The 7 Line Extension And A Push For BRT

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The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The brand new B44 Select Bus Service, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTEOn Friday, Mayor Bloomberg and the press took a ride on the 7 extension to 34th Street, although the line is still six months away from completion. He was hoping to have it finished before he left office. He failed, but received the press coverage he desired.

The M42 bus branch to 34th Street was discontinued in 2010 due to a lack of ridership. So what do we do when there is inadequate demand for bus service? We build a new subway instead, of course. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

The subway was not extended to meet existing demand but to stimulate real estate development for the Hudson Yards project. The mayor pointed out that was how it was done in the old days. First you built the rapid transit line, and that encouraged development. Not the other way around, building subways as a response to development. The subway was not extended for the benefit of subway riders, like the Second Avenue Line, which will relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue line. It was extended to help Bloomberg’s millionaire developer friends get even richer.

Why doesn’t this stimulation-of-development philosophy apply elsewhere in the city?

The Pratt Center released a report this week touting the benefits of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). It is a perfect example of drawing your conclusions first, then gathering your facts to support those conclusions without telling the complete story, a tactic we have seen all too often from the MTA.

In making their case for BRT,  Pratt first dismisses extending any subway line because it is too expensive.  They cite the $2 billion cost  to extend the 7 line one mile in midtown Manhattan. They further cite the Second Avenue subway cost of $4.5 billion for the mile and a half of subway and three subway stations it provides, probably the most expensive subway per mile in the world.  They ignore the fact that these  subways are being built using the more expensive technique of deep tunneling, as opposed to traditional method of cut and cover which is how both the IRT and BMT Lines were constructed.  Extending the Utica or Nostrand Avenue lines using cut and cover would cost a fraction of what it is costing to build the Manhattan subways. Also, there is no discussion of what could be done to bring costs down to make subway construction feasible once again.

Why should there be? The agenda is clear. Build BRT instead of subways. So why do an objective analysis?

The biases in this study are obvious when the authors claim that BRT riders could achieve a similar riding experience as a subway, while ignoring the issue of greater capacity and lower operating costs per passenger that a subway affords.  The development that is spurred by subway construction and the consequential economic effects are also ignored. This is similar to the MTA promoting Select Bus Service (SBS), a less sophisticated version of BRT, as a “subway on the surface,” which it is not.

Bloomberg uses the familiar “if you will build it they will come” quote, which he applies to the development of the Hudson Yards. So why wouldn’t the same philosophy hold true to stimulate economic development in Queens?  There we have an abandoned rapid transit line since 1962, known as the Rockaway Beach Line (RBL), that is an eyesore and has been gathering weeds and debris for more than 50 years running through an area that is economically depressed.

Reactivation efforts during that time have failed; neither the city nor the MTA has pushed for it.

Critics state that reactivation would cost too much.  However, the most valuable resource, a continuous right of way,  is not being taken advantage of. That makes it vastly cheaper to reconstruct than building a new underground subway. There have been attempts recently to convert that right of way to a park dubbed “Queensway,“ much like the High Line.  I will not get into that debate here.  Suffice it to say that three Queens Community Boards, Nos. 5, 10, and 14, as well as the NY Daily News  now support RBL reactivation.

The Pratt Center study

The study by the Pratt Center recommends four new BRT corridors and four new SBS corridors. (The difference is explained on Page 19.) They call BRT a “Cost effective high performance solution.”  That is quite a claim without any proof. Ambitious time saving projections are also provided without any sources how those time savings were derived. Zero negative impacts on traffic are  projected because travel using these projected routes will be so quick that riders will leave their cars at home in favor of these new BRT and SBS routes.  That claim is also unsubstantiated.

How can they make such outrageous claims? They do that by using a few statistics gathered by the MTA such as: the Bx12 SBS corridor saw a 7 percent increase in ridership and a 20 percent travel time savings while the M15 saw a reduction in traffic congestion and similar ridership increases. They further state that wherever SBS has been installed, bus speeds have increased without an increase in traffic congestion. Then they apply those statistics across the entire city.

Now here is the other side of the story: The 34th Street SBS, as implemented, not as envisioned, resulted in increasing bus speeds a negligible one minute or two. Staten Island riders did not leave their cars at home in favor of the S79, nor did M15 riders. Some M15 riders in fact were former subway riders. Traffic congestion along Hylan Boulevard has greatly worsened, much to the ire of motorists. Also, although First and Second Avenue traffic may not have worsened, no data was collected along adjacent avenues such as York, Third  or Lexington Avenues to determine traffic effects there.

Conclusion

We do need more SBS and some BRT routes, but we need to consider all the options, not only the one we are promoting.  This study promotes BRT along Woodhaven Boulevard for the simple reason that it is at least six lanes wide, and makes believe that the parallel abandoned RBL one half mile to the east does not exist. We cannot just assume no negative traffic impacts along Woodhaven if general traffic lanes are removed, as this study does just because First and Second Avenue traffic was not negatively impacted. I would not want doctors using that type of logic to perform surgery on me.

Similarly, in proposing a BRT Line to JFK Airport (a worthwhile goal), they choose an infeasible route along the narrow portion of Linden Boulevard, ignoring the underutilized Bay Ridge Division of the LIRR, 1.5  miles to the south. Parking would have to be banned along the entire narrow portion of Linden Boulevard, which is a residential street, for a BRT line to possibly work without negatively affecting emergency vehicles. Otherwise, left turns would significantly delay all traffic, especially truck traffic, as Linden Boulevard is the only truck route across central Brooklyn.

In making this proposal, not only did no one even bother to check a Google map to learn that 39th Street between Third and Ninth avenues, where this line is proposed, is so narrow (only three lanes wide including only one lane of parking, not two) that not only could it not support a physically separated BRT lane, an exclusive SBS lane is also out of the question on that street.  Similar problems exist along Junction Boulevard where the Woodhaven BRT is proposed.

We need impartial studies like the one underway by Queens College investigating RBL reactivation, not bias ones like the one by the Pratt Center where only one side of the story is presented. We must not rule out real rapid transit expansion that developed the city and could revitalize parts of it today.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at]sheepsheadbites [dot]com.

  • flatbush depot

    watch that author’s name please!

  • flatbush depot

    also did you mean “Junction Boulevard” or “Woodhaven Boulevard” close to the end of the article?

    • Allan Rosen

      I meant Junction. If you look at their proposal, the Woodhaven BRT continues north on Junction to LaGuardia. Not to say that would be a bad bus route. It just wouldn’t work with BRT as proposed. Perhaps with a Limited?

  • sonicboy678

    I’m almost willing to bet that traffic on Rogers Avenue has worsened like Nostrand Avenue’s has thanks to the bus lanes.

    • flatbush depot

      personal automobile traffic cannot be appeased if there is too much of it and these personal automobile users, of whom there are many on Nostrand and Rogers Aves, will continue to disobey the rules. there is too much personal automobile traffic and plenty of personal automobile users who disobey the rules (double parking) on Nostrand Ave and on Rogers Ave, and this was the case before they put bus lanes there.

      you do realize that not having SBS or bus lanes on Nostrand would make the (3)/local (4) train to B44 connection an ineffective means, time-wise, of avoiding (2) train problems during the times that there is no (5) train service on Nostrand, right?

