Tag Archives: select bus service

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.

 

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Proposed Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard met with skepticism


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Woodhaven residents are bracing for a plan to bring Select Bus Service to one of New York City’s largest vehicle corridors, Woodhaven Boulevard.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering the boulevard, which is bordered by Queens Boulevard in the north and Rockaway Boulevard to the south, as a candidate for the next area in New York City to have Select Bus Service (SBS).

Members of the neighborhood met on Monday with the nonprofit organization Riders Alliance to prepare for a workshop on June 25 with the DOT, where the community will be invited to help create an express bus service that will shorten the travel time for bus commuters on the 3.2 mile boulevard.

Kenichi Wilson, who has lived in Woodhaven for 33 years and is the chairman of the Community Board 9 transportation committee, believes that not much will come out of meeting with the DOT.

“They’re doing it and that’s that,” he said.

But the Riders Alliance believes that with enough community participation, the city agency will tailor the express bus service to the area’s specific needs.

Wilson stressed that the area is filled with many businesses that would be negatively affected if the DOT creates lanes dedicated to the buses because it would prevent delivery trucks from double parking in front of businesses on the boulevard.

“I have nothing against it except for having dedicated lanes doesn’t alleviate congestion for everyone. That’s not playing fair,” said Wilson, who is a local business owner. “I have a lot of friends who are restaurant owners who are concerned over deliveries.”

According to a report by the DOT, dedicated bus lanes aren’t the only solution. “Ideas for consideration could include physically-separated bus lanes, center-running (as opposed to curb-running) bus lanes, and use of rail and highway rights-of-way,” the report states.

And Wilson believes that unlike other areas — like Harlem — where SBS has been implemented, bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard would not only be unnecessary but would actually increase traffic and congestion, something the express bus service is meant to alleviate.

“It’s not alleviating congestion. It’s actually going to create more congestion,” he said and noted that most of Woodhaven Boulevard doesn’t suffer from bumper-to-bumper traffic. “They’re implementing bus lanes in non-congested areas. That doesn’t make sense.”

 

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Op-Ed: Putting Woodhaven Boulevard on the fast track


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER ERIC ULRICH

For the past decade, Woodhaven Boulevard has been a traffic nightmare. The daily commute during the morning and evening rush hours is sluggish at best. Whether you’re in a car or on a bus, the slow and painful crawl up and down Woodhaven Boulevard is sure to make your daily commute even more stressful and time consuming.

Since taking office, I have been working with the Department of Transportation to alleviate traffic congestion along Woodhaven Boulevard and have suggested a number of measures which I believe would make a big difference. Here are just a few:

  • I am committed to bringing the deployment of Transit Signal Priority (TSP) to this corridor. TSP will improve travel time for all vehicles by optimizing overall traffic signal coordination, resulting in a 5%-10% decrease in overall travel time. This system can, for instance, hold the green light a little longer to allow buses and cars to proceed through an intersection before the traffic signal turns red. TSP is already operating in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. I am fighting to bring it to Queens.
  • Implementing Select Bus Service (SBS) along the 3.2 mile route would also have a significant impact. This is a bold initiative that would establish a dedicated bus lane for express and local buses only. It would speed up the average commute time for bus riders by 15-20% and prevent the bottlenecking situation that occurs at almost every major intersection along the boulevard. SBS is more commonly referred to as Bus Rapid Transit and already exists on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island, First / Second Avenues in Manhattan and Fordham Road in the Bronx. Woodhaven Boulevard is ripe for this proposal and I am looking forward to the day it comes to Queens.
  • Site specific improvements at certain intersections are long overdue. There are turning lanes that need to be widened or extended and others that need to be eliminated altogether. This is a delicate process that will require the advice and consent of the local community. Nevertheless, it is one that must be part of our overall strategy to make Woodhaven Blvd. safer for drivers, mass transit users and pedestrians alike. When done correctly, modifications such as these can reduce traffic related injuries dramatically and help the overall flow of traffic.

The DOT has already made some progress by incorporating some of the above-mentioned ideas into the Citywide Congested Corridor study. In fact, data has been collected, traffic patterns and accident prone locations have been analyzed and several public meetings have been held to discuss possible solutions since the study first started in 2008. Some of these proposals are common sense and easy to implement while others are all but certain to raise controversy.

But the fact remains that people have been sitting in traffic for far too long and Queens is entitled to what every other borough already has. If we’re serious about addressing the traffic nightmare on Woodhaven Boulevard once and for all, we must take the necessary steps to put this plan into action.

Eric Ulrich was elected to the New York City Council in 2009, as the representative for District 32, serving Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, and Woodhaven.

Select Bus Service coming to LaGuardia Airport


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the MTA

A faster commute is in the future for Woodside and Jackson Heights straphangers traveling to LaGuardia Airport, the city’s top transit leaders announced last week.

Three Select Bus Service routes — said to bring faster and more reliable service to the boroughs with its streamlined stops and pay-before-boarding feature — are slated to be launched from Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, beginning as soon as next year, officials said.

“Select Bus Service improves travel times, enhances safety and increases ridership wherever we have installed it,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “This new Select Bus Service to LaGuardia will not only cut travel time for people flying in and out of New York, but it will also benefit New Yorkers who commute to work at the airport every day from Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.”

There are currently four existing Select Bus Service routes in the city — two in Manhattan, one in the Bronx and one in Staten Island, according to the MTA.

The M60 Select Bus Service route — via 125th Street in Manhattan — is being proposed as one of the new routes, as is one from Woodside and Jackson Heights, via the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The third being explored is a Select Bus Service route from Webster Avenue in the Bronx, said officials, who are looking to connect the three boroughs and improve local bus service in all three areas.

“LaGuardia Airport is a transportation hub and a city unto itself that needs a better connection to the transit network and the region’s economy,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “These routes will open the terminal doors to new neighborhoods and bring more reliable local service to people across three boroughs.”

The borough’s northwest airport is currently only directly served by five bus routes, including four in Queens and one in Manhattan that authorities say is often choked by traffic and crammed with commuters. The fast-track bus routes, they say, are expected to shave off 10 to 40 minutes in travel time.

City officials — who are also looking into implementing bus-only lanes in some areas and installing technology that would keep buses from getting stuck at traffic lights — say they are still in the public meeting process of refining the three exact routes, its stop locations and service features.