Route redesign, off-board fare payments and more tech part of MTA’s bus reform plan in New York City


The MTA New York City Transit unveiled an inclusive plan at the NYC Transit Committee meeting on April 23 reimagining New York’s entire public bus system.

It’s the result of an expansive review of the system that NYC Transit President Andy Byford commissioned. Byford declared improving bus service as one of his top four priorities on his first day in office in January.

“We’ve listened to our riders’ concerns and are working tirelessly to create a world-class bus system that New Yorkers deserve,” Byford said. “We’re targeting challenges like traffic congestion and enforcement, undertaking bold initiatives like redesigning the entire route network, and pursuing advancements such as the latest computer-aided management, double-decker and electric buses, all-door boarding, and improved customer service with more real-time data.”

As described, the NYC Transit Bus Plan details a completely redesigned bus route network. NYC Transit is preparing to redesign the route network based on public input and opinion, demographic changes and travel demand statistics.

MTA indicated that it will work with the city’s Department of Transportation, the NYPD and local communities to expand arrival time displays at bus stops and bus priority technology, add and enforce bus lanes, and more. MTA also plans to advocate for more serious enforcement of the bus lanes by the NYPD.

Another element of the plan is off-board fare payment, allowing customers to board the buses through both doors rather than waiting at the front door to board and pay. This new method, similar to a system already in use along Select Bus Service routes, will be tested after the MTA rolls out electronic tap-to-pay readers starting in 2019.

The proposals includes examples of planned technological advancements such as digital information screens providing bus route, next stop and real-time service advisories. Seat availability listings on express buses will also be available through an app.

NYC Transit also plans to develop simpler and more dynamic, customizable and location-specific bus route maps and work alongside NYCDOT to add real-time bus arrival info displays to bus shelters.

MTA also mentions the opening of a brand-new Bus Command Center and upgrading to the latest dispatch and operations support technology, including GPS-based displays of bus locations to help bus operators and dispatchers work together to eliminate multiple buses arriving at a stop at once.

Lastly, the bus plan highlights the transition to all-electric buses as well as the city’s first double-decker public buses. A pilot test of 10 electric buses began earlier this year, while a double-decker express bus will be tested on a Staten Island route starting this spring.  

MTA plans on upgrading existing buses with digital displays to show real-time route, stop and service update information, as well as traffic signal priority and new fare payment technology.

Byford and Irick will discuss the bus plan at NYC Transit’s next #AskNYCT Twitter chat, Thursday, April 26, from noon to 1 p.m. on the @NYCTBus handle.