Tag Archives: Bus Rapid Transit

Queens pols and residents tell city to scrap plans for new express bus service


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

As the city revs up plans to create express bus service between Jamaica and Flushing, residents and local politicians are throwing up speed bumps and roadblocks against the initiative.

“All they’re doing is shifting the burden of heavy traffic from one group of people to another,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “And I can’t support anything like that.”

Across New York City there are several express lines that aim to cut down bus travel times by devoting a lane exclusively to express service, or Select Bus Service (SBS). But creating an exclusive bus lane means there is one less lane for regular traffic, a point that is a deal breaker for Lancman.

In a letter written by Lancman and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, the officials explain why they oppose the express bus lane to the Department of Transportation and the MTA. The Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association also signed onto the letter.

“No one can tell us exactly what the plan is, and that’s part of the problem,” said Jennifer Martin, co-president of the civic association. “If they’re going to reduce a busy thoroughfare to one lane, that’s going to create a tremendous backup. There has to be a better option.”

In Queens, the city has been slowly moving toward creating SBS along Woodhaven Boulevard. And the same might be happening to northern parts of Queens and Jamaica. The city will be holding a community workshop on Jan. 22 in Townsend Harris High School to engage with communities that would be affected by the bus plans.

But Lancman and others are not buying the city’s claims that express buses decrease traffic for everybody.

“We are opposed to removing any lane of traffic or parking in our district,” said Lancman, whose district covers Pomonok, Hillcrest and Utopia, which includes parts of Parsons Boulevard and Kissena Boulevard, two of the city’s candidates for the bus lines.

City officials originally met with residents in October 2014 at York College to get the community’s input on several proposed paths.

The DOT is considering two routes between the neighborhoods for SBS. The first would travel along Main Street where the Q44 and Q20A/B run. The second route under consideration is Parsons and Kissena boulevards, currently serviced by the Q25 and Q34.

Advocacy groups argue that adding SBS between Jamaica and Flushing would reduce traffic for all drivers, not just buses.

“By reducing congestion, speeding up travel times, and making busy avenues safer, BRT [Bus Rapid Transit] is a win-win for riders, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike,” said a spokeswoman for the advocacy group BRT for NYC. “The continued growth of Jamaica and Flushing – two of the borough’s most significant downtowns – depends on the type of improved transit access that provides.”

In addition to dedicated lanes, the express bus service includes other features to speed up service. Passengers would pay their fare at sidewalk kiosks before the bus arrives to reduce boarding times.

“The bus trips are long and slow,” a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said. “And with Select Bus Service we think there’s a solution to improve things.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Curbside bus lanes heading to Ozone Park


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The busy traffic corridor of Woodhaven Boulevard in Ozone Park will soon be home to new curbside bus lanes on both sides to help alleviate congestion and make for an overall smoother ride for passengers.

Red painted bus lanes going southbound between 101st Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard and northbound between Plattwood Avenue and Liberty Avenue are set to be installed this fall, according to a DOT representative.

The lanes will serve the Q11, Q21, Q52, Q53 and the QM15 bus lines.

The exclusive lanes also help the buses reach subway connections more quickly without removing any travel lanes, according to the DOT.

The lanes will be “bus-only” for specific periods. Between Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard going southbound, the lane will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All other sections, going in both directions, will be bus-only during rush hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“This part of the boulevard is definitely a problem area,” said Jessica Nizar, a representative from Rider’s Alliance and an advocate for the Bus Rapid Transit for NYC coalition effort. “These lanes will help to alleviate some of the major problems that cause traffic here.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Op-ed: The latest attempt to improve safety and reduce aggravation on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards


| oped@queenscourier.com

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES