Mayor de Blasio Announces Arrival of Longest Select Bus Service Route Along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards in Queens

November 13, 2017

Starting this week, changes will provide over 40,000 daily riders on the route with faster, more reliable connections to subways, the Long Island Rail Road, and over 20 bus routes on one of the borough’s major north-south corridors; Launch marks the fifteenth SBS route – and builds on Mayor’s commitment to SBS expansion across the five boroughs, while adding transformational safety features to one of New York City’s highest-crash streets

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), together with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has this week launched the operation of Select Bus Service (SBS) along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards in Queens. The Q52/Q53 SBS marks the fifteenth SBS route and at more than 14 miles in length, the longest corridor with the service.  The project also brings transformational Vision Zero safety improvements to one of the widest and highest-crash streets in New York City.

“Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard are critical roads in Queens -- and from the Rockaways to Elmhurst, residents deserve this first-class service,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We are committed to expanding Select Bus Service even further, as we know it not only brings increased reliability and reduced travel time for bus riders, the dramatic street improvements of SBS will also make our streets safer for pedestrians and motorists. Here in Queens, along a street that has been a Vision Zero Priority Corridor with far too many tragic crashes, we expect these changes to make a big difference.”  

“I am happy to announce the arrival of Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS, which we know will bring faster, more convenient and more reliable bus service to so many Queens communities, most of them without subways” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “The new service follows a three-year process of community engagement, and we made many adjustments to our plans along the way. From planners and engineers to roadway crews and traffic signal installers, so many different DOT divisions deserve praise for their hard work here, the end result of which will not only be better bus service but significant safety benefits on one of New York City's widest and most crash-prone roadways.” 

The new SBS route covers 14.7 miles, the longest ever for the service, and the corridor serves over 30,000 daily bus riders, with connections to eight subway lines and over 20 additional bus routes in the Queens communities of Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Rockaway Park, and Arverne.  The Q52 and Q53 have combined daily ridership of 20,000 riders, but altogether, over 45,000 daily riders of Queens bus routes, including express bus passengers, will benefit from improvements along Woodhaven and Cross Bay.  Across New York City, SBS has delivered 10-30% increases in bus speeds and resulted in a 10% increase in ridership along these lines.  The project launched this week will be followed by NYC Department of Design & Construction capital construction along the corridor.

Safety Improvements:  Between 2011 and 2015, Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards  saw over 3,000 traffic-related injuries and 24 fatalities.  DOT and the MTA began outreach for Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS in 2014, developing the design concept to address myriad concerns identified by both riders and community residents: unreliable and slow bus service; long pedestrian crossings across as many as ten lanes of traffic; varying road widths and configurations along the corridor; congestion; and the need for transit improvements for customers. The two agencies participated in over 50 community meetings, including sit-downs with stakeholders, elected officials, and the six different community boards that the route serves. DOT also conducted on-street outreach along the route, and collected feedback via online portals.

The corridor contains eight Vision Zero Priority intersections, including at Woodhaven/Union Turnpike, which were all redesigned as part of the arrival of SBS.  Altogether, more than 30 intersections are being upgraded and improved for pedestrian safety and/or traffic flow as part of DOT’s largest safety project in 2017.The Q52/53 SBS service along Woodhaven/Cross Bay brings new red-paved bus lanes, real-time bus information, improved pedestrian safety elements and other enhancements, including new median bus stops along 1.3 miles of the boulevards now with service roads. A portion of the corridor was resurfaced this past year in advance of the improvements.

Bus –Lane Enforcement: Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS joins 11 other bus routes where automated camera enforcement will be in effect, and motorists driving in the new red bus lanes along the Q52/Q53 route will be issued mailed warnings starting next Sunday November 19, 2017.  The warning period extends 60 days, after which violations replace warnings. Bus lanes will be in effect curbside in residential areas from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M. Monday-Friday, and curbside along Cross Bay Boulevard from 7-10 A.M. and 4-7 P.M. Monday-Saturday. Bus lanes offset from parking lane or in the main road will be in effect 24 hours, 7 days a week, and curbside parking will be preserved.

