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Mayor Adams Has a ‘Revolutionary’ Approach to Bus Lanes: Not Building Them

The self-proclaimed "bus mayor" would have to build 130 miles of bus lanes in 23 months to keep his promises.

9:00 AM EST on February 7, 2024

An MTA bus stuck in traffic.

(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

While up in Albany testifying before state lawmakers on Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams made some interesting claims.

"We've done an amazing job of building bus lanes," Adams said, after Queens Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani pointed out that for both years of the mayor's tenure so far, he has failed to meet the legally mandated bus lane requirements set by the Streets Master Plan legislation passed in 2019 by the City Council.

Adams went further. "What I did that was different from previous administrations, I did something revolutionary," Adams claimed. "I allowed communities to communicate. We spoke with community residents. We heard from them."

This is a stupefying level of spin, even for Adams, who promised to build 150 miles of bus lanes in four years—one year ahead of schedule.

Instead, he has bowed to powerful interests who whine about parking and bus lane enforcement, and has repeatedly killed or stalled bus lane projects—on Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island, on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and famously on Fordham Road in the Bronx, where a bunch of bigwigs (who don't even live in the Bronx!) successfully gutted a bus lane project that would have helped some 85,000 commuters get to where they're going.

Under Adams, the self-proclaimed "bus mayor," the buses are running slower than they've run since 2019.

"He seems to be doubling down on not building bus lanes and claiming to extract a win by obstructing the process," Danny Pearlstein, the policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance, told Hell Gate. "What bus riders want is our time back. The time that we've wasted in slow and unreliable service, stuck in gridlock."

Pearlstein pointed out that while the City Council passed the Streets Master Plan, no one but the mayor can actually execute it. The buses belong to the MTA, but the streets belong to Adams. 

"The mayor has an outsized role in this process," Pearlstein said. "That's immensely frustrating given that he repeatedly made solemn promises, in particular to bus riders, to speed up the slowest service. And that service is embarrassingly bad. And it is not within the MTA's ability to meaningfully improve it. It's the mayor's job."

Asked about the administration's failure to build bus lanes, a Department of Transportation spokesperson wrote in an email, "NYC DOT continues to work hard and creatively with available resources to deliver high-quality, high-impact projects that advance the goals laid out in the NYC Streets Plan."

The DOT was supposed to provide its annual update on Streets Master Plan metrics (which also include bike lanes and other street safety improvements) last month, but that has been delayed. Maybe we'll see some numbers in March?

To keep his promise to build 150 miles of bus lanes in four years, Adams would have to build 130 miles in the next 23 months. 

Better get started.

Here are some other stories to read while you're stuck on the bus:

And finally: NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban is in Jamaica for some reason, so naturally, Curtis Sliwa's Guardian Angels are going to raise hell on Fox News:

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