Tag Archives: select bus service

Design chosen for Woodhaven/Cross Bay Select Bus Service


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by  Salvatore Licata

Updated Tuesday, March 24, 6 p.m.

Things are about to get more rapid for commuters on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled Tuesday afternoon its Select Bus Service (SBS) bus rapid transit (BRT) system along the congested corridor between Elmhurst and the Rockaways. The proposal would transform the roadway into a “transit-oriented boulevard,” with designated bus lanes in the main roadway and special bus stops featuring shelters, seating and real-time bus information constructed at major intersections.

According to the DOT, the concept is based on the limited Q52 and Q53 bus lines that currently operate on the boulevard and shuttle 30,000 daily passengers between the Rockaway Peninsula and Elmhurst (where the Q52 terminates) or Woodside (where the Q53 ends). Studies found that 43 percent of residents in central Queens and the Rockaways do not own a car, and 60 percent of all residents rely on public transportation.

A rendering of a Select Bus Service station on Woodhaven Boulevard at Metropolitan Avenue on the Glendale/Rego Park border. (photo courtesy NYC DOT)

A rendering of a Select Bus Service station on Woodhaven Boulevard at Metropolitan Avenue on the Glendale/Rego Park border. (photo courtesy NYC DOT)

“This is the kind of ambitious overhaul new York City’s bus riders deserve,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “It means safer streets that save lives. And it means that communities from the Rockaways to Elmhurst that have long been underserved by public transit will see real improvements in their daily commute.”

“Queens deserves better public transit and we’re excited to bring this innovative design for Bus Rapid Transit to move New Yorkers efficiently while at the same time making the streets safer for all,” added DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The plans were unveiled days after Sen. Charles Schumer requested up to $100 million in federal funding to get the job done. In a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Schumer requested the funds through the Federal New Starts Program, claiming that the streamlined limited stop service on the corridor between Elmhurst and Ozone Park is critical toward improving both traffic flow and public safety. If approved, the request would cover half of the BRT project’s projected $200 million cost.

“The Woodhaven Boulevard corridor has long suffered from a lack of adequate transit options and the city’s innovative and exciting Woodhaven Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit plan can be just what the doctor ordered for long-suffering transit riders from the Rockaways to Howard Beach, [from] Woodhaven to Woodside,” Schumer said. “This Bus Rapid Transit plan can turn this corridor from a transportation desert to a transportation oasis for tens of thousands of Queens residents, and also be a boon for local property value and area businesses.”

Presently, more than 31,000 people each day travel on various local, express and limited-stop bus lines along the boulevards, which the DOT previously identified among the most dangerous roads in the city. Seventeen people were killed and more than 3,000 people were injured in accidents along Woodhaven Boulevard alone between 2008 and 2012, according to the DOT.

In recent years, the DOT created Select Bus Service (SBS) BRT lines in other parts of the city, such as Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. The seven SBS routes, Schumer stated, contributed to travel time reductions of between 15 and 23 percent and also sparked “significant ridership growth, customer satisfaction of over 95 percent and a 20 percent reduction in crashes.”

“The Woodhaven Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit plan has the potential to turn an arduous transit slog into a seamless, predictable and speedy ride that will get Queens transit riders from these neighborhoods to and from work, family and fun in a much more efficient way,” Schumer said.

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Public transit advocates expand coalition for express bus service in Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Updated March 3, 1 p.m. 

With express bus service set to be created on routes between Flushing and Jamaica and along Woodhaven Boulevard this year, a coalition of public transit advocates backing the plan is expanding its efforts to win the hearts and minds of Queens community members.

As the city moves ahead with plans to create what’s known as Select Bus Service, the Department of Transportation is holding workshops to gather input from community members living in areas that would be affected by the new bus service. Often these meetings are attended by an overwhelming majority of people who are opposed to Select Bus Service.

But a coalition of transit advocates – BRT  for NYC — recently enlisted interest groups like New York Immigration Coalition to help raise awareness in communities that would benefit from faster bus travel times. They ultimately want to influence the city’s plans to speed up travel time for commuters who depend on buses.

