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OneNYC: Mayor de Blasio Announces Start of Select Bus Service on Utica Avenue – Major Upgrades for Brooklyn's Busiest Bus Route

July 7, 2016

A key part of the de Blasio administration’s OneNYC goal of equitable and sustainable transit expansion; New York City's 10th SBS route and Brooklyn's second

Provides 44,000 daily riders a faster, more reliable connection to the 3, 4, A, C trains and 30 other bus routes for six miles through Brooklyn; Select Bus Service upgrades shown to speed up bus service 15 percent – 30 percent, saving time and increasing convenience for New York bus riders

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the Department of Transportation, together with the MTA, had this week begun operation of the B46 Select Bus Service (SBS) in Brooklyn. The route, which at 44,000 daily passengers is Brooklyn's busiest, extends six miles from Mill Basin to Bushwick on Utica Avenue, Malcolm X Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue. This route has more daily riders than the entire Baltimore subway system. Many of the neighborhoods along Utica Avenue lack direct access to the subway. The B46 SBS will now provide a faster, more reliable connection to the 3, 4, A, C trains and 30 other bus routes.

“Back in 2013, we made a strong commitment to expand the number of communities that see the benefits of Select Bus Service,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “For communities with limited subway options, SBS is a winning formula that transforms bus commutes by saving precious time while also suiting our Vision Zero goals by making sometimes dangerous streets like Utica much safer. I thank the Department of Transportation and the MTA for once again working together cooperatively to deliver for New Yorkers.”

“From Kings Plaza Mall to Bushwick, the B46 serves tens of thousands of Brooklyn commuters every day, but prior to the arrival of Select Bus Service, those trips were often slow and unreliable,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Member of the MTA Board. "We thank Mayor de Blasio for his dedication to expanding SBS even further. As the Department of Transportation and MTA proved when we together transformed the nearby B44 along Nostrand Avenue into a highly successful SBS route, we expect that trips on the B46 SBS will now also be faster, safer and better."

In addition to its ten-year investment of $295 million in expense and capital funding to expand Select Bus Service, the de Blasio administration has also made a significant commitment to invest in mass transit to relieve the crowded commutes of several Brooklyn neighborhoods served by the B46. In 2015, at the urging of the Mayor, the MTA Capital Plan included $5 million to study potentially extending the 4 train deeper into Crown Heights, East Flatbush and Flatlands along Utica Avenue (the 4 train currently terminates at Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue). 

"New York City continues to bring quality public transportation options online to speed travel in more efficient ways," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. "Bus riders along the most widely used route in Brooklyn will see faster buses with easier boarding and more convenient service. I commend the DOT and MTA on their productive partnership to bring benefits to thousands of hard working New Yorkers."

“MTA is the engine that helps New York City run,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “The expansion of B46 SBS from Mill Basin to Bushwick on Utica Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard connects many more neighborhoods to Bed –Stuy. More small businesses will receive foot traffic as tourists and residents from other communities use the expanded services.”

"Today's launch of the B46 SBS route will expedite the bus riding experience for the 44,000 daily bus passengers who have endured unnecessarily long commutes on this vital Brooklyn corridor. Giving priority to bus passengers makes sense for everyone using the B46 route. It will reduce congestion, improve traffic safety and strengthen local business. This route is the tenth rollout of SBS throughout NYC and an outcome of the strong partnership between the DOT and MTA. We applaud their efforts to make our bus network better with these cost effective, expedient service enhancements," said Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and MTA Board Member.

The DOT and MTA jointly developed the design concept for the B46 SBS with the goals of providing faster and more reliable bus service, safer streets for pedestrians and drivers, and maintaining traffic flow. After presenting designs for the corridor to local communities at over 25 meetings, open houses and workshops, the two agencies brought their standard Select Bus Service treatments to the B46 SBS route, including: eight lane miles of red bus lanes to better organize the street; off-board fare collection machines; transit-signal priority to hold lights green when buses approach; and WalkNYC Bus Time displays, many of which have already been installed along the corridor to let passengers know when their bus will arrive. A total of 11 bus bulbs and several curb extensions are also planned along the route, serving riders by widening the sidewalks near bus stops and shortening street crossing distances; these capital improvements will be constructed along the route by the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), starting in 2017. Overall, the reengineering and redesign of Utica Avenue also aims to reduce crashes along the route, a Vision Zero Priority Corridor based on past crash history.

Bus-lane enforcement along SBS routes is another critical element to the improvements, and bus lanes on Utica Avenue will be enforced with cameras from Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm. The highly-visible lanes are painted red and identified with large overhead signs. Camera enforcement begins this week with a 60-day warning period; during this time, vehicle owners photographed driving in the bus lane receive a notification that their vehicles violated the law, but they are not yet assessed a fine. NYPD is also enforcing moving and parking violations along the corridor.

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. The eight SBS routes that have opened since in order of opening (with route number): First/Second Avenues (M15), 34th Street (M34), Hylan Boulevard (S79), Webster Avenue (Bx41), Nostrand Avenue (B44), 125th Street-LGA (M60), 86th Street (M86), and the Bronx-Flushing-Jamaica (Q44). Two more routes are expected to be implemented this year on the Q70/LaGuardia Link and the M23 along 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Last week, the DOT and MTA released a joint progress report on Nostrand Avenue B44 Select Bus Service, which began service in November 2013, traveling a parallel route approximately one mile west of the Utica Avenue B46. The report concluded the B44 SBS had brought unprecedented positive results, including an improvement of rush-hour travel times of as much as 30 percent and a one-year 10 percent increase in bus ridership. Overall, in its eight-year history, SBS has provided improved service to its passengers with an average 15-30 percent faster bus service, 95 percent rider satisfaction, 10 percent increase in ridership, and a 20 percent reduction in crashes.

"The start of Select Bus Service on Brooklyn's most heavily patronized bus route is great news for New Yorkers. On all its routes, Select Bus' effective package of all-door boarding, bus lanes and limited stops has sped travel and attracted new riders," said Tabitha Decker, NYC Program Director for TransitCenter.

John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, said, "Tens of thousands of people rely on the B46 every day, but buses are notoriously slow and unreliable. Select Bus Service will make the B46 faster, more reliable and more attractive to riders. It's an important step toward fulfilling Mayor de Blasio's promise to implement 20 Select Bus Service routes, and one that will make a big difference in riders' lives. We applaud the Department of Transportation and the MTA for the hard work they are doing to make Utica Avenue work for the working people who rely on this bus."

"The launch of the B46 Select Bus Service is good news for people who commute along Brooklyn's busiest route," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "We commend DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for bringing SBS to more corridors across the city, to help New Yorkers get to their jobs and other destinations more quickly and easily."

“Welcome to Brooklyn, B46 Select Bus Service! The addition of a second Brooklyn SBS route is an important step forward in the march toward transportation equity. Building on the success of the B44 and the other 9 SBS routes citywide, this enhanced service on Utica will speed commutes and improve the dignity of the bus experience in central Brooklyn. It serves a corridor where riders are heavily dependent on surface transit, and creates better connections to subway lines, job centers and shopping areas. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for completing this effort and pursuing a transit agenda which will yield significant improvements in the experience of riders who need them the most.” said Elena Conte, Director of Policy at Pratt Center for Community Development.

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