By Philip Newman
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will add more than 2,000 state-of-the-art buses to its fleet in the next five years, including 75 this year in Queens in what Gov. Andrew Cuomo called a “major overhaul of the MTA’s fleet.”
Cuomo was joined by MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast and New York City Transit President Ronnie Hakim Tuesday in the announcement of what the governor called a “reimagining of the MTA to improve services for all New Yorkers.”
Cuomo said the new buses would include amenities designed to dramatically improve the overall passenger experience, including charging ports and free Wi-Fi on all rides.
The MTA said that by 2020, a total of 2,042 buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots and that 75 of the first new buses would make their debut in the second and third quarters of this year in Queens. Over the next two years, another 70 buses will begin operating in Brooklyn, 209 in the Bronx and 18 in Manhattan. The remaining new buses will be assigned to various routes throughout the five bureaus. The new buses will replace about 40 percent of the MTA fleet.
The MTA said it was in the process of upgrading existing buses with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports.
“By the end of 2017 all express buses will be refitted with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports,” the MTA said
“Wireless connectivity is prevalent in the lives of our customers,” Prendergast said. “More and more people are using Wi-Fi enabled devices such as smart phones, laptops and e-book readers on a daily basis and the MTA can accommodate this growing trend by introducing high-speed connectivity and charging ports on board MTA buses,” Prendergast said.
The MTA said that digital information screens on buses would provide passengers with travel information to reduce anxiety about missing stops and better enable them to plan and arrive at destinations on time.
“Today’s world demands connectivity and we’re meeting that challenge with state-of-the-art buses and a major overhaul of the MTA’s fleet,” Cuomo said. “This upgrade will create a stronger, more convenient and more connected mass transit system for years to come.”
The state of New York is contributing $8.3 billion to help fund the MTA’s $26.1 billion Capital Program for 2015-2019.
Two members of the state Assembly called for more express bus service in their legislative districts.
“When your neighborhood is only served by buses, it is critically important that service is reliable,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows).
Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) said, “I look forward to working with Assemblywoman Rozic and MTA Chairman Prendergast to find answers for the tens of thousands of our neighbors reliant on express bus service on a daily basis.”
The two lawmakers are also requesting that the MTA revisit the idea of dedicated park-and-ride facilities for certain express routes.