By Kevin Duggan
Bronx bus commuters should mark their calendars for June 26, because that’s when the MTA plans to launch a slate of changes to the borough’s network.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will roll out the overhaul to a third of borough bus routes, adding two new ones, and cutting about a fifth of the network’s stops — all to speed up commutes in the Boogie Down Bronx.
The city’s Department of Transportation will start installing new bus panels and destination signs next month and MTA plans to start posting information about the revamp at bus stops, according to documents provided to the MTA board ahead of this week’s monthly meetings.
“The MTA is excited to put the Bronx Bus Network redesign into practice this June 26. The redesign of the Bronx local bus network promises to simplify the current network and get customers where they need to go faster and more efficiently,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan in a statement.
MTA initially unveiled the redesign in the fall of 2019 but put all of its borough-by-borough bus redesigns on hiatus for 18 months during the pandemic, before restarting with the Bronx last year.
The scheme changes 16 of the borough’s 46 bus routes, which served 635,000 riders pre-pandemic, while adding two new lines.
The M125 route will replace the southern section of the Bx15 running along 125th Street in Manhattan and to the Hub via Willis Avenue, and the Bx25 will serve Co-op City and the eastern Bronx.
Off-peak service will increase and DOT will add red-painted bus lanes to give the people movers priority over private vehicles on high-traffic corridors.
The agency will also get rid of 400 local and limited bus stops — about 18% of the network — to better space out stops and speed up travel times.
Each removed stop saves about 20 seconds in travel time, according to transit officials, and New York’s elaborate bus system has much closer stop spacing than its peers around the world.
The next borough bus redesign on the docket for the MTA is Queens and New York City Transit interim President Craig Cipriano said that the agency plans to release a “totally redone” draft proposal for the city’s largest borough before the end of the first quarter, or March 31.
The old Queens draft faced vocal opposition by locals in early 2020 before the pandemic, particularly the planned cuts to three routes.
But the MTA’s Chairperson and CEO Janno Lieber told state lawmakers last week that transit planners were going back to the drawing board for the World’s Borough.
“We’re starting from scratch, it’s a clean slate,” Lieber said during a Feb. 15 state budget hearing in Albany. “We understand that there were problems in the first version.”
The redesign plans for Brooklyn were in more preliminary stages pre-pandemic and the MTA has yet to give a timeline for when it will release updates on that proposal.
The schedule to finish all five boroughs has been pushed back by five years to 2026, with officials citing the pandemic for the setback.