As major cities continue to grow, improved public transportation infrastructure will be critical to meeting the needs of residents on the move. A couple of months ago we shared a story about how Amsterdam is pushing to improve public transit and minimize personal vehicle traffic, now New York City is achieving public transportation goals as well with their successful bus lane initiative.
In mid-October of last year, NYC opened its 14th Street Busway, a bus-only lane on a major east-west street in the lower half of Manhattan. Residents feared the system would create gridlock, but the program was successful in speeding up bus routes by an average of 9.7 minutes for the entire route. Additionally, surrounding streets saw an average slow down of only 3.5 minutes.
This initiative was created in an attempt to boost public transportation ridership and benefit all commuters. Effective bus systems reduce road congestion and pollution while offering an affordable and effective transportation system.
Public transportation use has fallen by 11 percent since 2007 in the U.S, but NYC’s Busway has boosted bus ridership 24 percent on weekdays and 30 percent on weekends. It also facilitated a 17 percent jump in bike ridership in the area where fewer cars mean commuters feel safer biking to work. And New York isn’t alone. Bus use rates increased 20 percent in Los Angeles after a bus-only lane on Flower Street was introduced last year.
Public transportation improvements are critically needed infrastructure changes to prevent gridlock and pollution. Bus-only lanes might be just the solution more cities need to improve ridership and efficiency.