Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the 2014-2015 State Budget designates $20 million to support implementation of recommendations by the New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force (MTTF). The recommendations include a range of improvements to support a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system between Rockland and Westchester counties that will increase transit ridership by 10,150 people per day in the region and cut commuter travel times by 20 to 25 percent.
Governor Cuomo also announced the states application for a $26.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) matching grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide additional support for the BRT system and other MTTF recommendations.
We are investing in implementing new mass transit in Westchester and Rockland County to make the New NY Bridge an even greater asset for commuters in the region, Governor Cuomo said. We have moved this project forward at an extraordinary pace with an unprecedented level of community involvement, and I commend the MTTF members for offering practical solutions to improving local transit options as we continue to build the new bridge that is so vital to our states infrastructure and economy.
The 31-member panel is made up of elected officials from Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, along with transportation experts, professional planners, transit advocates and other regional stakeholders. It was co-chaired by New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison and New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald.
MTTF Co-chair Joan McDonald said, The New York State Department of Transportation is taking the lead on this exciting transit project. We now have an achievable plan to put into place and the funding to get the program up and running. I want to thank the Governor for his leadership on this important issue and the MTTF members for volunteering their time, expertise and insights."
MTTF Co-chair Thomas Madison said, The New NY Bridge includes hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that no transit options are precluded on the new spans, and BRT is a logical and practical first step. The task force worked together to collaborate on a set of common sense solutions that will help achieve the goal of getting more drivers out of their cars and onto mass transit when the new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee is open and in future years.
The MTTF recommended a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to be in place when the new bridge is open in 2018. If all the recommendations are implemented, the new BRT system is estimated to increase transit ridership by 10,150 people per day in the region and cut commuter travel times by 20 to 25 percent.
The program put forward by the MTTF is a highly competitive project and the state has put together an application for the USDOT TIGER grant program to help fund the BRT system, including improvements to local roadways, waiting and boarding areas, and upgraded traffic management technology.
The TIGER grant application includes the following short-term project elements:
- New Bus Stations with amenities and improved pedestrian connections,
- A Smart Corridor on Route 59 with technology-focused traffic improvements,
- A "transit boulevard" on Route 119 in White Plains that allows buses to run faster, and;
- Ramp Metering along I-287 to manage congestion and increase transit speed, reliability, and efficiency.
The MTTF, established at the request of Governor Cuomo in December 2012, was tasked with making recommendations that are fiscally viable and meet the transit needs of the region, targeting major residential, commercial and employment corridors. The group issued its final report on February 28, 2014 and included the following:
Short-term Recommendations for the coming five years
- New BRT Stations and Vehicles
- High-Tech Transit Signal Priority Systems
- Simple, Legible Routing
- Dedicated Transit Lanes
- I-287 Congestion Control: Ramp Metering
- Traffic Signal Improvements
- Route 59 Smart Corridor
- White Plains Access and Station Area Study
- Corridor Preservation Study
- Interchange 10 Reconstruction / South Nyack Study
- New I-287/87 Interchange 14X Study
- Transportation Demand Management Programs
- Transit-Oriented Development
- West-of-Hudson Rail Improvements
Mid-term Recommendations, for up to 15 years after The New NY Bridge opens
- White Plains Station Redevelopment
- Interchange 11 Reconstruction
- West-of-Hudson Rail Improvements
- In-Line BRT Station at the Palisades Center
- New BRT Stations Along the Proposed Routes
- Expanded Park and Ride Facilities in Rockland County
Long-term Recommendations, for 15 years or more after The New NY Bridge opens
- Passenger Service on the West Shore Line
- East-West Rail Options (Light Rail or Commuter Rail)
The MTTF met 12 times between late 2012 and early 2014 to develop its transit recommendations. In addition, 18 working sessions were held with local stakeholders to further refine the proposal.
The full Mass Transit Task Force report can be found here: http://www.newnybridge.com/documents/index.html.
More information on the USDOT TIGER Grant Program can be found here: http://www.dot.gov/tiger.