November 18, 2013
Travel Times Expected to Improve Up to 20 Percent Along the B44 route, the City’s Fifth Busiest Bus Line
Expansion Marks Brooklyn’s First and the City’s Sixth Select Bus Service Rout – All Have Sped Bus Travel and Increased Ridership, Building on the Administration’s PlaNYC Commitments
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast and New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner David J. Burney today launched of the B44 Select Bus Service, the city’s sixth Select Bus route, along Nostrand, Rogers and Bedford avenues. The route, which serves 40,000 daily passengers along a 9.3-mile stretch, runs along one of Brooklyn’s main north-south corridors, and will be the first Select Bus Service route in the borough. The use of Select Bus Service to improve transit options across the five boroughs is a component of the City’s long-term sustainability blueprint, PlaNYC. Select Bus Service along this busy line incorporates bus lanes and improved “bus bulb” sidewalk extensions with on-street fare collection machines that allow passengers to pay before they board and transit signal priority to reduce travel times. There will also be improved passenger information with new wayfinding panels displaying real time bus arrival information and neighborhood maps. In addition, the City and MTA announced installation of neighborhood map posters inside subway stations, unifying the area maps placed near customer service booths with the wayfinding maps now used on city streets. The City also released a report documenting the success of the first five Select Bus Service routes, which have increased ridership by 10 percent and sped travel by up to 20 percent, with travel times improving better than national averages. The report also illustrates the path forward for Select Bus Service, with routes outlined through underserved transportation corridors and illustrating new street treatments that could be used on future New York City routes.
“Improved bus service in all five boroughs has been one of our principal goals under PlaNYC and thanks to our partnership with the MTA, we have increased ridership and improved travel times along our Select Bus Service routes,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve had great success with Select Bus Service in other boroughs and Brooklyn’s first route will bring a new and necessary mass transit option to more New Yorkers.”
“With six routes launched in just six years, SBS has delivered low-cost transit options to underserved parts of the city faster than any transit project in generations,” said DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “The B44 SBS alone will save its 40,000 daily passengers one million commuting hours a year, showing again just how huge a role that streets and buses play in the vitality of our city.”
“The arrival of Select Bus Service in Brooklyn is a game-changer for customers who use one of the busiest routes in the City, said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our experience on the other SBS routes shows that SBS works by increasing bus speeds and efficiency with low-floor buses, off-board fare collection and dedicated, enforced bus lanes.”
“SBS on the B44 will boost ridership and provide seamless service for our customers in Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Sheepshead Bay,” said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “And with the introduction of offset bus lanes and bus bulbs, customers will have easier access to the buses and we’ll see increased pedestrian circulation space at bus stops throughout the corridor.”
“Together with NYC DOT and our federal partners, we are pleased to bring Select Bus Service to Brooklyn,” said Darryl Irick, Senior Vice President, NYCT Dept. of Buses and President, MTA Bus. “Nine miles of offset bus lanes will speed up service and because the lanes are offset, or one lane away from the curb, the curb lane will still be available for merchant deliveries, neighborhood parking and right turns.”
“This well-traveled Brooklyn corridor along Nostrand, Rogers, and Bedford Avenues can now provide better service with the addition of the SBS lane,” said DDC Commissioner David Burney. “The roadway was rebuilt from the ground up with new water mains, catch basins, and roadway surfaces, as well as the concrete bus pads and red asphalt that delineate the new bus lane.“
“Today we celebrate a significant step toward transit equity by welcoming Select Bus Service to Brooklyn on the B44,” said Elena Conte, Senior Organizer for Planning and Policy at Pratt Center for Community Development. “This heavily-traveled route serves a diverse set of neighborhoods, including lower-income, communities of color, and neighborhoods heavily reliant on public transit that will benefit from improved bus service the most. May this be the first of many Select Bus Service routes in Brooklyn, leading to an integrated network of BRT connecting the whole city.”
“Brooklyn’s first Select Bus Service route will serve our vibrant shopping district and we welcome this investment in our neighborhood,” said Lindiwe Kamau, president of the Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association. “We’ve worked intensively with shop-owners, the DOT and MTA to ensure that the new service truly supports our local small businesses and we will continue to do so. Today we celebrate the milestone by kicking-off a special holiday season promotion for customers who ride Select Bus Service to our shops.”
The B44 SBS, featuring three-door articulated buses branded with the blue SBS logo, replaces B44 Limited service with fewer stops, while B44 local service was extended to cover the southern part of the corridor. As part of an extensive outreach process, DOT and MTA conducted 42 meetings with the community and elected officials over a six-year period to realize this initiative, covering eight community boards and hundreds of merchants. SBS has increased ridership and improved bus service, speed and reliability along the first four corridors where it has been introduced, including along 34th Street and First and Second avenues in Manhattan, Fordham Road-Pelham Parkway in the Bronx and Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island, while a fifth line, along Webster Avenue in Bronx, is still within its initial months of operation. SBS enhancements along the B44 line are expected to reduce travel times by up to 20 percent, cutting 14 minutes off the 71-minute, 9.3 mile trip between the Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg neighborhoods, and increasing as additional treatments are installed along the route in the coming months.
The Nostrand-Rogers-Bedford Avenue corridor cuts a swath across multiple communities and businesses districts in the heart of Brooklyn. 300,000 people live within a quarter-mile of the corridor. Numerous institutions in the borough are served by the B44 lines, including Brooklyn College and Medgar Evers College. The importance of mass transit options is underscored by the fact that 62 percent of nearby households do not own a vehicle and 60 percent of commute by transit. The extensive community outreach behind this project included open houses, community board presentations, business surveys, and meetings with elected officials.
In preparation for Brooklyn’s first Select Bus Service line on the B44 route, the City’s Department of Design and Construction began construction of the SBS stations this January, performing underground utility work, building concrete bus pads in the roadway and installing station platforms on the sidewalk, as well as the necessary 35 lane miles of roadway resurfacing and 10 miles of bus lane painting. Rush-hour regulations were moved from the right to the left side of the street earlier this year in preparation for the arrival of the SBS stations. Other improvements include dedicated bus lanes that are offset from the curb to retain local parking, concrete roadway bus pads, large overhead bus lane signs, layout for new bus shelters and electrical power for the off-board fare collection machines. DOT and NYCT have also been developing a plan for Transit Signal Priority on the corridor, which is expected to be activated in the spring of 2014. Parking regulations were updated along the length of the corridor, in many cases adding new metered parking and commercial delivery zones for businesses. The approximately $35 million in costs to implement the route used mostly federal Small Starts funding via the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The Department of Design and Construction’s ongoing full reconstruction of Nostrand Avenue between Flushing and Atlantic avenues will be complete by late 2014. Additional mobility enhancement at Williamsburg Bridge Plaza and widespread installations of wayfinding signs along the corridor will be complete by 2015. The B44 will operate along the corridor’s northern segment as this work proceeds.
The launch of Brooklyn’s first SBS route is the latest in the City’s efforts to expand faster, more reliable and sustainable transportation choices for New Yorkers as set forth in PlaNYC, the City’s long-term sustainability agenda. Since launching in 2008, the Bx12 Select Bus Service along Fordham Road in the Bronx reduced travel times by 20 percent and increased ridership by 10 percent. NYC DOT, MTA and State Senator Bill Perkins recently announced that the M60 along 125th Street will become Manhattan’s third SBS route, benefitting 30,000 daily passengers along the 125th Street corridor, beginning in Spring 2014.
Contact: Marc La Vorgna/Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958
Seth Solomonow/Scott Gastel (DOT) (212) 839-4850
Adam Lisberg (MTA) (212) 878-7440