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 Limited stops at Avenues L, R, S, V, W, Y and Z are no longer in effect since the Limited has been discontinued, so do not wait for one.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.

Photo by Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

Photo by Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

Photo by Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

Photo by Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

Also, there is an exclusive bus lane south of Avenue X, in which you are only allowed to enter or cross to make the next available right turn or to park your car curbside or in a driveway. The lane is in effect only during the morning peak going northbound or evening peak going southbound.

I think the note about right turns is in too small a font to be easily read by a moving car.

I have written about SBS numerous times, so you already know my views on it. This morning was the first time it has been in effect for the rush hour and, of course, it is too early to write about how it fared. But now that the schedules have finally been made available, I can tell you a few things the MTA did not reveal during its five years and 40 meetings with communities and business groups.

  1. Although the route is still called the B44, it is essentially no longer a single route for most of the day. Except when the SBS is not running — which is only during late night hours — all local (non-SBS) service from Knapp Street will terminate at Flushing Avenue, not Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, requiring a change of buses for Williamsburg passengers getting on or off at local stops south of Avenue U.
  2. Prior to SBS, only Limited buses operated south of Avenue U, but they made all local stops from that point south. You had to change for a local if you wanted local stops north of Avenue U or walk a little extra to a Limited stop, and there was through service to Williamsburg Bridge Plaza. Now, if you board an SBS north of Avenue U, you must change to a local for local stops south of Avenue U. Knapp Street passengers no longer have to change buses at Avenue U for local stops north of that point.
  3. SBS stops are spaced much further apart than Limited stops, so walking to an SBS stop is not always an option. You may now be stuck waiting for a local.
  4. You don’t have to worry about hipsters invading Emmons Avenue restaurants. Williamsburg residents will now have to change buses at Avenue U since all buses departing Williamsburg Plaza (except during late night) will terminate there. The time saved by using the SBS over the Limited will be exchanged for an extra bus transfer.
  5. Interesting, because one of the selling points of SBS was that passengers traveling from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg, as few as that number may be, will be able to save 15 minutes, while the typical passenger saves only six. Now, with the schedules available, we learn that such a trip is not even possible on a single bus.
  6. If your trip includes a bus other than the B44, you may now have to pay double fare to use the SBS if you require three buses, unless you transfer from one SBS bus to another.
  7. B36 riders should transfer at Avenue U or X instead of Z to take advantage of the SBS.
  8. The real losers are those boarding and transferring at eliminated Limited stops, forcing those passengers to now use the local instead, thus slowing their trip.
  9. Williamsburg riders also lose big by losing all local service north of Flushing Avenue. There will only be SBS stops every six or seven city blocks north of that point.
  10. Users of Kings County Hospital and all riders needing service along New York Avenue are also losers.
  11. Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on weekdays, there will be twice as many SBS buses leaving Knapp Street than there will be locals. So unless you want to wait between 12 to 20 minutes for a local, you would be better off walking the extra blocks to the closest SBS stop.
  12. Sunday service at local stops from Knapp Street will be cut 50 percent, from every 10 minutes to every 20 minutes. Locals will operate every 15 minutes but buses will not be evenly spaced. Although buses will be spaced at an average of every 8.5 minutes instead of every 10 minutes, you may actually have to wait longer if you are able to use either the SBS or the local. Here are the new schedules for the SBS and the local.

My Prediction

Within one or two years, the MTA will propose rerouting the B44 local from New York Avenue to Rogers Avenue after declaring what a huge success SBS has been. They will cite poor patronage on the local, which will be partially due to the service reduction on New York Avenue.

A while later or at the same time, they will seek to truncate the B49 from Fulton Street to Foster Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, stating that the route is duplicated by the B44 and is no longer necessary. They will tell you the change will provide a more efficient service, so they can rededicate resources to where they are needed the most. This will probably be in one of the trendier neighborhoods in the borough.

Such a change will make bus travel even more difficult, by increasing the number of transfers and fares required and encouraging additional riders to make more indirect trips using the subway lengthening travel time for the passenger. However, it will mean lower operating costs for the MTA, which is their only goal. They have no desire to improve system connectivity and increase travel options for passengers.


