Top 5 Transit System Projects Worth Watching in 2016

Public transit systems in the United States are experiencing rapid growth of ridership and growing revenue predictions, although the funding to pay for improvements and keeping their systems in a state of good repair may not materialize.  With that said, most if not all transit systems try to find ways to pay for transit improvements, whether for ridership increases or for an enhanced experience.  There are transit systems that add or change bus service to better serve its customers, while some systems convert their busiest service to rail service.  Some trains are added to an existing line or network, while some trains run in places where bus service is overwhelmed.  Some transit systems decide that rail systems to replace heavy bus lines is too expensive and decide to take the route of Bus Rapid Transit instead, which is less expensive and more flexible than rail service.  The common thread is that most of these transit systems have a goal in mind:  serve the greatest amount of people in the most efficient way while keeping costs down.

Some of these projects are meant to make transit more attractive and/or more efficient for many riders.  There are those that happen to excite railfans and busfans such as myself, giving us something to photograph, record, ride, draw, or compare to our own systems and associated expansion projects.  It invokes imagination as to how we think our systems can improve as well as gives us something to have an open dialogue about with people who work in the industry; it allows us to ask the questions such as why it works for them and not for us.

These five projects, being worked on and/or nearing completion, are worth watching as a busfan or railfan and as an industry professional.  I picked these projects because they appear to transform their systems, for better more than worse, and leave possibilities to the imagination about how our own problems can be solved.  Some are just mere entertainment.

5.  Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) service delivery and fare changes

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding Allegheny County, have been in the news in transit circles for at least a decade, and not necessarily in a positive light.  With service cuts and fare increases, the Port Authority has had a hard time balancing its budget while coping with less funding from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s state capital.  Port Authority, along with SEPTA in Philadelphia, are the state’s two largest transit systems, and dedicated funding sources for those two states are hard to come by, especially from a government who sees these companies as those who need to cut costs and turn a profit before the state legislature even thinks about providing more funding to those systems.  This usually leaves SEPTA and Port Authority with no choice but to raise fares and/or cut service.  For Pittsburgh, it meant both.

In 2006, during my first visit to Pittsburgh, the system had roughly 200 bus routes, many of which are peak-hour versions of all-day local bus routes, whether they travel on local streets or use one of Pittsburgh’s three busways (East, West, and South).  In 2016, just ten years later, the system has dwindled to about 100 routes.  The “T” light rail system in 2006 consisted of three light rail lines (Overbrook, Beechview, and Allentown) which have had service variations that are too complicated to discuss here.  Now, the light rail system is two lines, Red to Overbrook Juntion via the Beechview Line, and Blue to Library or South Hills Village via the Overbrook Line.  Red Line trains serve South Hills Village during rush hours, but Blue Line trains serve South Hills Village all the time to allow those residents to utilize the faster Overbrook Line to access Downtown Pittsburgh and the North Side.

Fares in Allegheny County are zoned based on how far from Pittsburgh a rider is travelling.  Currently, there are at least 3 fare zones, including a free downtown fare zone, which includes the light rail extension to the North Side, with fares ranging from $2 to $3.75, in addition to surcharges to riding the light rail after transferring from a bus during peak hours.  Transfers are usually $1, which means that bus rides from Overbrook all the way to Monroeville through Oakland will mean nearly a $4 ride, more if you decided to transfer to the light rail during rush hours.  The way it was, back in 2006, was that there were three primary zones, and special zones within the main zones, which required a separate fare.  There were also ticket books that you can buy to speed up boarding and have the proper fare all the time.  Those have been replaced by the ConnectCard.  The worst part about these fare hikes is that they usually happen right after service cuts and realignments haven’t decreased their bottom line.

I will give Pittsburgh the benefit of the doubt because of a few things they have implemented or are considering, without going into too much detail, to try to make the transit experience better in Allegheny County:

  1. Renumbering of bus routes:  Pittsburgh’s bus route numbering scheme was quite complicated, with routes numbered counterclockwise from north to northeast and certain route numbers ending in certain numbers that describe the type of route.  The 6B was a north side route from Spring Hill to Downtown Pittsburgh, while the 46G was a south side route from Downtown Pittsburgh to Elizabeth.  Lettered routes were “Flyer” routes.  What was done in recent years was color coded routes that ran on busways and HOV lanes, and removed the letter suffices on numbered routes so that branches of routes were given new route numbers.  Flyer routes were brought into the color scheme.  East Busway routes were “Purple” routes such as the P2, P3, and P76, while West Busway routes were “Green” Routes such as the G2 and G31 routes.
  2. Proposing to redo their system maps and wayfinding system:  Pittsburgh has a way of trying to make it easier for riders to get the gist of where bus routes run and how they operate in the grand scheme of things.  This hasn’t really worked since the maps aren’t geographic nor are the diagrammatic maps any less confusing than just looking at individual schedules for the route.  Also, signage in Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland isn’t very easily accessible or clear when you are in the street looking for transit stops.  There is talk about redoing the maps to show not only where routes go, but possibly how frequent they run, so that new users can see how a particular service operates and decide whether to take one route over another.
  3. Changing its fare structure:  There is talk about possibly implementing a single fare structure for most of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities and only charging an extra zone for riders coming from far-out communities.  So, a person from Monroeville or Robinson will pay $3 or $3.75 to go to Pittsburgh, whereas someone from Swissvale or Robinson will pay the same $2.75 as someone in Polish Hill or Brentwood.  Even though the closest areas to Downtown Pittsburgh will see their fare increase from $2, the advantage is that everyone will pay the same price in Pittsburgh without having to do any guesswork as to where the zone changes are…within the city limits.

Whether anything is done to make transit better in Pittsburgh is anyone’s guess.  But this system gets my attention because even though fares have increased and service cut for many people, there is at least an attempt to discuss what to do to attract riders and make Pittsburgh’s system great again.

4. Los Angeles Metro Rail Current Projects

Metro in Los Angeles is just a few short months away from opening two extensions of their Metro Rail network this year.  The Gold Line Foothill Extension Phase I will bring trains from the current Gold Line terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Station to the new APU-Citrus College Station in Azusa (APU is the Azusa Pacific University), while the Expo Phase II will bring trains from the current Expo Line terminus at Culver City Station to the new Downtown Santa Monica Station.  There are two other major rail construction projects occurring at the same time, one of which is the LAX/Crenshaw Line which will run from the Expo-Crenshaw Station on the Expo Line to Aviation Station on the Green Line, and the other being the Regional Connector, the tunnel/surface project that will connect the Gold Line and the Blue/Expo Line and allow a range of travel and routing options for the LA Area.