“People who are afraid of this are going to fight harder than people who will benefit from it,” said Joan Byron, a member of the Pratt Center, which is part of the growing coalition.

During a meeting at Kew Gardens Hills last year, city officials were barraged by people opposed to any express bus service plans that would have taken away a lane of traffic from motorists and restricted it to buses only.

“You are wrecking our neighborhoods,” one woman said to a city official during the 2014 meeting. “You’re all morons. We do not want this.”

The community members worried that the city would remove a traffic lane on Main Street to allow express buses to whiz past rush hour traffic. But for Kew Gardens Hills residents, traffic lanes were more important than fast buses.

During a City Council hearing in February, transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the Q44 would be transformed into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island.

Plans for the Q44, which runs mostly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades. The city also plans to create an express bus service called Bus Rapid Transit along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The coalition has enlisted 10 new groups to help what they, according to Byron, see as underprivileged communities living in areas that don’t have train access and have very limited bus access.

But with some of these new enlisted groups, like the Alliance for a Greater New York, Jess Nizar from Riders Alliance and others hope the pro-Select Bus Service side will get a boost with political influence.

“Without having a coalition these plans won’t reflect the needs of the people that need this the most,” Nizar said. “Sure, the city said they’re going to create SBS, but we don’t know what it will look like yet and we want people who benefit from this to give the city their input.”

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City plans to launch express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica this year


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A planned express bus service that will run between Flushing and Jamaica is set to launch this year, according to city officials, who have included some measures to appease several communities that resisted the idea of designating lanes for buses only.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two of our key commercial centers, but traveling between them by subway means going in towards Manhattan and doubling back – and forget making the trip from the Bronx on the subway,” said Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT). “There are many destinations along this route not served by the subway system, such as Queens College and other key locations in the Bronx.”

During a City Council hearing on the citywide expansion of express buses, also called Select Bus Service, Trottenberg laid out a timeline to create a bus line that would connect the downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. She also said that in areas between the two destinations, bus-only lanes wouldn’t be created, respecting the wishes of many community members in areas like Kew Gardens Hills.

But Mike Sidell, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and community activist, remains skeptical because Trottenberg did not specify which communities would be spared the bus lane.

“We should hold them to the fire and get them to name all of the communities that won’t have the bus-only lanes,” Sidell said. “It looks like they’re giving us lip service, but it worries me that [Trottenberg] didn’t specifically name Kew Gardens Hills.”

Exclusive bus lanes are a common element of express bus lines, but residents in communities that live between Flushing and Jamaica resisted this idea because they feared it would create traffic back-ups by squeezing all the other traffic into only one lane.

The city appears to have responded to these residents by suggesting that bus-only lanes will be limited to areas where they are most needed, like the congested downtown Flushing area.

“Downtown Flushing and Jamaica are very different than places in between those neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said. “We’re going to have a long period of community engagement.”

The city plans to transform the Q44 into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island. Plans for the Q44, which runs mainly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council hearing was held for testimony over a proposed bill that would require the DOT to develop a network of express buses that would stretch across the city and connect neighborhoods that have limited or no access to subways. The DOT already initiated express bus service plans on several routes, including Woodhaven Boulevard. And the hearing came soon after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the expansion of express buses in his State of the City address.

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City renews express bus service plans between Jamaica and Flushing after nod from mayor


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

With the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city is moving ahead with plans to develop an express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica.

Despite calls from community members and politicians in neighborhoods like Kew Gardens Hills, the transformation of the Q44 and Q25 into a Select Bus Service (SBS) line is set to begin as early as this fall, according to a Department of Transportation spokesman, but no official schedule has been announced. The transformed Q44 would continue along its path on Main Street. Residents in Kew Gardens Hills are worried that an express bus through their neighborhood would increase traffic or reduce parking along the route.

The city claims that an express bus line would help thousands of commuters going between the two neighborhoods every hour and allow people in areas without trains to quickly travel to Flushing for the 7 train. And in his State of the City Address, the mayor also pushed for express buses.

