Queens pols say bus schedule cost-cutting move hurts riders

A Q54 bus chugs along Metropolitan Avenue.  Eagle  file photo by David Brand.

A Q54 bus chugs along Metropolitan Avenue. Eagle file photo by David Brand.

By Jonathan Sperling

A cost-cutting measure by the Metropolitan Transit Authority has prompted 16 Queens lawmakers to write a letter demanding the transit agency restore paper bus schedules.

The MTA began removing physical bus schedules earlier this summer. The move would enable the agency to save $550,000 by no longer having to reprint the pamphlets, which are regularly updated, the MTA said. 

“As we modernize bus service, we’re finding ways to provide `accurate arrival time information to customers in faster, more efficient ways,” MTA’s Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer told amNY in a statement. “Moving to paperless schedules helps reduce our paper waste and makes the most of new technology that puts real-time information in customers’ hands whenever they need it.”

But the reduction in paper waste and printing costs did not please an array of Queens’ councilmembers, assemblymembers, state senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Riders across the city will be left “lost and confused without a physical printout of the bus schedule to guide them,” the lawmakers said.

“Simply put: posted bus schedules help get riders where they need to go, and removing them will only hinder the commutes of those without access to technology. Even the MTA readily admits that bus schedules change frequently,” reads the letter addressed to MTA Chairperson Patrick Foye.

Many of the lawmakers who signed off on the letter represent districts where buses are the only public transportation option. More than 80 bus routes run primarily in Queens, shuttling tens of millions of reliant riders annually.

In lieu of the physical bus schedules, bus riders can view schedules online or see live locations of buses.

Queens buses are notoriously slow, with routes across the borough suffering from unreliable service, overcrowding and bunching. The Bus Turnaround Coalition, a product of TransitCenter, graded most Queens bus routes with a “D” or “F” in part for not following their posted schedules.

The letter is signed by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, State Sen. John Liu, Assemblymembers Ed Braunstein and Nily Rozic and Councilmembers Adrienne Adams, Karen Koslowitz, Peter Koo, Barry Grodenchik, Costa Constantinides, Donovan Richards, Paul Vallone, Robert Holden, I. Daneek Miller, Antonio Reynoso, Jimmy Van Bramer and Daniel Dromm.