Archive for the tag ‘b44’

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round... Source: Lempkin / Flickr

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round… Source: Lempkin / Flickr

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.

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B44 Select Bus Service

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.

Source: bebo2good1 / YouTube

Source: bebo2good1 / YouTube

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.

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Traffic. Ugh. Source: Samuel Leo / Flickr

Traffic. Ugh. Source: Samuel Leo / Flickr

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.

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THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, we discussed why it is too late to change the proposed B44 Select Bus Service (SBS). In Part 2, we discussed why the B44 SBS is different from the other SBS routes. In this final part we will answer the question posed above. It is not such a simple question to find an answer for.

If you go to the MTA home page on the weekend, you first have to find and click on the “MTA Home” tab. It is in small print in the upper right hand corner in dark grey on a black background and not very obvious. During the rest of the week this step is not necessary. Next, you must click on the tab “MTA Info” in the top center. Then you click on “Planning Studies” on the left side of the page. Following that, you click on “Select Bus Service.” Then, on “Current and Planned SBS Routes.” And finally, on “Nostrand Ave SBS.” That’s six transfers. Couldn’t the MTA have made finding information about SBS on the web a bit easier instead of it being so cryptic?
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Construction crews were on Emmons Avenue and Nostrand Avenue today, beginning the installation process of sidewalk bulbs – or bulges that stick out into the parking lane – and payment machines. The work is being done to prepare the B44 route for Select Bus Service (SBS), which features off-board fare collection at nearby payment machines, and dedicated bus lanes on certain parts of the strip.

Community Board 15 has expressed opposition to SBS along Nostrand Avenue, saying that the parking spaces it will cause to be eliminated are more valuable than the few minutes the MTA says riders will save over current B44 service.

A contractor on-scene said work at each stop takes just a couple of days. They will be working their way up the line over the next few weeks.

THE COMMUTE: (Here is Part 1 from last week). The B44 is different from other Select Bus Service (SBS) routes because the SBS will not take the same route as the local. It will utilize Rogers Avenue northbound instead of New York Avenue, making it more difficult to access Kings County Hospital. It will also provide a glut of northbound bus service on Rogers Avenue while cutting New York Avenue service by 50 percent.

Another difference is that it will not use all articulated buses as the M15 and Bx12 do, or all standard length buses as the S79 and S78 do. The B44 SBS will use the longer articulated buses, but the locals will continue to use the standard length buses, as last proposed. Wouldn’t that mean there should be more locals than SBS buses on the B44? The MTA does not think so.

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THE COMMUTE: According to Theresa Scavo, chairperson of Community Board 15, the MTA stated that it is now too late to request additional stops to the B44 Select Bus Service (SBS) because maps have already been printed. She made that announcement at this month’s Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) meeting. She also stated that the board is still fighting the reduction in available parking spaces. However, that is the least of the problems this route will cause.

If it is too late to add an SBS stop at Avenue R, a likely assumption would be that it is also too late to change the route as I recommended back in 2011. I suggested that the southern portion of the B44 SBS terminate off-route at the Sheepshead Bay station instead of at Knapp Street and Voorhies Avenue, using Avenue Z to get to the station supplementing B36 service.

Whether you agree with me or not is not really important now. What is important is that I received assurances from the MTA Project Director Ted Orosz at the last B44 SBS Workshop that he would investigate my suggestion and get back to me in three months. He also stated that if they agreed that it was feasible to do, and it was something the community wanted, they would change their plans. He never investigated it, nor got back to me as promised.

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MTA New York City Transit employees load subway cars onto flatbed trucks for transportation to the Rockaway Peninsula. Source: MTAPhotos / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, I discussed the various Select Bus Service corridors presently in operation and how their success or lack thereof has not been adequately measured. In Part 2, I mentioned one corridor — Flatlands Avenue / Avenue P — that has not been selected where I believe there is significant potential for it to work well. I also discussed other corridors where it will just be a poor substitute for needed rail lines.

This is not a series against SBS. It works on Fordham Road, may work on Hylan Boulevard after it is fully implemented, and would work, if implemented where it is needed, on Flatlands Avenue. In Manhattan, the reaction has been mixed. It will not work well when not implemented in conjunction with necessary local bus reroutings. In the Nostrand Avenue corridor, the B44 SBS will result in a glut of unnecessary bus service on Rogers Avenue.

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Democracy was in action at Sheepshead Bites’ Transit Town Hall last year, where the B4 and SBS were discussed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen every day. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, I discussed what is wrong with Select Bus Service (SBS). Other than the case of Merrick Boulevard in Queens where it was defeated, SBS is being forced down our throats, whether we want it or not. As I stated last week, SBS has its place as part of a total transportation strategy, which includes the construction of new rapid transit lines and restructuring the bus system to make it more effective, neither of which the MTA is doing.

Restoring a few bus lines, adding a few new ones, and creating some SBS corridors is not a transportation strategy for future generations, nor does the overly expensive and prolonged construction of East Side Access and Fulton Transit Center — which will benefit a very small percentage of city residents and even fewer Brooklynites — encompass all needs. The MTA has stated in the past that until those projects and the Second Avenue Subway are completed, there will be no other major mass transit capital expenditures for system expansion. In other words, no new mass transit lines anywhere.

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