Bus Route Profiles
December 23, 2017
As we all know, New York City’s public transit system is vital to the health, wealth, and welfare of its residents. Our subways and buses connect New Yorkers from every neighborhood and every walk of life, helping them get to jobs, school, appointments, events, and meet-ups with friends and family.
Unfortunately, our transit system is old, overworked, and increasingly unresponsive to the needs of a growing and changing city. That’s not just true for the subways, but for our buses as well, as my office documented in a recent report, “The Other Transit Crisis.”
Too many of our bus routes are slow, unreliable, infrequent, and meandering, and too often they are failing to connect working people to where they need to go, when they need to go. Meanwhile, the bus fleet is old, bus shelters are deficient, and many innovations that could help to speed up buses are being implemented slowly or not at all, leading to a decline in ridership of over 100 million in the last eight years alone.
In response to this decline, my office has put together a comprehensive blueprint for resuscitating the bus system and improving the lives of its riders. We’ve also put together these “Bus Route Profiles” to help you see how buses in your neighborhood are doing. It analyzes the ridership, speed, frequencies, and interconnectivity of every route, providing an important resource to communities throughout the city.
My hope is that by shining a light on the performance of every route in the city, riders will have the information they need to press for better service. The MTA is already making data like this available to subway riders through its “Subway Performance Metrics Dashboard,” and I believe they should bring the same level of transparency to the bus system as soon as possible.
I hope you’ll find these profiles of interest. If you’d like to follow-up on this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to call my office’s Community Action Center at 212-669-3916 or to sign-up for our mailing list via our website at www.comptroller.nyc.gov or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott M. Stringer
Frequency during AM rush, Buses per hour: The number of buses that begin their route between 7:00am and 8:00am. A route is generally considered “frequent” if it provides more than six buses per hour (i.e. the wait time between buses averages less than 10 minutes).
Frequency in the Evening, Buses per Hour: The number of buses that begin their route between 8:30pm and 10:30pm.
Length of Route (in miles): Distance a bus travels along its route. The longer the route, the greater likelihood for delays to accumulate and cascade down the entirety of the line.
Average Distance between Bus Stops (in feet): Pulling into a bus stop, off-boarding passengers, on-boarding passengers, and exiting a bus stop can be time consuming. In fact, the typical MTA bus spends 22 percent of its time at stops. Thus, more stops can translate into slower bus service.
# of Turns along Route: Frequent turns along a route will slow down a bus, forcing it to wait for an opening in traffic and carefully maneuver onto a new road. This can be dangerous as well, as turns carry a higher likelihood for collisions.
Bus Stops within .1 Miles of a Subway or Staten Island Rail Road station: Effective bus and subway routes will complement and reinforce one another. Buses should extend and connect the subway system, maximizing coverage and minimizing commute times. Yet many routes have too few or too many connection points with the subway.
Average Weekday Ridership: The MTA provides combined ridership data for routes BX1/BX2, BX4/BX4A, BX12/BX12 SBS, BX28/BX38, BX40/BX42, BX41/BX41 SBS, B44/B44 SBS, B46/B46 SBS, M5/M55, M14A/M14D, M15/M15 SBS, M34 SBS/M34A SBS, Q15/Q15A, Q20A/Q20B, S40/S90, S44/S94, S46/S96, S48/S98, S51/S81, S61/S91, S62/S92, S74/S84, and S76/S86.
On-Time Performance: The percentage of buses that arrive at their final stop no more than five minutes late or one minute early. When buses fail to adhere to their schedule and maintain steady service, riders are adversely impacted. They are late for work, for school, for appointments, caretaking, pick-ups, drop-offs, and much more. A high-frequency network is of little value when buses run ahead or behind schedule. A bus system that is unreliable will struggle to retain and attract ridership.
Wait Assessment: A measure of bus reliability. Tracks the percentage of buses that maintain even-spacing along their route and do not get bunched.