      • sonicboy678

        Neither way (with and without SBS) is very effective for different reasons. Without SBS, the trip is more time-consuming, but more people are given options in general. With SBS, the bus lanes “speed up” the trip, but connections in some places are worse. Essentially, SBS can be looked at as candy. It sounds great, but it really isn’t.

        • flatbush depot

          I was looking at SBS trips used to circumvent (2) train problems, not SBS trips in general. Have you used the B44 SBS to circumvent (2) train problems yourself to know whether it is effective or how effective it is?

          Have you timed the trips to determine whether you rode a (3) or local (4) to Nostrand-E Pkwy and then a B44 SBS that got to Flatbush/Nostrand Aves before the next (2) train?

          • sonicboy678

            Why would I ride SBS to connect to the IRT when I’m trying to avoid it?

            For the record, yes, I have (to Fulton Street). The difference is about 25-30 minutes; however, it’s through artificial means (one of which the MTA recently attempted to address on the website well over a month after going into effect). While the buses themselves don’t typically run into traffic problems on Rogers Avenue (thanks to the bus lane), the same can’t be said elsewhere. Generally, people are just afraid to jump into the bus lane because of the steep fine associated with the move. The traffic worsens outside of the lane and, if they’re not careful, will spill into the lane anyway. In fact, this is evident on Nostrand Avenue near Flatbush Junction.

          • flatbush depot

            But I was asking about southbound trips coming back from the city or Downtown Brooklyn involving whatever Nostrand Ave service ((2) train or B44, (5) train does not count because this is about times during which the (5) does not serving Flatbush).

            Have you been on the platform at any (2)(3) station between 135 and Franklin Ave (waiting for something that would get you to Flatbush/Nostrand Aves) since the B44 SBS began, looked at the real-time schedule, seen that the next (2) train was 10+ minutes behind the next (3) train, and taken the (3) train to the B44 SBS to Flatbush/Nostrand Aves in an attempt to get there before the next (2) train? Again, this is during times that the (5) is not running to Flatbush.

            I have done this and do it every time the next (2) train is so far away when the next (3) train is so close. Before SBS, this would not have worked nearly as often as it does now because before SBS the buses had to fight their way back into traffic after servicing bus stops and people had to pay on the bus.

            Also not too many people drive in the bus lane even during the times it is not in effect (north of Farragut, it is not in effect during the times that the (5) does not serve Flatbush). The thing should be in effect 24/7..

          • flatbush depot

            I mean I do this almost every time the next (2) train is so far away when the next (3) train is so close.

          • sonicboy678

            Quite frankly, no, since I haven’t had the displeasure. On top of that, the 2 and B44 SBS are about as frequent as the other (maybe a little more so for the SBS). Then again, why bother? There are many other alternatives to the 2 from where I am and from where I may be headed. The only time I used weekend B44 SBS was on December 22nd when I was heading to the Holiday Train. I took it to Fulton Street so it would be easier to reach Second Avenue (that and I was running later than I wanted to be). Even then, it didn’t make much of a difference.

            The countdown clocks help, but only when they’re actually in service. The B44 SBS has nothing of the sort; BusTime hasn’t even been implemented yet and the only place I saw anything for it was at Church Avenue on Nostrand Avenue. Couple this with Flatbush Depot’s infamous bus service issues and the counterargument to mine becomes much harder to support.

          • flatbush depot

            -I was asking about southbound trips coming back from the city or Downtown Brooklyn involving whatever Nostrand Ave service. If you have not made trips involving the (3) train to B44 SBS connection while I have (without problems such as long waits or “infamous bus service issues”), fine.

            But I thought the people in question were those who needed to reach IRT Nostrand Ave stations (and surrounding areas) after coming back from the city or Downtown Brooklyn. I do not think it is right to dismiss the B44 SBS or the bus lanes as unneeded or unwanted if there are more people benefiting from them than not.

            -I was referring to the clocks for the IRT, not the B44 SBS.

            -My counterargument to yours is harder to support even though my counterargument is coming from somebody who has actually used the (3) train to B44 SBS connection to circumvent (2) train problems while your argument is from somebody who has not done this?

            -Now you are making a reference to countdown clocks other than those I was referring to, as well as a general reference to “Flatbush Depot’s infamous bus service issues” in an attempt to demonstrate that my argument is incorrect even though I have actually used the (3) train to B44 SBS connection to circumvent (2) train problems and have not experienced any “infamous bus service issues” (only had to wait about a minute or two after I got off southbound (3) trains) that might have made the B44 SBS ineffective for such trips?

  • guest

    Our only hope is that DiBlasio is smarter and will undo much of the damage the Bloomberg administration has done.

    • flatbush depot

      what damage are you referring to?

      • guest

        Placing SBS lines where they don’t belong to screw up traffic conditions and effectively take away traffic lanes. Nostrand Avenue was supposed to have a subway line continued for a reason. Back then it was about helping everyone and making it easier for everyone to get around. Now it’s all about power and greed.

        • flatbush depot

          -Placing an SBS line on Nostrand and Rogers Ave is a damage even though personal automobile users have been taking away traffic lanes forever by illegally parking/double parking, which is a damage to bus service since it delays bus service when the buses have schedules to follow?

          -It makes sense to extend the (2) train despite the fact that it cannot stick to “trains every 12 minutes” during the times that it is supposed to run every 12 minutes (most of the day weekends and most of the night after the (5) stops running to Flatbush) and trains often run 16+ minutes apart during the times they are supposed to run every 12?

          • sonicboy678

            The dispatchers aren’t necessarily on top of things for the 2, so the trains often run behind schedule. That, however, was not the point. The point was to extend the 2 so it wouldn’t be necessary to have these bus lanes, especially when people may jump in them illegally, anyway.

          • flatbush depot

            How does extending the (2) train make the bus lanes unnecessary?

            Extending the (2) train without first fixing its schedule problems sounds like somebody trying to live beyond their means.

          • flatbush depot

            I would be much more willing to go along with this if the (2) train ran like, say, the (1) train (every 5 to 8 minutes off-hours, and consistently).

            Even then, bus lanes are absolutely necessary because they give the buses, which require less space to carry the same number of people as personal automobiles, some protection from the damages caused by the personal automobile and its users and discourage personal automobile use. Personal automobile use in cities like this one needs to be discouraged, not encouraged. They cause far too many problems for bus riders and people who use them absolutely cannot stop themselves from breaking the law.

            The bus lane on the HSBC block of Nostrand by the Junction needs to be physically separated using plastic bollards so the B44 buses can fly past all the traffic there more often than they do now.

            Do you think that a bus rider who rides buses that have to make multiple stops along fixed routes deserves to deal with personal automobile nonsense such as double parking/illegal parking, people lining up to back into parking spaces (which, while not illegal, is a terrible flaw of the personal automobile in situations where the automobile has to back into a parking space, which is most of the time).

