Choosing the Routes

Bus Forward: Growing the Select Bus Service Program

City Council legislation in 2015, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, called for NYC DOT to develop and update a plan for implementing Select Bus Service lines in partnership with the MTA.

In the third phase of the Select Bus Service program, DOT, NYCT and MTA Bus planning staff conducted another citywide analysis of transit needs to identify candidate corridors for SBS in order to improve transit in underserved areas, improve the speed and reliability of long and slow transit trips and provide better network connectivity.

Based on the results of the transit needs analysis and public feedback through workshops, on-street surveying and online feedback, DOT and MTA have identified 21 candidate corridors across the city for the next phase of SBS.

These candidate corridors were selected based on a series of performance analyses undertaken by DOT and MTA to identify areas of the city where current bus riders experience service issues along the City’s busiest bus routes.

By continuing to grow the SBS network, we are focusing on key issues including improving job access across the City and providing interborough access, which are key vision elements of the broader Citywide Transit Plan.

New York City Bus Rapid Transit Study: Phase II

As DOT and NYCT worked on completing the corridors from the original Bus Rapid Transit study, the agencies began a process to develop a list of additional corridors that would benefit from Select Bus Service. DOT and NYCT analyzed a range of transit needs across the five boroughs, including looking at neighborhoods that are not well served by the subway system, transit trips that are long and slow, subway corridors that experience heavy crowding, and areas that are expected to experience significant population and employment growth. The results of this analysis were summarized in the report Introduction to Bus Rapid Transit Phase II which was released in April of 2009 and identified over 30 corridors that present opportunities for new Select Bus Service routes.

Download Appendix A - Service Needs Assessment Methodology

As a second step, DOT and NYCT asked the public for their thoughts on the future of Select Bus Service in New York City. The two agencies held a series of seven interactive workshops in May and June 2009, the purpose of which was to educate the community about Select Bus Service and to solicit feedback on the transit needs identified in the first Phase II report. Participants also had the opportunity to suggest other potential Bus Rapid Transit corridors and to discuss the Select Bus Service features they would like to see included in future routes. Over 300 people participated in the workshops including representatives of local elected officials, community advocates, and members of the general public. In addition to the workshops, DOT posted an online survey about the future of Select Bus Service and received over 600 responses. The results of the public outreach were summarized in a report, Bus Rapid Transit Phase II: Public Input, which was released in June of 2010.

Based on the results of the transit needs analysis and public feedback through the workshops and online survey, NYCT and DOT compiled a list of over 40 potential Bus Rapid Transit corridors. The two agencies then evaluated these corridors on several criteria and selected 16 corridors for future implementation. The results of this analysis and the final 16 corridors were summarized in a report, Bus Rapid Transit Phase II: Future Corridors, which was released in June 2010.

Moving forward, NYCT and DOT will draw upon these studies in developing new Select Bus Service routes based on available funding, community support, and progress on related transit projects. For each corridor, NYCT and DOT will engage in an extensive community planning effort that will include outreach to residents, neighborhood groups, community boards, local elected officials, business groups, and other stakeholders.

New York City Bus Rapid Transit Study: Phase I

In 2004, New York City Transit (NYCT), the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) jointly conducted the New York City Bus Rapid Transit Study to identify corridors suitable for Select Bus Service. A screening process was conducted which started with close to 100 corridors with average weekday bus ridership in excess of 15,000. Thirty-six candidate corridors were selected through a series of quantitative evaluations and were then presented to the public at a series of citywide workshops. Of the 36 candidates the 15 strongest candidate corridors were ranked based upon an evaluation of benefits, including measures of transit performance such as ridership and bus frequency, and corridor compatibility, including measures of physical feasibility such as roadway width and parking impacts.

Ultimately, five corridors were chosen for implementation through a process that included both technical analysis and several public workshops and community board meetings along each of the corridors. In addition to public input, criteria for selecting a Select Bus Service route included projected benefits (how many riders will benefit from the route and the potential for the service to make bus service faster) and physical compatibility of the corridor (how appropriate are the streets on each corridor for bus improvements).

Funding Select Bus Service

Select Bus Service improvements are implemented by both New York City and by NYCT, based on which agency is responsible for each Select Bus Service feature. The cost for each corridor will vary depending on the treatments being considered.

For NYCT, funding for Select Bus Service implementation was identified in the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) 5-year capital program. DOT pays for Select Bus Service improvements through a combination of local city capital expense funds, funds provided by the New York State Department of Transportation, as well a substantial grants provided by United States DOT, primarily through the Federal Transit Administration. Bus shelters are provided at no cost to the city by JCDecaux, through the city’s Coordinated Street Furniture Franchise.