At some point, it may be faster to walk rather than ride a bus in the city.
NYC Transit officials have quietly scaled back on bus service across the city in the past two months, fueling crowding and straphanger anger, union officials and bus drivers said.
“The riders want to know what the hell is going on,” said Santos Garcia, a Brooklyn bus driver.
To save money, the MTA has reduced the number of drivers used as subs for those who call in sick, resulting in the cancellation of scheduled trips, according to union officials and transit advocates. Up to 15 trips a day have been canceled in at least seven Brooklyn depots in recent weeks, forcing straphangers to wait for an extra 20 minutes at times, they said. In Manhattan, the already sluggish crosstown buses have also taken a hit, union sources said.
“If they cut it any more, it’s useless. It’s just faster to walk as it is,” said Billie Swarztrauber, 61, who recently waited 25 minutes for the crosstown M23 to show up.
A transit spokesman could not confirm the service reduction Thursday, but the cash-strapped agency has been trying to curb the nearly $500 million a year it spends on overtime. Filling the trips is expensive, with drivers earning an average of $42 an hour to work overtime.
“We are continuing to look at our service and try to make it more efficient,” MTA CEO Jay Walder said earlier in the week.
The service reduction is not part of the $93 million in bus and subway service cuts that will take effect at the end of June to help the agency deal with a $787 million budget gap.
The MTA had scaled back bus trips last year when it faced a shortage of drivers, but that eased up after it trained a new class of 400 workers in the fall.
“If your bus doesn’t show up, that’s a service cut,” said William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.
Julia Borovskaya contributed to this story.