            Mind you, that is not even one bus rider dealing with such delays; it is all of the bus riders dealing with delays/inconvenience that tend to be caused by a few personal automobile drivers for their own convenience.

          • flatbush depot

            I mean do you think bus riders deserve to deal with personal automobile nonsense such as double parking/illegal parking and people lining up to back into parking spaces (which, while not illegal, is a terrible delay-creating flaw of the personal automobile in situations where the automobile has to back into a parking space, which is most of the time) in addition to making multiple stops along a fixed route?

          • sonicboy678

            By extending the 2 (and 5), there may be more ridership. More ridership means better frequencies (or, at least, more people on top of their game). Not only that, but much of Nostrand Avenue is cramped enough without bus lanes. Adding them in only worsens the situation. Long story short, traffic is bad enough on its own to encourage using mass transit; the special lanes just artificially worsen the issue. Are you certain you want to continue with this?

            For the record, the nonsense you mention is simply attributed to people that probably shouldn’t be driving but do. You’re busy talking like bus riders are the only people that should have the road when that’s just not so. I’m no driver, but the SBS doesn’t really do too many favors for anyone.

            Don’t you have any other alternatives besides the 3 to B44 SBS? Is it so important that I ride on the weekends constantly like a sucker because I have nothing else to do? I’ve seen weekend service in general; I’ll take weekday service due to the higher general frequencies and actually having a reason to go out. It actually pains me to see just how much you limit your options before even starting your trip into Brooklyn. Granted, weekend 2 service sucks, but that just makes it even more important to find not one but several alternate routes. What if the problem prevents service on the Lenox Avenue Line? By the way you’re sounding, you’d be stuck looking like a fool trying to catch a 3 to a bus that may have already left, resulting in an 11-minute wait at best. (By the way, the discussion has moved here).

            One more thing: I was fully aware that you were referring to the IRT countdown clocks.

          • flatbush depot

            -Headways are determined by ridership at the peak load point. The peak load point for the (2) is somewhere in midtown, and ridership there may not change much on account of an extension of the (2) train from either of its termini (241 or FB).

            -What makes you think more ridership would cause more people to be on top of their game?

            -The West Side IRT is capped at 17-18 TPH on weekends. Andrew, who I believe knows his stuff really well, has said this several times before. The problems the (2) train experiences were discussed extensively here: http://www.nyctransitforums.com/forums/topic/43163-can-they-change-the-weekend-headways-on-the-2345-and-possibly-the-6/

            -I do not understand what is meant by “artificially worsening” the issue.

            -There are more cars than buses on the roads.

            -But there are more people in the buses than in the cars.

            -But the cars are responsible for lots of damages to bus service. They are a less space-efficient means of transporting people than buses are and when too many of them are lined up at Linden Blvd or Flatbush Ave, even if nobody is breaking any law, they cause the vehicles behind them (emphasis on the buses) to miss green signals.

            Do you think it is fair for bus riders to have to deal with unhelpful traffic signals, whose effects are worsened by the presence of too many cars in front of the buses, in addition to making multiple stops to pick up/drop off passengers?

            -Alternate routes? Limiting options? My main concern, which I believe is the main concern of most people, is time. What if the (2) train or (3) train to the B44 SBS is the fastest way for me to get from wherever I am to Flatbush (including wait times for this service and any other service you want to compare it to)?

            So now instead of being at one station where I can take either a (2) or a (3) (to a B44), I should go to a (Q) train station or an express bus stop (express buses do not even run on Sundays) for one of these services, which will absolutely result in a more time-consuming commute than waiting for a (2) or (3) to a B44 SBS? Half the time I can even jog lightly down Nostrand from E Pkwy to Empire faster than the bus because the traffic is so slow and the traffic signals are so bad on that section of Nostrand.

            -Why are you talking about 11-minute waits and missing a bus after getting off the (3) train if neither one of us has experienced this? This could happen, but I have yet to experience it and it is probably uncommon.

            Of course if there is a problem that causes them to cancel all (2)(3) service in some part of the city, forcing me to find some other way of getting to Brooklyn, I will make my way over to the East Side or (Q) train or (A)(C) and then B44.

            I could get into some equations I worked out in order to determine the sensibility (time-wise) of taking a (3) train/local (4) train to a B44 SBS (or local if it is late at night) to Flatbush Ave instead of waiting 16+ minutes for a (2) train.

          • flatbush depot

            I want to address your statement that “I talk as if bus riders are the only people that should have the road.”

            So just how many people in cars should have the road compared to the number of people in buses? Can you give a ratio for some amount of time? What about cars using parallel roads that are less congested, which buses cannot use unless they are rerouted?

            Why are you concerned with bus riders having “too much of the road” if car users occupy much more space on the road than bus riders despite there being many more bus riders per a given amount of time than car users?

          • flatbush depot

            Furthermore, why would you oppose the reallocation of road space on Nostrand Ave if this reallocation provides the most useful alternative (time-wise) to the (2) train, which is the most-used mode of transportation on Nostrand Ave, for those trying to get from other parts of the city that the (2) train serves to IRT Nostrand Ave stations as quickly as possible using mass transit?

          • sonicboy678

            The bus lanes have little to no effect on bus speeds. They do, however, negatively impact other vehicles’ speeds. There aren’t just private vehicles to consider, either. You also have delivery trucks that need much more space to maneuver and other non-TA public service vehicles that use those same streets.

          • sonicboy678

            How many of those streets get people where they have to go? Few, if any, can serve as desirable alternatives due to being further from many of the desired shops or workplaces; to add to the issue, most of those streets cut off at least once, so they’re not continuous. Bedford Avenue can work to a certain degree; however, most, if not all of it south of Dean Street is designed for traffic in one lane per direction. Ocean Avenue is wider (for part of its length), but further away. West of that, the next viable option is Coney Island Avenue; however, you first have to pass the Brighton Line. East of Nostrand Avenue, the next option is Brooklyn Avenue, unless you’re north of Avenue H, in which case it’s New York Avenue (not Flatbush Avenue for two reasons: how it cuts across Brooklyn and its own traffic issues). After that, you have Albany Avenue. Unfortunately, even these aren’t necessarily continuous. Your best bet east of Nostrand Avenue would have to be Utica Avenue, well over a mile east of Nostrand Avenue.

            Let’s be frank here. Many errands that may need to be attended to are just impractical with only the bus. Doing some shopping, heading to the post office, heading somewhere the bus doesn’t go or if the buses are known to be plagued with some ridiculous issues, whatever someone can come up with. It doesn’t have to be nonsensical for them to avoid the bus. Hell, I’d rather not deal with the bus unless it actually proves to be useful.

          • flatbush depot

            Response to your 21:04 post:

            Well now you are saying that the bus lanes have little to no effect when I just stated that if too many vehicles are in front of the bus at Linden Blvd or Flatbush Ave (or elsewhere, but especially those two intersecting roads), where Nostrand gets little green time for the traffic that accumulates on it, the bus has to wait a very long time for the next green signal it can make.

