MEGHAN BARR, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Hoping to attract more riders for New York City's sparsely populated buses, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is adding and extending service on dozens of bus routes in a $29 million service enhancement that will also boost commuter train service to the suburbs.
The service changes are, in part, a restoration of bus routes that went by the wayside during severe budget cuts in 2010. But the new routes and added buses were also prompted by increased demand in rapidly growing neighborhoods, including several in Brooklyn and on Manhattan's far west side.
On Long Island, trains are being added to accommodate the surging ridership on nights and weekends to the island's eastern shores.
Transit officials say subway ridership has reached levels unseen since the 1950s, with much of that growth happening on nights and weekends. Metro-North Railroad, meanwhile, is approaching a record ridership of more than 85 million rides in 2012.
The added service will be funded by increased revenue from soaring ridership and phased in over the course of several months, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Thursday. Lhota cautioned that the service enhancements do not alter the fact that riders face a planned fare and toll increase in 2013. The revenue generated from the fare increase is expected to cover $450 million in discretionary costs, including health care and pension costs.
The transit authority will add five new bus routes, including a new north-south route along Manhattan's far west side that will serve the West Village, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen and Clinton. Brooklyn is getting three new routes: one that connects downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill and the Brooklyn Navy Yard; another along the Williamsburg waterfront; and a third that will serve the residents of Spring Creek.
The fifth new route will serve passengers in Hunts Point in the Bronx.
Established bus routes will be extended to include new growth areas, such as increased traffic near the Gateway Center Mall in the Bronx and to Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, among others.
The only planned change for the subway is in Brooklyn, where the temporary extension of the G line to Church Avenue will be made permanent.
Metro-North is adding 230 trains per week, with 220 of them east of the Hudson and 10 west of it, in the largest service expansion since the railroad came into existence in 1983. Much of that service will be on weekends and off-peak hours.
The Long Island Rail Road will increase service during off-peak periods on the Ronkonkoma branch, add rush hours trains on the Montauk, Long Beach and Port Jefferson branches and extend late-evening train service at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal. The LIRR will also add diesel "scoot" trains — which are lighter and more cost-effective than typical LIRR trains — on the Montauk branch during evening hours.
The LIRR's changes will be phased in beginning in November.
Riders should anticipate some changes but "near normal" service on the Long Island Rail Road for the morning rush. Crews have been working to repair tracks and switches after Monday's derailment.