“[Bus Rapid Transit] will cut transit time on existing routes by 15 to 25 percent. That means New Yorkers spending less time in transit and more time living their lives,” he said.

Public transportation advocacy groups lauded de Blasio’s support for express buses, which are sometimes referred to as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“Bus Rapid Transit could transform New York City by providing faster, more reliable bus service for residents in the outer boroughs who need it most,” the group Riders Alliance said.

And elected officials representing Flushing and Jamaica have also expressed their support for the plans.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two rapidly growing economic centers that require a transportation system and infrastructure to serve its increasing population and activity,” the officials wrote in a letter to the city. The letter was signed by Queens representatives, including state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Councilman Peter Koo and Congresswoman Grace Meng.

But people who live between these two transportation hubs claim that their needs are being sacrificed and made their thoughts clear to city officials during a recent workshop held in Townsend Harris High School. Those in the middle tend to rely on cars instead of bus service, making parking and open lanes a priority for them.

New York City has several express lines that aim to cut down commutes by devoting a lane exclusively to SBS lines. But creating an exclusive bus lane means there is one less lane for regular traffic, a point that is a deal-breaker for Councilman Rory Lancman, who represents Kew Gardens Hills and other areas.

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

Officials from the transportation department haven’t responded to questions to see if the city will still install a dedicated bus lane that would run through Kew Gardens Hills.

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Kew Gardens Hills residents enraged over city proposal to create new express bus service


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Addressing a crowd of angry Kew Gardens Hills residents, Councilman Rory Lancman urged the group to “express yourselves in a respectful manner” on Wednesday night as MTA and city officials met with residents who would be affected by a proposed express bus service line.

The new express line, known as Select Bus Service, would run between Flushing and Jamaica.

But residents had their own ideas on how to express themselves during the city workshop that was held at Townsend Harris High School.

“You are wrecking our neighborhoods,” one woman said as a gaggle of scowling women surrounded a city official. “You’re all morons. We do not want this.”

City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg also attended the meeting.

The city is considering two routes between the neighborhoods for SBS. The first would travel along Main Street where the Q44 and Q20A/B run. This route was the source of contention for residents. City officials and representatives from the MTA held the meeting to collect feedback from people who would be directly affected by any changes to create a new express bus.

The second route under consideration is along Parsons and Kissena boulevards, currently serviced by the Q25 and Q34.

Members of the community were worried that the city would sacrifice a traffic lane on Main Street to create a dedicated bus lane for a Select Bus Service line. Many saw the city trampling over the needs of the residential neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills to solve traffic problems in Jamaica and Flushing.

“There [are] no traffic problems in this neighborhood,” said David Deutsch, who lives and works in the area. “There may be a problem in Flushing and Jamaica, but that has nothing to do with here.”

But Sheldon Goodridge disagreed. Standing apart from the angry crowds, he said that most people, like Deutsch, are criticizing the plan even though they don’t use buses to commute.

“Sometimes I wait so long that I have to take a risk and use the dollar vans, and that’s a very harrowing ride,” Goodridge said. But when the buses actually come he takes the Q44 on Main Street and 58th Avenue to the No. 7 train in Flushing for his morning commute to work.

“Having a bus lane would cut down on my commute,” Goodridge said. “We should emulate what Manhattan has.”

Mark Henry, the president of a transit union representing bus workers in the areas between, and including, Flushing and Jamaica, attended the workshop and was unimpressed by the city’s proposal.

“They make it very attractive. Give it a world view. And talk about how other transit agencies across the world do similar things,” Henry said and then pointed out that adding another bus to a street that already has a bus wouldn’t help. “But we see it as a duplication of the service that’s already there. This SBS line will be redundant. It already exists.”

With over 25 years of experience as a bus driver in the city, Henry said that the city should create new bus lines in areas that don’t have buses. And that many of these new lines should run in areas where there are no trains, like routes between Bayside and Rockaway or from Rosedale to Queens College.