            If the bus has no vehicles in front of it, it has to wait less for the next green signal. This affects bus speeds because this sort of thing occurs in several places along Nostrand.

            You also make this statement despite the fact that you have not used the (3)/local (4) to B44 SBS connection to circumvent (2) train problems while I have. This just boggles my mind terribly. How many times have you used the southbound B44 SBS between St. John’s Pl and Flatbush Ave?

            Delivery trucks and non-TA public service vehicles absolutely have to be there. Many personal automobiles, on the other hand, do not absolutely have to be there.

            …And then there are so many of them that may have to be there but do not follow rules and therefore should not even be there, which means an awful lot of personal automobiles that are currently on the road but should not be there!

            DOT took space away from non-buses and gave it to buses (even if the bus lanes are not always unblocked, they still provide some shelter, and the bus bulbs also allow the buses to proceed without having to fight their way back into traffic most of the time).

            Now people generating vehicular traffic that does not need to be there will eventually become tired of driving on Nostrand Ave and the space will be freed up for non-buses that actually have to be there.

            ————————————

            Response to your 21:03 post:

            Yes, and regardless of how many turns a personal automobile has to make to drive from points north of Brooklyn College to points south of it (or vice-versa) without using Nostrand Ave or Flatbush Ave, the personal automobile will still be faster or about as quick as the bus because the personal automobile does not need to make stops along fixed routes like buses do and can avoid a certain road if it has too much traffic.

            I think a lot of errands that need to be attended to are perfectly fine with only the bus, and a lot of people want to make it seem like this is not the case. One of the things that has made the personal automobile so prevalent, even in cities, is that industry and culture have created 80 billion ‘reasons’ for people to use them, and now that people have so many ‘reasons’ to use them, it is very hard to decrease their presence.

            If you give me specific examples of errands that supposedly need to be done with a personal automobile, I think I can come up with a reasonable way to de-personal automobile most of them.

            Even shopping at Costco for a family of three or four people can probably be done with no taxi or personal automobile by one or two shoppers using duffel bags, backpacks, rolling suitcases, reusable shopping bags, or some combination of these.

            Going somewhere the bus does not go..such as?

            Buses known to be plagued with ridiculous issues..can you cite specific examples?

            The fact that you wrote “whatever someone can come up with” is quite troubling to me. It reminds me of the 80 billion ‘reasons’ industry and culture have created for using personal automobiles.

            With all of the problems personal automobiles cause, people, especially city dwellers who plan on remaining city dwellers, should be looking for ways to avoid and discourage personal automobile use if they want mass transit to improve and/or if they want safer roads for other road users (including those not in enclosed vehicles, like cyclists and pedestrians).

        • flatbush depot

          Also do you know about the usefulness of the (3) train/local (4) train to B44 SBS connection in circumventing (2) train problems? If you have ever tried reaching Flatbush/Nostrand Aves during a time that you could not takes the (5) train there, have you tried using the (3) train/local (4) train to B44 connection to reach Flatbush/Nostrand Aves instead of waiting 16+ minutes for a delayed and crowded (2) train?

  • Andrew

    The M42 bus branch to 34th Street was discontinued in 2010 due to a lack of ridership. So what do we do when there is inadequate demand for bus service? We build a new subway instead, of course. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

    The M42 to Javits wasn’t heavily used most days, and the Javits loop roadway was closed to all but private charter buses on many of those busy days, when M42 service would have been most useful.

    As you know, the purpose of the 7 extension is to promote major development in the area – far more development than the M42 could possibly attract or serve – not to serve Javits alone.

    The subway was not extended to meet existing demand but to stimulate real estate development for the Hudson Yards project.

    Furthermore, the city offered to pay for the extension through tax increment financing, which funds an infrastructure improvement with a portion of the new property tax revenue that the improvement generates.

    Why doesn’t this stimulation-of-development philosophy apply elsewhere in the city?

    Where else do you think tax increment financing might apply to a new subway line?

    In making their case for BRT, Pratt first dismisses extending any subway line because it is too expensive. They cite the $2 billion cost to extend the 7 line one mile in midtown Manhattan. They further cite the Second Avenue subway cost of $4.5 billion for the mile and a half of subway and three subway stations it provides, probably the most expensive subway per mile in the world. They ignore the fact that these subways are being built using the more expensive technique of deep tunneling, as opposed to traditional method of cut and cover which is how both the IRT and BMT Lines were constructed. Extending the Utica or Nostrand Avenue lines using cut and cover would cost a fraction of what it is costing to build the Manhattan subways.

    Cut-and-cover causes extreme disruption along the entire length of the project for years. It also requires utilities to be relocated, which can add significantly to the cost. There’s a reason that most subway construction in developed settings is bored.

    Why should there be? The agenda is clear. Build BRT instead of subways. So why do an objective analysis?

    I don’t see an agenda. I see a promotion of a realistic approach to significantly improve transit service across the city. A subway-or-nothing attitude will most likely yield nothing, and that isn’t much of an improvement.

    The biases in this study are obvious when the authors claim that BRT riders could achieve a similar riding experience as a subway, while ignoring the issue of greater capacity and lower operating costs per passenger that a subway affords.

    Are you discussing rider experience or are you discussing capacity and operating costs? They’re entirely different things.

    (If you want to say that the ride quality of a bus isn’t as good as the ride quality of a train, or that trains are faster and more reliable than buses even with the help of BRT, then you’re discussing rider experience. But for some reason that’s not what you brought up here.)

    If passenger volumes aren’t particularly high, operating costs for rail are not necessarily lower – and capital costs are almost invariably significantly higher.

    The development that is spurred by subway construction and the consequential economic effects are also ignored. This is similar to the MTA promoting Select Bus Service (SBS), a less sophisticated version of BRT, as a “subway on the surface,” which it is not.

    As far as I know, the MTA has not promoted SBS as a “subway on the surface.” NYCDOT has used the term “surface subway,” but I think the comment by Marty Barfowitz is on-target.

    Bloomberg uses the familiar “if you will build it they will come” quote, which he applies to the development of the Hudson Yards. So why wouldn’t the same philosophy hold true to stimulate economic development in Queens? There we have an abandoned rapid transit line since 1962, known as the Rockaway Beach Line (RBL), that is an eyesore and has been gathering weeds and debris for more than 50 years running through an area that is economically depressed.

    With tax increment financing, the increase in property taxes funds the infrastructure improvement. Since this area is already developed, TIF would require upzoning. Do you think the community would support that, and do you think the new tax revenues would really be enough to support a new line along the Rockaway Beach Branch alignment? I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but I suspect the answers are no and no.

    The line runs through Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills Gardens, and Rego Park – not what I’d describe as particularly economically depressed areas.

    Reactivation efforts during that time have failed; neither the city nor the MTA has pushed for it.

    Critics state that reactivation would cost too much. However, the most valuable resource, a continuous right of way, is not being taken advantage of. That makes it vastly cheaper to reconstruct than building a new underground subway. There have been attempts recently to convert that right of way to a park dubbed “Queensway,“ much like the High Line. I will not get into that debate here. Suffice it to say that three Queens Community Boards, Nos. 5, 10, and 14, as well as the NY Daily News now support RBL reactivation.

