Press Releases

May 11, 2017

79 New Buses Headed to East Side to Replace Oldest Buses in Fleet
M14, M15, M101, M102, & M103 

New York, NY – Manhattan’s East Side, where seniors and others depend on buses with slow service and long waits, is getting 79 new buses to help alleviate these issues. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA’s announcement of the new buses followed strong, data-driven advocacy from Council Member Ben Kallos, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and the East 79th Street Neighborhood.
The community and elected officials brought the issue of “missing buses” to the attention of then-MTA Bus Company President Darryl Irick at a meeting convened by Senator Liz Krueger. The MTA shared that bus lines based out of the Tuskegee Depot were amongst the oldest in the system, leading to more frequent than usual breakdowns, and agreed to prioritize these buses for replacement.
The MTA is now bringing 79 new buses with free Wi-Fi and USB charging to the Tuskegee Depot, which will provide 3 to 5 new buses per week to the M14, M15, M101, M102, and M103 lines.
The East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, led by Betty Cooper-Wallerstein, has been fighting for improved bus service for decades, from awarding bus operators for a job well done to distributing survey cards for residents to provide feedback on their experiences with the buses. This advocacy has ensured that quality bus service remains a top priority for elected officials who receive these cards with service complaints.
In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos presented at Beta NYC's National Day of Civic Hacking event and facilitated a conversation on using MTA BusTime data to track every bus in the system at all times in order to analyze bus service. Nathan Johnson took up this challenge. In his analysis, he found “missing buses,” where fewer buses ran per hour than were scheduled.
In discussions facilitated by TWU Local 100 with bus operators from the Tuskegee Bus Depot, they identified frequent breakdowns and insufficient buses as two primary causes of “missing buses.” Council Member Kallos identified these issues in multiple letters and meetings with the MTA, BetaNYC, and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).
Further analysis by the Bus Turnaround Coalition at found:

  • M15: has the highest ridership in Manhattan at 46,029 daily riders, with more than 1 of 8 buses arriving bunched and an average speed of only 4.8 mph.
  • M101: is one of the top ten most bunched buses in the city at 1 of 6 buses arriving bunched, with the fourth highest ridership in Manhattan at 26,127 riders per day, and an average speed of only 4.9 mph.


May 10, 2017

GovAPI Act Would Provide Interface for Digital Requests and Submission for All Government Information As Proposed by City Council Member Kallos  New York, NY – Long lines, hold music and bureaucratic forms could soon be replaced by an app for that as the private sector innovates government thanks to new legislation (Int.1594) introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos that would require that all information received or transmitted by city government to be available through an Application Program Interface (API).
“Government, there should be an app for that. We need to build an API for government, so that the private sector can innovate and bring government into the 21st century. New Yorkers should be able to use government services as simply as new apps deliver food or a car when you need one,” said New York City Council Member Ben Kallos a free and open source software developer.
Any time a paper form, an operator, or website requests information like a name, email, income, or other details that information could just as easily be provided by an app through an API. Similarly, anytime the city shares information on whether you qualified for public benefits, are registered to vote, or owe taxes that could just as easily be provided by an app through an API. An Application Programming Interface or API provides a set of definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software, or in general terms, it provides a translation dictionary for different software to communicate to make it easier for developers to program new applications.



May 4, 2017

“Getting equal pay for equal work should not be an issue New York City residents are still battling in 2017,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos. “What someone earned at a previous job should have no bearing on salary negotiations with a potential employer. Introduction 1253 will help close the wage gap between women and men as well as minorities and whites. Thank you to Public Advocate James for her leadership on this issue that is so central to making our City more equitable. Thank you also to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito for supporting this groundbreaking legislation.” 


May 2, 2017

New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and transportation advocates today announced that an array of transit improvements over the last year have transformed the Upper East Side from a so-called “transit desert” into a “Transit Garden.”   They stood together at a new Q station stop at 2nd Avenue and 86th Street, celebrating the numerous transit, traffic, and safety improvements that now complement the new Second Avenue Subway -- including faster MTA Select Bus Service (SBS), a new Second Avenue protected bike lane and Citi Bike.   The Commissioner also released a progress report on the success of the M86 SBS route, while noting TLC data showing a 32 percent decrease in taxi trips from the Upper East Side to Midtown since Q train service began.  She also noted that starting next year, the Upper East Side would be serviced by the new NYC Ferry.