For the first time ever since the planning of rail projects in the LA area, trains will travel all the way to the Santa Monica coast line from Los Angeles.  Santa Monica officials are eager to encourage riders to ride the Expo Line all the way from Downtown Santa Monica (DTSM) to Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) when their only options currently are Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines’ Rapid 10 Express bus or LA Metro Rapid Lines 704 and 720.  With all the service changes in both bus systems required to work seamlessly with the Expo Line Phase II, June 25 is the target implementation date for the opening of the line to passengers.  There are some issues to work out and more real-time testing still to come, but Santa Monica and Metro officials hope that they can open the extension before the summer.

The Gold Line extension to Azusa is slated to open around March 5, with stations in Arcadia, Irwindale, Monrovia, Duarte, and Azusa.  This is only half of the extension of the Gold Line in the Foothills (San Gabriel and Ponoma Valleys in Los Angeles County), but still noteworthy since the extension will add roughly 12 miles to the current 20-mile line.  The extension from Azusa to Montclair will add yet another 12 miles to the system, making that line a 44-mile route when completed.  That extension will also mark the first Metro light rail line to cross county lines into San Bernadino County, to reach the city of Montclair.

As far as the projects that are noteworthy but not opening soon (though they are rather important):

The Regional Connector tunnel is being worked on as we speak to connect the Gold Line near the now-closed Little Tokyo-Arts District Station (to build a new station nearby but underground) to the Blue and Expo Lines in Downtown LA.  The tunnel will be opened in 2020, but major work has started in the area to build a interlocking and set of tracks to eventually allow trains from the Regional Connector to access either end of the current Gold Line.  This tunnel will allow Blue Line trains to run all the way from Long Beach to Pasadena and Azusa and Expo Line trains to run all the way from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles and beyond.  This has been in the works since at least the 1980s.

The LAX/Crenshaw Line is being built between Expo/Crenshaw Expo Line Station to Aviation Green Line Station.  Two noteworthy things are happening on this line:  the dismantling of temporary counterweights that were placed in order to seal off the Green Line connection to LAX that never happened back in the 1990s, and the transfer station being built at 96th/Century between Crenshaw Line trains and LAX’s planned new people-mover system.  The Green Line was proposed to connect to LAX with a branch line from Aviation Station but was shelved due to lack of funding and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) participation.  N ow, LAWA and Metro are working together, somewhat, to build a transfer station between LAX transit and Metro’s transit, although at an inconvenient location.  Nonetheless, once the LAX/Crenshaw Line is done, certainly not in 2016, but still noteworthy, the LAX/Crenshaw Line will travel from Expo/Crenshaw to Redondo Beach and the Green Line will travel from Norwalk to either LAX or Redondo Beach.

With the Expo and Green Lines opening extensions this year, there is also the need to operate more cars with longer trains, and thus the new Kinkisharyo P3010 cars coming in will help to fill the void, making LA Metro’s light rail system worth watching in the next 6-12 months.

3.  Minneapolis Metro Transit Light Rail and BRT projects

Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Twin Cities, are cities with growing transit options and enhancements to transit services already available to residents in the surrounding towns and cities.  As hot as it gets in the summer and as cold as it can be in the winter time, Minneapolis is another city worth watching as transit projects are either completed, under way, or are being planned.

In addition to the Metro Blue Line, formerly the #55 Hiawatha Light Rail Line, Metro Transit in collaboration with the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority opened the Metro Red Line Bus Rapid Transit line and the Metro Green Line light rail line.  The Red Line operates from Apple Valley to the Mall of America, and the Green Line runs from Downtown Minneapolis to Downtown Saint Paul and the University of Minnesota, also known as the Central Corridor.  In the coming years, construction will be ongoing for the Green Line extension from Downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie and will add another 16 miles to the 20+ mile light rail network.  The current Green Line is a replacement of the #50 bus route and a supplement to the #16 bus route, one of the region’s busiest bus routes.

The Metro Blue Line will also have a much anticipated extension north of the Target Field Station, adding about 13 miles of track north to Brooklyn Park in the Bottineau Corridor.  This is still in the planning and design stages, but this project is still a go, which will replace or supplement the upper half of the #5 bus route, another of the busiest route in the Twin Cities.  Once this extension is built, there will be roughly 50 miles of light rail, more than Denver’s current system.

But light rail transit isn’t the only card in the deck; bus rapid transit is getting some more steam, in the form of highway BRT (like Phoenix’s Rapid express bus system or Los Angeles’ Metro Silver Line) and “arterial” BRT (like Seattle’s Rapid Ride or New York’s Select Bus Service).  The Metro Red Line from Bloomington to Apple Valley is the first BRT line in Minneapolis, an arterial BRT named in the same fashion as the light rail system.  The next two BRT lines in the works are the Snelling Avenue (A Line) and Penn Avenue (C Line) Arterial BRT lines.  The A Line will start later this year, while the C line will start around 2017.  (There is B Line, to run along West 7th Street between Downtown Minneapolis, MSP Airport, and the Mall of America, but that will start once Ramsey County has completed their own studies in the corridor.)  The Metro Orange Line will be the first highway BRT, named in the same way as the light rail system, which will complement and/or replace numerous I-35 freeway express bus routes but will also allow for all-day service to and from Downtown Minneapolis.  Right now, it is in the planning stages, accelerated by the fact that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given them the go-ahead to start the process and receive grant money for the project.  This is slated for 2019 service.  There is one more BRT service proposed, the Metro Gold Line, that will take riders from Union Depot out to East Saint Paul and beyond.  This is slated to be an arterial BRT named in the same fashion as the light rail lines much like the Metro Red Line.

2. Denver RTD FasTracks

Denver, The Mile High City, isn’t really known much for its transit network, but with 3 new commuter rail lines (with another one in the works), a few new light rail expansions, and a new light rail line in the works, Denver will be a city on the up-and-up.  It currently is, from a real estate perspective, but with current projects either completed or underway, Denver will be a destination city much like San Francisco or Dallas.

If it appears that I have Denver RTD on this list, it’s because I still firmly believe that Denver’s transit system is something to watch, but especially this year.  There is a lot going on in Denver and surrounding cities, and this post is merely an update.  This is also an opportunity to clarify and clear up a few things as well with regards to the commuter rail project.

Denver has embarked on FasTracks, a program that accelerates certain transportation projects by allowing for contracts to be bid on all at the same time and with funding available from revenue and state and county subsidies.  Among the projects included in this program are new light rail lines and/or extensions, 4 new commuter rail lines, and the massive Union Station project.  Denver’s first FasTracks projects was the [W] line from Union Station to Jefferson County and Lakewood.  It was completed back in 2014 and has fairly decent ridership, especially from stations in Lakewood.  The free Metroride service is a FasTracks initiative which consist of a rush-hour bus service running along 18th and 19th Streets from Union Station to Civic Center as a complement and alternative to the 24-hour-a-day 16th Street Mallride service.  Then, there is Union Station and its revitalization into a regional transit hub and center for transit-oriented development (TOD).

Union Station is a masterpiece long in the making, with the Historic Union Station fully restored and converted to part of a hotel, the light rail line re-aligned a decade ago to make room for the commuter rail/Amtrak terminal, the Union Station Bus Terminal (USBT) completed and operational (thus closing down the old Market Street Bus Station), and commuter rail set to open in the coming months.  With new residential housing built or being built on either side of the nearby freight tracks, this part of Downtown Denver will be alive with activity and the focal point of transportation in the region.  Currently, about 20 bus lines pass through or terminate here, including the 16th Street MallRide shuttle, DIA/Skyride Route AF, and the 18th/19th Street MetroRide shuttle, along with three light rail lines, the (C), (E), and [W] lines, terminating here.  Currently, Amtrak is using the terminal for its long-distance rail operations (i.e. The California Zephyr), but starting later this year, the Denver commuter rail system will start to take shape.

There will be 4 commuter rail lines.  The East Rail Line, now called the University of Colorado [A] Line thanks to a public-private partnership, will open in April with service to Denver International Airport, replacing the AF Skyride bus.  The [B] Line will open in the summer, serving Westminster at first, with service to Boulder and Longmont by 2018.  This line will either complement or replace the BOLT (Boulder-Longmont connector) regional bus line and possibly reduce service on U.S. 36 bus routes.  The [G] Line will open in the fall, with service to Arvada and Wheat Ridge, possibly replacing several regional buses including the 55L (formerly 55X), and 80L (formerly 80X).  The [N] line will open in 2018 serving Thornton and Northglenn, replacing the 120X and 122X lines along Interstate 25.  All commuter rail lines will be using the Hyundai-Rotem electric multiple-unit (EMU) cars similar to SEPTA’s Silverliner V fleet but without the low-entry stairs.  All lines will have high-level platforms similar to Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road in New York.  Originally, it was thought that the [A] Line would be electric while the other lines would be diesel multiple-unit (DMU) cars, but it turns out that RTD purchased 66 EMUs for 4-car trains on the [A] Line and 2-car or 4-car trains for the other 3 lines.

Another FasTracks initiative is the creation of the [R] Line, a new light rail line using some existing tracks along with some new ones.  The lower half of the [R] line will comprise of the [E] and [F] Lines between Lincoln and Belleville and the [H] Line between south of Southmoor and Nine Mile.  This route was originally used by the old [G] light rail line operating from Lincoln to Nine Mile but was discontinued due to low ridership and budget cuts.  The upper half of the [R] Line will be a new line running along most of Interstate 225 and going right through Aurora Town Center.  This line will connect with the University of Colorado [A] Line at Peoria Station.  The [R] Line will open for service by the end of the year.  Because the Nine Mile Station will no longer be the last stop on the line, [H] Line trains cannot return to the city from this station due to track constraints and therefore will be extended to at least Florida Station, where there will be possibly a pocket track for [H] trains to terminate.

Rouding out the Top 5…

1.  King County Metro RapidRide and RapidRide+

Seattle is an interesting transit city, one of the most underrated transit cities in the United States.  There is so much going on here that it’s almost a crime to ignore any of it.

Seattle has 6 bus rapid transit corridors in their RapidRide system.  RapidRide is Seattle’s street-level BRT created in 2010 to improve service along major corridors in the King County Metro service area.  This is not to be confused with the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT), originally called the Seattle Bus Tunnel, which has a dozen or so bus routes that operate out to north, east, and south County towns such as  Renton, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Northgate.  The Bus Tunnel is Seattle’s first BRT, which opened in the 1990s with dual-powered buses to allow for pollution-free bus service in the tunnel while operating on diesel fuel outside of the tunnel.  The RapidRide system is meant to improve service in certain high-ridership corridors that may not necessarily run downtown.  This system operates by allowing riders with ORCA smart cards (One Regional Card for All) to tap their cards at station readers located at busy stations instead of paying on the bus like current cash users.  This allows the amount of time spend at bus stops to be reduced and keeps buses moving.  Most major RapidRide bus stops are converted into stations with large bus shelters and tap card readers, while minor stops simply have RapidRide poles.  At minor stops, everyone pays at the front of the bus.  On most corridors, the RapidRide replaces local bus service and consolidates lightly used minor stops into RapidRide stops.  All RapidRide buses are red 60-foot hybrid-electric buses with three doors for entry and exit, unlike the typical green, teal, and purple two-door 60-foot buses on standard bus lines.

The (A) line runs along International Blvd between Tukwila International Blvd Link Light Rail Station and Federal Way Transit Center.  It replaced the lower half of the #174 bus.  It is the only service on this section of International Blvd.  The (B) Line runs between Bellevue and Kirkland, replacing the #230 and #253 buses.  The (C) Line runs between West Seattle and Downtown Seattle, replacing the #54 bus, while the (D) Line runs between Uptown, Ballard, and Downtown Seattle, replacing the #15 and #18 buses.  The (E) Line runs between Shoreline and Seattle, replacing the #358 bus, and the (F) Line runs between Renton and Burien, replacing the #110 and #140 buses.

