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Congestion pricing would shave hours off Brooklyn and Queens express bus routes, Riders Alliance report shows

October 30, 2018 By Jonathan Sperling Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of Riders Alliance rally in support of congestion pricing. Photos courtesy of Riders Alliance
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Congestion pricing would shorten express bus travel times on Brooklyn and Queens routes by up to two hours per week, according to a new report released by a grassroots transit advocacy group.

A report by Riders Alliance projects that if Albany lawmakers included congestion pricing — a policy that would bill motorists who choose to drive into parts of Midtown Manhattan — in their upcoming funding plan, commuters could see speed increases of 20 percent in Central Manhattan and 7 percent elsewhere.

Riders of the city’s express buses — many of whom are considered “super commuters” that travel more than 90 minutes each way to work — would, in turn, save anywhere from one to two hours on commuting if congestion pricing is implemented south of 60th Street in Manhattan, the study shows.

“There’s even more to congestion pricing than just fixing the subway. Queens and Brooklyn express bus riders pay $6.50 each way to slog through traffic to and from neighborhoods far from subway stations. Many spend over 15 hours a week in transit. To make ends meet, they have to get up earlier and come home later than the rest of us,” Danny Pearlstein, Riders Alliance policy and communications director, told the Eagle.

Using the Balanced Transportation Analyzer, a tool also used by the state’s Fix NYC panel, the MTA’s weekday express bus schedules and basic math, Riders Alliance was able to calculate the hypothetical time savings that congestion pricing would bring.

First, the length of each selected bus route was cut into two segments: one approaching Manhattan’s central business district (CBD) and one within the district. Then the number of minutes taken by the approach was multiplied by 1/1.07 and the number of minutes inside the CBD by 1/1.2 (0.833). Each product was subtracted from the original segment length before congestion pricing. The two differences were added to get times savings per trip. Finally, that sum was multiplied by 10 to get the time savings per week, based on the average commuter’s two rush-hour trips per day, five days per week.

Along Brooklyn’s BM1 bus route, for example — which the MTA says takes approximately one hour and 44 minutes to run from Mill Basin to Midtown — commuters could expect to save one hour and 35 minutes per week on their commute if congestion pricing were implemented.

And in Queens, which has the most express bus routes out of the two boroughs, commuters can expect to save even more time.

The X63 bus, which runs between Rosedale and the heart of Midtown, is currently scheduled to take two hours and three minutes from end to end, with 38 minutes spent in Manhattan. With congestion pricing in place, however, Riders Alliance believes commuters on the route could save as much two hours per week.

“It does take forever because of the traffic. I’ve taken express buses in the city before and that’s the worst. I could probably walk faster than the bus sometimes,” Angel Torres, a Rosedale resident, told the Eagle. “It has the potential to be a shorter ride than my 1.5-hour train trip, but getting on the bus and being stuck in traffic is one of the worst feelings ever,” he added.

Both Brooklyn and Queens residents must wait until 2019 for lawmakers to give a verdict on congestion pricing since it was left out of state budget negotiations earlier this year.

“When Albany takes up the issue next year, express bus commuters from the outer reaches of the city — and their families — should be high on the governor’s and legislators’ packed agenda,” Pearlstein said.


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