For all intents and purposes, Staten Island’s bus network is broken. Which isn’t surprising when you consider that the borough’s 31 local routes have barely changed in the last half-century. For the most part, ancient bus lines that pre-date the Verrazano Bridge (which opened in 1964) don’t go where people actually need to get around.
Then there are the express bus routes that take Staten Island commuters to and from Manhattan. These are some of the city’s slowest and least reliable express buses, plagued by traffic jams and stops that are spaced too close together.
At the request of Borough President James Oddo, last summer the MTA announced a full-network study of all 51 bus lines serving Staten Island.
As part of the effort, Oddo and the MTA co-sponsored a “Bus Hackathon” with TransitCenter and NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation on Saturday. They invited teams of software developers and tech-savvy urbanists to use MTA ridership data to diagnose problems and propose solutions for the borough’s bus system. The 150 participants cranked out 15 proposals for improving bus service, from which a panel of judges selected three winners.
TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt said the hack-a-thon was a way to “get a fresh set of eyes” on the problems plaguing buses serving not just Staten Island but all of New York City. Bus ridership has continued to decline in recent years even as subway ridership climbs to historic highs.
“A lot of things are the way they are because no one’s taken a look at them in a long time,” Orcutt said. “This isn’t rocket science, but someone has to look at it.”
Here’s a look at some of the most enlightening analysis from the hack-a-thon — you’ll notice a lot of overlapping ideas. (TransitCenter also posted a summary today.)