Mayor de Blasio, New York Leaders Announce Transportation Measures to Increase New Yorkers' Mobility

The City has identified locations to implement its Bus Action Plan to increase bus speeds 25% by 2020, help more businesses receive off-hour deliveries, and explore new pedestrian zones in Lower Manhattan

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced dramatic measures to increase mobility on our streets that will be part of the 2019 OneNYC strategic plan. The package announced today includes: a detailed plan on how DOT will implement the Bus Action Plan with the goal of increasing bus speeds 25% by 2020; a plan to triple the number of businesses switching to off-hour deliveries; and pursue the creation of new pedestrian priority zones around Lower Manhattan. These measures will help New Yorkers get around and complement the implementation of congestion pricing in early 2021. The Mayor made the announcement along Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side, among the corridors that will see major bus improvements this year.

“Making it easier to get around our city means New Yorkers have more time for what matters most – for their family and themselves,” said Mayor de Blasio. “These measures are part of our OneNYC strategy to build a fairer, better city for all. They complement congestion pricing, helping us fix our subways and reduce traffic delays to get our city moving.”

Today’s mobility announcement consists of three elements, all part of 2019 OneNYC, the strategic plan for the City: the Better Buses Action Plan, increasing off-hour deliveries and pursuing the creation of new pedestrian spaces in Lower Manhattan.

Better Buses Action Plan

In his 2019 State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio announced a citywide goal of improving bus speeds by 25% by 2020. The Better Buses Action Plan released today (see report here), identifies the specific routes and projects the City will undertake in 2019 to increase bus speeds in all five boroughs. These projects include:

Manhattan: 42nd Street, 12th Avenue to FDR Drive; 2 miles

Total daily ridership: 16,000

Potential Improvements:

·         Upgrade curbside bus lane to offset lane in at least one direction

·         Update curb management along the corridor to prioritize transit priority, pedestrian space, and loading needs

·         Extend/install turn bays at select locations and install turn bans at select locations to benefit the flow of buses and other traffic

·         Adjust signal timing to improve crosstown travel

Bronx: Webster Avenue, 176th Street to 174th Street; .25 miles

Total daily ridership: 21,000

Potential Improvements:

·         Add southbound offset bus lane between E 176th St and E 174th St

·         Add physical barrier to separate bus and right turning movements

·         Adjust signal timing to improve safety and vehicle flow

Queens: Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Beach 116th Street to Beach 73rd Street; 3.7 miles

Total daily ridership: 36,000

Potential Improvements:

·         Implement pedestrian safety improvements at intersections along the corridor

·         Construct sidewalks to make bus stops at Beach 73rd St and Beach 67th St accessible

·         Install offset and curbside bus lanes on portions of the corridor

Brooklyn: Livingston Street, Boerum Place to Flatbush Avenue

Total daily ridership: 63,000

Potential Improvements:

·         Add dedicated westbound right turn arrow and signal phase to help buses turning right from westbound Livingston St onto Boerum Pl

·         Refresh existing bus lanes and extend bus lane hours

·         Upgrade bus lanes to protected bus lanes with physical barriers to prevent illegal parking and standing

Staten Island: Narrows Road at Hylan Boulevard

Total daily ridership: 33,000

Potential Improvements:

·         Relocate the northbound S78 bus stop from the south side of Narrows Rd S to the north side to improve bus operations and safety

·         Reverse direction of Hylan Blvd (east leg) from northbound to southbound, from Narrows Rd S to Olga Pl, to reduce congestion and make it easier for buses and other traffic on Narrows Rd S to merge onto the Staten Island Expressway on-ramp

·         Investigate a leading pedestrian signal (LPI) for the east crosswalk to give pedestrians a head start on crossing the street to reach the S78 bus stop

·         Coordinate with NYSDOT to move the existing bus stop on the south side of Narrows Rd S/Hylan Blvd one block to the west to improve safety, to better position buses to merge onto the Staten Island Expy and alleviate traffic congestion

Increasing Off-Hour Deliveries

The de Blasio administration will work with MTA and the Port Authority to encourage efficient deliveries and support continued growth in freight activity, specifically by encouraging more businesses to accept off-hour deliveries in the Central Business District. Under the initiative this year, the number of business locations enrolled in the Overnight/Off-hour Delivery (OHD) program will triple -- from just over 500 to 1500.

DOT directs the OHD program, helping businesses make this transition by working with distributors. Currently, 119 businesses at 524 off-hour delivery locations are now involved in the program – the majority in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with a small number in other boroughs.

The OHD program (more info here) includes businesses that ship large amounts of goods into the Central Business District, like Just Salad, Liberty Coca Cola and ABI (Anheuser Busch-Inbev), as well as companies that receive deliveries, including Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Pret-a-Manger, Lush, Rite Aid, and Whole Foods.

