“This is a matter of fundamental fairness,” said Janno Lieber, chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the bus system. “Bus lanes and bus lanes are the only way we can meet New York’s need for a much faster bus system.”
Other cities around the world, including London and Beijing, are ahead of the game in ceding limited space on the streets to buses, as they aim to entice drivers out of cars, make more room for cyclists and pedestrians and reduce emissions harmful to the climate.
But in New York, some local officials, business leaders and community groups say bus lanes can actually make congestion worse by removing traffic lanes and parking spaces, pushing traffic onto surrounding streets and accomplishing little when some lanes don’t carry many buses.
“The city hasn’t learned from its mistake,” said Paul Kerzner, 71, general counsel for a Queens homeowners and citizens association, who unsuccessfully sued to block a bus lane three years ago. years in the Ridgewood neighborhood.
Yet in New York and elsewhere, bus lanes and bus lanes, which shut off nearly all traffic on the roads, have been shown to improve service. After a section of Main Street in Flushing, Queens, a notoriously congested corridor, was turned into a bus lane last year, rush hour bus speeds increased by 50%
Beijing has imposed a breakneck pace for bus-only lanes, running 624 miles since the first opened in 1997 to stem skyrocketing car ownership. The average travel speed in the lanes is 12.4 mph during peak hours, more than 50% faster than the average bus speed in New York.
London, with 180 miles of bus lanes on its busiest routes, has placed some at pinch points to improve traffic flow and extended to 24/7 service on many lanes, which helped improve travel times and reliability.