By Mark Hallum
Nine Select Bus Service routes will be launched throughout eastern Queens to transport tens of thousands of commuters, including 50,000 daily on the Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard line to launch within the next year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Friday he would expand SBS by 21 lines across the five boroughs throughout the next decade.
“Bus riders deserve faster, more reliable service — and the growing number of riders on SBS buses has found that they are getting to work on-time, and getting home to family faster,” de Blasio said. “With even more Select Bus Service routes coming on-line in the years ahead and a commitment to bring SBS-style treatments to other routes, more communities in every borough will see their bus service improve. These improvements have been proven effective, by reducing travel time, increasing bus reliability and helping us meet the goals of major initiatives – both for a safer city under Vision Zero and a more equitable one under OneNYC.”
SBS, a joint project between city DOT and New York City Transit, has been in existence since 2008 and has built ridership on lines by up to 30 percent in the past four years with longer vehicles and faster travel time encouraging more riders to commute by bus. De Blasio hopes to increase the number of Select Bus riders from 12 percent of straphangers to 30 percent with a $270 million investment.
Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said expansion of the program would bring relief to many New Yorkers who have suffered economic loss from a decline in the reliability of public transportation.
“Buses are notoriously slow and unreliable, and the consequences are severe: when we surveyed bus riders this summer, we heard from people who missed work, lost wages, and sometimes even lost jobs because of poor bus service,” Raskin said. “But Select Bus Service works: Riders know it from experience and the data shows it’s true. It’s time to apply lessons from the successful Select Bus Service experiment to the rest of the city. We need more SBS routes. We need more improvements on local routes that serve hundreds of thousands of riders. We should work to make buses modern, convenient and attractive to riders, so people who have given up on buses will come back.”
Queens routes will bring new and improved service to areas where public transportation options are the most sparse. A route from Ridgewood to Flushing will be established as well as Flushing to Springfield Boulevard, along Hillside Boulevard, Union Turnpike, Northern Boulevard, and Jamaica to Flushing via Kissena Boulevar. Multiple routes will also carry riders throughout southeast Queens and there will be service to JFK Airport.
“Our mass transit system is the lifeblood of our city and the investments we make in it are critically important for our vitality and economic growth,” U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Select Bus Service is a cost-effective option that reduces travel times and increases connectivity for thousands of New Yorkers.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta said SBS is versatile and effective option for expanding bus service.
“New Yorkers deserve a bus service that is fast and effective, and a key factor for achieving that goal is increasing the number of Select Bus Service routes throughout the city,” said. “By expanding this particular service, all communities will benefit and commuters will have a more reliable public transportation system and better travel times.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall