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Quieter Buses

The MTA continues to work on ways to improve the customer experience and become an even better environmental steward. Specifically, MTA New York City Transit's Department of Buses has embarked on a "quiet campaign" to lower the noise level on some of the louder systems on the city's buses.

So far, 220 buses have been outfitted with muffler systems designed to tone down the blast of compressed air generated by lowering the suspension system for easy boarding and alighting. A similar installation also helps lessen the loud hiss made by the automatic deployment of the air dryer.

"What we are trying to do with this project is improve the quality of life in the city by reducing noise pollution," said Joseph Smith, President of MTA Bus and Senior Vice President of Buses for NYC Transit. "Are we the only source of noise? Of course not, but we do contribute and this is our way of doing our part to help address a legitimate issue."

Aside from controlling the sounds of compressed air being released, the volume has been turned down on the beeps that sound when the front platform of the bus is lowered for no-step boarding. Another major culprit is the periodic blast of compressed air through the air dryer. It occurs only once every five or six minutes but it is loud. The new muffler system now makes it so the air being exhausted is barely audible. These modifications have dropped decibel levels about 20 percent.

"What we were looking to do was dampen some of the sounds created by various systems on what is a very complicated vehicle," said Assistant Chief Maintenance Officer Daniel Cardoza. "We will continue to look for additional ways to lower noise levels and you will be hearing more from us in this area."

While buses are by no means the loudest generators of noise on the streets of the city, they do contribute some of the background sound that New Yorkers must endure each day. In the middle of the night, however, the audible alarm that accompanies lowering the bus can jar you out of a sound sleep," Cardoza added. "We do receive complaints about the sounds generated by our buses in the middle of the night and we began to look at ways we could reduce the decibel level."

As we move forward, we will be working with bus manufacturers to make the equipment standard on new bus deliveries.