All 6 lines have enhanced stations at major intersections and other locations, but they lack bus lanes and transit signal priority (though the (E) Line has Business Access and Transit Lines, or BATs, along Aurora Avenue).  They lack full proof-of-payment amenities that systems like New York’s Select Bus Service or Los Angeles’ Orange Line use such as ticket machines at every stop.  The Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro are looking at ways to operate bus rapid transit with the extra bells and whistles within the BRT toolbox, yet they aren’t looking at upgrading the current RapidRide network.  Rather, they are looking at creating new corridors with more BRT features than RapidRide, and they intend to call it RapidRide+, with five-door 60-foot hybrid-electric buses or even trolleybuses for access to left-side and right-side bus stops, dedicated bus lanes, longer stop spacing, and even better frequencies than the RapidRide corridors.  RapidRide+ is a system by itself that complements RapidRide (rather than replaces RapidRide) and will transform Seattle even more than it has been since the introduction of its streetcar network and its Link Light Rail system.  The city is looking at creating up to 7 of these RapidRide+ corridors, one of which will operate from Downtown Seattle to the Central District along Madison Street, and another from Downtown Seattle to Roosevelt (and eventually Northgate) via Eastlake, Lakeview, and Fairview Avenues.  The Madison corridor will serve the Central District, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Seattle, and the Roosevelt corridor will serve University of Washington students.  These two important corridors and their implementation will set the precedent for the other 5 corridors and will allow 3/4 of Seattle residents to have a 10-minute walk to service with a frequency of 10 minutes or better, between streetcar, Link Light Rail, and RapidRide/RapidRide+ service.

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New Series coming soon…

MUNI SFMTA

MUNI light rail at Balboa Park.

A new series is in the works, taking some time in my busy schedule to compile a few topics to post about.  Stay tuned.

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Select Bus Service: December 2015 Update

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Being that I have been following SBS in New York City for quite some time, I shall post yet another set of updates for those who have been following as I have.

Bx12 Pelham Parkway/Fordham Road

The westbound main road of Pelham Parkway still has not been worked on.  The DOT still says it’s coming soon.  The Fordham Plaza reconstruction is coming along and the new plaza is starting to take shape.  Also, the Bx12 SBS buses have a new destination sign reading program that places the words “Bx12 +SELECT BUS” in a blue background and then displays the destination in regular format with “Bx12” in a blue box.  This is designed to make it easier to identify an SBS bus versus a regular bus.  At night, the signs can be seen from blocks away.  This is intended to be a replacement for the flashing blue lights which were installed on SBS buses back in 2008-2012. This feature actually debuted on the M86 SBS.

M15 First/Second Avenues

Right now, we still have Second Avenue Subway construction that is making a mess between 101st Street and 65th Street, which should start winding down in the next year or so.  Most of the bus bulbs on First Avenue are completed, from Houston Street to 34th Street and from 79th Street to 116th Street.  On Second Avenue, the bus bulb at East 115th Street is completed.  Utility and bus bulb work is still being done at 106th Street at this time.  A number of M15 SBS stops have countdown clock stanchions and wayfinder maps including 125th St/2nd Avenue and 115th/2nd Avenue.

M34/M34A 34th Street Crosstown

All of the bus bulbs and street repainting/repaving treatments (with the exception of the Westbound 8th Avenue stop due to renovation of the New Yorker Hotel) from 11th Avenue to Park Avenue has been completed and, because of it, buses on the M34 and M34A move much faster.  Most of the fare machine are placed in such a way to face the street or sideways dependent on the width of the sidewalk in certain places, making it easier for lines to queue in front of the machine but not to impede buses pulling into stops.  A big improvement over the previous setup.

S79 Hylan Blvd/Richmond Avenue

Nothing really new to report since the last update.

Bx41 Webster Avenue

Pedestrian plaza and street redesign work have necessitated the relocation of the 149th Street/3rd Avenue stop to East 150th Street/3rd Avenue.  It appears that Willis Avenue may become a two-way street again, but only for traffic coming from eastbound 148th Street to head south on Willis Avenue.  Access to southbound Willis Avenue might be just for local traffic or for Bx15 buses to Harlem.

B44 Nostrand/Rogers Avenues

Nothing really new to report since the last update.

M60 125th Street/LaGuardia Airport

There are 21 buses assigned to the M60 SBS with luggage racks (#5965-5986), and every so often, you will see some M34/34A SBS units (mainly #1280-1285 and 5843-5863) from time to time because of the demand for buses on this line.  The DOT has finally painted bus lanes from Lenox Avenue to Amsterdam Avenue and paved the street from St. Nicholas Avenue to 12th Avenuea welcome addition to the 125th Street saga.  Most M60 SBS stops on 125th have countdown clock stanchions which also double as wayfinders, with a map of the M60 SBS line and points of interest and transit connections listed.  The M60 SBS project is starting to take more shape than when it first started.

M86 86th Street Crosstown

The MTA and the DOT have started the M86 SBS service a week after it was advertised, but it went off without a hitch…almost.  It was scheduled to be implemented on June 30th, 2015, but was pushed back to July 6th due to issues with the fare machine installations.  The westbound stop at Lexington Avenue was unavailable the first week for buses to stop due to Verizon work being done, but the fare machines were made available.  Customers had to get their SBS receipts from the machines at the new SBS stop in front of Petco and then walk to the original bus stop in front of Duane Reade, which was a headache especially during the afternoon rush hour, when most people use the M86 westbound to travel to the Upper West Side.  Since then, everything has been running relatively smoothly.  Bus lanes have been installed in the 86th Street Transverse only at 5th Avenue.

Q52/Q53 Woodhaven/Cross Bay Blvds

The Wooodhaven SBS plan will not be fully realized until around 2017 to 2018.  This $200 million project will be implemented in phases, the first of which are the bus lanes installed between Eliot Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue.  This part of Woodhaven Blvd has a huge main roadway with at least 4-5 lanes in each direction.  The roadway doesn’t split into main and service roads until around Metropolitan Avenue, so once the SBS plan kicks into high gear, we will soon see the main road bus lanes start popping up, i.e. with some major construction and detours.  There is still quite a great deal of opposition to the plan, still calling for restoring rail service to the nearby Rockaway Beach Line, which the DOT still isn’t budging on.

Q44 The Bronx/Main Street

This SBS route with the culmination of discussion about what can be done to improve travel times between Flushing and Jamaica in Queens.  Three corridors were looked at, particularly Main Street (Q44/Q20A/Q20B), Parsons Blvd/Kissena Blvd (Q25/Q34), and 164th Street (Q65).  It was decided that the Q44 would be ripe for SBS improvements since it is the busiest of the three corridors and is a vital link between Queens and The Bronx.  It surely helped that the Q44 is a Limited and has articulated low-floor buses, much like every SBS corridor implemented so far except for Hylan Blvd (S79).  Most of the Q44 Limited stops in Queens were maintained, but a number of Bronx bus stops along the Cross Bronx Expressway were eliminated due to very low ridership and were “consolidated” with nearby busier stops.  The Q44 SBS rusn 24/7, which is a slight deviation of the Q44 Limited service pattern which had the Q44 run local at night.  Being that the Q44 is SBS all the time, the Q20A (but not the Q20B) will run 24/7.  Service on the Q44 SBS started November 29, 2015.  Bus lanes were installed on Main Street between 41st Avenue and 60th Avenue, and some stops were moved from the “nearside” (before the intersection) to the “farside” (past the intersection) such as the northbound stop at Booth Memorial Avenue (for New York Hospital Queens).

B46 Utica Avenue/Malcolm X Blvd

Right now, this SBS line is in the short-range planning stages, which include targeted bus lanes in certain key spots.  The lanes were already setup last summer on Utica Avenue between Empire Blvd and Church Avenue to help make the B46 ride easier and safer; this past summer on Utica saw bus lanes between Church Avenue and Avenue N.  My experience riding the B46 Limited just a month ago was quite pleasant, with motorists generally obeying the bus lane rules, and the bus I rode keeping schedule fairly well.  Travel time between Empire Blvd and Kings Plaza was roughly 20 minutes.  With SBS stop spacing and off-board fare collection coming at a later date still to be determined, the travel time should be cut an extra 5 minutes.  The B46 SBS plan was made public on the NYCDOT BRT website, which has the SBS only traveling from Dekalb Avenue to Kings Plaza, the meat of the B46 line in general.  Local buses would either terminate at Dekalb Avenue or continue up to Williamsburg.  The biggest change for most riders will be SBS buses making select stops south of Avenue H.  Only three, to be exact:  Avenue K, Avenue N, and Kings Plaza.  For those transferring to/from the B2, B9, and B41 buses at Avenue S must make their connection at Kings Plaza.  B41 riders can also make connections at Avenue N.  For everyone else, it means 5-10 less minutes traveling to Eastern Parkway for the IRT lines.

M23 23rd Street Crosstown

The 23rd Street crosstown bus is one of three planned SBS lines to be implemented in the near future.  The M23 has been a fairly unreliable line, much like the M34 and other Midtown crosstown lines, and is being studied for possible SBS conversion.  Right now, it is in the feedback stages, and many of the comments written were related to buses being delayed due to traffic and buses coming in packs because they often pick up huge crowds at certain stops.  The DOT will look at ways to make certain intersections safer and improve traffic flow in other intersections.  The focus should be how to make M23 buses mesh better with the numerous express buses that turn on and use 23rd Street for various reasons.

B82 Kings Highway/Flatlands Avenue

The Kings Highway/Flatlands Avenue line is one of three planned SBS lines to be implemented in the near future.  This line is going to be a challenge since the part of Kings Highway by the B and Q trains is narrow and filled with cars and taxis that travel through this busy shopping district.  Nevertheless, riders in this corridor have been wanting better bus service and faster service up the entire line for many years.  This is a lengthy bus route with many ridership generators along the way, and it serves riders that would otherwise take a train up to Downtown Brooklyn to take another train back out to their final destination or take several train/bus combinations.  Right now, this route is in the planning stages with several outreach events and meetings with community boards having taken place or to be announced soon.

Bx6 163rd Street/Hunts Point

The Bx6 is one of three planned SBS lines to be implemented in the near future.  This line is going to be a challenge since the western half of the line is plagued with congestion due to the courthouses, Yankee Stadium event and game traffic, and the approaches to the major Deegan Expressway, including the Macombs Dam Bridge.  Most South Bronx residents use the Bx6 as a means to visit members in Family Court or Criminal Court, shop at nearby stores at Concourse Plaza, eat and work near the Bronx County Supreme Court and Bronx Borough Hall, travel to Hunts Point for other stores, and transfer to subway and bus lines taking them to Pelham Bay, Parkchester, Fordham, Tremont, and Co-Op City.  Many people work at the Food Center in Hunts Point, which is located in a swath of factories, warehouses, and business related to trucking.  With some of the highest asthma rates in the city and physically (and psychologically) separated by the Bruckner Expressway, a barrier to the rest of the borough and the only subway line in the area, Hunts Point is a transit desert, by design.  This is a line worth watching once the SBS plan starts to unfold.

Future Corridors Under Consideration

Q70 Woodside/Jackson Heights/LGA Airport

Being that this line already exists in the form of Limited-Stop service that came out of the LaGuardia Airport Alternatives Analysis Study, the conversion to SBS would be fairly easy.  This line wasn’t created as an SBS line, but it has been talked about since the LGA AA Study which identified BRT as the choice for improving transit access to the airport.

Q25 Parsons Blvd/Kissena Blvd

This line was first looked at when the Flushing-to-Jamaica corridor was discussed  It looked at how service between these two major sections of Queens can be improved or made faster.  The Q44 was the choice made for improvements since it had articulated buses and was a vital link between The Bronx and Flushing and The Bronx and Jamaica.  The Q25 is also in need of improvements, which is why it is now being considered (by the community boards) for possible SBS implementation in the future.  Kissena Blvd is a narrow street, even where it empties into Parsons Blvd, but being that it does have significant ridership, mainly between Roosevelt Avenue and Jewel Avenue, it is a candidate for some major changes.

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Select Bus Service In-Depth: Bx6

Bx6 in Concourse Village. (c) 2013 C. Walton

Bx6 in Concourse Village. (c) 2013 C. Walton

Let’s have a conversation about the Bx6 route for a little bit.

The Bx6 bus operates between Washington Heights and Hunts Point, stopping at Yankee Stadium, Concourse Plaza, major Bronx County courthouses, and numerous subway stations along the way.  The Bx6 primarily runs on West 155th Street in Manhattan and East 161st Street, East 163rd Street, and Hunts Point Avenue in the Bronx.  This route was once a streetcar route that primarily ran along East 163rd Street and was originally called the Bx34 before the Bronx Bus Renumbering and Revamping program of the 1980s.  Most Bronx bus routes at the time were renumbered and consolidated to form new bus routes that would better connect major areas in the Bronx.  No major changes were implemented to the Bx6 since it was renumbered.  The Bx6 carries roughly 22,000 riders a day, the majority of which are within the Bronx, although there are some riders that use it to access upper Manhattan.  Transfers can be made to a dozen or more lines on either side of the river.

