Good morning, I am Bradley Brashears, Planning Manager at the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC). I am here today to speak on behalf of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) regarding three exciting recent developments: the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill; the Bronx Bus Redesign; and fare capping.
First, the infrastructure bill can be transformative for riders. The $10 billion for the MTA should lead to more accessible stations, expansion projects like SAS2, and addressing a host of backlog items like signals and power upgrades to keep the system running reliably for riders. The MTA won’t have to borrow or pay as much debt service so those dollars can go towards keeping and improving service levels, and the immediate need to hire more crews.
In other good news, the NYCTRC is thrilled that the Bronx Bus Redesign is back.
The current redesign will strengthen mobility around the borough, with Automated Bus Lane Enforcement, protected bus lanes, TSP, east-west connection priority corridors, and increased frequencies. New busways on high-traffic streets like Fordham Road, East 149th and 181st Streets will also be key to speeding up routes that Bronx riders depend on.
But the plan leaves room for better bus connectivity to the 13 Bronx Metro-North stations that already exist, not to mention the eventual four new stations planned with Penn Access. Now is the time to bridge the gap between Bronx buses and commuter rail, with the coming of OMNY and as you look at fare policies – including, we hope, our Freedom Ticket proposal, that would also provide transfers to subways and buses. A bus to LaGuardia is also key for the many Bronxites who work and travel there. They deserve a one seat ride.
Our thanks go to MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber for putting fare capping on the table, and to Senator Gounardes for introducing legislation to make it a reality. Pairing OMNY with fare capping will encourage people to get back onboard and allow people of every income level to benefit from unlimited access to transit. We’d like to see the Board vote to implement a pilot program to start immediately to help New Yorkers benefit from something that is simple in concept, yet essential for so many.