the operating hours on the Flushing Avenue busway, the 181st Street busway and the Jamaica Avenue busway.

A representative for the mayor defended the administration's plan to repaint the existing Fordham Road bus lane, and its record on buses more generally.

"Thousands of Bronxites depend on bus service on Fordham Road each day, and we are taking immediate steps to speed up the service for riders," said Adams administration spokesperson Charles Lutvak. "The Adams administration has sped up commutes for more than 400,000 daily bus riders by building and enhancing bus lanes from the North Bronx to southern Brooklyn, and we will continue working closely with communities to build on this record of success."

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