“As bus drivers we feel that we are part of the community and we want to help people,” said Henry. “And the SBS is going to bypass the community.”

In Queens, the city has been slowly moving toward creating SBS along Woodhaven Boulevard, and routes between Jamaica and Flushing are in the early stages of planning.

The city hasn’t released any official plans on what will ultimately be done, so residents and elected officials like Lancman are hoping to dissuade the city from implementing dedicated bus lanes in Kew Gardens Hills and other neighborhoods that are sandwiched between the busy downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. Lancman also sent a letter to the Department of Transportation opposing any proposals that would include a bus lane.

During the workshop at Townsend High School, Lancman and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz suggested that many of the elements of Select Bus Service are useful. They approved of time-saving ideas like coordinated traffic lights and installing kiosks at bus stops so that people could buy MetroCards instead of fumbling with money as they step onto the bus.

But, Lancman added, “We do not want to see this happen if they’re going to insist on a bus lane.”

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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.”

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Select Bus Service lanes to speed up travel along Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Transit officials unveiled three potential designs for Woodhaven Boulevard’s new Select Bus Service (SBS), slated to be the first rapid transit lane in the city physically separated from traffic.

The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) have to choose whether to either quickly create designated lanes off-set from the curb with room for parking; extend sidewalks that would meet the off-set lanes; or dig up medians and build main road bus lanes.

Whichever design is chosen, the route will run from Queens Boulevard to the Rockaways and will allow for three lanes of traffic on both sides of the corridor.

In the first option, the off-set bus lanes would be one lane out from the curb, leaving space for parking along the boulevard. This option would warrant the least construction out of the three proposed routes.

Additionally, the DOT would build out the sidewalk at designated “SBS bus bulb stations.” In that case, the sidewalk would be extended out to the off-set bus lanes to allow more room for passengers waiting to get on the bus.

The second proposal would create main road bus lanes in the right lane throughout the designated area. From Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard, it would run in the right lane of the main road corridor. Then, it would take the right lane from Rockaway Boulevard south to the Rockaways.

If main road bus lanes were put in, the DOT would come in and rip up much of the medians separating the main roads from the service roads and widen them so that people waiting for the bus have at least 7 to 10 feet of curb space to stand on.

They would also be building new medians in certain designated areas that have not all been determined yet.

For the final proposal, the red painted lanes would run through the middle of each corridor where the left lanes currently are.

To do this type of project, the DOT would come in and rip up the corridors that separate north- and south-bound traffic and expand them where necessary.

Furthermore, for the median lanes, north- and south-bound buses will travel right next to each other. For north-bound stops, the median for people to stand on will be on the east side of the bus, and for south-bound stops, travelers will wait on the west side.

All plans at this point are still being studied by the agencies. They will continue to work in more detail on every section of the boulevard for each proposal and will also have more community outreach, according to a representative who is working on the project.

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Flushing-Jamaica bus routes set to get upgrade in distant future


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

The city is hoping to reduce bus travel times between Flushing and Jamaica — just not any time soon.

Preliminary plans that will spend a least a year being refined were floated by officials at a recent meeting with community members at York College.

Among the proposals is the implementation of Select Bus Service, where, among other things, passengers would pay the fare on sidewalk kiosks before the bus arrives to reduce boarding and debarking times.

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

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.

Whichever street is chosen would undergo changes like the installation of bus-only lanes and sidewalk fare kiosks.

In the meantime, the city is considering installing a feature on some buses called traffic signal priority, according to a city spokeswoman.

The feature uses GPS to track a bus and can either prevent a light from turning red until a bus passes the intersection or shorten the length of a red signal to let a stopped bus start moving again.

But, the spokeswoman noted, if the community decides that it doesn’t like this idea, than the city won’t install the traffic signal feature. The DOT plans on working with the community for at least a year to find how SBS can be best suited to its needs.

“I think it’s clear that local community members want faster bus service,” said Jess Nizar, from the public transportation advocacy group Riders Alliance. “It’s really important to get community input in the planning process of these things.”

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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.