Eric Adams made big promises to improve bus service as he campaigned for mayor — but his administration has failed to make good on many of those vows during his first year in office.
During his run for City Hall last year, Adams committed to striping new bus lanes and to “build out a state-of-the-art bus transit system” that prioritizes transit deserts — areas without easy subway or bus connections.
But a year into his first term, New York City straphangers have seen few improvements to bus service, and the city Department of Transportation has missed key milestones in its plans to add more bus lanes.
MTA data shows the agency’s buses crawled along city streets at an average speed of 8 mph in November, the same pace reported during the same month of 2021.
The DOT has also failed to make good on the “Streets Master Plan” law passed by the City Council in 2019, which mandates the city install 20 new miles of bus lanes in 2022. During his mayoral campaign, Adams said he planned to add 150 miles of bus lanes during his first term.
The DOT under Adams isn’t close to either of those targets. So far this year, the agency has installed 7.7 miles of “new and improved” upgrades to existing bus lanes — and just 6.3 miles of new ones.
“Not only is he not getting the stuff done he said he’d get done, but he’s not even following the law,” said Danny Pearlstein, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Riders Alliance.
“This is supposed to be the city of yes,” Pearlstein added, referencing an Adams slogan. “But instead it appears this year every potential obstacle has scuttled a bus lane, whether it’s politics or bureaucracy.”
The agency hasn’t implemented a big plan initiated under previous Mayor Bill de Blasio to install 3 miles of bus lanes on Fordham Road in the Bronx. DOT officials said they’re still conducting community outreach on the project.
The DOT last month began installation of a 4.6-mile bus lane project in Queens that’s slated to be finished in the next year — but advocates said the DOT should have pushed for its completion by the end of 2022.
The DOT under Adams has also limited a program launched under former Mayor Bill de Blasio to speed up bus service in Flushing, Queens. Officials in January 2021 restricted most personal car traffic from a stretch of Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue for 24 hours a day, which increased bus speeds and relieved congestion in the area.
However, DOT officials under Adams revised the 24-hour restriction this year following pushback from some local business leaders. Cars are now only barred from that 0.6 mile stretch of Main Street from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
DOT spokeswoman Mona Bruno pointed to another 7.3 miles of bus lanes currently under construction in the city — but did not answer questions about why the agency has been slow to boost bus service this year. She instead highlighted 25 new bus stops that were made accessible to riders with disabilities and the addition of 750 intersections with “transit signal priority,” technology that turns red lights green when buses approach.
“We’re fully committed to the Streets Plan targets and are working creatively to deliver high-quality, high-impact projects with new bus lanes and expanded automated enforcement along existing lanes across the city,” Bruno said.