Finally, Mayor Adams Reveals Key Bus Projects for 2022

Painting bus lanes is as easy at it looks. Photo: Dave Colon
Painting bus lanes is as easy at it looks. Photo: Dave Colon

Mayor Adams and MTA CEO and Chairman Janno Lieber announced the city’s long-awaited list of this year’s 20 miles of planned bus lane projects on Thursday after the city and the MTA met at what the mayor called a “transit-improvement summit.”

The list of projects announced on Thursday go beyond the 14.6 miles in three projects that had been previously presented to community boards:

  • Fordham Road and 207th Street, between 10th Avenue in Manhattan and White Plains Road in the Bronx (3.0 miles)
  • Gun Hill Road, between Bainbridge and Bartow avenues in the Bronx (3.8 miles)
  • University Avenue, between Kingsbridge Road and Washington Bridge in the Bronx (3.4 miles)
  • Westchester Avenue at Pelham Bay Park Station in the Bronx (0.1 miles)
  • First Avenue between 61st and 79th streets in Manhattan (0.9 miles)
  • Avenues A and D, various segments in Manhattan (1.0 mile)
  • 21st Street, between the RFK Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge in Queens (3.4 miles)
  • Northern Boulevard, between Broadway and 114th Street in Queens (5.4 miles)

The mayor trotted out his catchphrase in celebration of his effort to speed the slowest system in America.

“This partnership is the definition of ‘Get Stuff Done,'” he said in a statement (reporters were not invited to the summit). “Together with the MTA, we are delivering the efficient, reliable bus network and transit system all New Yorkers and visitors to our great city deserve. And we will work closely with communities every step of the way to take these much-needed, bold steps together.”

In addition to the 20 miles of bus lanes that are now set to be painted in 2022, the mayor and the MTA also announced that community outreach was starting for bus priority projects on five bus corridors around the city (though it’s unclear which stretches):

  • Tremont Avenue in the Bronx
  • Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn
  • Livingston Street in Brooklyn
  • Northern Broadway in Manhattan
  • Second Avenue in Manhattan

The city is required by city law to paint 20 miles of dedicated bus lanes in 2022 and 150 miles by the end of 2026 (although there does not appear to be a penalty for failing to reach those benchmarks). Earlier this year, the mayor pledged $904 million over the next five years for capital work towards the goals of the so-called Streets Master Plan, including bus lanes, bike lanes and pedestrian plazas.

The combination of committed projects and outreach for future projects means that the city will have done or started work on 14 out of 22 locations identified as 2022 project locations in the Streets Master Plan, including every project located in the Bronx.

The many projects and corridors of the Streets Master Plan. Graphic: DOT
The many projects and corridors of the Streets Master Plan — but read the fine print (“maps serve as a vision for proposed projects…”). Graphic: DOT

Advocates celebrated the announcement as something that would be especially helpful for riders stuck in transit deserts.

“This announcement is great news for riders on the slowest buses in the nation, particularly those living in transit deserts where @NYCTBus service is a lifeline,” the Riders Alliance tweeted. “We can’t wait to see paint on the ground for faster, #BetterBuses!”

TransitCenter responded to the announcement by tweeting the eyes emjoi, known the world over as a sign for “Very interesting stuff…”

Interestingly, although it’s a holdover from the de Blasio era and it was listed as a 2022 project location, the bus lane planned for Fifth Avenue between 34th and 57th streets in Manhattan was not on the list of projects to finish or do outreach on, meaning that Mom and Pop stores like Hermes and Tiffany have apparently prevailed for another year.

The MTA and Department of Transportation are also expanding automated camera enforcement in bus lanes and expanding the use of transit signal priority. The DOT is installing 50 fixed bus lane cameras across the new and current bus lanes around the city, and the MTA will expand its on-bus enforcement camera program from 123 buses on seven routes to 300 buses covering nine more routes by the end of 2022. Transit signal priority, which allows buses to either hold green lights for longer periods of time or shorten wait times at red lights, will be installed by the DOT in 750 more intersections next year.

The MTA and the city announced other improvements coming to the transit system beyond the bus priority projects. The MTA said it would spend $200 million to expand the use of subway countdown clocks, improve its public announcement systems and install LCD signs at 71 subway stations in nine neighborhoods:

  • Tremont and Kingsbridge in the Bronx
  • Sunset Park, Brighton Beach, and East New York in Brooklyn
  • Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan
  • Jamaica and the Rockaways in Queens

And finally, the DOT and MTA promised that the agencies would work together to make the transit agency’s legally required commitment to cycling and pedestrian access into a reality. While lacking specifics, both agencies said they would work together to “prioritize bicycle, micromobility, and pedestrian access to transit with improvements to bike infrastructure, additional bike parking, and siting of micromobility share systems near subway stations and major bus stops.” The MTA also promised that pedestrian curb ramps that are affected by its capital projects will be replaced by accessible curb ramps built to modern standards.

That announcement came just days after Bike New York wrote to Lieber demanding more bike parking and for the MTA allow cyclists to use the Cross-Bay and RFK bridges this summer instead of making New Yorkers wait for whatever decision might be recommended in a report that comes out someday.