Increasing freight efficiency with an expanded OHD program promotes sustainable business practices with multiple benefits – from the reduction of daytime roadway congestion and double parking in active bus lanes to advancing the City’s Vision Zero goals with fewer truck-pedestrian conflicts.  The city plans to spend $1 million on outreach to all businesses in areas of Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn to make the case for OHD or invite them to participate in the program.

New Pedestrian Spaces

In light of recent community based pedestrianization studies, the City is examining options for creating new pedestrian priority streets in Lower Manhattan, where streets are narrow and sidewalks often overcrowded. DOT will work with communities, including within the Financial District, to identify locations.

As part of pedestrianizing streets in Lower Manhattan, DOT will look at using its existing toolbox – including potential changes to street-parking regulations and daytime events.  DOT is also examining shared-street options. DOT is also examining shared-street options building off a summer Lower Manhattan neighborhood-wide shared street event that took place on an August Saturday in 2017, sponsored by DOT and community groups.

DOT will look to install treatments this year following a community engagement process, including with Manhattan Community Board One and the Alliance for Downtown NY. The formal study of the area will kick off this summer.

“As New York City prepares to implement Congestion Pricing, we need to use this moment to set the right policies into motion,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, we will have a Better Buses Action Plan, off-hour delivery assistance programs, and new pedestrian zones that will help us get the most out of our streets and other public space.”

“Public transportation is the lifeblood of our city, but congested streets and crowded sidewalks negatively impact safety and accessibility in our communities. That’s why we’re thrilled that the City, through OneNYC, is taking steps to speed up buses and better manage delivery times,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s OneNYC Director and Chief Climate Policy Advisor. “These measures announced today, including a bold experiment to prioritize pedestrians in Lower Manhattan, send a message to the globe and help to make our city safer and easier to get around while ensuring efficient mobility for all.”

“We’ve all experienced how difficult it can be to get around New York City regardless of the time of day. The new measures announced by Mayor de Blasio today will make New York City streets more accessible and easier to navigate for everyone – drivers, public transportation users, and pedestrians. A significant increase in buses’ speed and access to new pedestrian areas will make it easier for everyone to get around, enjoy the city, and get to their destination on time,” said Congressman José Serrano.

“A fair city needs fast buses and today’s announcement moves us closer to that goal,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I am especially encouraged about the upgrades coming to the 14th and 96th Street routes, which carry a combined 42,000 daily riders. I have long pushed for upgrades to these three bus lines, all of which move at under 5 mph. I thank Mayor de Blasio for these new plans, and I look forward to the increased bus speeds and reduced travel times that will make a meaningful difference for New Yorkers.”

“Every element of our mass transit system must be improved dramatically for our city to achieve its full potential. Buses are a vital part of our transportation infrastructure and I applaud efforts to make them move faster and more efficiently,” said State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.

“Improving mobility in congested areas throughout the five boroughs will require a well-crafted, multi-pronged approach that carefully considers the needs of motorists, pedestrians, transit riders, folks who rely on alternative modes of transportation, and our business community,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie. “I commend Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Transportation for taking this challenge head on, and I am encouraged by their understanding of the fact that issues like congestion and slow bus speeds affect communities outside the Manhattan core.”

"The changes included in the Better Buses Action Plan will help New Yorkers get around more easily," said State Senator Robert Jackson. "From monitored bus lanes to greater efficiency in the Bronx and Queens, from new pedestrian spaces downtown to increased off-hour deliveries for businesses, these reforms will clean up our streets and speed up traffic. As Chair of the Cities Committee in the New York State Senate, I heartily endorse these changes and look forward to seeing them improve bus service across New York City."

“Making sure our buses run frequently and on time is vital for the many New Yorkers who rely on them," said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. "I hope the City and the MTA will work with our communities to ensure that proposed improvements are implemented in ways that are most beneficial."

“Buses are a lifeline for so many New Yorkers, especially seniors, but too often they are slowed to a crawl by congestion. The Better Buses Action Plan includes several critical steps that will help make bus service faster and more reliable, and create a positive feedback loop to get more people into buses and out of cars. I commend Mayor de Blasio for drilling down on the problem of congestion and exploring effective solutions,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.

State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, “Any improvements to the efficiency and safety of our city’s buses, which a notable amount of residents in my district use every day, are welcomed. Today's announcement of the Better Buses Action Plan is encouraging; I look forward to working with the DOT to bring necessary advancements to Eastern Brooklyn."

"I have advocated for better bus service and proper management of Fresh Pond Road buses for many years.  Fresh Pond Depot is a very important part of my district, an economic generator and a people mover, it allows people the ability to travel all over Brooklyn and Queens from the Myrtle Wyckoff and Fresh Pond hubs.  I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Trottenberg, the MTA, Community Board #5 and my community to make important progress on these concerns, especially now that new funding is in place because of congestion pricing.  Prior MTA capital plans have improved Myrtle Wyckoff and Metropolitan Avenue stations as well as smaller improvements along the M train.  It's past due time to assist our bus riding community,” said Assembly Member Cathy Nolan.