    I can’t speak for critics other than myself. Personally, I need to see more information before I can conceivably speak in favor. What sorts of trips would this service attract, and might they not be better served with buses on Woodhaven Boulevard than with trains several blocks to the east? If the new line attracts riders to the Queens Boulevard line, how do we keep them from riding the express, which is already carrying close-to-capacity loads with no room for expansion? And at the other end of the line, in the Rockaways, ridership at most of the subway stations is exceptionally low, so how can a major service increase be justified, especially given that, knowing what we now know about hurricanes, we probably don’t want to promote large-scale development in the Rockaways?

    Yes, it’s nice to have the ROW available, but many more questions need to be answered before any conclusions can be made.

    The study by the Pratt Center recommends four new BRT corridors and four new SBS corridors. (The difference is explained on Page 19.)

    No, the study by the Pratt Center has two tiers of recommendations. Nothing is being proposed for SBS as opposed to BRT.

    Zero negative impacts on traffic are projected because travel using these projected routes will be so quick that riders will leave their cars at home in favor of these new BRT and SBS routes. That claim is also unsubstantiated.

    I’m sorry, where do you see that claim?

    How can they make such outrageous claims?

    As far as I can tell, they don’t.

    They do that by using a few statistics gathered by the MTA such as: the Bx12 SBS corridor saw a 7 percent increase in ridership and a 20 percent travel time savings while the M15 saw a reduction in traffic congestion and similar ridership increases. They further state that wherever SBS has been installed, bus speeds have increased without an increase in traffic congestion. Then they apply those statistics across the entire city.

    Oh? Where do you see this?

    Now here is the other side of the story: The 34th Street SBS, as implemented, not as envisioned, resulted in increasing bus speeds a negligible one minute or two.

    Between 2008, when the bus lanes were installed, and 2012, running times on the M34 dropped by 23%, from 33 minutes to 25 minutes from river to river. When construction of the bus bulbs is completed, I expect that running times will improve a bit more.

    Staten Island riders did not leave their cars at home in favor of the S79, nor did M15 riders.

    It’s certainly not obvious to me that the S79 hasn’t attracted any trips that in the past would have been made by car. Do you have a source for this?

    Most M15 riders don’t own cars in the first place, to leave at home or otherwise.

    As the Pratt paper puts it: “Driving a car is not an option for many of the families now living in what were once auto-dependent outlying neighborhoods. At approximately $8,000 per year (the median cost of owning and operating a mid-priced car), the average cost of car ownership represents 20 to 25 percent of a moderate-income household’s income, compared to the $2,688 cost for unlimited transit use by two adults. Congestion throughout the city already consumes hundreds of hours of residents’ time each year; increased car traffic undermines community safety and quality of life, as well as adding to greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Some M15 riders in fact were former subway riders.

    Of course. And therefore…?

    Traffic congestion along Hylan Boulevard has greatly worsened, much to the ire of motorists.

    Oh? Do you have any proof that traffic congestion has “greatly worsened”?

    All I’ve seen is a steady flow of whining from self-entitled motorists who think that they should be granted freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want wherever they want. They are upset that a traffic law is actually being enforced. To add insult to injury, the people who benefit are bus riders, who many Staten Island motorists see as beneath them.

    Also, although First and Second Avenue traffic may not have worsened, no data was collected along adjacent avenues such as York, Third or Lexington Avenues to determine traffic effects there.

    Traffic volumes on First and Second Avenues remained steady. There was no diversion to other avenues. Whatever traffic changes may have taken place on those other avenues, they didn’t come about because of SBS.

    We do need more SBS and some BRT routes, but we need to consider all the options, not only the one we are promoting. This study promotes BRT along Woodhaven Boulevard for the simple reason that it is at least six lanes wide, and makes believe that the parallel abandoned RBL one half mile to the east does not exist. We cannot just assume no negative traffic impacts along Woodhaven if general traffic lanes are removed, as this study does just because First and Second Avenue traffic was not negatively impacted. I would not want doctors using that type of logic to perform surgery on me.

    This paper merely calls for further study of BRT, in particular on the eight proposed corridors. It doesn’t reach any conclusions. Would you not want doctors to be willing to study new approaches to solving old problems?

    Similarly, in proposing a BRT Line to JFK Airport (a worthwhile goal), they choose an infeasible route along the narrow portion of Linden Boulevard, ignoring the underutilized Bay Ridge Division of the LIRR, 1.5 miles to the south. Parking would have to be banned along the entire narrow portion of Linden Boulevard, which is a residential street, for a BRT line to possibly work without negatively affecting emergency vehicles. Otherwise, left turns would significantly delay all traffic, especially truck traffic, as Linden Boulevard is the only truck route across central Brooklyn.

    Even the “narrow” part of Linden Boulevard is plenty wide. I don’t see this as a show-stopper.

    In making this proposal, not only did no one even bother to check a Google map to learn that 39th Street between Third and Ninth avenues, where this line is proposed, is so narrow (only three lanes wide including only one lane of parking, not two) that not only could it not support a physically separated BRT lane, an exclusive SBS lane is also out of the question on that street.

    I’m impressed that you can make out exact streets on the map in the paper – I certainly can’t. But, quoting from the paper: “Between Bedford Avenue and Sunset Park, the east-west streets are narrower, but efficient connections to the Sunset Park waterfront appear to be possible.” If a small section of the route doesn’t have bus lanes, that’s not the end of the world.

    Similar problems exist along Junction Boulevard where the Woodhaven BRT is proposed.

    Again, so what?

    We need impartial studies like the one underway by Queens College investigating RBL reactivation, not bias ones like the one by the Pratt Center where only one side of the story is presented. We must not rule out real rapid transit expansion that developed the city and could revitalize parts of it today.

    I don’t see anything biased about this paper. It’s a call for further study of BRT along eight corridors. Nothing’s being implemented just yet – there isn’t anywhere near enough information.

    I have no objection to a study of the RBL either, but I get very nervous when people have already reached a conclusion.

    • Allan Rosen

      Sorry, but I’m not about to enter into another month long debate with you as you take apart and criticize every sentence I write. I’m tired of all your backtracking and talking out of all sides of your mouth as you twist and turn everything I say and putting words in my mouth accusing me of saying things I never said. We all know what your motive is by doing that. You want me to stop being a thorn in the side of Operations Planning by pointing out their lies and distortions in order to please your friends there. Sorry, you won’t succeed because I will continue to write this column.

      I am not going to reply to you point by point. I will only make a few comments.You say cut and cover causes extreme disruption for years. I suppose that’s why with the tunnel boring of the Second Avenue subway, no merchants were put out of business and no one has been complaining for years because construction was completed so quickly with so little disruption.

