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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