By Jon Cronin, Editor
The MTA’s bus service was lambasted twice this week—today, with criticism from the Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) Fourth Regional Plan and, earlier in the week, by city Comptroller Scott Stringer. Both the RPA and Stringer called the city’s bus routes slow and unreliable.
The RPA’s plan went further than the comptroller’s to advise the addition of light rail service throughout the city and support the proposal of the BQX light rail from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to Astoria.
One of its suggestions was to activate the Triboro line, an existing old freight line, that would connect Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. According to the RPA, “it would run for 24 miles from Co-op City and/or 149th Street and Third Avenue in the Bronx to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn.”
The suggestion points out that the line would intersect with 17 subway lines and four commuter rails and give faster north-south transit service between Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The RPA also echoes Stringer’s report earlier in the week stating that job growth has grown 50 percent outside of Manhattan in the past 15 years, which the RPA argued is proof that the transit system should no longer be Manhattan-centric.
The RPA’s assessment stated that the Triboro line would be built faster and more cheaply than other proposed light rails since the right-of-way already exists.
The RPA believes that “buses should no longer be the stepchild of the transit system,” and the city should invest more into making bus rides a more reliable and enjoyable experience. The association stated that the new bus system would pay for itself by having a faster, more reliable system.
The RPA also noted that surface rail can operate faster and be “more flexible” on narrow roadways than buses. The association also recommend that, “Eight streetcar routes should be considered in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Depending on how well these projects progress, 22 more routes should be considered for either streetcars or [Select Bus Service].”
To pay for light rail, the RPA suggested that “new BRT, streetcar and light rail lines can employ tax-increment financing and other forms of capturing a reasonable portion of increased real estate values to pay for improvements.”