If you thought that the MTA’s bus ridership levels were on a constant declining because of things like slow service, delays, or competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, here’s some alternative facts for why more and more people are deciding to ditch the bus: it just can’t compete with the subway’s improving service.
That is how the agency’s Chief Financial Officer, Michael Chubak summed it up when asked at a budget hearing. “One of the major reasons, we believe, is competition. Essentially the subway has improved over the last 20 or so years," he stated (h/t Gothamist).
Now granted, the subway has made many improvements over the past two decades so we can agree with Chubak on that one. But to conclude that bus ridership is suffering because predominately because the subway is much better is a bit of a stretch, especially considering that the agency just reported a decline in subway ridership for the first time since 2009. Shortly after his comment, the MTA told Gothamist that Chubak had misspoken and acknowledged travel times for bus rides have increased.
Despite his small slip of the tongue, Chubak also realized that reduced speeds are a huge contributing factor to lagging ridership. “[W]e’re convinced that higher bus speeds can help encourage ridership,” he stated.
Until they can figure out an effective way to combat congestion, riders will likely continue to turn alternatives.