Like a wily bus driver who, finding a roadblock on the highway, slogs through the sidestreets to get nearer to her destination, the Bloomberg administration continues to try to modernize the way New York runs its buses. On Monday the mayor unveiled curbside fare payment for buses on 34th Street, which should cut down on the maddening amount of time the M34 spends waiting for passengers to board and pay.
The curbside payment is less than the administration once dreamed for on 34th Street: This time last year, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was talking about building a "surface subway" of bus-only lanes along 34th, but that plan had to be scrapped in the face of opposition from businesses and residents on the route. But a DOT report released today indicates that even the modest fix will have an impact. Similar changes introduced last year on the M15 route, which runs along 1st and 2nd avenues, have reduced travel times, boarding times and crashes, according to the DOT.
In other policy news:
In 2009, City Limits reported in-depth on the Council and found much the same thing. We also found an interesting argument for the weight the speaker carries: In a zero-sum political environment under the city's strong mayor system, the speaker's clout inside the Council chamber translates into more power when the Council is dealing with the mayor. In other words, less democracy inside the Council means healthier checks and balances outside. That's the theory. Whether it really works that way might depend on whether the speaker is willing to challenge the mayor.