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Select Bus Service Debuts on the B44 in Brooklyn

B44 SBS stop at Nostrand and Church Aves.
B44 SBS stop at Nostrand and Church Aves.

Brooklyn has a new Select Bus Service route -- the B44. MTA New York City Transit, together with the NYC Department of Transportation launched the service, the city’s sixth Select Bus route, along Nostrand, Rogers and Bedford Avenues.

The route, which serves 40,000 daily passengers along a 9.3-mile stretch, runs along one of Brooklyn’s main north-south corridors, and is the first Select Bus Service route in the borough. Select Bus Service along this busy line incorporates bus lanes and improved “bus bulb” sidewalk extensions with on-street fare collection machines that allow passengers to pay before they board and transit signal priority to reduce travel times. There will also be improved passenger information with new wayfinding panels displaying real time bus arrival information and neighborhood maps.

In addition, the City and MTA announced installation of neighborhood map posters inside subway stations, unifying the area maps placed near customer service booths with the wayfinding maps now used on city streets. The City also released a report documenting the success of the first five Select Bus Service routes, which have increased ridership by 10 percent and sped travel by up to 20 percent, with travel times improving better than national averages. The report, available by clicking here, also illustrates the path forward for Select Bus Service, with routes outlined through underserved transportation corridors and illustrating new street treatments that could be used on future New York City routes.

“The arrival of Select Bus Service in Brooklyn is a game-changer for customers who use one of the busiest routes in the City, said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.  “Our experience on the other SBS routes shows that SBS works by increasing bus speeds and efficiency with low-floor buses, off-board fare collection and dedicated, enforced bus lanes.”

“SBS on the B44 will boost ridership and provide seamless service for our customers in Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Sheepshead Bay,” said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco.  “And with the introduction of offset bus lanes and bus bulbs, customers will have easier access to the buses and we’ll see increased pedestrian circulation space at bus stops throughout the corridor.”

“Together with NYC DOT and our federal partners, we are pleased to bring Select Bus Service to Brooklyn,” said Darryl Irick, Senior Vice President, NYCT Dept. of Buses and President, MTA Bus.  “Nine miles of offset bus lanes will speed up service and because the lanes are offset, or one lane away from the curb, the curb lane will still be available for merchant deliveries, neighborhood parking and right turns.”

The B44 SBS, featuring three-door articulated buses branded with the blue SBS logo, replaces B44 Limited service with fewer stops, while B44 local service was extended to cover the southern part of the corridor. As part of an extensive outreach process, DOT and MTA conducted 42 meetings with the community and elected officials over a six-year period to realize this initiative, covering eight community boards and hundreds of merchants. SBS has increased ridership and improved bus service, speed and reliability along the first four corridors where it has been introduced, including along 34th Street and First and Second avenues in Manhattan, Fordham Road-Pelham Parkway in the Bronx and Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island, while a fifth line, along Webster Avenue in Bronx, is still within its initial months of operation. SBS enhancements along the B44 line are expected to reduce travel times by up to 20 percent, cutting 14 minutes off the 71-minute, 9.3 mile trip between the Sheepshead Bay and Williamsburg neighborhoods, and increasing as additional treatments are installed along the route in the coming months.

The Nostrand-Rogers-Bedford Avenue corridor cuts a swath across multiple communities and businesses districts in the heart of Brooklyn. 300,000 people live within a quarter-mile of the corridor. Numerous institutions in the borough are served by the B44 lines, including Brooklyn College and Medgar Evers College. The importance of mass transit options is underscored by the fact that 62 percent of nearby households do not own a vehicle and 60 percent of commute by transit. The extensive community outreach behind this project included open houses, community board presentations, business surveys, and meetings with elected officials.

In preparation for Brooklyn’s first Select Bus Service line on the B44 route, the City’s Department of Design and Construction began construction of the SBS stations this January, performing underground utility work, building concrete bus pads in the roadway and installing station platforms on the sidewalk, as well as the necessary 35 lane miles of roadway resurfacing and 10 miles of bus lane painting. Rush-hour regulations were moved from the right to the left side of the street earlier this year in preparation for the arrival of the SBS stations.  Other improvements include dedicated bus lanes that are offset from the curb to retain local parking, concrete roadway bus pads, large overhead bus lane signs, layout for new bus shelters and electrical power for the off-board fare collection machines. DOT and NYCT have also been developing a plan for Transit Signal Priority on the corridor, which is expected to be activated in the spring of 2014.  Parking regulations were updated along the length of the corridor, in many cases adding new metered parking and commercial delivery zones for businesses. The approximately $35 million in costs to implement the route used mostly federal Small Starts funding via the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The Department of Design and Construction’s ongoing full reconstruction of Nostrand Avenue between Flushing and Atlantic Avenues will be complete by late 2014. Additional mobility enhancement at Williamsburg Bridge Plaza and widespread installations of wayfinding signs along the corridor will be complete by 2015.  The B44 will operate along the corridor’s northern segment as this work proceeds.

 

B44 Select Bus Service
B44 Select Bus Service
B44 SBS bus stop at Church and Nostrand Aves.
B44 SBS bus stop at Church and Nostrand Aves.