Final plan for MTA’s Bronx bus network redesign adds new local and express service

The final plan for the Bronx Bus Network Redesign was released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). It proposes two new local routes, one new express route, increases service frequency on nine corridors where multiple bus routes share streets, improves crosstown connections, balances stop spacing and streamlines circuitous routes to increase service reliability and intermodal transfers for 675,000 customers throughout the borrow.

“The Bronx bus redesign gives us the opportunity to build a foundation for a new high-frequency network to serve the largest number of riders at the times when they need bus service the most,” said MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “This is a customer-focused proposal that incorporates an unprecedented level of public input realized by finding innovative ways to reallocate and reinvest finite resources.”

The network redesign provides a new baseline upon which the MTA can tailor service to ridership while improving service for the majority of Bronx residents.

“We are proposing a new Bronx bus network with higher frequency, more coverage and more points of transfer,” said Craig Cipriano, acting MTA Bus Company president and senior vice president for buses, NYC Transit. “This redesign is a dynamic customer-focused initiative that we will continue to refine as customers respond to changes.”

The proposed redesign updates the Bronx’s bus routes, which have largely remained unchanged since they were converted from trolley lines nearly a century ago or absorbed from private bus lines that were consolidated into the MTA decades ago. It took into consideration the routes’ performance, speed, ridership and reliability on key corridors, and how individual routes contribute to the larger network. Altogether, the proposal established a new baseline of bus service in the Bronx and a new foundation upon which the MTA can build as the borough continues to evolve and change. Once the redesign is implemented, the MTA will closely monitor service to ensure new levels are closely aligned with ridership and customer demand.

The recommendations were developed in collaboration with the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) following unprecedented levels of public outreach with communities and coordination with transit advocates, including open houses, workshops, multiple community board meetings, in-person surveys, and community events. Proposals took into consideration customers’ current commuting patterns and itinerary suggestions, and requests for more direct service, fewer bus stops, and improved crosstown connections. NYC Transit also identified key corridors where NYCDOT street treatments and traffic signal improvements can be implemented to expand bus priority and better support sustainable, all-day bus service.

“DOT is excited to join our partners at New York City Transit in this generational redesign of the Bronx’s bus network, especially in neighborhoods with limited subway access,” said NYCDOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “As part of this effort, DOT has identified 10 major Bronx corridors where we will install bus lanes or other bus priority treatments to reduce travel times and improve reliability for bus riders. We look forward to working with NYCT and local stakeholders on these ambitious plans to better serve the bus riders of the Bronx.”
Highlights include the following:

· New service: Two new local routes, the Bx25, and M125 provide new connections and services to previously underserved neighborhoods. A new Manhattan-Bronx express route, BxM5, provides peak-hour premium service between the northern Bronx and midtown Manhattan.

· More transfer points, frequency increase on major corridors: Most customers who provided feedback wanted better connections to other buses or the subway system. The proposal aligns routes to provide new access points for customers, including extensions of three routes to more neighborhoods, a new Bx40/42 connection to 2 and 5 subway service at E 180 St, a new route connecting northern Co-op City to Bedford Park and seven route simplifications to bring customers to major corridors. Four routes will provide service to accessible subway stations. Frequency also will significantly increase on nine major corridors, which will be served by 10 routes.

· Balanced stop spacing: Both customers and transit advocates requested more balanced spacing between stops to speed up travel times. The average time it takes for a bus to re-enter traffic from a stop ranges from 20 seconds to more than 1 minute during peak hours. Bronx stops are currently an average of 882 feet apart – just over three city blocks. Stops in transit systems around the world range from 1,000 to 1,680 feet. Under the proposed redesign, stops would be spaced an average of 1,092 feet, resulting in a net reduction of 400 local/limited stops. While transit advocates had requested more aggressive stop reductions, NYC Transit must consider other factors such as stop usage, ridership, geography and impact on the community when making these operational decisions. Many retained stops serve high ridership areas such as retirement communities, hospitals or schools for which a stop removal would create a significant burden. Others provide transfers to subway stations or connections to different bus routes, or access to geographically challenging locations where hills would make walking difficult, particularly during inclement weather.

· Proposals aligned with extensive Co-op City community feedback led to enhancements and retained loop routing to preserve area service and frequency. Bx26 frequency will be split with new route Bx25, with current frequency levels maintained along Allerton Avenue. The Bx26 route will maintain its existing routing due to public recommendations.

· Improved crosstown service in the central Bronx, which was the result of popular customer feedback. Three routes will receive more frequent service. Seven routes will be streamlined, rerouted to reduce duplicative service and to provide more direct service to subway stations, or extended to new coverage areas.

· Select Bus Service (SBS) improvements and future plans: The Bx6 SBS route will be streamlined and extended to bring SBS further east along Story Avenue into the Soundview section of the Bronx. SBS, which is New York City’s version of Bus Rapid Transit, has proven to increase bus speeds by up to 20 percent while introducing customer-friendly features such as all-door boarding, off-board fare collection, improved signage, and digital travel information. Approximately 9,400 current Bx5 customers will benefit from this extended Bx6 SBS route, which will also provide more direct access to major destinations and transfer points such as Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Courthouse, Borough Hall, and the Grand Concourse. The route will also serve upcoming developments such as the planned Hunts Point station for Metro-North Railroad, and future residential development at 1125 Whitlock Avenue.

· Two express bus route changes to avoid congested streets: The BxM2 and BxM18, which travel on two of the city’s most congested north-south corridors, Madison and Fifth avenues, will be rerouted to the Henry Hudson Pkwy from Riverside Drive to Midtown Manhattan. These changes to avoid East Side street congestion will provide customers with faster and more reliable service, and Manhattan East customers will continue to be served by that area’s existing robust network of local bus routes and subway service.

· In collaboration with NYC DOT, NYC Transit identified major corridors for bus priority projects to accompany the network redesign. These corridors were chosen based on criteria such as ridership demand, service reliability, and speed, proposed new service levels, demographics and ease of implementation. NYCDOT will work with communities to refine details of these projects over the winter, in order to start implementing these projects in 2020, along with benches, real-time information signs, and other passenger-focused improvements.

The identified corridors are:

· Pelham Parkway, Fordham Road, and West 207th Street, Eastchester Road to Broadway

· Pelham Bay Park Station Area

· Washington Bridge and West 181st Street, University Avenue to Broadway

· East 149th Street, River Avenue to Southern Boulevard

· L. Grant Highway, Cross Bronx Expressway to East 167th Street

· University Avenue, Kingsbridge Road to Cross Bronx Expressway

· Tremont Avenue, Sedgwick Avenue to Boston Road

· East 167th and East 168th streets, Jerome to Franklin avenues

· Story Avenue, Bronx River Avenue to White Plains Road

· East Gun Hill Road, Bainbridge to Bartow avenues

· Transit signal priority (TSP) and digital travel information: NYC Transit and NYCDOT will continue to explore opportunities to install TSP at intersections and real-time passenger information (RTPI) signage at stops. NYC Transit will install TSP software on the entire fleet by 2021, and NYCDOT has implemented TSP on 14 bus routes citywide, with the goal of adding an additional three to four routes this year.

(MTA NYC Transit)

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