On Our Line #9: On The (New York) Buses

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London Reconnections continues its New York podcast series with an episode exploring New York’s buses: the challenges, stepping stone successes and further ideas for improvement.

London and New York are both facing declining bus travel speeds, reliability and bus usage. In this episode we explore the challenges to providing high-quality bus services as well as what improvements can be made, such a rationalising the bus routes, improving boarding and alighting and the modernising ticketing that could reverse the decline of the bus network. Join us to find out more about the lessons learnt from the introduction of the express bus routes, Select Bus Service (SBS), in New York and what ideas proven in other cities could transform the bus service and the perception of this backbone of the city’s transport network.

Nicole talks to Jon Orcutt, Communications & Advocacy Director at transport foundation TransitCenter, and Stephanie Veras, Community Organizer at the public transport riders advocacy group Riders Alliance.

Jon Orcutt is Communications and Advocacy Director at the urban mobility foundation TransitCenter. He has nearly 30 years of experience in sustainable transport advocacy and project implementation. Before joining TransitCenter, Jon supported governments and other institutions developing transport strategies and sustainable transport projects. Jon was Director of Policy for the New York City Department for Transportation from 2007 to 2014. Jon is leading TransitCenter’s efforts to improve the bus services in New York. TransitCenter‘s report Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses outlines the declining performance and ridership of the busiest bus network in the US. It also sets out a number of recommendations to improve the New York bus network with interventions proven to be successful in other cities.

Stephanie Veras is Community Organizer at the Riders Alliance. She is heading the Bus Turnaround Campaign at the Riders Alliance. The campaign is a collaborative effort between Riders Alliance, TransitCenter, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign with the objective of turning around the slow and unreliable bus service in New York. Prior to taking up the role as Community Organizer at Riders Alliance, Stephanie worked closely with District leader and staff in the community of Washington Heights and Inwood to engage community members in participatory budgeting. She has also rallied support for bus improvements in her community. She is a recent graduate in communications from the City College of New York.

For more frequent updates on the topic, you can follow our guests and their organisations on twitter at from @TransitCenter and @RidersNY. Find out more about the state of New York’s bus network and the Bus Turnaround Campaign in the Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses report and its complementary website BusTurnaround.NYC.

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On Our Line: The Rail and Transport Podcast

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Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.