Mayor Bill de Blasio last week announced that the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), together with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), launched the operation of Select Bus Service (SBS) along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards in Queens.
The Q52/Q53 SBS marks the 15th SBS route and at more than 14 miles in length, the longest corridor with the service. The project also brings transformational Vision Zero safety improvements to one of the widest and highest-crash streets in New York City.
“Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard are critical roads in Queens — and from the Rockaways to Elmhurst, residents deserve this first-class service,” said de Blasio. “We are committed to expanding Select Bus Service even further, as we know it not only brings increased reliability and reduced travel time for bus riders, the dramatic street improvements of SBS will also make our streets safer for pedestrians and motorists. Here in Queens, along a street that has been a Vision Zero Priority Corridor with far too many tragic crashes, we expect these changes to make a big difference.”
The new SBS route covers 14.7 miles, the longest ever for the service, and the corridor serves over 30,000 daily bus riders, with connections to eight subway lines and over 20 additional bus routes in the Queens communities of Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Rockaway Park, and Arverne.
The Q52 and Q53 have combined daily ridership of 20,000 riders, but altogether, over 45,000 daily riders of Queens bus routes, including express bus passengers, will benefit from improvements along Woodhaven and Cross Bay.
Following the launch last week, the city’s Department of Design & Construction (DDC) will commence on capital construction along the corridor.
Among the items the city worked on before the launch, along with facts and figures about the corridor include:
Safety Improvements: Between 2011 and 2015, Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards saw over 3,000 traffic-related injuries and 24 fatalities. DOT and the MTA began outreach for Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS in 2014, developing the design concept to address myriad concerns identified by both riders and community residents: unreliable and slow bus service; long pedestrian crossings across as many as ten lanes of traffic; varying road widths and configurations along the corridor; congestion; and the need for transit improvements for customers. The two agencies participated in over 50 community meetings, including sit-downs with stakeholders, elected officials, and the six different community boards that the route serves. DOT also conducted on-street outreach along the route, and collected feedback via online portals.
The corridor contains eight Vision Zero Priority intersections, including at Woodhaven/Union Turnpike, which were all redesigned as part of the arrival of SBS. 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 Q52/53 SBS service along Woodhaven/Cross Bay 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: Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS joins 11 other bus routes where 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 next Sunday November 19, 2017. 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, 7 days a week, and curbside parking will be preserved.
Where they are permitted, bus-lane camera enforcement has proven to be a critical tool to deliver increases in speed and reliability of MTA bus service. New signage along each bus route indicates the hours when bus lanes are operable, and during which the lanes are camera-enforced.
Under state law, the 60-day warning period ensures that regular drivers along the route learn that cameras are in operation. Once in full effect in January, bus-lane violations will result in a Notice of Liability, which includes a photo of the violation and a fine of $115 – $150, mailed directly to the vehicle registrant’s address. Since violations are issued against the vehicle, not the driver, points are not deducted from motorists’ licenses.
Transit Signal Priority: The new Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS also includes Transit Signal Priority. Earlier this year, DOT released a report, Green Means Go, on Transit Signal Priority (TSP; report can be viewed here). The technology 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. With MTA moving forward with its TSP procurement, DOT announced it would quadruple its installation rate, covering over 1,000 intersections total by 2020 — including along the Q52/Q53 SBS.
For more information about Select Bus Service, please visit www.nyc.gov/brt.