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Congestion pricing could spare Brooklyn, Queens express bus riders hours on commutes

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A new analysis shows how much time riders could save on their weekly commutes to and from Manhattan

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Despite garnering support from a multitude of group activist organizations and Governor Andrew Cuomo, state officials still haven’t passed a proposed congestion pricing bill that could decongest some of the city’s most congested streets, while also investing in repairs for the beleaguered subway system. Though the plan shows potential, it still hasn’t garnered the support of a few key players, most notably, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who prefers a millionaire’s tax instead, as well as a few lawmakers. Nonetheless, the plan could bring many benefits to the city if enacted.

In a new analysis, grassroots transit organization Riders Alliance takes a look at how congestion pricing could improve express bus routes from Brooklyn and Queens into Manhattan’s central business district. It found that express bus riders hailing from the far reaches of Brooklyn and Queens could save between one and two hours per week on their commute if congestion pricing was in effect. Many of these commuters have been designated as supercommuters by the Census Bureau, given that they spend more than 90 minutes commuting to and from work; congestion pricing could help them gain some of that time back.

“Congestion pricing means more than just fixing the subway,” said Riders Alliance policy and communications director, Danny Pearlstein in a statement. “Queens and Brooklyn express bus riders pay $6.50 each way to slog through traffic to and from neighborhoods far from subway stations. Many spend over 15 hours a week in transit. To make ends meet, they have to get up earlier and come home later than the rest of us.”

According to the Riders Alliance, congestion pricing, which would charge cars and trucks a fee to enter Manhattan’s central business district during proposed time slots, could increase traffic speeds by 20 percent, which would translate to faster trips for express buses.

Riders Alliance via Medium

The Riders Alliance used an extensive methodology to calculate the average amount of time that could be saved on a weekly basis on various different express bus routes. Their method included using speeds projected by the Balanced Transportation Analyzer, consulting with MTA, New York City Transit, , and MTA express bus schedules for each line in Brooklyn and Queens. Using these sources, they then came up with a formula to calculate the amount of time the could potentially be saved as a result of congestion pricing. You can read more on their methodology here.

“With so much talk about fairness, congestion pricing returns a truly priceless resource to folks who can spare precious little of it,” said Pearlstein. “When Albany takes up the issue next year, express bus commuters from the outer reaches of the city—and their families— should be high on the governor’s and legislators’ packed agenda.”