FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND GOVERNOR PATAKI ANNOUNCE MTA WILL PURCHASE 529 NEW LOCAL BUSES FOR QUEENS, BRONX AND BROOKLYN RIDERS AND FULLY FUND NEW MTA BUS DEPOT IN STATEN ISLAND
70% of Aging Private Bus Franchise Fleet Soon to be Replaced
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki announced today the purchase of 529 new local and express buses for the MTA Bus Company and that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board (MTA) is expected to approve $70 million for the construction of a third bus depot in Staten Island on Arthur Kill Road. The Authority's Finance Committee voted today in favor of these proposals and advanced them for consideration by the full Board later this week. Today's action by the Finance Committee was taken at the request of the Mayor and Governor.
"The 400,000 Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn riders who depend on the MTA Bus Company's service for their daily routines scored a big victory with this purchase of 529 new local and express buses," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The buses that have already been delivered and are on the road are yielding major dividends. These new vehicles are traveling longer distances between breakdowns, improving reliability as compared to the aged fleet previously operated by the private bus companies. Today's approval of full funding for the construction of a third bus depot on Staten Island is a milestone in our efforts to improve the reliability of express buses, eliminate the impact of buses spilling over into neighborhoods due to lack of adequate depot space, and allow for potential, future growth in service. I applaud Congressman Vito Fossella for his commitment to this project and his contribution in securing a $10 million earmark in the recently enacted federal transit and highway funding bill."
"I am pleased that the funding for the much awaited third bus depot in Staten Island has been identified and that the project can now go forward. Thanks to the unwavering efforts of Borough President James Molinaro, the needs of Staten Islanders who depend on MTA express bus service on a daily basis will be addressed," said Governor Pataki. "I applaud Chairman Peter Kalikow and all the members of the MTA board for addressing this important project and for providing much needed funding for additional buses for the newly created MTA Bus Company."
The MTA Finance Committee today also moved forward to award a $250 million contract to procure new local, clean fuel buses, including $141 million to purchase 284 vehicles for the MTA Bus Company. The contract also provides for the MTA to utilize an option to allow for the purchase of 105 more local buses. In total, 389 new local buses will be put into service in the areas of Queens, and Brooklyn, where the MTA has initiated or is expected to begin bus service in place of the franchised private bus companies. Delivery of these vehicles is to begin next spring.
The MTA will also be ordering 140 new express buses that will improve service in Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx communities that are affected by the MTA takeover of the private operations. These purchases will bring the total of new express buses either on order or delivered to 457. 170 new express buses are already in service, with additional deliveries currently underway.
In summary, a total of 846 express and local buses have either already been ordered or will be procured as a result of MTA Board action, replacing 70% of the entire bus fleet. The average age of the MTA Bus Company fleet will be reduced from an antiquated 13 years to less than fours years.
The MTA Finance Committee approved the use of $70 million in capital funding to complete a $110 million package to construct a third depot in southwest Staten Island. The balance of the funding needed for this project had been previously allocated from the recently enacted federal transit and highway funding bill, and from other MTA capital sources. A third bus depot on Staten Island will alleviate crowding at the two already existing Transit Authority depots in that borough which are currently operating well beyond their capacity.
When completed, the new depot will immediately improve express bus reliability for the 36,000 Staten Islanders that utilize this service each day. By adding new capacity, the project also has the potential to accommodate future growth in service. Express bus ridership has grown by 60% since 1998. The new Charleston Depot is expected to house 220 buses and will be completed early in 2008.
Funding for the new buses and the depot is available from a combination of the reallocation of $70 million in funds from the MTA's 2000-2004 Capital Plan, $132 million in federal funding, and $149 million from a capital reserve previously established by the MTA Board to improve MTA Bus Company service. Use of a portion of these funds is contingent upon approval by the MTA Capital Program Review Board.
"This victory belongs to the commuters of Staten Island," said Congressman Vito Fossella. "We have fought for more than a decade to secure funding for this bus depot. It has been a constant battle to convince the MTA that the depot is essential to expanding express bus service across Staten Island. I showed my own commitment to this project by securing $10 million in federal funding this year to construct the depot. I have spoken with Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki on numerous occasions to secure this agreement. I am delighted that our hard work has paid off and that funding is now in place to make the third bus depot a reality. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki for agreeing to this request to help improve the daily commute for Staten Islanders. I also want to extend my thanks to Angelo Tanzi and the ATU, along with Councilman Lanza, Borough President Molinaro, and MTA Board Member Frank Powers, who played key roles in this victory."
The MTA Bus Company was created in September 2004 to improve bus service in the areas of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx that had previously been served by privately franchised bus operations. To date, the MTA has initiated service in Queens and the Bronx where three of the seven private companies had been operating. The City has a letter of intent with the owner of the remaining four private companies and expects to transition service by the end of November.
Edward Skyler / Paul Elliott (212) 788-2958
Joanna Rose (Governor’s Office) (212) 681-4640