Queens, NY – Amalgamated Transit Unions (ATU) Locals 1056 and 1179 advocated for necessary improvements to public transit in the City of New York at a recent public hearing on the MTA budget. The Council’s Committee on Transportation took testimony from the MTA and later the public as part of the committee’s March 8, 2018 consideration on the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget.
As mass transit professionals, ATU offers unique and valuable insights. ATU 1056 and ATU 1179 members – bus operators and mechanics – work respectively for MTA New York City Transit’s Queens Bus and the MTA Bus division; we serve the riding public.
At almost every opportunity discussing public transit, the ATU emphasizes that smartly investing in public transit keys growth in the economy and job creation.
Too often policymakers and advocates ignore the utility bus public transit; instead they talk up ferries, more rail and subways, light rail and, inexplicably, a trolley. We need to end this impractical mindset and commit to expand bus service. Improved and expanded bus service offers the quickest and most cost effective and flexible means to get more people out of cars and help protect our environment. We note and welcome how grassroots transit improvement effort also focuses on a “bus turnaround” and supports the reforms ATU consistently advocated in prior testimony and commentary. Indeed a “NYC Bus Coalition” report on improving bus service basically advanced MTA bus union recommendations.
Let’s start with the clear premise that the MTA’s current schedules to replace existing buses remains woefully inadequate. Indeed, to support bus service changes, expansions, and enhancement requires many more buses than budgeted. More net new buses introduced sooner enables a better use of MTA bus lines to serve intra-borough and inter-borough public transit needs rather than just using most bus routes to funnel riders to subways and rail. Next: a look how features of Select Bus Service can be used to enhance all bus service..
Mark Henry is President and Business Agent for ATU 1056 and Chair, ATU Legislative Conference Board. Bennie Caughman is President/ Business Agent, ATU 1179.