On Monday, May 17, New York City Department of Transportation and New York City Transit presented plans for the Nostrand Avenue Bus Rapid Transit / Select Bus Service route that will replace the B44 Limited in 2012.
Ted Orosz (Director, Long Range Planning, NYC Transit) and Robert Thompson (Senior Project Manager, Transit Development, NYC DOT) gave their 25-minute presentation in front of a crowd of around 20 people, mostly Community Board 15 members.
The Bus Rapid Transit / Select Bus Service is an initiative that aims to increase bus ridership by maximizing efficiency and shortening commutes. The staples of the plan include dedicated bus lanes, pre-boarding fare payment, low-floor buses and traffic signal priority. The majority of these changes will effect the northern part of the B44 Limited’s current 9-mile route from the Williamsburg Bridge to Emmons Avenue.
In Community Board 15 (Kings Highway to Emmons Avenue), NYC Transit plans to institute traffic signal priority so that stop lights will know when a bus is near and increase the duration of the green light. They say this, in addition to the low-floor buses and off-board fare payment, should effectively speed up the segment of our route without needing dedicated bus lanes (though portions of the route will have dedicated lanes during rush hour only).
In the question and answer period that followed, residents interrogated the officials for 40 minutes (video coming soon). They were concerned the larger buses would eliminate much needed parking spaces, that the benefits are being overstated, that the costs and nuisance are not worth the four-t0-eight minute cut in commute time, and that fare evasion will sky rocket with the off-board payment system.
The officials said there will be a minimum net loss of parking spaces, as they plan to eliminate bus stops in the Emmons Avenue area, which will add more parking along the route. They also said that fare evasion was down in the Bronx, where the service was launched two years ago (A Daily News investigation found the opposite, despite a crackdown in which NYC Transit officials admit more than 6,000 tickets for fare evasion have been issued.).
It was also requested at the meeting that the line be extended to reach Kingsborough Community College, which would increase its use to the area. NYC Transit officials said funding limitations barred them from doing that. The federal government is providing funding for BRT projects, which cannot be used for extending existing lines or restoring service cuts.
Community Board 15 will vote on the service next Tuesday. You can voice your opinion by attending the meeting (7:00 p.m., Kingsborough Faculty Dining Room), or by e-mail the board at BKLCB15@verizon.net.