Transit Advocates Launch #deBUSio Campaign, Call on Mayor to Improve Bus Service

 Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator of the Straphangers Campaign, speaks at Thursday’s rally.

Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator of the Straphangers Campaign, speaks at Thursday’s rally.

By Jonathan Sperling

The wheels on #deBus go round and round — but the bus isn’t going anywhere.

Transit advocates rallied in front of two bus stations in Manhattan on Thursday to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to keep his promise of improving service for the city’s 2 million daily bus riders. The activists also encouraged riders to pressure the mayor via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, phone calls and mail using the hashtag #deBUSio.

"More than two million daily riders can't wait much longer for better bus service. Mayor Bill #deBUSio controls the city streets that buses drive on and the intersections where they stop. To make our city a truly fair one, Mayor #deBUSio needs to prioritize riders' needs and the proven policies that will make bus service faster and more reliable," Stephanie Burgos-Veras, a senior organizer with the Riders Alliance, said in a statement.

The Riders Alliance, along with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter and Tri-State Transportation Campaign, formed the Bus Turnaround Coalition. The coalition has pressured the MTA to redesign its bus networks in each borough and adopt “all door boarding” following the agency’s new fare payment system debut next year. Besides rallying at the M55 bus stop across from City Hall, the advocates also setup a popup “venting booth” at an M100 bus stop in Harlem

The coalition’s “Fast Bus, Fair City,” plan, released in July, called on the city and de Blasio to construct 100 new bus lane miles within the next five years, establish bus shelters at all bus stops citywide, and automate bus lane enforcement.

In a series of “Bus Report Cards” released by Bus Turnaround, more than 20 different Queens bus routes received an “F” grade based on speed, bus bunching and on-time performance. Among the borough’s worst buses are the Q6, which Bus Turnaround found to have an average speed of 6.7 mph; the Q25, which was found to have an average speed of 6.5 mph; and the Q60, found to have an average speed of 6 mph.

In the MTA’s own “Bus Plan,” published earlier this year, the agency admits that city bus speeds are among the slowest in the world and system-wide ridership declined by 14 percent between 2007 and 2018.

"From the street to the sidewalk, the City has a major role to play in significantly improving the overall quality of bus service for over two million daily riders,” Jaqi Cohen, a campaign coordinator with the Straphangers Campaign, said in a statement. “Mayor de Blasio should hear the cries of frustrated riders who are sick of waiting too long for their bus to arrive, usually at a stop with no shelter, only get stuck in endless traffic.”