On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy and New York City Transit president Andy Byford both announced initiatives to revitalize and improve NJ Transit and MTA bus systems respectively.
Byford described this new action plan as an outline to “reinvent and reimagine” service from the routes, to enforcement of bus lanes, to the buses themselves. His plans are detailed and come with specific deadlines, for example all bus a complete review and redesign of the bus network will wrap up by 2021, with targeted improvements beginning this year. By 2020 all buses will have tap and go farecard readers, allowing for all-door boarding which is proven to speed up bus travel times. Byford, the steep and persistent declines in bus ridership (14% decline since 2007), wisely made this one of his top priorities in his first 100 days on the job.
“We’re releasing the bus plan first because it seems to me getting people back on the buses and understanding why they stopped riding the buses in some cases is particularly important and particularly pressing,” Byford said.
Byford’s announcement is also a hug win for the advocates with the Bus Turnaround Coalition who have been calling for these types of improvements over the past two years.
In New Jersey, Governor Murphy, alongside executive director of NJ Transit Kevin Corbett, spoke from the NJ Transit Bus Central Maintenance Facility in Newark. They both discussed specifics about the large budget increase proposed for NJTransit in the FY2019 budget, detailing how a portion of that money would be used to boost bus service. This include the addition of 40 more bus operator positions and targeted relief of overcrowding on the bus routes with the fastest growing ridership throughout the state.
“In addition to sharing the good news that bus fares would not increase at all in the upcoming fiscal year, our plan also means the budgeting for 40 much needed new bus driver positions that must be filled,” Governor Murphy said in his remarks. “We now look to the residents of New Jersey to be part of NJ Transit’s renewal.”
We applaud Governor Murphy and Andy Byford for taking the necessary steps to turn around bus service in their respective states and make this healthy, accessible and affordable form of transportation work again.