For immediate release: May 14, 2009
Contact: Kate Slevin, Veronica Vanterpool
    Tri-State Transportation Campaign
    P: 212-268-7474  C: 917-833-9259

New Report and Website Offer Speedier Bus Commute Across the Hudson River

Report calls for Port Authority to prioritize bus trips for 100 million annual passengers

With 100 million bus passengers now crossing the Hudson River annually, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must do a better job of enhancing bus service across the river, according to a report released today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization.

The report, “Express Route to Better Bus Service: How to Improve Bus Travel Across the Hudson River, and Beyond,” recommends both short and long term measures to improve bus service across the Hudson, including a New Jersey-bound exclusive bus lane through the Lincoln Tunnel during evening rush hours, better online information on bus routes, and expediting a study which began in 2005 to increase road space for buses traveling to the Lincoln Tunnel during morning rush hours. The report also calls for the New York City Department of Transportation to develop a coordinated approach to managing the growth in interstate buses on city streets.

“A population nearly the size of Cincinnati travels by bus across the Hudson River every weekday, but plans to enhance service for these riders are stalled,” said Veronica Vanterpool, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and co-author of the report.

Amidst environmental and economic concerns, transit ridership in the New York region has grown significantly in recent years, according to the report. Ridership on NJ TRANSIT’s New York City-bound commuter bus routes has grown 18% over the past five years carrying 52 million passengers in 2007, and is projected to increase another 18% by 2030 according to the Port Authority’s Strategic Plan. Interstate bus trips on carriers like GotoBus and MegaBus are also expected to grow.

The report finds that the express bus lane leading up to the Lincoln Tunnel has been so successful that is now the most efficient roadway in the country, carrying 62,000 riders in just four morning hours and nearing its capacity.

“Over the past decade, bus travel has experienced ridership increases that may soon reach a tipping point without new efficiency measures designed to keep bus travel fast and convenient,” said Kate Slevin, executive director and another report author, “and bus improvements make sense right now because they are relatively low cost and an excellent bang for the buck.”

“Managing our roadway space more efficiently will put us on the right track to accommodate the increased ridership that will come with our region’s economic recovery,” said Slevin.

B uses serve twice as many passengers traveling between New Jersey and Manhattan as commuter rail, but bus riders are not given adequate amenities, says the report.

“Trans-Hudson bus riders have seen few improvements since the Lincoln Tunnel bus lane was opened in 1971,” said Vanterpool, “With bus travel anticipated to grow, we need to stop treating bus riders like 2nd class citizens and provide them with faster commutes and better access to information.”

Manhattan elected officials applauded the report, and noted the importance of finding places for interstate buses to park.

"I have been a longtime advocate of public transportation including enhanced bus service across the Hudson River. However, I believe it is equally important for the Port Authority to provide the charter, jitney and New Jersey Transit buses that regularly travel into Hell's Kitchen a much-needed place to park so they no longer clog our neighborhood's streets between trips," said Senator Thomas K. Duane (D, WFP-Manhattan). "While I was dismayed to see this idea removed from the Port Authority's plans for the coming year, I would like to thank the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for identifying the need for this facility in its comprehensive, ground-breaking report on public transportation."

Noting that finding bus information on the internet can be unnecessarily difficult, the Campaign also announced a new website - www.tstc.org/bus - that demonstrates how the Port Authority could compile Port Authority Bus Terminal bus information into one, easily accessed, central location, as a companion to the report.

The report also finds that bus riders help the environment. The average bus emits less than one-fifth the carbon dioxide emissions per person as a single occupancy car. And per passenger mile, buses emit 25 percent less nitrogen oxide emissions, 80 percent less carbon monoxide, and 90 percent less hydrocarbon emissions than their car counterpart.

Data analysis for the report was conducted using Port Authority of New York and New Jersey information. Key findings and recommendations are attached. The full report can be found at blog.tstc.org.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.


Express Route to Better Bus Service :

How to Improve Bus Travel Across the Hudson River, and Beyond

Key Findings

  • More than 9,000 buses cross the Hudson River into Manhattan each weekday, serving a population the size of Cincinnati and moving twice as many passengers as commuter rail. Without buses, traffic would be 84% higher than it is today.
  • The eastbound Lincoln Tunnel Express Bus Lane is the most efficient stretch of roadway in the country, carrying 62,000 people every morning.
  • The growing popularity of buses is overwhelming the three major Hudson River crossings, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and Manhattan streets.
  • Port Authority documents state that bus trips across the Hudson River will increase by 18% by 2030, but the agency’s plans to accommodate this growth are proceeding slowly.
  • The growth of the private interstate bus industry has led to a proliferation of makeshift bus stops on already crowded city sidewalks.
  • Buses are far less polluting per passenger than cars. The average bus emits less than one-fifth the carbon dioxide per person as a single occupancy car.

Recommendations

Short Term

  • Expedite the completion of the Lincoln Tunnel High Occupancy Toll Lanes study and implement the recommendations immediately.
  • Establish a westbound express bus lane through the Lincoln Tunnel during the evening rush hour.
  • Create an online portal for regional bus riders, with maps, route schedules and carrier information.
  • Improve communications technology for buses and update signage.
  • NYC should develop, with community input, strategies for formalizing bus loading/unloading and bus parking areas in neighborhoods across the city.
  • Coordinate with MTA and Westchester County’s Bee-Line to create and/or expand existing bus service between Westchester County and George Washington Bridge Bus Station.

Long Term

  • Study the potential for High Occupancy Tolling on the Holland Tunnel and GW Bridge.
  • Move forward plans to renovate and add capacity to the Port Authority Bus Terminal with community input, and to construct a bus garage on the West Side.