The current western terminus is at Riverside Drive and West 158th Street; the current eastbound terminus is at the Hunts Point Cooperative Market, located within the Food Center.  The route is not a very long one, but with numerous issues including but not limited to double parking and traffic at various choke points.  In order for the Bx6 to get from Manhattan to The Bronx, it crosses the Macombs Dam Bridge, a key part of the Bx6 that allows Washington Heights residents to access the South Bronx.  During the rush hours, the Macombs Dam Bridge can get pretty congested with traffic attempting to access the Major Deegan Expressway (a.k.a. the “Deegan” to locals).  The congestion is doubled when there are baseball games at nearby Yankee Stadium.  With the majority of game traffic headed to and from Westchester County and New Jersey, the Deegan can get backed up to a point where all surrounding streets, including 161st Street, grind to a halt.  As if the Deegan backup wasn’t enough, the traffic on 161st Street can be detoured away from River Avenue and the (4) train elevated structure due to numerous fans and friends taking over the streets jaywalking as they please while heading between local bars and shops and the stadium itself.  The NYPD closes off parts of the area for crowd and traffic control.  But even when there is no game at Yankee Stadium, the congestion doesn’t end there:  once the bus travels through the tunnel underneath the Grand Concourse, it has to deal with the traffic and double parking in front of the numerous courthouses situated between The Grand Concourse and Morris Avenue during the midday hours.  All that for a bus route whose runtime is just shy of a hour from end to end.

From a passenger standpoint, the majority of Bx6 riders travel the line between Yankee Stadium and Hunts Point.  Let’s talk about eastbound ridership patterns first.  There aren’t very many passengers that travel from Washington Heights to the Bronx on this line; most Heights-to-Bronx passengers use buses such as the Bx13 via Ogden Avenue and the Bx35 via East 167th Street.  There are many passengers who transfer from the (4)(B)(D) trains at River Avenue/161st Street to the Bx6 bus to access areas between Concourse Village and Longwood with no subway service.  One stop past River Avenue and you get the hoards of people from Concourse Village and the courthouses that ride towards the same communities.  At Concourse Village are a multi-building housing development of the same name, several local shops, a movie theater, and social services offices for those with lower incomes.  Further east are more housing projects and a handful of shorter multi-dwelling housing units.  The route snakes down the hill at Rev. James A Polite Avenue and passes under the elevated structure carrying the (2)(5) trains and nearby Intervale Avenue Station.  Most passengers traveling eastbound would have gotten off at several stops including Morris Avenue (connection to Bx32), Webster Avenue (connection to Bx41/Bx41 SBS), Third Avenue (connection to Bx15 and Bx21), Tinton Avenue, and Prospect Avenue (connection to Bx17).  Some go all the way to Southern Blvd, where connections can be made to the Bx5 and Bx19 buses and the nearby Hunts Point Avenue (6) Station.  At this point, the Bx6 becomes a Hunts Point shuttle, carrying passengers who either live along Hunts Point Avenue or work all the way at the end by the Hunts Point Food Center, the largest food distribution center in the world.  Westbound travel patterns are pretty much the opposite of eastbound patterns.  Passengers getting on along Hunts Point Avenue mainly get off at the (6) train and sometimes continue as far as River Avenue and the (4)(B)(D) trains.  Passenger getting on at Southern Blvd are usually those coming from the Bx5 bus along Story Avenue or from the subway.

The Bx6 has always been a slow route, with riders piling on at nearly every stop along the Bronx section of the line, especially between River Avenue and Southern Blvd, but also between the Food Center and Southern Blvd.  Between the (4)(B)(D) trains and the (6) train, there is not much rapid transit other than the (2)(5) trains, and east of Southern Blvd there is no rapid transit at all.  The Hunts Point section of the Bronx has only the (6) train and is cut off physically and psychologically by the Bruckner Expressway and, for the longest time, the Bx6 was the only bus serving Hunts Point.  In recent years, the Bx6 has gotten a little bit of help, in the form of the Barretto Park Pool shuttle during the summer months and the new Bx46 bus line from Hunts Point to the Longwood Avenue (6) Station and the Prospect Avenue (2)(5) Station.  The Bx46 mainly serves as a shuttle between Hunts Point and the nearest subways other than Hunts Point Avenue (6) Station.  It alleviates riders from having only the (6) train as their rapid transit connection to pretty much everywhere else in the city and also provides service Longwood Avenue and apartments on surrounding streets that never had bus service.  Previously, if a Hunts Point resident wanted the (2)(5) trains, they had to endure the slew of riders getting off at the (6) train and the slew of riders trying to get to the (4)(B)(D) trains just to get off at nearby Intervale Avenue.  The Bx46 ride between Longwood Avenue and Prospect Avenue Stations is very short, at least 3-4 blocks, which makes access to the (2)(5) trains that much easier.  The fact that this service wasn’t available prior to 2010 can be considered mind-boggling, even with a borough such as the Bronx with so much bus and subway service relatively close to each other.  Nonetheless, the Bx46 helps somewhat, taking a bit of the load off the Bx6 line.

With all of that said, converting a line like the Bx6 into an SBS will be a challenge since most of the key aspects that make SBS as special as the NYCDOT and MTA make it out to be may not and possibly cannot work here.  I am not so sure where along this route can bus lanes be placed since most of East 163rd Street is quite narrow (less than 50 feet wide in some places).  I am not too sure if transit signal priority can be implemented anywhere when there is double parking that could potentially have buses stuck waiting at least two light cycles to cross an intersection near a block where there is only a single lane in each direction.  It probably wouldn’t be very cost-effective to have fare machines at every single bus stop on the line from end to end, especially since most stops are well used by lower-income riders who may or may not have the mobility to use a farther stop once stops are consolidated.  I am almost certain that some bus stops would be consolidated or eliminated with this SBS plan (the only exception would be the M86 SBS as nearly all of its stops were retained), with an example being the bus stops between Third Avenue and Prospect Avenue consolidated into a single stop in front of the McKinley Houses (eastbound) and Forest Houses (westbound).  While it may be good for the housing project riders, those passengers currently using the Cauldwell and Tinton Avenue stops would have to walk down the hill to get on a bus and struggle up the hill after getting off an SBS bus, posing a problem for those with impaired mobility.  If SBS were to be implemented, those would be some very important issues to tackle, especially since a number of stops along the Bronx section of the Bx6 are just about one or two blocks apart.  This is unlike the situation on the Q44 SBS where stops were consolidated due to very low ridership simply because even with stops so close together, they are widely used by the community.

