MTA Bus Company President Craig Cipriano joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman, NYC Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and other city officials today on a Bx36 bus ride along the newly launched 181 St Busway. The half-mile busway is bringing faster bus speeds to 68,000 daily riders in Washington Heights. The project has also calmed traffic while maintaining local access to support businesses and services.
181 St is one of the busiest and most congested corridors in Manhattan, resulting in average bus speeds of less than 4 miles per hour prior to the busway, slowing connections for bus riders to the A and 1 trains and the six bus routes traveling on the north-south avenues. Bus speeds on the busway have increased by 30%, with greater improvement expected as more automobile drivers become aware of the new rules.
The busway in Washington Heights will bring transit priority to 181 St between Broadway and Amsterdam Av in the eastbound direction, and Amsterdam Av to Wadsworth Av in the westbound direction. Through-traffic is limited to buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles. Cars, taxis, and vans must make the next available right turn off the busway. Local access and parking are allowed, with improved truck loading and parking meter regulations.
In the coming weeks, bus lane enforcement cameras will be installed by NYCDOT to monitor the corridor, with drivers receiving warnings for the first 60 days. Following the warning period, bus lane violations will be issued to any prohibited vehicle using the bus lane. The violations, which start at $50 for a first offense and escalate to $250 for multiple violations, will work in tandem with transit signal priority, a technology that extends green lights when buses approach and shortens the time buses spend at red lights.
Following is a transcript of President Cipriano’s remarks which preceded the bus ride:
“I'm excited to be here alongside Mayor de Blasio, Chairman Rodriguez, Ben Furnas and of course my partner in delivering effective bus service to bus customers throughout New York City, [Commissioner] Gutman. As it's been said, we're here to celebrate another great milestone for New York City bus customers as we continue to support the city's recovery from this unprecedented crisis to launch the 181 St truck and transit priority route, or as I like to say it, the busway.
“With this latest edition of busways, we will ultimately benefit over 340,000 daily bus customers across 29 routes. And as Commissioner Gutman already said, tens of thousands of bus customers have already seen their commutes get better by about 30%. Bus speeds have been seen to increase preliminarily by 30% right here on 181 St and we're excited about that.
“Just this month, we had the highest single-day ridership on the bus system since we began collecting fares again. Over 1.2 million customers, about 60% of pre-pandemic ridership, used our bus system this month, and we're excited for more bus customers to come back and see just how hard we're working on improving the system.
“And it's not just about bus lanes and busways. We continue to work with our partners in New York City to expand on transit signal priority to get more cameras on the street and onboard our buses, and we'll continue to manage service and adjust our schedules as we see traffic needs.
“So let me close by saying thank you Mayor de Blasio. Thank you Commissioner Gutman. It really has truly been a partnership, a partnership that we continue to want to build upon. There's no debating that a high-performing transit system is the key to New York’s recovery, as we look forward to welcoming back more customers.
“Let me leave you with this thought: If you're not a bus, stay out of our bus lane!
“Thank you very much.”