No one should have to pay an extra fare due to a service change, which had been transit policy for more than 70 years until a few years ago when the MTA quietly changed it when making the 2010 service cutbacks. SBS requires many former Limited passengers, who require a transfer to either use the slower local or pay an additional fare to use SBS if their Limited stop was not converted to an SBS stop.

You can read the Daily News for MTA propaganda, which calls the SBS “magic buses” and only shows the benefits of SBS, or you can learn the real story on Sheepshead Bites. Mr. Orosz’s comment “that bus riders can spend as much as 25 percent of their ride time waiting for passengers to get on and off the bus” is really disingenuous, since it implies a much greater time savings than actually will occur. (They are predicting a 20 percent travel time-savings.) Buses will still have to stop for passengers to get on and off, and will still have to deal with traffic and traffic signals. The wait for a bus will not disappear, and in some cases will increase, as will the walking distance to and from the bus. The maximum projected time-savings would be 15 minutes if SBS buses traveled the entire length of the route, which we now learn they will not do. Williamsburg SBS buses will terminate at Avenue U and Flushing Avenue buses will go to Knapp Street. The average savings for the typical passenger is only six minutes, which may or may not include the extra walking distance to SBS stops.

You cannot trust an agency, which reveals only benefits, does not reply to community concerns, and delays publishing schedules until the very last minute. This prevents riders from seeing the true effects of the changes beforehand. There will be more MTA deception next week when we discuss the latest Customer Satisfaction Surveys for 2013.

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.

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  • MyBrooklyn


    Allan…does a bus driver has power to take pictures of license plates or scam

    camera that was place there has away to automatically take pictures in

    order to increase someone’s bank account dollar amount. Unbelievable crooks
    will get free pass and regular people constantly put under pressure to pay up
    for someone greedy idea

    • Allan Rosen

      I do not know how the cameras work or if the driver has any control over them. But I have read that they are video cameras and that the footage will be reviewed before any summonses are issued. Otherwise, someone merely stopping briefly in the bus only lane to legally park or someone crossing the lane to leave a legal parking space could be issued a summons if they relied on still pictures.

      • ShadowLock

        i believe that’s how it works. you nailed it .

      • MyBrooklyn

        Thanks for your reply. I hope these savages
        review digital footage before issuing any summonses to people….

  • Bedstuy

    The B44 SBS needs more stops to accommodate the old B44 Limited bus riders. The MTA is forcing many people to downgrade to a slower local service. SBS should have at least half the number of the old Limited stops. Think they will ever add stops?

    • Allan Rosen

      Yes, if enough people complain.

      Attend Congressman’s Jumanne Williams press conference tomorrow at 7AM to get the Avenue L stop restored. For details see link below”

      • Neighbor11229

        How About Avenue R? there are 2 bus routes on Ave R that people change the buses to and from.

        • sonicboy678

          That bus stop should also be restored; however, knowing the MTA, we’ll probably hear “Kings Highway”…like Kings Highway justifies anything.

        • Allan Rosen

          I wrote numerous times and also told CB 15 like six months ago if they wanted Ave R as an SBS stop, they will have to speak up. They didn’t or the MTA didn’t listen if they did say something.

          • bedstuy

            I was told the MTA did “extensive surveys” to determine which stops to keep for SBS.. I never heard of any surveys.. and most people who ride the 44 were in utter shock on sunday as if they had no idea it was ever planned at all.. MTA is out of touch with its common riders.

          • Ned Berke

            I don’t know about the surveys, but I don’t know if I can blame MTA for the “utter shock.” In the past two weeks, the launch of B44 SBS was in every media outlet I tuned into. WNYC even had a whole segment to it. I saw posts in every major blog and just about every major media outlet (didn’t see anything in the Times). Not to mention that we’ve been writing about it for two or three years now. The stops themselves have been under construction for about a year, and I believe posters were put up.

            Other than hire people to stand at each stop all day and stop every rider and speak personally to them, which is logistically and economically unreasonable, what more can they do? (Well, they should have taken out local advertising too, and I don’t just say that as a potential benefactor – it’s important to maintain presence. But, still.)

          • Kriston Lewis

            There were certain aspects of it that were not as publicized (and I say this as someone who largely supports the idea). The move to Rogers Avenue, the removal of certain stops, and the discontinuation of daytime local service in Williamsburg were not mentioned as much as the benefits of shorter trip times, and off-board fare collection. I’d say both rider ignorance and the MTA share a bit of the blame for this.

          • Allan Rosen

            I agree that no matter what the MTA would have done, there would have been confusion. But they could have done better. There should have been posters in every bus which I assumed would have been done two weeks before. I heard all they did was audio announcements announcing the start. Yes there were more than enough community meetings and with businesses. But most people do not attend meetings. Also many are not daily riders who would have ridden the bus in the two weeks prior. Many still do not know about it. TV media coverage was very superficial like ten seconds on Channel 2. It’s easy to miss that. More needed to be done on the bus during the past month without revealing some details only two days before like no through buses from one end of the route to the other which you only found out by reading the schedules.

      • bedstuy

        I can’t make the meeting, but I hope that someone else who represents my discouragement can!

  • sonicboy678

    I tried the B44 SBS this afternoon. The most the SBS conversion did was force the bus lane issue, forcing drivers into one lane. That said, the perceived boost in service it’s supposed to provide is the same as the fruit flavoring in most candies.

    • MTAisaripoff

      That’s probably all this really is. Remove a car lane from Nostrand Avenue and tax drivers. Drivers badddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd!

      • sonicboy678

        What tax, the $150 fine for illegal use of the bus lane? I know it takes up a lot of space, but come on.

        • MTAisaripoff

          There was no bus lane before last week. So don’t pull that illegal stuff. It should not be illegal to drive in a lane that was designed for cars and buses long ago. Rush hour has heavy traffic and one lane is not good enough.

          • sonicboy678

            It existed for a while, but only began being used solely for buses recently. Or did you fail to notice how they dug up the road, replaced it, and painted part of it red?

            The reason it’s illegal to drive in a lane designated specifically for buses is because that lane is there to help speed up bus service. If you’re not shifting to/from the parking lane next to the bus lane, making a right turn, or an authorized vehicle, expect to be fined. Hey, if you’re angry about it, that’s fine, but make sure you can at least substantiate your arguments.

          • Allan Rosen

            Some parking regulations were changed near Eastern Parkway to allow two lanes for cars, but was it enough? I think they need to remove more parking on neighborhood avenues because of the diverted traffic.

  • MTAisaripoff

    This entire route should not exist. The MTA should be forced to complete the 2/5 line down Nostrand Avenue lo Voorhies Avenue like they promised to have completed by 1993. Charging drivers during rush hour on a busy street is an outrage.The MTA is not royalty and should not have it’s own lane unless one is built. You do not take a car lane away from a busy street. This should be halted immediately, taken to court and these crooks all thrown into jail. Nostrand Avenue should have it’s subway line completed. People have a right to drive and the MTA is not entitled to take away a lane and fine innocent drivers who have to get to and from work and school. Take them to court people. Sue the hell out of them.

    • sonicboy678

      I don’t understand what you want: the MTA to find money it doesn’t currently have to pay for something that might not even be worked on until at least 2030 or to kill the MTA. Either way, it sounds like it’s merely emotions talking and not logical reasoning based on evidence/actual testimony.

      • Kriston Lewis

        Shut up. Nobody wants to hear your “logic” or “reasoning”. Populist rage solves everything. /sarcasm

  • Brian Black

    Thank you for an excellent analysis. Do you think they will keep the inspectors after a month or two? (I’ve taken the M34 SBS on 34th St. for example and haven’t seen an inspector in the last year.) This route could end up like the unmanned end of a subway station.

    • sonicboy678

      Probably not. I remember taking the Bx12 SBS from Co-op City over to 10th Avenue. I saw a bunch of passengers (something I have NOT seen on this morning’s B44 SBS ride, though there were many getting off at Flatbush Avenue) but no inspectors. In fact, on this morning’s ride, I saw NO inspectors whatsoever.

    • Allan Rosen

      My friend saw an inspector a few weeks ago on the M34. They will probably reduce the inspectors after few months, then being them back when fare evasion rates start rising.

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  • sad bout` R

    I think the next sbs sould be b5 select bus service because on weekends and late night nights because us R rider’s are saided at that time and it should run 24/7

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