The MTA has developed something of a Millennial fetish over the past few months. These are the young adults of my next generation or even young, the city’s 20-somethings who don’t own apartments or cars. They rent and rely on the subway to get them anywhere at any time, and the MTA, it’s twenty-year needs assessment, recognized this cohort as a key driver of transit needs and demands for the next two decades. This focus on one large and important demographic may be overblown, but here we are.
As much as Millennials embrace the subway system (and CitiBike and, yes, taxis), they do not like buses. Can you blame them? New York City buses are hardly a paragon of reliable transit. They’re slow and off-schedule. They run infrequently along routes that are often incomprehensible, and it can sometimes be quicker to walk. Millennials — and New Yorkers of any age group — are in a hurray, and the bus isn’t the thing to take if you’re in a hurry.
Yet, for some reason, buses have emerged as the center piece of the mayoral campaign and a significant component of the MTA’s attempts to expand the transit system. For those vying for Gracie Mansion, buses are an easy improvement to trump. NYC DOT has control over city streets which gives the mayor an opportunity to implement bus plans, and the MTA is willing to go along with just about anything DOT wants when it comes to reallocating street space to buses. They’re cheap and relatively quick to put in place, and they don’t involve digging up entire streets and disrupting life and commerce for nearly a decade as subway construction along Second Ave. does.