THE COMMUTE: This week we are taking another look at the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). On Monday we discussed major problems thus far: confusion, not enough SBS stops, and inadequate service on New York Avenue. We discussed actions taken by some local elected officials. Yesterday we shared some rider and operator reviews gathered from an email, the media, and transit discussion groups on the internet. Today we will share a few more reviews and draw some conclusions.
Archive for the tag 'b44'
THE COMMUTE: Yesterday, in Part 1, we provided some media coverage from NewsChannel 12 and NY 1 showing rider frustrations with the new B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). That is not to say that everyone is unhappy about it. As I predicted, those traveling long distances who can make use of the SBS stops will save time and be pleased. You can never please everybody. The question remains: Will more riders be helped or hurt by this new service?
THE COMMUTE: Select Bus Service (SBS) on the first route in Brooklyn, the B44, is now one week old. I have not yet had a chance to observe or ride the SBS or the B44 local, so at this time I can only offer second-hand information.
As to be expected, there was much confusion resulting from the elimination of the Limited service, which has been replaced with SBS; removal of some Limited stops, which became local stops only, and the rerouting of half of the buses from New York Avenue to Rogers Avenue. Bus riders were informed of the start date through automated announcements on the buses during the week prior to implementation. Not enough information was given to avoid confusion.
THE COMMUTE: After two years of delay, and five years of planning, the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) finally made its debut yesterday along Nostrand Avenue. Limited stops at Avenues L, R, S, V, W, Y and Z are no longer in effect since the Limited has been discontinued, so do not wait for one. You now either have to take the local or walk to the closest SBS stop.
THE COMMUTE: I thank Dr. John Rozankowski for filling in for me last week as I enjoyed a week away from New York City and the internet in the Adirondacks. I was limited to the television for accessing the news, most of which was the usual local variety featuring the latest fires and murders. However, there was one story which interested me — Albany’s version of our Select Bus Service or Bus Rapid Transit, which they call Bus Plus. There is currently one Bus Plus route in service with plans for three more. I will explain later why we should care about this and how it affects you.
Select Bus Service payment machines have started popping up on Nostrand Avenue, Emmons Avenue and Knapp Street ahead of the kickoff for new express service that will replace the B44 Limited.
The machines are a key feature to the new service, allowing for off-board fare collection that MTA officials say save time on the bus. Riders are expected to pay their fares at the machine before boarding, and are given a receipt. The system is largely an honor system, with occasional inspectors serving hefty fines to fare dodgers if caught.
The new service will replace the B44 Limited, offering service from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg via Nostrand Avenue and Rogers Avenue. The buses are extra long, and will have separate bus stops from the existing B44 stops, as well as dedicated bus lanes for a portion of the route (in Sheepshead Bay, there will be a dedicated bus lane south of Avenue X). The stops will have sidewalk bulbs to allow for safer boarding.
Much like the B44, the new B44 SBS will make a loop from Nostrand to Shore Parkway to Knapp to Emmons and back as its southern terminus.
According to the MTA, as reported by Streetsblog, the service is set to begin on November 17. The MTA is eyeing a second route in the area, running from Bay Ridge to East New York, via an avenue in Homecrest.
THE COMMUTE: Last week, we discussed the MTA’s recent attempts to fix problems with the local bus system such as newly-designed routes that suffer from the same problems plaguing the rest of the system. An example is the B67 extension to the Navy Yard, which is circuitous and not conducive to transferring to other bus routes since it terminates short of Williamsburg Bridge Plaza. It misses vital bus connections and operates with extremely poor headways of 30 minutes. Yet, the MTA visualizes routes such as this as a partial solution to fixing gaps in the routing structure.
Soon hipsters in Williamsburg will be able to scout out Sheepshead Bay for cheaper rents and Russian beers as the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) finally begins express service next month. NY1 is reporting that the new B44 line will represent the MTA’s sixth SBS, bridging the gap between parts of Brooklyn that are notoriously hard to reach by regular transportation options.
Sheepshead Bites’ Allan Rosen extensively covered the in’s and out’s of the B44 SBS line in a three part series, ultimately arguing that the MTA’s planning process, which includes the construction of bus bulbs that will make the streets narrower, will increase traffic. A local man questioned by NY1 agreed.
“Definitely too narrow. Maybe somewhere like Harlem, somewhere in Manhattan where, you know, the streets are a lot wider,” a passerby said.
While noting that the project has been delayed, NY1 described the MTA’s thinking when it came to implementing the new service, which rolls out next month:
The other Select Bus Service lines in the city have been praised for making buses move a little faster, but the process of getting this particular line off the ground has been anything but fast. The Nostrand/Rogers route was first selected for SBS service back in 2008.
Close to 40,000 riders used the B44 on weekdays last year, making it one of the city’s busiest bus lines. So the DOT and the MTA are applying a formula that they say has worked by cutting travel times along routes in Manhattan and the Bronx by up to 20 percent.
That’s the hope along the 9.3-mile bus route, which stretches from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg.
“People have to get down to Williamsburg Plaza, which is way away from here,” said one person. “It will be great to be able to just fly there.”
While some might be annoyed at the (unlikely) possibility of hipsters flooding Sheepshead Bay, the concerns locally have been about lost parking spaces to the larger bus stops. We’ll keep an eye out to see how it’s affecting local businesses and motorists.
THE COMMUTE: Last August, I critiqued the 23-page MTA planning outline, entitled “Looking Ahead.” Last week, the MTA released the full report — a 142-page “MTA Twenty-Year Capital Needs Assessment 2015-2034.” Most of my previous comments still apply. I will try not to repeat myself. Rather than summarize this document or critique it as others have already done, here and here, I will just mention where this ‘Needs Assessment’ is deficient.
THE COMMUTE: My article about traffic congestion last week sparked a lot of criticism, specifically on SubChat, from those accusing me of being an automobile lover and bicycle hater. Of course, those advocating that we dedicate more street space to bicycles and pedestrians, and who do everything possible to discourage automobile use, misinterpreted my comments.