What I would rather see along East 163rd Street is an SBS line overlaying the Bx6 and possibly overlaying the Bx5, creating a limited-stop line that would create a one-seat ride from the 161st Street corridor to Bruckner Plaza, Soundview, Throgs Neck, and Pelham Bay (with weekend service to Bay Plaza) but still maintains local bus service for those who still need it.  I briefly outlined a similar proposal in my SBS Potential Corridors post.  As far as SBS features are concerned, the DOT can make an attempt at bus lanes along 161st Street, possibly curbside bus lanes, but I am not sure if it will be met with any kind of success.  The issue with parking and foot traffic around the courthouses would render the bus lanes useless without heavy police enforcement.  That includes the NYPD themselves who notoriously park their police cruisers in the bus lanes around the city to take care of internal business (perfect example:  West 34th Street during off-peak hours).  I would like to see the SBS line actually start at River Avenue/161st instead of Riverside Drive in Manhattan because it would be easier to turn buses around in the event of street closures during Yankee games.

If the DOT and MTA were to actually work on the Bx6 line itself, which it just might do, I can imagine that some stops would be consolidated, such as those east of Southern Blvd, but the MTA would have to be very careful at which stop get taken away and consolidate with other busier stops.  The MTA would also have to figure out how often buses should arrive at each stop, whether every 5-10 minutes as it is now or maybe even more often than that.  Another question would be whether articulated buses and off-board fare collection together might preclude the need for bus lanes or transit signal priority and whether the use of articulated buses would necessitate the lengthening of headways, to 10 minutes all day or frequent all day except for evenings.  There might simply be a need for off-board fare collection with the current fleet of 40-foot compressed natural gas buses or bus bulbs in certain spots.  There is also the issue of buses that depart the Food Center and the Hunts Point Cooperative Market with full loads on some trips and empty buses on all other trips.  During late nights, there is a Bx6 leaving the Food Center every 5-15 minutes from 12am to about 2am only going as far as Hunts Point Avenue Station to accommodate the mass of workers that leave work around that time.  I anticipate all of these issues to be brought to the table at any MTA/DOT SBS Open House concerning the Bx6 SBS project, or else many people are going to be highly upset.

Let’s hope there is a solution to this important bus route in the South Bronx.

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Select Bus Service In-Depth: B82

B82 +Select Bus Service+

B82 @ Kings Hwy/Nostrand Ave (c) 2015 C. Walton

Let’s talk about the B82, the Kings Highway-Flatlands Avenue crosstown bus..

The B82 bus route is a culmination of the old B5 Kings Highway/Bay Parkway bus route and the old B50 Kings Highway/Flatlands Avenue bus route, both consolidated in the late 1990s.  The B5 ran from Bay 38th Street/Cropsey Avenue to Kings Highway near Flatbush Avenue, with connections to the current (D) train at Bay Parkway, the (F) at Kings Highway/McDonald Ave, the (N) at Kings Highway/West 7th Street, and the current (B) and (Q) trains at Kings Highway/East 16th Street.  The B50 ran from Kings Highway/Coney Island Avenue to Starrett City in Spring Creek, with connections to the (B) and (Q) trains at Kings Highway/East 16th Street and the (L) train at Rockaway Parkway.  The two routes overlapped on Kings Highway between Coney Island Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, allowing rider to choose a bus route in the overlapped portions.  However, with many people travelling from subway lines other than the B and Q trains, this often meant transferring at Coney Island Avenue to continue their trip.  If you were coming from Downtown Brooklyn or northern Brooklyn, the easy solution was to get over to the Q train and take the B50, but if you were coming from southwestern Brooklyn, the shortest way to Canarsie would be to transfer to the B5 and then transfer again to the B50 which was, in the days before Metrocard, a two-fare ride.  To eliminate the two-fare zones, the two routes were consolidated into the B82 bus route.

In order to make it easier to get across southern Brooklyn, even after the Metrocard was introduced in 1994 and free transfers between subways and buses was implemented in 1998, the B82 was extended south on Cropsey Avenue to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station, with connections to the B36 and B74 buses from Sea Gate.  Prior to the B82 extension, those wishing to go from the Coney Island projects and the Sea Gate community to anywhere else in South Brooklyn would have to rely on the B36 to locations east of Stillwell Avenue and transfer to the B1, B4, B44, or B49 buses.  To go any further would require a second transfer to another bus or a transfer to the subway, which isn’t possible if you pay on the bus with coins.  Thus, having a Metrocard with bus-to-subway transfer capabilities is paramount.  That goes double for those with disabilities who cannot ride the subway or do not qualify for MTA Paratransit a.k.a. Access-A-Ride service. So, the two-fare zone was reduced from the western half of the B82 line to the little slither that is the current extension of the B82 line.

Now that we have a bus route that runs all the way from Coney Island to Spring Creek (touching Bensonhurst, Midwood, Flatlands, and Canarsie), the problem now is that such a long line means more buses required to operate the line, more scheduling hassles to be dealt with, and more problems keeping the buses on time.  The B82 operates primarily on Cropsey Avenue, Bay Parkway, Kings Highway, and Flatlands Avenue.  All of these streets are fairly wide and traffic on those streets move fairly smoothly and quickly.  Well, let’s take a look at Kings Highway, since it’s a special case.  Kings Highway is either very wide or very narrow, depending on the location.  From east of Ocean Avenue to Flatbush Avenue (and beyond), Kings Highway has a main road and a service road, much like Queens Blvd in Queens, the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, or Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.  Once you travel west of Ocean Avenue, the service road merges with the main road, allows traffic to choose between continuing on Kings Highway and diverging onto Avenue P, and then narrows to become a shopping district road.  This narrowing of Kings Highway goes on from Ocean Avenue all the way to Bay Parkway.  With the street being one-way in either direction and metered parking on both sides, this once wide boulevard of tree-lined streets and fast-moving traffic becomes a slow-going shopper’s delight.  Good news for business, bad news for buses.  Bad news for buses because traffic trying to get in and out of parking spaces, and taxi lines for those who don’t drive, is the main hold-up for buses in either direction.  The worst of it is between Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue, where all the more popular local business are and the site of numerous passengers transferring between the B82 and other buses such as the B2 and B100 and the B and Q trains at East 16th Street.  This section of Kings Highway can be considered the single choke point on the entire B82 bus line, since every bus has to travel through this section of Kings Highway in order to continue in either direction.

