Bus lane on Ridgewood’s Fresh Pond Road, redesign of Rockaway Beach Boulevard in mayor’s ‘Better Buses’ plan

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Photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio set forth initiatives across the city along key corridors which he said will not only increase bus speeds, but “complement” congestion pricing with fewer cars on the road.

As part of the Better Buses Action Plan, released today, the mayor hopes that by making redesigns of streets to give priority to public transit, speeds will increase by 25 percent by 2020.

“Making it easier to get around our city means New Yorkers have more time for what matters most – for their family and themselves,” de Blasio said. “These measures are part of our OneNYC strategy to build a fairer, better city for all. They complement congestion pricing, helping us fix our subways and reduce traffic delays to get our city moving.”

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan applauded the effort claiming the planned changes to Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood that will increase bus speeds, improve stops and make changes that are within the scope of Vision Zero.

A half-mile of Fresh Pond Road between Metropolitan and Putnam Avenues will get a southbound bus lane after being identified as one of the more sluggish corridors in the city. The bus lanes, according to the plan, will be reserved for buses and right-hand turns, and would be in effect “weekdays for part of the day.”

“I have advocated for better bus service and proper management of Fresh Pond Road buses for many years. Fresh Pond Depot is a very important part of my district. An economic generator and a people mover, it allows people the ability to travel all over Brooklyn and Queens from the Myrtle-Wyckoff [avenues] and Fresh Pond hubs,” said Nolan.

The Q58, QM24, QM25 and QM34 — each of which traverse Fresh Pond Road — see a daily ridership of about 30,000, the administration said, and average bus speeds are 5.9 miles per hour in the morning hours and 3 miles per hour in the evening.

Meanwhile, the 3.7-mile stretch of Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 116th and Beach 73rd Streets — which the Mayor’s Office says sees a daily ridership of 36,000 — will see redesigns.

These include the implementation of pedestrian safety improvements at intersections, sidewalks installed at Beach 73rd and Beach 67th Streets bus stops for greater accessibility as well as offset and curbside bus lanes at intervals along the stretch.

Supporters of the plan included longtime opponent to congestion pricing state Senator Leroy Comrie, claiming it is a fair initiative to both straphangers and motorists.

“Improving mobility in congested areas throughout the five boroughs will require a well-crafted, multi-pronged approach that carefully considers the needs of motorists, pedestrians, transit riders, folks who rely on alternative modes of transportation, and our business community,” Comrie said. “I am encouraged by [the administration’s] understanding of the fact that issues like congestion and slow bus speeds affect communities outside the Manhattan core.”

The plan will also include the implementation of bus priority at intersections and cameras on buses for lane enforcement as the mayor has championed in the past.

“Every element of our mass transit system must be improved dramatically for our city to achieve its full potential. Buses are a vital part of our transportation infrastructure,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris.

Further changes will be made using feedback from the public in consultation with community boards, elected officials and other stakeholders, according to the administration.

The full report for the Better Bus Action Plan can be seen here.