Transit Advocates, Community Groups, And Business Organizations Announce New Coalition Effort To Bring Full-Featured Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) To New York City

New "BRT for NYC" coalition focused on solving transportation inequality for New Yorkers, particularly in the outer boroughs

Jun 10, 2014, 10:00 ET from The Rockefeller Foundation

NEW YORK, June 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- New York City transit advocates, community groups, labor unions, and business organizations are coming together to advocate for bringing full-featured BRT to the city. Called "BRT for NYC," the coalition's mission will be to make Mayor de Blasio's vision of "20 world-class BRT corridors" a reality. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the BRT for NYC Steering Committee includes the Association for a Better New York, Pratt Center for Community Development, Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, TWU Local 100, and Working Families Party.

BRT is a mass transit option that combines the permanence, speed, and reliability of rail, with the flexibility of buses, at a fraction of the cost of a subway system. Full-featured BRT includes dedicated bus lanes along center medians, platform-level boarding, traffic signal priority to ensure pedestrian safety, and in-station kiosks that allow riders to pay fares prior to boarding.

"The formation of this coalition of diverse New York City stakeholders represents a critical step forward in connecting outer borough residents with more reliable public transportation – creating a more inclusive economy that provides more city residents access to jobs and economic opportunity," said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. "Too many New Yorkers – particularly those with limited means – are cut off from access to jobs, education, and health care due to long commutes and limited transportation options, and the City does not have the resources to invest in new subway lines. BRT will provide riders in the outer boroughs with a fast and reliable public transit solution that preserves curbside parking and creates safe walking conditions."

According to a December 2013 report by the Pratt Center for Community Development and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, over 879,000 New Yorkers commute more than an hour each way to work — half a million to jobs that earn less than $35,000 per year. The report identified eight regions in the NYC area where improved mass transit options are particularly needed, and where implementing BRT is most feasible. As a first step, the MTA and NYC Department of Transportation are currently conducting community outreach focused on implementing Select Bus Service (SBS) along the Woodhaven/Cross Bay corridor. The Pratt Center report explains that SBS, in its current form, can pave the way for the planning and innovation that will be needed to implement full-featured BRT.

BRT has been a proven success in dense urban centers around the world, such as Bogotá, Colombia; Guangzhou, China; Mexico City, Mexico; and Lima, Peru. In the face of budget deficits and a lack of options that could be implemented on a short timetable, BRT has significantly increased ridership, speed, and reliability of transit, while reducing commute times, in each of these cities.

"The Woodhaven/Cross Bay corridor is a great opportunity for NYCDOT and MTA to build on the success of Select Bus Service elsewhere and deliver a real rapid transit option to New Yorkers who really need it," says Joan Byron, Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development. "And adding BRT features, especially protected bus lanes and stations on the medians will make these wide, dangerous streets safer for all users, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers included – so we can advance the administration's Vision Zero agenda as we move toward transportation equity."  

The BRT for NYC Steering Committee is focused on elected official outreach and community engagement around BRT in areas of the outer boroughs that are poorly served by transit, and where the majority of the city's growing job centers are located. In addition, the coalition is advocating for BRT in areas that would strengthen the city's overall resiliency in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy that have the potential to severely damage mass transit. The organizations affiliated with the initiative are also coordinating with the de Blasio and Cuomo Administrations on routes where BRT would be feasible and beneficial from their perspectives.

"BRT will significantly improve the quality of life for New Yorkers across the city," says Bill Lipton, New York State director of Working Families Party. "This mass transit solution will prove transformative in the fight to bridge New York City's equality gap."

About the BRT for NYC Steering Committee

The BRT for NYC Steering Committee is a diverse group of organizations committed to addressing transportation inequality by advocating for full-featured BRT in NYC. The Steering Committee is engaged in a community-focused campaign to educate and mobilize those who will benefit most from improved transportation solutions in NYC. BRT for NYC comprises advocacy, labor, policy, and business groups including the Association for a Better New York, Pratt Center for Community Development, Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, TWU Local 100, and Working Families Party. Please visit for more information.

SOURCE The Rockefeller Foundation