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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release                       
Monday, April 28, 2003
For info, contact:
Gene Russianoff at (212) 349-6460

Bus Service Lags Behind Gains in Ridership, Analysis Finds
Local Groups Urged to Press for More Service

The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign today released an analysis showing that weekday bus service continues to lag behind growing bus ridership.

The group compared increases in weekday ridership to increases in weekday service between September 1997 and September 2002. Bus ridership has been growing since 1996 and has skyrocketed since the start of free transfers between subways and buses in July 1997.

Overall —for 184 local bus routes in the five boroughs — weekday ridership increased 25%, but weekday service only 16%. Manhattan had the biggest lag, with a 24 % increase in ridership matched by only an 11% in service. (See attached map and charts.)

“Service isnít keeping up with ridership,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. “Too few buses can mean more elbow-in-the-ribs crowding.” Russianoff noted that transit officials are cutting $6 million in bus service this year, despite the fact that bus ridership increased 2.9% in 2002.

The group reviewed the amount of scheduled weekday service for 184 local bus routes — measured in what is called "revenue seat miles" — compared to trends in weekday ridership.

The campaign’s review also found:

  • In Brooklyn, service lagged behind ridership for 46 bus routes , while service outpaced ridership on 9 routes between 1997 and 2002. The route with the biggest gap between ridership and service was the B-77, where ridership increased 98% but service only 19%. The B-77 travels between Park Slope and Red Hook.
  • In the Bronx, service lagged behind ridership for 27 bus routes , while service outpaced ridership on 9 routes between 1997 and 2002. The route with the biggest gap between ridership and service was the Bx-15, where ridership increased 58% but service only 14%. The Bx-15 travels between Fordham Plaza and Harlem.
  • In Manhattan, service lagged behind ridership for 27 bus routes , while service outpaced ridership on 9 routes between 1997 and 2002. The route with the biggest gap between ridership and service was the M-60, where ridership increased 233% but service only 126%. The M-60 travels between the Upper West Side and LaGuardia Airport.
  • In Queens , service lagged behind ridership for 30 bus routes , while service outpaced ridership on 8 routes between 1997 and 2002. The route with the biggest gap between ridership and service was the Q-59, where ridership increased 71% but service only 37%. The Q-59 travels between Williamsburg and Rego Park.
  • In Staten Island, service lagged behind ridership for 14 bus routes , while service outpaced ridership on 6 routes between 1997 and 2002. The route with the biggest gap between ridership and service was the S-60, where ridership increased 57% but service only 10%. The S-60 travels between Emerson Hill and Grymes Hill.

In response to past analyses, transit officials have said that it regularly conducts “traffic” checks to set service levels and minimize crowding. New York City Transit has also said that many bus routes had been operating with excess capacity before 1997.

Russianoff urged community groups to use the analysis to press for more bus service on routes they believe are overcrowded.

This analysis was made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which is a leader in encouraging measurement of the quality of government services.

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