Where they are permitted, bus-lane camera enforcement has proven to be a critical tool to deliver increases in speed and reliability of MTA bus service.  New signage along each bus route indicates the hours when bus lanes are operable, and during which the lanes are camera-enforced. Under state law, the 60-day warning period ensures that regular drivers along the route learn that cameras are in operation.  Once in full effect in January, bus-lane violations will result in a Notice of Liability, which includes a photo of the violation and a fine of $115 – $150, mailed directly to the vehicle registrant’s address.   Since violations are issued against the vehicle, not the driver, points are not deducted from motorists’ licenses.   

Transit Signal Priority: The new Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS will include Transit Signal Priority.  Earlier this year, DOT released a report, Green Means Go, on Transit Signal Priority (TSP; report can be viewed here).  The technology is used to speed buses, hold green lights for buses and more quickly turn red lights green.  Currently active along five other SBS bus routes, TSP has reduced bus travel times by an average of 18 percent.  With MTA moving forward with its TSP procurement, DOT announced it would quadruple its installation rate, covering over 1,000 intersections total by 2020  -- including along the Q52/Q53 SBS.

Select Bus Service began on the Bx12 route along Fordham Road in the Bronx in 2008, bringing bus rapid transit to New York City for the first time.  Select Bus Service features, such as dedicated bus lanes, signal priority, off-board fare collection, and all-door boarding have led to faster bus speeds, increased ridership, more reliable service, and safer streets.  SBS Routes are currently along the following corridors: 

  • Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway (Bx12)
  • First/Second Avenues (M15)
  • 34th Street (M34/M34A)
  • Hylan Boulevard (S79)
  • Webster Avenue (Bx41)
  • Nostrand Avenue (B44)
  • 125th Street-LGA (M60)
  • 86th Street (M86)
  • Bronx-Flushing-Jamaica (Q44)
  • Woodside-Jackson Heights Airport Connector, LaGuardia Link (Q70)
  • Utica Avenue (B46)
  • 23rd Street (M23)
  • 79th Street (M79)
  • Crosstown South Bronx (Bx6)

“The implementation of new Select Bus Service on the Q52/Q53 lines will be very convenient for our Queens bus riders since thousands of students and hardworking New Yorkers depend on daily public transportation,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "As SBS grows more efficient and safe, over time it will gain ridership, making public transportation more reliable in our City.”

“This new SBS route will connect communities that previously had to rely a slow bus that was often caught in traffic. Now, the Q52/53 SBS will speed up commutes for tens of thousands of daily riders,” said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “We’re glad that, after a comprehensive, multi-year community process, Mayor de Blasio and DOT have designed an SBS route that will speed up buses for riders, make roads safer for pedestrians, and improve commutes for everyone who uses Woodhaven and Cross-Bay Boulevards.”

“Tens of thousands of bus riders depend on the Woodhaven corridor every day, but they have been stuck on slow and unreliable buses for as long as anyone can remember. Select Bus Service will make the bus a faster, more dependable option for thousands of Queens residents, helping connect people with jobs and educational opportunities. SBS is a step forward for Queens, and for long-suffering bus riders who are clamoring for better service," said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, a community organizer with the Riders Alliance and a bus rider who grew up in Woodhaven, Queens. As a college student, Stephanie regularly commuted to her Queens Center Mall retail job on the Q53 bus.

The launch of the Q52/Q53 SBS route is the latest step toward Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to expand Select Bus Service, route creation of which has more than doubled in the last four years.  In October, Mayor de Blasio announced that New York City would dramatically expand Select Bus Service (SBS), pursuing upgrades on more than 21 new routes over the next ten years, reaching a half-million more bus riders each day.  He also announced that the City and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will also expand bus-priority improvements to make buses faster on key non-SBS corridors in all five boroughs.

For more information about Select Bus Service, please visit www.nyc.gov/brt


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