Today we on the East Side, who have been underserved by public transit, have something to celebrate: Select Bus Service along First and Second Avenues in Manhattan. This is a huge first step toward creating a real Bus Rapid Transit alternative to serve the communities far east of the Lexington Avenue subway line.
I have long been advocating for the adoption of Bus Rapid Transit to improve transportation options on the East Side – as far back as in 2004, I hosted a forum on the issue, which brought together the MTA, DOT, community and transportation advocates to strategize about how to accomplish this goal. I am extremely gratified that this important project is now moving ahead.
This new system of buses will speed up travel times on this sluggish pathway by 20% and will dramatically increase safety for all: motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and especially our senior population. Select Bus Service on Fordham Road in the Bronx, the first of the City's rollout, has been hugely successful and has increased ridership. This is a win-win for our community and I am pleased after many years of involvement to be able to see its implementation.
I am hopeful that this will be just the starting line for this corridor – we still have much to do in the way of creating a bus system which will move at acceptable and appropriate speeds. The Department of Transportation must look at this as a redesign of our streets, a real opportunity to change the landscape of the East Side with regard to bus and bicycle lanes. The Legislature must also actively support in this project as well, which is why I have so strongly advocated for legislation to allow for bus lane cameras to be installed to aid in enforcement to keep cars and trucks from illegally using bus lanes.
So while we celebrate today's victory, we also acknowledge that there is much to be done by our City and State agencies as well as by our Legislature, to ensure that this is not the last 'stop,' so to speak, but rather a step in the right direction for New York City transportation policy.