New York’s subways and buses serve more riders each day than the twenty next largest U.S. transit systems combined. However, the city’s outer boroughs are plagued with long distances, infrequent service, and complex routes that make it nearly impossible for a large percentage of residents to reach good-paying jobs and fundamental education. More than 750,000 New Yorkers commute over an hour each way to work, two-thirds to jobs that earn less than $35,000. Outer borough residents need something more when it comes to how they get around.

“Communities facing unreliable service, long wait times, and overcrowding require more than just an upgrade of the current bus system.”

The Rockefeller Foundation and the Pratt Center for Community Development have coalesced around a transit solution called bus rapid transit (BRT)—a high-performance system that combines the permanence, speed, and reliability of rail, with the flexibility of buses, at a fraction of the cost of a subway system. In the Foundation and Pratt’s new report released today, Mobility and Equity for New York’s Transit-Starved Neighborhoods: The Case for Full-Featured Bus Rapid Transit, BRT is discussed as an affordable, reliable, and practical way of getting outer borough residents from point A to point B.

In addition, this morning, the Foundation is convening a panel of government officials, policy experts and community advocates for a discussion focused on achieving transportation equity throughout the city—the “New York City Transportation for Tomorrow” forum, co-hosted with City & State.

Compared to the $3 billion per mile cost of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway, BRT will make the most of taxpayer dollars, while building off the model for innovative and inclusive planning that the MTA’s Select Bus Service (SBS) program has become. SBS is proof that even modest changes can result in increased ridership and decreased travel time, and that full-featured BRT will do even more, including maximize benefits for both drivers and small businesses.

BRT has transformative potential for New York City. Communities facing unreliable service, long wait times, and overcrowding require more than just an upgrade of the current bus system. BRT will provide high-speed service to entire corridors, spanning multiple boroughs, and providing thousands of New Yorkers with the access to economic opportunity they deserve.

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