Photo: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has asked the federal DOT to help bring Bus Rapid Transit to Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards. File Photo.
If recent statements are any indication, the push to bring Bus Rapid Transit to the Cross Bay-Woodhaven Corridor seems to be gaining momentum.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and the Borough Board this week included the mass-transit project among its recommendations for adopted budget priorities that were submitted to the mayor and City Council.
And last Thursday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for up to $100 million in federal funding to help bring Bus Rapid Transit to Woodhaven Boulevard.
Known in New York as Select Bus Service, BRT has been billed by the city Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a cost-effective approach to transit service that cities use to make riding the bus more like a subway. BRT aims to improve speed, reliability, and passenger comfort and convenience. The DOT and MTA have implemented BRT routes throughout the city since 2008.
Schumer said that, in addition to improving bus service and dependability, the Woodhaven project would make the corridor safer for commuters from the Rockways to Howard Beach, and to Woodhaven and Woodside, noting that these neighborhoods have long suffered from a lack of adequate subway service.
“Of the more than 400,000 people living within a half-mile of the [Woodhaven BRT] project corridor, 60 percent of workers commute to work using public transit and 40 percent of the households do not have access to a vehicle,” Schumer said. “Every day, more than 31,000 people ride the bus along the corridor; however, their trips are often slow and challenging due to congestion and the lack of dedicated transit facilitates on the street. Additionally, the layout of the street makes the current system unsafe for pedestrians. Between 2008 and 2012 alone, there were over 3,000 injuries and 17 fatalities, 13 of which were pedestrians.”
In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Schumer urged the U.S. DOT to accept the Woodhaven project into the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, making it eligible for 50-percent federal funding. The city DOT has already applied to the program, with Schumer supporting the application. The Woodhaven BRT price tag is estimated to be in the $200 million range.
“The planned project will be New York City’s most ambitious SBS route to date,” Schumer said. “While final design has not yet been completed, the project is likely to include dedicated bus lanes, high-quality median bus stations, off-board fare collection, and pedestrian safety improvements, and will dramatically improve transit service along the corridor and quality of life of the nearby neighborhoods. The service will also provide an important connection to the Rockaways, which…have limited transit options.”
While final design has not yet been completed, the project is likely to include dedicated bus lanes, high-quality median bus stations, off-board fare collection, and pedestrian safety improvements.
Schumer added that the “Bus Rapid Transit plan can turn this corridor from a transportation desert to a transportation oasis for tens of thousands of Queens residents, and also be a boon for local property value and area businesses.”
By Michael V. Cusenza firstname.lastname@example.org