      I am saying that it was misleading to only speak of customer experience and neglecting to mention the advantages of a new subway line such as increased capacity, lower operating costs and the economic boost that is given to nearby properties, spurring development. Yes operating costs are not lower if the ridership is light. You wouldn’t build a subway in those instances anyway. But no one is disputing that a Nostrand Avenue or Utica Avenue extension wouldn’t be heavily utilized.

      You are so eager to criticize me that you didn’t even bother to read the Pratt Report and now you are asking me to point out where they said the things they did.

      Of course they recommend further analysis for the corridors they chose because they haven’t carried the analysis through the design phase. That, however, doesn’t stop them from projecting real time travel savings without any substantiation and definitely recommending eight specific corridors.

      They propose two tiers, full fledged BRT even where BRT would be impossible to achieve, and a second tier which would not have all the BRT features. That means they would be SBS or a BRT/SBS hybrid, so yes they are proposing SBS.

      The report certainly does reach conclusions when you say it doesn’t. They conclude: Build BRT and forget about subways. That is a conclusion.

      I also call your attention to the following parts of the report:. Appendix 1 on page 31 where they conclude BRT will not cause congestion anywhere because of the experience on First and Second Avenue. Totally irresponsible without further studies.

      I like the way you conclude there was no diversion of traffic to other avenues in Manhattan after the bus lanes were installed, without a shred of data to support that conclusion. Remember what burden of proof is? Then you say if traffic patterns were changed on adjacent streets, it was due to other factors, not SBS. Again, data please?

      The narrow part of Linden Blvd is not “plenty wide.” Installing exclusive lanes would mean an end to left turn lanes whereby any car wanting to make a left turn will delay all traffic behind. The only traffic that will be moving on that street will be buses. Are you proposing to ban all left turns for the entire several miles where Linden Blvd is narrow? Tractor trailers would have a great time trying to make three right turns instead of a left, not to mention all the extra traffic that would be created.

      You say you can’t tell which street is proposed in Sunset Park from looking at the map.The map shows the route hugging Greenwood Cemetery. The only two possibilities are 39th Street or 37/38 Street which has no intersecting Avenues for bus stops. 39th and 40th Streets are just as narrow as 39th Street. You say it isn’t the end of the world if a small section does not have exclusive lanes. 39th Street is not a small section and if the narrow portion of Linden also does not have bus lanes, we are talking about a significant portion of the route. (I don’t see them stating there may not be exclusive lanes on Linden.)

      Also, they show a picture of Linden with a rerouted B35 bus which does not use Linden Blvd. So what are they proposing? Eliminating half the service along Church Avenue (the Limited) and replacing it with SBS two blocks away where no bus route currently operates bypassing the Nostrand Avenue subway along a major truck route?

      The MTA would never go along with a layer of new service one block from an existing bus route. Who will pay for that? Service needs to be improved in the corridor by creating a new east/west Clarkson Avenue route to better serve the hospitals (not by a route two long blocks from the hospitals) by straightening existing routes and by extending the B35 to JFK via a Limited route which makes more sense than SBS here.

      You cannot have BRT on many of the streets where they are proposing it like on Junction Blvd.

      You say you get very nervous when people already reached a conclusion for RBL. I don’t know of anyone who has already reached that conclusion. All I heard was the need for a feasibility study which could include BRT along the right of way without inconveniencing other traffic as BRT along Woodhaven would do.

      I get nervous when a study automatically rules out all rapid transit expansion based on costs to build subways in Midtown Manhattan and promotes only BRT as the ultimate solution listing only the advantages and claiming there are zero negatives when there are plenty of negatives.

      • Allan Rosen

        Also, regarding drivers leaving their cars at home in favor of SBS, that claim is made in Appendix 1 under the question of BRT relieving congestion. They state by providing an SBS alternative, one bus can replace dozens of cars. that implies drivers will switch modes and that is unsubstantiated. It hasn’t happened thus far in NYC.

        • Andrew

          If you were expecting people to wake up in the morning, see a new SBS line, and sell their cars, I’m afraid that’s not the way it works. Mode shifts are gradual. If people find, over time, that they can get where they need to go quickly and easily by transit, they will increasingly use transit. If, on the other hand, they see that transit is only provided as an afterthought, with physical space devoted to transit only when there is no possible risk that doing so might possibly make driving even the slightest bit slower or more difficult, people will increasingly drive cars.

          Fortunately, our new DOT commissioner appears to be prepared to follow in her predecessor’s footsteps by considering the needs of all users of New York’s streets, not only the drivers. We already have the lowest car ownership rates in the nation, but lowering them further would be beneficial to transit riders and car owners alike.

          Faster, more reliable bus service is one important piece of the puzzle. The exact corridors are disputable but the basic observation really is not.

          • Allan Rosen

            No one said modal shifts would occur overnight. And a few SBS routes will make very little difference until other changes ate also made like adequately restructuring bus routes and reducing overcrowding during off-peak hours. No one is against more reliable, faster bus service that better serves the people.

            However, until the MTA decides to measure the difference in trip times, I will remain unconvinced that SBS is the great benefit that the MTA claims it is. Also since transferring is such a great part of most passengers trips, it is the entire trip that must be speeded up, not just the SBS portion, and that requires restructuring of the local bus network. At the rate the MTA is restructuring the local bus network, changes in modal shifts will not be noticeable for another 30 years. We must improve public transportation, but not at the expense of making trips noticeably slower for everyone else so that they start using mass transit not because it is faster than driving, but because driving has become so slow, that there is no other choice but to use mass transit that is just slightly faster and less expensive.

          • Andrew

            No one said modal shifts would occur overnight. And a few SBS routes will make very little difference until other changes ate also made like adequately restructuring bus routes and reducing overcrowding during off-peak hours. No one is against more reliable, faster bus service that better serves the people.

            On the contrary, pursuing improved speed and reliability on selected high-ridership corridors is a much better means of attracting ridership than tweaking the system of slow, lethargic bus lines that people only take when they have no other option.

            Frequencies are adjusted every two years on every bus route to reflect ridership changes.

            However, until the MTA decides to measure the difference in trip times, I will remain unconvinced that SBS is the great benefit that the MTA claims it is.

            You are entitled to believe what you wish to believe, even when the evidence all points the other way. SBS has attracted ridership everywhere that it had been implemented. (Or are the riders not allowed to determine for themselves how they can best get around the city?)

            Also since transferring is such a great part of most passengers trips, it is the entire trip that must be speeded up, not just the SBS portion, and that requires restructuring of the local bus network. At the rate the MTA is restructuring the local bus network, changes in modal shifts will not be noticeable for another 30 years. We must improve public transportation, but not at the expense of making trips noticeably slower for everyone else so that they start using mass transit not because it is faster than driving, but because driving has become so slow, that there is no other choice but to use mass transit that is just sli ghtly faster and less expensive.

            Keep it up with the conspiracy theories. They’re wonderfully entertaining. None of the bus lanes have, in fact, had the impacts on traffic that you’ve insisted they would have, but please don’t let that stop you.

          • Allan Rosen

            “None of the lanes have, in fact, had the impacts on traffic that you’ve insisted they would have.”

