New South Bronx bus lane goes down as city ramps up Transit Signal Priority installation

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. speaks during the bus lane announcement.
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

By Mark Hallum

City and state transit officials hope a slew of new transit improvements in the heart of the South Bronx will speed up commutes in one of the most congested parts of the borough, while the city Department of Transportation boasts of its continued installation of Transit Signal Priority along busy corridors.

A new bus lane along East 149th Street along with new Citi Bike stations will help Bronx residents access important sites like The Hub, Lincoln Medical Center, Hostos Community College, and 10 subway lines along with new Citi Bike stations along the corridor.

Along with the new lane will come stationary bus cameras, which will issue fines to motorists who block the bus lane, which stretches nearly three miles along E 149th Street. Motorists will get a 60 day grace period following the installation of the lane.

“We know that the key to effective bus service is well-enforced bus priority,” said New York City Transit bus czar Craig Cipriano. “Buses in the 149th Street corridor are among the slowest in the city, but that won’t be the case anymore.”

MTA, DOT, elected officials, and other representatives announce the launch of the 149th St Busway on Fri., October 9, 2020 at 149th St. & Eagle Av. Bx17.(Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

The Department of Transportation has expanded its Transit Signal Priority technology to roughly 1,382 intersections citywide, despite earlier reported delays. The technology works to speed up buses by adjusting traffic signals to allow buses to spend less time waiting at red lights.

Local leaders in the Bronx lauded the transit improvements, which they said were desperately needed to speed up the Bx2, Bx4, Bx17, and Bx19 buses which currently move at walking speed or lower while serving 55,000 passengers daily, according to the MTA. Eastbound buses moved at an average of 3.3 miles per hour, while westbound buses moved at a snail-like 2.9 miles per hour pre bus lane, the agency said.

“The student at Hostos Community College needs to get to course on time,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said. “The family that already has anxieties because their loved one is sick in Lincoln Hospital, don’t need added anxiety if they’re just stuck in traffic.”

The MTA has aimed to install new busways across the Five Boroughs amid the pandemic, with plans in the works for Main Street in Flushing and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, but the implementation has been delayed by local opposition. The only busway successfully installed so far has been the Jay Street busway in Downtown Brooklyn which stretches for less than a half-mile.

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