Even though there are passengers transferring from the F train at McDonald Avenue and the N train at West 7th Street, there are quite a number of passengers transferring to the B and Q trains at East 16th Street trying to go further east.  What can further slow down the line is towards the ends, with people transferring to/from the D train at Bay Parkway/86th Street towards the western end of the line, and people transferring to/from the L train at Rockaway Parkway towards the eastern end of the line.  The issue at Rockaway Parkway is that in both directions, the B82 has to deviate from Flatlands Avenue to serve the subway, since the station is at Rockaway Parkway/Glenwood Road.  It is a major shopping district in the Canarsie section and a major transfer point between the L train and various other buses besides the B82.  This is because the L train is the only train in Canarsie and other subway lines are at least two miles away.  This is what is considered a “transit desert” since, even though there are numerous bus lines around the neighborhood, the neighborhood is only served by one subway line which doesn’t even cover half of the neighborhood.  The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), the predecessor Brooklyn Rapid Transit company (BRT), the former Canarsie Railroad bought out by the BMT, or the Brooklyn and Rockaway beach Railroad ran trains all the way down to Canarsie Pier with three stations, but only until just after World War II.

In 2010, Limited-Stop service began on the B82, albeit during rush hours, to make trips faster for those traveling nearly from end to end.  There’s only one problem:  Limited and local buses all still have to travel in a pack through the area of Kings Highway between Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue with all of the shopping customers and livery cabs.  It doesn’t help that, between Flatbush Avenue and the B/Q train station, the B7 also provides service during the rush hours, since customer in that corridor apparently also want service up to Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville.  The B7 runs from Bed-Stuy to Flatbush Avenue all day, then extends down Kings Highway to the B/Q trains during peak hours.  So, now you have all the B82 locals, B82 Limiteds that were originally locals, extra B82 Limited buses to keep up with the demand, and B7 buses that make the extra stops to Coney Island Avenue in the mix.  I am not sure if anything will ever reduce the congestion in that area, unless they want to try an offset bus lane approach similar to the M60 SBS or the staggered bus lane approach tried on the M34/M34A SBS.  My worry is that once you factor in street width and the amount of metered parking, there won’t be any room for a bus lane, let alone delivery windows, as first implemented with the BX12 SBS, or taxi stand areas, something not widely implemented in this city.  I would say that the only idea that comes to mind to even remotely provide relief is closing East 16th Street between Kings Highway and Quentin Road to general traffic to allow B100 buses and livery cabs to pick up and discharge in designated stands.  This could potentially free up congestion under the Kings Highway Station overpass structure for buses and through traffic.  What could also work is establishing bus loading zones at bus stops either by concrete bus pads as applied in much of the city or by rectangle markings with a “X” like done at bus stops on Bergenline Avenue in Union City, NJ.  It could potential ward off people that might park close to a bus stop in order for them to be closer to a particular storefront.  Aside from that, there isn’t much that could be done in the area that won’t upset drivers or shop owners.

The only other thing worth noting is that when the B82 Limited is running, the B82 local does not travel over the full route.  That is because south of Cropsey and east of the L train, the B82 Limited makes all local stops.  People coming from Spring Creek wishing to go to other subway lines and people coming from Coney Island traveling to Canarsie can get on at any stop and get dropped off at major stops without having to transfer to a local bus.  This is especially important because if SBS were to be implemented on the B82, it would be a full-time, seven-day-a-week service with potentially less stops than the Limited it replaced.  So we are looking at a few possible scenarios:

  1. The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, from at least 6am to 9pm, seven days a week.  The B82 local will make all local stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  (An active example of this service pattern would be the Bx41 SBS.)
  2. The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, from at least 6am to 9pm, seven days a week.  Being that there isn’t very many stops between Cropsey Avenue and Coney Island, the B82 local will make all local stops between Cropsey Avenue and Spring Creek from 6am to 9pm.  At all other times, the B82 will make all local stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek.
  3. The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek, from at least 6am to 9pm, seven days a week.  The B82 local will make all local stops between Cropsey Avenue and Rockaway Parkway Station from 6am to 9pm every day, while making all local stops on the full route at all other times.  B82 stops east of the L train will be consolidated to make the route faster.  (An active example of this service pattern would be the B44 SBS, which serves the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza during the day and is replaced by the B44 local after hours.)
  4. The B82 SBS will make select stops between Coney Island and Rockaway Parkway Station from 6am to 9pm, seven days a week.  The B82 local will make all local stops between Coney Island and Spring Creek at all times.  (This service pattern is similar to what will be done with the B46 SBS once it gets implemented.)

There can possibly be some variations to any of these scenarios with regards to how the B82 local and SBS may be run, but this isn’t to say that any one of these is better than any other.  I can see Scenario #1 likely happening, though #2 is possible being that there isn’t that many stops past Cropsey Avenue and that most people getting on the bus at Coney Island would want service to the south shore (Flatlands, Canarsie, etc) retained.  Scenario #3 assumes that the dozen or so stops past Rockaway Parkway going eastbound will only need SBS service to Midwood and Coney Island, while still maintaining service to the L train.  This means that anyone wanting specific local stops on Flatlands Avenue or Kings Highway must transfer to the local bus at Rockaway Parkway.  Scenario #4 is like #3, but Spring Creek gets no SBS service and those who are traveling longer distances are forced on the local.  Their options would be to stay on the local for the entire trip or take a chance to save some time by transferring to an SBS bus.  A fifth scenario would involve the B82 SBS to operate the full route and the B82 only operate from Cropsey Avenue to Rockaway Parkway during the day (the B82 local would run the full route at night).  This would allow longer-distance riders access to faster service and both SBS and local service in the core of the route.  Depending on the rider statistical data on the line, this SBS line might be a heavy-hitter or a dud, but going solely off of ridership observations, I would rather see either Scenario 1 or Scenario 3, both allowing the SBS to run the full route and the local to run the full route either all the time or just during the hours that SBS isn’t running.

Stay tuned.

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