Bus ridership in the city is on a decline. This is thanks to a number of factors, like changing demographics; sloooooowing bus speeds; more cyclists; and the advent of e-hail apps like Uber and Lyft. It's also, in part, due to a spike in subway ridership. But just because something's more popular doesn't mean it's better, and one MTA official's getting some flack for claiming bus ridership is down because the subway "has improved."

At an MTA budget hearing yesterday, chief financial officer Michael Chubak put his foot in his mouth when asked why bus ridership's gone down over the years. "One of the major reasons, we believe, is competition. Essentially the subway has improved over the last 20 or so years," he said.

It is true that the subway—like the rest of the city—is safer than it was 20 years ago, and that enhancements like countdown clocks, new cars, and the Second Avenue Subway have been major improvements. But considering that over the last few years, the subway has also been plagued by overcrowding; an increase in delays; crumbling infrastructure; and Governor Cuomo, it seems like a stretch to say people are ditching buses for the subway because the subway is great. The subway might be less crappy than the bus system, but crappy is still crappy.

Indeed, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who heads the council's transportation committee, suggested the MTA focus on improving bus service instead cheering subway improvements. "We get to the destination faster if we walk than if we take the bus," he said. "Our buses are going slow." The MTA acknowledged that bus travel times have increased significantly, noting that average speeds in Manhattan and Brooklyn can crawl to as little as 7 to 4 miles per hour.

"One of the obvious problems is traffic and congestion, which reduces bus speeds. And we’re convinced that higher bus speeds can help encourage ridership," Chubak said. "It’s a difficult challenge. There’s obviously a lot of congestion."

The MTA says Chubak misspoke, but his point still stands. According to the MTA, bus ridership rose significantly in the mid-'90s after a decade-long decline, then began declining again after the economic recession. In the meantime, subway ridership increased—weekday ridership is currently the highest its been since 1948.

One of the reasons subway ridership is so high, according to the MTA, is because of the aforementioned changing demographics. New Yorkers are living farther from work now, thanks to rising rents in Manhattan as well as gentrification in the boroughs, and people are more likely to take the subway when traveling long distances. The subway is also faster and more efficient, provided things aren't going haywire due to a mysterious "smoke condition."

Still, the MTA says they're looking to address declining bus ridership—in the meantime, though, you're better off investing in a good pair of walking shoes. Or a Big Wheel.