Better Buses Equity Assessment Project for New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT)

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Submission Summary
The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) initiated the Better Buses Action Plan in 2019 to improve the speed of buses throughout NYC by 25 percent and increase the number of bus riders by the end of 2020. Although the COVID-19 crisis impacted these plans, NYC DOT is taking the initiative to evaluate and enhance its efforts to incorporate equity and the needs of equitable populations in its Better Buses Action Plan project selection, evaluation, and community outreach processes. NYU’s Team composed the report as a summary of best practices from other U.S. cities’ inclusion of equity, considerations provided by NYC DOT stakeholders, analysis of NYC DOT’s selected priority corridors, and suggestions for NYC DOT to improve its processes. The team conducted stakeholder outreach through the distribution of a survey as well as a roundtable discussion. Furthermore, the team created maps ( to visualize the intersections of NYC DOT priority bus routes with demographics by census tract and graphics to show existing disparities in transportation experiences for equity populations within New York City. The analysis and findings of this report led the team to propose the following recommendations to elevate the emphasis on equity in NYC’s Better Buses Action Plan: A. Project Selection - Give higher weight to equity measures within the project selection process. Equity considerations should not be subordinate to technical factors, professional judgment and political considerations in the project selection process. NYC DOT should implement a standardized prioritization matrix that assigns additional points to corridors with routes that serve concentrations of people of color, frontline workers, people with disabilities, and locations of low-paying jobs and jobs in essential industries. In order to ensure a substantial emphasis on serving this diverse spectrum of equity populations. - Allocate a significant portion of bus priority funds to projects that disproportionately serve equity populations. To some extent, all investments in bus priority measures will impact equity populations, as overall bus ridership skews toward equity populations. However, to further promote the inclusion of equity populations in the Better Buses Action Plan, NYC DOT should consider adopting a funding distribution system that favors projects that score highly in the equity categories of the project prioritization matrix. B. Public Engagement - Use technology to engage with riders. NYC DOT should continue integrating technology into its public outreach efforts, including through the use of social media, the OMNY system and QR codes at bus stops. These tools are increasingly accessible to the general public and should be expanded to all planned projects moving forward. A key lesson from the COVID- 19 pandemic has been that online meetings and forums can increase public engagement, especially for bus riders who may not be able to attend in-person meetings. - Establish a Transportation Equity Community Partnership Program. To better understand the needs of equity populations, NYC DOT should expand its Community Advisory Board (CAB) and Better Buses Advisory Group (BBAG) model to include local organizations who work in direct service to equity populations. C. Project Evaluation - Track and publish the results of the Better Buses projects annually. Measure changes in bus speeds, on-time performance and bunching. This information should be easily accessible to riders at bus stops and online. - Follow up with riders on implemented corridors. NYC DOT should continue its engagement with riders after implementation of bus priority projects to ensure that their needs have been met and to gain insight into future projects. - Re-evaluate the project selection criteria annually. The project selection criteria should be re-evaluated routinely in order to ensure that corridors that disproportionately serve equity populations are being selected more often.
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
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Urban Planning Student
New York University
New York University
New York University
New York University
New York University

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