Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
Select Bus Service features include kiosks, like these at Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue, where customers can pay for their ride prior to boarding the bus.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The groans and profanity-laced tirades were muffled only by the steady, piercing wail of car horns.
Rush hour in Midtown Manhattan?
Welcome to Select Bus Service along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards.
The City Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week launched the operation of Q52/Q53 SBS, the fifteenth SBS route, and at about 15 miles in length, the longest corridor to feature the service.
According to the administration, the latest SBS route covers a 14.7-mile corridor that serves more than 30,000 daily bus riders, with connections to eight subway lines and more than 20 additional bus routes in the borough communities of Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Rockaway Park, Arverne, Elmhurst, Rego Park, and Middle Village. The Q52 and Q53 have a combined daily ridership of 20,000 commuters, but altogether, more than 45,000 daily riders of World’s Borough bus routes, including express bus passengers, will benefit from improvements along Woodhaven and Cross Bay, the City said.
According to DOT, the Woodhaven-Cross Bay SBS route features:
Safety Improvements: The corridor contains eight Vision Zero Priority intersections, including at Woodhaven Boulevard-Union Turnpike, which were all redesigned as part of the arrival of the service. Altogether, more than 30 intersections are being upgraded and improved for pedestrian safety and/or traffic flow as part of DOT’s largest safety project in 2017. The City noted that the Q52/53 SBS service brings new red-paved bus lanes, real-time bus information, improved pedestrian safety elements and other enhancements, including new median bus stops along 1.3 miles of the boulevards now with service roads. A portion of the corridor was resurfaced this past year in advance of the improvements.
Bus-Lane Enforcement: Automated camera enforcement will be in effect, and motorists driving in the new red bus lanes along the Q52/Q53 route will be issued mailed warnings starting Sunday Nov. 19. The warning period extends 60 days, after which violations replace warnings. Bus lanes will be in effect curbside in residential areas from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and curbside along Cross Bay Boulevard from 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Bus lanes offset from parking lane or in the main road will be in effect 24 hours, seven days a week, and curbside parking will be preserved.
Transit Signal Priority: The new SBS route includes Transit Signal Priority, a technology that is used to speed buses, hold green lights for buses and more quickly turn red lights green. Currently active along five other SBS bus routes, TSP has reduced bus travel times by an average of 18 percent.
However, most, if not all, communities that would be directly impacted by the new SBS route were vehemently opposed to the plan. And, according to a Tuesday CBS New York report, their worries have apparently come to fruition. Some drivers said “their rush hour commutes have nearly doubled since the change…and there are people who say it has added an hour to their commute.”
“The Queens Public Transit Committee warned us!” QPTC Chairman Phil McManus told The Forum on Tuesday. “It divides commuters and increases gridlock, tickets, and accidents across the borough. A more fair city? A tale of two cities? It’s Select BS! This will be a total disaster for our city and it will separate us and cost more to travel, live, and work in the outer boroughs.”