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Bus Ridership Down Because Subways Are Great, MTA Official Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 29, 2017 11:53am
 The MTA blamed dwindling bus ridership on improvements to subways at a City Council hearing.
The MTA blamed dwindling bus ridership on improvements to subways at a City Council hearing.
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NEW YORK CITY — Subway service in the city has gotten so good it drove down bus ridership, an MTA official said.

Michal Chubak, the chief financial officer of the agency, said at a City Council budget hearing Tuesday that the years-long decline in bus riders is partly to blame on improvements to subways around the city.

"The subway has improved over the last 20 or so years and so it provides an alternative for bus riders," said Chubak at the hearing. "On bus routes that parallel subway lines, ridership is declining more."

However, subway service has been plagued by delays in recent years and was rated by the MTA's own board as between "poor" and "fuhgeddaboutit" in January.

Delays have increased on most lines since 2014 with about 20 percent of all trains arriving late to their stations and weekday service on the A, F, G and M lines got worse last year, according to MTA records.

► READ MORE: Think Your Subway Commute has Gotten Worse? You're Not Wrong

Bus ridership around the city has steadily declined in recent years — with 776 million people using them in 2015, down from 792 million in 2015, according to the MTA.

The decrease has been mostly in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while the numbers stayed steady in Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx, Chubak said.

Not everybody was convinced the subway's service drove the numbers down, blaming it on poor bus service instead.

"We get to destinations faster if we walk than take a bus," uptown City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said at the hearing. "Our buses are running slow in our city."

Other council members also pointed to long waits for buses at some spots in the city.

Chubak said at the hearing that the agency was working on expanding the Select Bus Service system — which has longer spacing between stops and traffic signal priority — to lines and add more dedicated bus lanes to shorten bus commute times.