Too many buses jam Main Street on Roosevelt Island. Weighty traffic from mostly empty vehicles wrecks the roadway, but it’s also environmentally unsound. No surprise, city and state fail even to notice.
By David Stone
Buses duplicating routes, crowding narrow streets are usually less than half-full. Sometimes, they run in tandem, barely able to stay out of each other’s way. There are too many using too much energy but no plans for any changes.
How We Got To Too Many Buses
When Manhattan Park opened in 1989, the managers paid RIOC for increased services and bigger buses. They still do, and they’ve always sunk cash into the north half of Motorgate. Accessibility was a big issue for attracting tenants. It still is.
Less than twenty years later, The Octagon opened with two new wings and hundreds of new neighbors. They, too, welcomed cars with an underground parking garage. But with cars not ideal for commuting in New York City, they chipped in for extending Red Bus services too.
Before that, the city handled demanded north of the Roosevelt Island Bridge, most of it serving Coler Hospital. And while Red Buses connecting the two newest complexes made sense, excess was built in.
The toll on the environment makes no sense, and laggardly state and city officials are even less aware and creative than usual.
We Need New Thinking About Buses
Not just a waste of resources, the overabundance of buses trafficking Main Street takes a toll on infrastructure as well as the environment. Main Street, especially in the canyon, has more ripples and rolls than a section of the East River, because it was never built for loads this heavy.
And the value of energy efficient buses is leveled by having too many and duplicating lightly traveled routes.
Traffic experts will have better ideas, but why are city buses operating north of the Roosevelt Island Bridge or south of the Tram? In fact, always near empty Red Buses south of the Tram don’t make much sense either.
There is, also, little argument in favor of any Red Bus stop before Manhattan Park. But we have several, some covering distances Manhattan residents walk to catch rides every day. And all along a single street already handled by the MTA.
Roosevelt Island can easily maintain more than adequate mass transit while cutting back on traffic. People can walk more, and businesses benefit when large, unfull buses don’t deprive them of pedestrians.
And worst of all, the crisis builds on most of the Main Street riders getting on for free with MTA transfers and Red Buses, creating an unjustifiable entitlement.
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