STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO
Metal structures hanging over sections of Woodhaven Boulevard having been popping up and I continue to hear from constituents with questions as to what they are, what will be done with them and what they can expect for the future of one of the busiest thoroughfares in the borough.
The answer is the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) newly-implemented initiative, Select Bus Service. Mimicking other cities’ Bus Rapid Transit, Select Bus Service is essentially intended to make riding the bus similar to riding the subway. It incorporates dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare collection and transit signal priority to offer theoretically faster and more reliable service on high-ridership routes, such as those along Woodhaven Boulevard.
The metal poles you see on your daily drives will hold “bus lane” signs, and, according to local news sources, will be activated during peak traffic hours.
Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards collectively transport 30,000 riders each day via public transportation. However, the congestion along this route, especially during rush hour, is enough to make the average driver crazy.
That is why the DOT launched a study on about three miles of Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard down to Rockaway Boulevard, from Rego Park, to Woodside, to Arverne, respectively. The study found not only can buses be caught in congestion, creating slow service, and the layout of the street makes bus stops difficult for riders to reach, but these factors and more make Woodhaven Boulevard one of the most dangerous corridors in the city for both drivers and pedestrians.
The study hopes to convert the existing Limited-Stop Q52 and Q53 bus routes to the Select Bus Service, ultimately improving and quickening service. The idea is, if the service is more reliable, commuters will be more willing to use buses over cars. Faster and better service could then potentially reduce traffic along the congested route.
My constituents from surrounding communities have expressed concerns about losing street-side parking, traffic stemming from confusion of the new system and whether Select Bus Service would lead to a reduction of local buses. I am also aware of business owners’ concern about delivery drop-offs and pick-ups, and whether the bus lane will hinder trucks ability to stop curbside.
Along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan Avenue, bus lanes will be offset from the curb and not affect any parking. Curbside bus lanes will run through Plattwood and Liberty Avenues, and Rockaway Boulevard and 101st Avenue.
While there has been no time frame scheduled for the start of the program, the DOT will host its next public meeting in the fall. I will be meeting with the Steering Committee of the Bus Rapid Transit and other transportation advocates to address these concerns before the service becomes permanent.
The idea of this program and a dedicated bus lane has been mentioned numerous times in local papers and community meetings throughout the past year. In early 2013, Select Bus Service was suggested as an option for Woodhaven Boulevard to alleviate the traffic nightmare. In 2012, the DOT implemented a number of short-term enhancements on the route, but Select Bus Service is the long-term answer. The metal structures now popping up are a sign of this program moving forward. I encourage my constituents to let me know of their concerns and how they believe the new system would work. Only by working together, we will see improvement on both Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.