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Express bus service expansion urged – QNS.com

Express bus service expansion urged

In response to the recent suggestion by a group of business leaders that traffic congestion could be reduced by charging drivers a daily fee to enter midtown or lower Manhattan, New York City Councilmember John Liu suggested the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) improve their express bus service instead.
Liu, the chair of the Council's Transportation Committee, convened an oversight hearing on Thursday, December 7, to seek expansion and improvement of the MTA's express bus service as an alternative to so-called congestion pricing.
&#8220As the idea of congestion pricing surfaces, the MTA must do its share to end traffic gridlock and get more New Yorkers to take mass transit,” said Liu. &#8220Expanding express bus service is a low hanging fruit the MTA should reach for immediately to reduce the number of people driving to Manhattan. The MTA has to learn to plan ahead, not just catch up to the past.”
Norman C. Silverman, senior director of planning and development at MTA Bus Company, said that with 42 express bus routes, &#8220Express bus service is an intrinsic element of our daily service and 40 percent of our operations.”
Peter Cafiero, acting chief of operations planning at MTA New York City Transit testified that his agency operates 36 express bus routes serving 48,000 passengers on an average weekday - including five in Queens.
&#8220Express bus service is very expensive and our ability to provide it is limited by the number of buses, bus operators, and maintenance facilities,” Cafiero said, estimating that the over-the-road coaches used for express bus service cost about half a million dollars each.
Joseph J. Smith, chief of operations for the MTA Bus Company, explained in a telephone interview that MTA Bus Company and MTA NYC Transit express buses are sourced from a sole manufacturer, Motor Coach Industries (MCI), because it is the only qualified vendor according to City purchasing guidelines.
The City requires manufacturers to guaranty express bus chassis for 12 years and MCI, given New York City's notoriously pot-holed roads, is the only company that will do so, Smith said.
&#8220Other companies refuse to bid on it,” Smith said. &#8220The warranty is what kills everybody.”
James Anyansi, a spokesperson for MTA NYC Transit, confirmed that the total operating costs to that agency are $1.89 per subway trip and $2.26 per local bus trip. However, at $11.98 in total operating costs per express bus trip, of which passengers pay an average of $3.86 after incorporating MetroCard discounts, &#8220It is not only expensive for our customers, it is expensive for us,” Anyansi said.
Smith said that MTA Bus Company express service is comparable in cost to that of MTA NYC Transit, although he was unable to provide exact numbers.
&#8220The MTA is charged with providing mass transit to all New Yorkers,” said Liu. &#8220They cannot continue to use cost as the excuse for not providing transportation options for commuters.”

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