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Perspective

A Fantasy Map for Brooklyn’s Buses That’s Grounded in Reality

We redesigned Brooklyn’s struggling bus network based on evidence from other cities about how to boost ridership.
Brooklyn's bus network needs a 21st-century makeover. Here's what it might look like.
Brooklyn's bus network needs a 21st-century makeover. Here's what it might look like.Alon Levy/Eric Goldwyn

Brooklyn’s bus system is careening into crisis: Ridership in the New York City borough has declined by 20 percent over the last decade; one in four buses in Brooklyn arrive off-schedule. As researchers and academics at NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management who study, teach, and write about transportation, we decided to apply an evidence-based approach to redesigning this struggling transit network with the goal of speeding up vehicles and rebuilding ridership. We took on this project with the belief that Brooklyn is still a place where the bus can serve as a critical public utility. A good redesign has the potential to add millions of bus trips back to the network every year. We took this challenge as an exercise that could inform a real future revamp.

Among the reasons behind Brooklyn’s bus crisis are growing congestion and demographic change in the area—but also the system-wide service cuts that began in 2010. We aren’t the first to recognize this problem. Advocacy groups like Riders Alliance, TransitCenter, and the Straphangers Campaign have been beating the drum for a network redesign and other improvements for years. Even Nobel Prize winners understand how critical the bus is for connecting commuters.