“As the fight for improved public transit continues, the Mayor’s Better Buses Action Plan has the potential to improve bus service for the millions of New Yorkers who rely on the MTA,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart. “I am particularly pleased that my constituents will benefit from proposed improvements to service on both Madison and Lexington.”

“For many years I have said that we need to improve the services of our buses, I thank the Mayor for taking this initiative, taking our buses into the new century to better the lives of all New Yorkers. Together with our trains, the buses are the second largest mode of transportation for the City of New York, we need to ensure that they run efficiently and on time.” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“Our public bus system is a critical component of our city’s mass transportation system and City Hall has listened to riders’ concerns. Enacting the Better Bus Action Plan, particularly along Baychester Avenue in the 12th Council District, will be welcomed by the scores of residents, students and visitors in Co-op City and nearby who utilize the MTA buses daily along that corridor. Kudos to the de Blasio Administration for putting this plan into action,” said Council Member Andy King.

“DOT is thinking creatively to reduce pedestrian and vehicular congestion and improve mobility in the city,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “The business community will continue to work closely with the city to support the goals of the Mayor’s OneNYC initiatives.”

“Regional Plan Association applauds Mayor de Blasio and the City Department of Transportation on moving forward with these exciting initiatives to improve mobility and quality of life in New York City,” said Tom Wright, President of Regional Plan Association. “Giving buses greater priority on city streets will make them a far more attractive and reliable option—a particularly important goal as NYC Transit embarks on a multi-year effort to improve subways. Pedestrianizing Lower Manhattan is also critically important to making this city more welcoming for workers, visitors and residents alike. Regional Plan Association supported these concepts in its Fourth Regional Plan and we are eager to help the Administration make these projects a reality.”

“The Financial District Neighborhood Association applauds Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Trottenberg and other leaders in the administration for their vision in working to address the serious safety, health and quality of life concerns posed by the many obstacles which limit pedestrian mobility in the Financial District, the City’s oldest and fastest-growing neighborhood,” said Patrick M. Kennell, the President and Founder of the Financial District Neighborhood Association. “While more details are yet to be known, critical pedestrian mobility problems in the Financial District’s unique street grid have been known and studied for many years now, and we thank the administration for heeding our call to take immediate and innovative action.  We look forward to collaborating closely with DOT, other City agencies including DSNY, and other Lower Manhattan stakeholders as DOT pilots these transformative improvements.”

"The release of Mayor de Blasio's 'Better Buses Action Plan' comes as much welcome news to bus riders, who for years have endured painfully slow and unreliable bus service across the five boroughs. On behalf of over two million New Yorkers for whom buses serve as a critical transportation link, we applaud Mayor de Blasio on his bold commitment to transform streets and intersections to serve the needs of riders," said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign.

"Better buses mean better access to our city. Two million New Yorkers who depend on buses to get around are grateful to Mayor de Blasio for putting us first and making our city fairer and more inclusive. Today's action plan to deliver on the promises in the mayor's State of the City address brings us closer to the reality of buses worth riding once again. I'm used to waiting at bus stops with baited breath. Once these street improvements kick in, I'll start breathing easier,” said Debbie Baldwin, Riders Alliance Member and Murray Hill resident.

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "An improved NYC bus system and new pedestrian spaces will make our city's streets more livable and encourage families to leave their cars at home. Adding more miles of bus lanes included protected lanes, Transit Signal Priority, and shared spaces for pedestrians have been longtime priorities for NYLCV and we are pleased to see that DOT will implement these plans this year.  We thank Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for their efforts to improve mass transit and make our streets more pedestrian-friendly."

“The Better Buses Action Plan is a great start toward achieving Mayor de Blasio’s goal of increasing bus speeds 25% by the end of 2020. We applaud NYC DOT for taking a new, flexible approach to adding bus lanes. This is exactly what bus riders need to bypass traffic jams and get moving again. We call on City Council members to support these projects and help expedite the city’s initiative to speed trips so millions of bus riders are no longer stuck in traffic,” said TransitCenter Communications Director Ben Fried.

"Sustainability is at Just Salad’s core, and we were drawn to the Off-Hours Delivery Pilot because early deliveries mean fewer idling trucks and lower truck emissions,” said Janani Lee, Just Salad's Chief Sustainability Officer. "The program also eliminates the logistical headaches of waiting for delivery trucks, which makes it a win-win for everyone." 

“We applaud the mayor for promising to make bus improvements citywide. We have two million bus riders who need reliable service—and millions more who will come back to ride on an improved bus network. With congestion pricing coming, bus service will be even more critical for New Yorkers, and this is a huge step in the right direction,” said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director, Tristate Transportation Campaign.