The facts are stark: Bus ridership in New York City is in a state of free fall. Ridership losses in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan are even more alarming.
This isn’t a secret. Advocacy groups have agitated for reforms for years. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently released a bus action plan intended to increase service quality, and with it, ridership. So far, the plan has few details, but it primarily focuses on technological and technical improvements, including all-door boarding, transit signal priority, and the distance between stops. While these improvements are needed, we believe any plan could benefit from input from a very critical element in the system: the drivers who sit behind the wheel.
Under the auspices of the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University, we are in the process of developing a bus redesign plan for Brooklyn’s bus network, in the hopes of influencing the transit reform process. Our plan will argue that combining technical and technological improvements with input from local bus operators and passengers who experience the network every day will make for a better system. Unlike trains, buses bring operators and passengers into direct contact with each another. Drivers answer passengers’ questions, help those with walkers and wheelchairs, and endure traffic on a daily basis; they have a unique perspective and intimate understanding of how the conditions on the road impact the bus rider experience.