May 1, 2017

New York, NY - Four-year-olds and their parents rallied alongside elected officials at St Catherine’s Park on the Upper East Side to demand that the Department of Education to fulfill its duty to the Community and provide a Universal Pre-K seat for the over almost 300 four-year-old’s who were not offered seats in the neighborhood.
In 2014 WNYC  reported that 2,767 four-year-olds only had 151 pre-kindergarten seats. Since taking office Council Member Kallos has worked with community leaders and organization, providers and the Department of Education to bring hundreds of seats to his district and joined with Council Member Garodnick to bring dozens to the Upper East Side, quadrupling the number of seats for the 2016-17 school year to 618.
This year, the Upper East Side lost seats, while applications increased leaving over 900 four-year-olds with only 596 seats on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and Midtown East. Children have been assigned to schools not even list as choices by parents as far away as the financial district.
On April 17, Council Member Kallos authored a letter with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Assembly Member Dan Quart and Council Member Dan Garodnick, to the Department of Education demanding seats for every four-year-old in the neighborhood.
Now the elected officials join with four-year-olds, parents, to demand a pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds on the Upper East Side in their neighborhood.


April 25, 2017

Pensions for All to Help New Yorkers Save for Retirement Introduced by Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos

President Trump Called Upon to Veto Congressional Resolution That Would
Block States from Providing Retirement Accounts to Residents 

New York City – Following the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rooney (R-FL) on March 30, 2017, to roll back regulations   permitting States and Municipalities to offer retirement savings plans, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos are introducing legislation (Intro:1574 and Intro:1580), Saving Access New York, that would allow every private sector worker in New York City to save pre-tax for retirement even if their employer did not offer a 401K. On April 13, President Trump signed H.J. Resolution 67 pertaining to municipalities into law. Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos are now calling on President Trump to veto the remaining Congressional legislation and empower Americans throughout this nation to take personal responsibility to save for their retirements.


April 24, 2017

Bill would Increase City’s Waste Diversion and Recycling Rates 
 New York, NY – In order to support the City’s Zero Waste goal by 2030 and improve the city’s dismal recycling rate, legislation introduced by Council Member Kallos would require source separation to be available in any place of public accommodation with bins for trash, recycling, and compost. Additional legislation would require New York City reach its goal of Zero Waste - diverting all waste from landfills  by 2030, regardless of the next Mayor. Both bills will be introduced on April 25th at the City Council's stated meeting. 
“The city has set a goal of Zero Waste by 2030 without an Executive Order or a plan to get there. Now that the city has set a goal, it is time to put into the law. The city should be looking for ways to reduce waste we send to landfills instead of wasting hundreds of millions building marine transfer-to-landfill stations,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents a Marine Transfer Station currently under construction on the border of East Harlem. “Recycling should be a habit. New Yorkers should be able to recycle whether they are home, at work, in a park, or catching a quick bite to eat. Recycling by places that offer public accommodation can and must be better.”


April 21, 2017

New York, NY – Light pollution can harm wildlife and make it hard to stargaze let alone for New Yorkers to get a good night’s sleep. Under new legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos, street lights would be “fully shielded” to stop them from shining up into the sky or the windows of nearby residents, instead only illuminating the sidewalks and streets intended.

“New York City may be the city that ‘never sleeps’, but that shouldn’t be because of a street light outside your bedroom window. Fully shielded light fixtures will brighten up the day with fewer sleep deprived New Yorkers walking around in a bad mood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Fully shielded light fixtures will reduce light pollution to conserve energy, protect wildlife, improve stargazing, and help New Yorkers get a good night’s sleep.”


April 19, 2017

We are writing to strongly urge the Department of Education to take all feasible steps to provide pre-kindergarten seats in the community for all the four-year-olds living on the Upper East Side (59th to 96th Street) who applied for the 2017–2018 school year. We are deeply concerned that if the number of pre-kindergarten classes is not significantly increased, hundreds of families will be left without realistic options.