            Andrew you are wrong again. See this link, which you probably have already seen. And please don’t say that it is not the bus lanes that causes the congestion but lack of enforcement of parking in the curb lane, because enforcement is part of the bus lanes which was promised and apparently is not being done. The result is increased congestion, just as I predicted.

            http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140113/crown-heights/brooklyns-new-b44-express-bus-causes-traffic-nightmare-residents-say

          • Andrew

            I don’t see any actual quantification of impacts there. All I see is a bunch of motorists whining. And even they point out that parking enforcement would solve the problem!

      • Andrew

        Sorry, but I’m not about to enter into another month long debate with you as you take apart and criticize every sentence I write. I’m tired of all your backtracking and talking out of all sides of your mouth as you twist and turn everything I say and putting words in my mouth accusing me of saying things I never said.

        I’m sorry, but I don’t backtrack. On the contrary, I often find myself saying the same thing over and over and over again before you (maybe) notice what i’m saying. You do often, however, guess my positions and then act surprised when my stated positions disagree with your assumptions.

        If I’ve “accused” you of saying something, I can provide a quotation.

        We all know what your motive is by doing that. You want me to stop being a thorn in the side of Operations Planning by pointing out their lies and distortions in order to please your friends there. Sorry, you won’t succeed because I will continue to write this column.

        Don’t flatter yourself. If you stop writing the column, the planner community will lose a weekly source of entertainment.

        I am not going to reply to you point by point. I will only make a few comments.

        You are welcome to make whatever comments you like.

        You say cut and cover causes extreme disruption for years. I suppose that’s why with the tunnel boring of the Second Avenue subway, no merchants were put out of business and no one has been complaining for years because construction was completed so quickly with so little disruption.

        The SAS stations are being built with cut-and-cover, which explains the extreme surface disruptions near stations. Building a life entirely with cut-and-cover would cause much more disruption.

        Do you think this is politically viable in this day and age?

        I am saying that it was misleading to only speak of customer experience and neglecting to mention the advantages of a new subway line such as increased capacity, lower operating costs and the economic boost that is given to nearby properties, spurring development. Yes operating costs are not lower if the ridership is light. You wouldn’t build a subway in those instances anyway. But no one is disputing that a Nostrand Avenue or Utica Avenue extension wouldn’t be heavily utilized.

        Honest ridership projections need to be made. (I very much question, for instance, whether the Rockaway Beach line would have enough ridership to support heavy rail service.)

        Where ridership would be heavy, care needs to be taken to avoid overloading existing lines that are already operating at or close to maximum capacity. It would be a real shame, to say the least, to spend a small (or large) fortune to extend a line and bring better transit service to one group of people and in the process cut off a similar number of existing subway riders from the service they enjoy today because they can no longer fit on the trains.

        You are so eager to criticize me that you didn’t even bother to read the Pratt Report and now you are asking me to point out where they said the things they did.

        I read the report cover to cover. What do you claim I missed?

        Of course they recommend further analysis for the corridors they chose because they haven’t carried the analysis through the design phase. That, however, doesn’t stop them from projecting real time travel savings without any substantiation and definitely recommending eight specific corridors.

        I question the stated travel time savings as well, but there’s no indication what they’re even supposed to refer to or how they’re derived, so I’m not taking them very seriously.

        The report recommends eight corridors for further study. I don’t see the problem with that. Some of the eight will turn out infeasible or undesirable and will drop off; other corridors not listed may be considered in the future. Nothing here is set in stone.

        They propose two tiers, full fledged BRT even where BRT would be impossible to achieve, and a second tier which would not have all the BRT features. That means they would be SBS or a BRT/SBS hybrid, so yes they are proposing SBS.

        Select Bus Service is the NYC brand name for BRT. The Pratt report has picked up on ITDP’s standard for BRT, which the current SBS routes do not meet, and promotes it where feasible. (I, personally, have serious reservations with some of ITDP’s recommendations, in particular the recommendation for center-running buses, which as far as I can tell primarily serves to increase access time by requiring all bus riders to cross a busy street to get to and from the bus, regardless of where they’re coming from or going to.) But it’s presenting all eight proposed corridors as BRT, and I think it’s quite likely that all future BRT corridors will use the SBS name.

        The report certainly does reach conclusions when you say it doesn’t. They conclude: Build BRT and forget about subways. That is a conclusion.

        On the contrary, one of the core premises (not conclusions) of the report – see pages 10-11 – is that large-scale subway construction is not likely to happen . It proposes BRT as a less expensive means of meeting much of the need for transit. If the money to build and maintain eight new subway lines were to fall from heaven, I highly doubt the authors of the report would object, but in the real world, the funding just isn’t there.

        I also call your attention to the following parts of the report:. Appendix 1 on page 31 where they conclude BRT will not cause congestion anywhere because of the experience on First and Second Avenue. Totally irresponsible without further studies.

        It doesn’t say that at all! It states that transit improvements are generally beneficial to drivers, because transit improvements reduce the demand for driving. It doesn’t state that BRT can’t possibly cause congestion anywhere – that’s your own hyperbole.

        Every street layout modification is preceded by a traffic study.

        I like the way you conclude there was no diversion of traffic to other avenues in Manhattan after the bus lanes were installed, without a shred of data to support that conclusion. Remember what burden of proof is? Then you say if traffic patterns were changed on adjacent streets, it was due to other factors, not SBS. Again, data please?

        http://www.nyc.gov/html/brt/downloads/pdf/201111_1st2nd_progress_report.pdf – pages 19 (“Traffic flow was maintained despite the reduction of moving lanes along many stretches due to better traffic organization, including reducing illegal parking, and providing turn lanes in the bus and bike lane designs”) and 20 (tables 14 and 15).

        I’ve pointed you to this several times before and you’ve ignored it every time, so I don’t expect any different this time, but perhaps you’ll surprise me. Let’s just say that your simplistic understanding of traffic engineering is simply false.

        The narrow part of Linden Blvd is not “plenty wide.” Installing exclusive lanes would mean an end to left turn lanes whereby any car wanting to make a left turn will delay all traffic behind. The only traffic that will be moving on that street will be buses. Are you proposing to ban all left turns for the entire several miles where Linden Blvd is narrow? Tractor trailers would have a great time trying to make three right turns instead of a left, not to mention all the extra traffic that would be created.

        Didn’t you have that same fear about the south end of Nostrand Avenue? How has that turned out in practice?

        You say you can’t tell which street is proposed in Sunset Park from looking at the map.The map shows the route hugging Greenwood Cemetery. The only two possibilities are 39th Street or 37/38 Street which has no intersecting Avenues for bus stops. 39th and 40th Streets are just as narrow as 39th Street. You say it isn’t the end of the world if a small section does not have exclusive lanes. 39th Street is not a small section and if the narrow portion of Linden also does not have bus lanes, we are talking about a significant portion of the route. (I don’t see them stating there may not be exclusive lanes on Linden.)

        39th Street is a small section, and it’s near the end of the line. One of the advantages to BRT is that full BRT features don’t have to apply to every inch of the line – if the substandard segment is near the end, then it won’t affect most riders.

