Robert Sullivan’s recent article in New York magazine, “Subway on the Street”, marks a welcome addition to transportation discussions in New York City. New Yorkers are currently faced with seemingly paradoxical transportation plans that call for subway and bus service cuts, while relatively short and exceedingly expensive underground subways are being built (Sullivan discusses both).
However, also at the same time, a monumental partnership between the city’s transit agency (MTA) and the DOT is taking root. The result is a new bus rapid transit line in the Bronx – Bx12 SBS, short for “select bus service” – the focus of Sullivan’s article.
To be clear, bus rapid transit is not a New York innovation. Cities throughout the world, and in the United States, have experimented with bus rapid transit lines with general, albeit not absolute, success. But it is nonetheless refreshing to see the largest city in the United States accept buses as potential congestion relief tools.
Jay Walder, a New Yorker named head of the MTA after holding a similar position in London, brought the same promise of a more fully integrated bus and rail system to his home city.
Encouraging innovation, expanding applicability and increasing efficiency are not the exclusive domains of the private sector, even if it feels that way. New York is showing, as cities repeatedly do, the potential for public-sponsored reinvention as a result of resilience.
Howard Kozloff is Manager of Development Strategies and Director of Operations at Hart Howerton, an international strategy, planning and design firm based in New York, San Francisco and London.