Queens residents and elected officials have long complained that the borough is a transit desert with a lack of transportation options and poor subway and bus service. A new report by city Comptroller Scott Stringer on the city’s bus system verified these grievances and found that the system lost 100 million passenger trips during the past eight years and city buses are the slowest in the nation among large cities.
The comptroller’s report found that MTA buses are “slow, unreliable, long, meandering, confusing, congested and poorly connected.” Lower-income residents and immigrants—who make up the largest share of riders—have been most negatively impacted by the system.
Stringer noted that bus service is often slower than walking speed and a typical bus spends only half of its time in traffic. Queens buses were the second-fastest among the five boroughs, although their average speed was only 8.1 miles per hour. Sections of the borough—including Queens’ two airports and Glen Oaks—were ranked among the most underserved by the city’s declining bus system.
Stringer made several recommendations in his report and we agree with them. He called on the MTA to better coordinate scheduling and planning to increase efficiency; initiate a comprehensive review of the bus network to align with changing community patterns; increase the frequency of buses during off-peak hours; and improve the maintenance, enforcement and design of bus lanes.
According to Stringer’s report, the number of city jobs located in Queens jumped by 34 percent in the past decade, meaning that more residents are commuting within their home borough—and yet, the bus system on which many residents rely is becoming more antiquated. Queens residents already suffered through a “summer of hell,” which was marked by delayed subway service and, as it turns out, their other option—riding a bus—isn’t much better.
New York is the nation’s largest city, but its transit system is among the most unreliable. For years, the city has encouraged commuters to ride subways and buses to cut down on traffic. But Stringer’s report does not inspire much confidence. Queens residents require a functioning mass transit system and deserve better than what they’re currently getting.
Since Stringer has no administrative power over the system, the question boils down to who is going to implement changes to the city’s subways and buses. Until the mayor and governor come together as a team, the residents of New York City will continue to suffer from a broken transit system.