Bus operators given political support in NY congestion pricing campaign

Two New York City political leaders expressed support for the bus industry during a forum organized to discuss the future role of buses under the coming congestion pricing plan for the city’s core.

“Thank you to the private bus industry as we work together on some of the biggest challenges with operating on streets in New York City,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We appreciate the work you do, the transportation and economic value you bring to New York City, and we welcome our partnership to look for ways to better manage our city streets to tackle congestion.”

The Oct. 29 forum, held in Midtown Manhattan, was attended by about two dozen private bus and motorcoach operators, tourism professionals and community leaders who offered their solutions to solving congestion issues in New York City.

State legislators voted in March to impose the country’s first congestion pricing program in New York City beginning in 2021. The plan, to be imposed in Manhattan’s central business district, will be expected to raise $1 billion annually to improve public transit systems in the region.

Fees and detailed regulations for the plan will be set by a Traffic Mobility Review Board that is yet to be appointed.

The bus and motorcoach industry, concerned that the plan will focus on revenue generation rather than efficient transportation utilization, has formed a lobbying organization called BUS4NYC. The October event was sponsored by that organization and the Bus Association of New York.

Industry leaders touted bus and motorcoach travel as one of the solutions to congestion problems in the city. However, they cited the issues bus operators face there, ranging from the lack of bus parking and bus lanes to idling laws, mobility restrictions, high tolls and the coming of congestion pricing.

Solutions discussed include adding capacity in the redesign of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, using technology to enhance mobility and implementing additional bus infrastructure such as dedicated bus lanes and signal priority for buses to improve travel times.

The industry also agreed that the Traffic Mobility Review Board should include a representative from the bus industry.

“Buses are a critical part of the solution to our urban mobility challenges, moving millions of people annually, with each taking over 50 single-occupancy vehicles off the road, reducing our carbon footprint and providing the economic engines that power our region,” said Glenn Every, a motorcoach company operator and president of BUS4NYC.

“We are thankful to Commissioner Trottenberg for her leadership and partnership in working together to promote public transportation,” he said. “We also thank private bus operators who participated in the conference and share the common core objective of delivering safe, quick and reliable bus service.”

New York City Council Member Keith Powers attended and added his support.

“When I was running for office two years ago… I campaigned on the bigger picture, having a grand idea around transportation, prioritizing people, bikes and buses,” he said. “I look forward to working with BUS4NYC to increase mobility, speed up travel times, and reimagine our streets to prioritize public transportation.”

More information is available at bus4nyc.org and banybus.org.


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