New Yorkers fed up with the city's overcrowded, snail's-pace buses can perhaps indulge in some guarded optimism now that new MTA "czar" Jay Walder is promising to improve the system. Walder was formerly the transit guru in London, where, he says, "You carry nearly twice as many people in the bus system as you do on the Underground." In New York, the opposite is true, and Walder wants to change that while simultaneously reducing bus overcrowding. Is this guy crazy?

The Times recently rode the bus with Walder in Brooklyn, and, as a car parked in the bus-only lane forced the bus to merge into traffic, he explained his radical bus philosophy:

What I’d like you to think about is a train system with rubber-tire vehicles. We’re on a bus right now where every seat is full. How many people are on this bus? Seventy-five? But we haven’t prioritized this bus any differently than a car which has one person in it... If I put train tracks down the street, you wouldn’t park your car on them. If I said this is a bus lane, somehow it becomes fair game. One person’s use of a road impacts upon another person’s use of the road. My point is, if we have to make a choice, make the choice for the bus, not for the car.

Suck on that motorists! But how will Walder turn the beat around? As previously mentioned, he wants the city to impose stricter fines on bus-lane blockers, install cameras on buses to take photos of violators, and finance a public advertising campaign to educate the public about bus lanes. And in a pilot program on Fordham Road in the Bronx, buses can send signals to traffic lights to delay red signals, allowing a bus to make it through the intersection! Next up: tractor beams to toss cars out of the bus lanes.