        The “narrow” portion of Linden is still quite wide.

        Also, they show a picture of Linden with a rerouted B35 bus which does not use Linden Blvd. So what are they proposing? Eliminating half the service along Church Avenue (the Limited) and replacing it with SBS two blocks away where no bus route currently operates bypassing the Nostrand Avenue subway along a major truck route?

        The B35 is currently diverted to Linden between Flatbush and Nostrand/New York. If this BRT corridor is implemented, I suspect it would replace the B35 Limited; running both, plus the B35 local, would spread the three services too thin. The desirability of maintaining the subway connection would have to be weighed against the desirability of having the service run straight along Linden.

        The MTA would never go along with a layer of new service one block from an existing bus route. Who will pay for that? Service needs to be improved in the corridor by creating a new east/west Clarkson Avenue route to better serve the hospitals (not by a route two long blocks from the hospitals) by straightening existing routes and by extending the B35 to JFK via a Limited route which makes more sense than SBS here.

        Maybe. Maybe not. The current routes are too slow to be of much use to a large segment of New Yorkers.

        You cannot have BRT on many of the streets where they are proposing it like on Junction Blvd.

        Again, that’s a relatively short segment at the end of the line. I’m skeptical that rolling the Q72 into this proposal makes sense, but I’m not ready to rule it out entirely.

        You say you get very nervous when people already reached a conclusion for RBL. I don’t know of anyone who has already reached that conclusion. All I heard was the need for a feasibility study which could include BRT along the right of way without inconveniencing other traffic as BRT along Woodhaven would do.

        There have been many Internet posters calling for its reactivation, period. I apologize if I incorrectly included you among them.

        It’s nice to see where your priorities lie. I’d ask, first and foremost, which is the more useful alignment for the riders. If the answer is Woodhaven, then I would strongly advocate for placing BRT on Woodhaven, which is extremely wide and has plenty of spare capacity most of the time. Motorists aren’t more important than transit riders, and transit riders shouldn’t have to walk an extra quarter mile to and from the bus in order to preserve a speedway for motorists.

        I get nervous when a study automatically rules out all rapid transit expansion based on costs to build subways in Midtown Manhattan and promotes only BRT as the ultimate solution listing only the advantages and claiming there are zero negatives when there are plenty of negatives.

        Nobody’s made that claim. Calm down.

        • Allan Rosen

          You have often backtracked and I have pointed that out numerous times. You have also often twisted my words or taken them out of context. You have also accused me of making statements I have never made.

          The study states BRT will reduce the demand for driving which has not been proven so the benefit to drivers is also in doubt. The inference indeed is that BRT does not increase congestion. You keep pointing out that traffic flow has been maintained, but that only refers to First and Second Avenue. It says nothing about adjacent streets. When I pointed out that traffic may have increased on adjacent avenues, you responded tat if that happened, it wasn’t as a result of SBS, but you have no proof of that. Anyway you can’t automatically apply that experience to other avenues where double parking is not a problem like on Woodhaven Blvd.

          In addition to the subway station, the commercial corridor is along Church. I can’t see moving the route. You can’t compare Linden to the southern portion of Nostrand. I haven’t checked it out yet to see the impact first hand. The Junction Blvd segments not short. There is no spare capacity on Woodhaven during peak hours which is why left turns are banned for long stretches of the road because all lanes are needed. During the off-peak SBS would not operate any quicker or at most 5 minutes quicker than existing service. The RBL on the other hand can speed up trips considerably at all times as well as drive new development and revitalize the Rockaways and other areas near its path. No one woud have to walk an extra quarter mile. You don’t believe anyone currently lives near the RBL who would save that quarter mile? Most of Woodhaven is residential and isn’t exactly lined with high rises but with one and two family houses.

          The Pratt Study indeed ruled out rapid transit expansion and promoted only BRT. In fact they interpreted transit driven development which is good for Manhattan as bad for other areas, stating BRT has the advantages of not causing gentrification. If that isn’t biased, I don’t know what is. They clearly only considered the positives of BRT and the negatives of rapid transit expansion. That is not a fair study.

          • Andrew

            You have often backtracked and I have pointed that out numerous times. You have also often twisted my words or taken them out of context. You have also accused me of making statements I have never made.

            Actually, I don’t backtrack. You’ve often either misunderstood my position or simply assumed it, and have therefore been surprised when I state what my actual position is. When I change my mind, I make it very clear that I have changed my mind.

            I have often provided you with links to your own statements of what you deny having said.

            The study states BRT will reduce the demand for driving which has not been proven so the benefit to drivers is also in doubt. The inference indeed is that BRT does not increase congestion. You keep pointing out that traffic flow has been maintained, but that only refers to First and Second Avenue. It says nothing about adjacent streets. When I pointed out that traffic may have increased on adjacent avenues, you responded tat if that happened, it wasn’t as a result of SBS, but you have no proof of that. Anyway you can’t automatically apply that experience to other avenues where double parking is not a problem like on Woodhaven Blvd.

            If traffic flow on a street has been maintained, that means, by definition, that traffic hasn’t been diverted from that street to another street. First and Second Avenues carried after SBS as much traffic as they carried before SBS.

            The Pratt report makes the general observation that improved transit often leads to reduced traffic congestion. It nowhere makes the preposterous claim that a bus lane cannot possibly cause congestion for cars. That’s downright absurd.

            In addition to the subway station, the commercial corridor is along Church. I can’t see moving the route. You can’t compare Linden to the southern portion of Nostrand. I haven’t checked it out yet to see the impact first hand. The Junction Blvd segments not short. There is no spare capacity on Woodhaven during peak hours which is why left turns are banned for long stretches of the road because all lanes are needed. During the off-peak SBS would not operate any quicker or at most 5 minutes quicker than existing service. The RBL on the other hand can speed up trips considerably at all times as well as drive new development and revitalize the Rockaways and other areas near its path. No one woud have to walk an extra quarter mile. You don’t believe anyone currently lives near the RBL who would save that quarter mile? Most of Woodhaven is residential and isn’t exactly lined with high rises but with one and two family houses.

            Drive new development? Has the local community signed off on an upzoning?
            If the RBL is the better alignment, I have no objection to running buses there (although the opportunity cost of losing potential parkland needs to be considered as well). But if Woodhaven is the better alignment, then buses should run on Woodhaven.

            The Pratt Study indeed ruled out rapid transit expansion and promoted only BRT. In fact they interpreted transit driven development which is good for Manhattan as bad for other areas, stating BRT has the advantages of not causing gentrification. If that isn’t biased, I don’t know what is. They clearly only considered the positives of BRT and the negatives of rapid transit expansion. That is not a fair study.

            Nonsense. The Pratt report states, as a premise, that new subway lines in these areas are unlikely to be built, due to the extremely high cost of construction. It nowhere states that new subway lines should not be built; rather, it is advocating an approach for transit expansion in the likely event that new subway lines are not built.

            I have no idea where you are seeing the distinction you claim between Manhattan and the other boroughs. Do you have a quotation?