A proposal to bring an experimental bus program to the neighborhood has some asking whether its worth the hassle, and Community Board 15 is holding a public hearing this evening to discuss the issue.
Since 2004, the MTA’s Bus Rapid Transit project has been evaluating neighborhoods across the city to determine test routes for Select Bus Service. The experimental service is aimed at speeding up the city’s notoriously slow bus routes and easing congestion. The system will feature dedicated bus lanes, larger capacity vehicles and off-board fare payment. In Sheepshead Bay, the entire B44 Limited route will be replaced by SBS service, running the entire length of Nostrand Avenue to Rogers Avenue and then Bedford Avenue.
But benefits may not be as significant as the project’s advocates suggest. Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo said that the SBS’s first and only test site, along Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, has only shaved off six minutes from commuters’ trips. But the larger buses (and the bus “bulbs” associated with SBS service) eat up valuable parking spaces that businesses clamor for. Furthermore, the dedicated bus lanes reduce access for cars, adds to congestion, and makes turning difficult.
The MTA’s proposal falls on a community particularly upset over recent bus service cuts, including to the B4 in Sheepshead Bay and the B31 in Gerritsen Beach. The authority diminished service along those routes, citing financial belt-tightening. And, speaking as a resident and not as CB15 Chair, Scavo said she’d rather see the money spent on restoring those lines.
“For all this money they’re putting out during a time when they’re cutting service, how much time are they really saving?” said Scavo. “I dont think six minutes is worth all of this disruption.”
Check out the MTA’s Select Bus Service presentation below to learn more about the proposal. Then attend CB15′s meeting tonight to chime in on whether or not potentially shorter bus commutes are worth losing parking and car lanes. The board will be voting on whether to support or oppose the plan following a public hearing.
(CB 15 meets at 7 p.m. in Kingsborough Community College’s faculty dining room.)