Queens Bus Network Redesign Draft Plan

Why Redesign the Queens Bus Network?

The Queens Bus Network has not substantially changed to meet the evolving needs of customers. We’ve made minor changes to pieces of the network, but have not kept pace with growth in Queens. Our customers asked us to take a fresh look at how we can redesign the Queens Bus Network to provide more reliable service, shorter travel times, and better connections.

Nearly 52 percent of Queens residents rely on public transit for their daily commutes, and at least 11 percent commute primarily by bus. So, it is imperative that we reinvent the borough’s bus network to better serve its residents and workers, so they can spend less time and energy commuting.

The Draft Plan is our proposal to address the following:

Service Reliability

  • Our customers told us that Queens buses are unreliable and slow, often because they are stuck in traffic.
  • The On-Time Performance (OTP) or Queens bus routes decreased 12 percent from 2014 to 2018.
  • Queens has a Customer Journey Time Performance (CJTP) of 70 percent. CJTP measures the percentage of trips completed no more than five minutes later than scheduled.
  • Increased congestion, especially in areas like downtown Flushing and Jamaica, negatively impacts the speed and reliability of service. While only one part of a route may experience congestion, the delays, bus bunching, and gaps in service caused by that congestion ripple throughout the entire route, affecting reliability for the majority of bus customers regardless of where they use the service.

Bus Speeds

  • Average bus speeds in Queens are the second highest of the five boroughs at 8.7 miles per hours (MPH). However, this is a 3.3 percent decrease from 2015, when the average bus speed in Queens was 9.0 MPH.
  • Slower bus speeds reduce route reliability and decrease productivity, further deterring people from choosing to ride the bus.

Ridership Decline

  • Bus ridership in Queens fell 5.4 percent from 2014 to 2019, from 728,872 to 689,702 riders average weekday riders.
  • This decline in ridership can be attributed to several factors, including slower bus speeds and decreased reliability, leading to modal shifts to other kinds of transportation, such as the subway and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).

Central Business District Tolling

  • The implementation of Central Business District Tolling (CBDT), where vehicles are charged as they enter Manhattan south of 60th Street, will be an effective way to reduce congestion within the City and further encourage Queens residents and employees to seek out alternative means of transportation other than the car.
  • CBDT will also provide the MTA with a new capital revenue source that may help to address budgetary issues.

The Draft Plan is a first look at how we can improve bus service in Queens to benefit the greatest number of customers. The plan addresses comments received during public open houses, from on-street interviews, and from our online survey. It recognizes the clear need to completely redesign the Queens Bus Network, working within the known structural and resource constraints. By sharing this Draft Plan, we hope to inspire debate, initiate conversations about our proposal, and discuss other ideas to be taken into consideration.

Next Steps

The Proposed Final Plan will be released in the second quarter of 2020. It will be followed by another round of public outreach. We will hold public input sessions to solicit a final round of feedback from customers regarding the Proposed Final Plan. We will also present the Proposed Final Plan to elected officials, the Borough Board and District Service Cabinet, community boards, and other interested parties.  Ample time will be provided for additional comments and feedback before implementation. We want to be sure that customers fully understand any proposed route, frequency, and span of service changes before they go into effect.

We will then host a public hearing for the Proposed Final Plan, followed by a presentation to the MTA board. If the Final Plan receives approval from the board, we will begin the process of implementation, with the goal of rolling out the new network by 2022.