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Posts from the Buses Category

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Streetfilms Shortie: Fast and Easy Bus Boarding in Oslo

While in Oslo shooting a Streetfilm on the city’s ambitious plans to become as car-free as possible by 2019, I got to interview Frode Hvattum, head of strategy for Ruter, the regional transit agency. I asked a quick question about Oslo’s amazingly efficient train and bus service. In this short video, Hvattum discusses how Oslo’s city center buses and proof of payment system speed things up for riders.

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Eyes on the Street: NYC’s Newest Bus Zones on 23rd Street, Jay Street

New dedicated bus lanes on 23rd Street, where Select Bus Service is set to launch in the fall. Photo: Stephen Miller

The new bus lane on 23rd Street, where Select Bus Service is set to launch in the fall. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT crews recently put down new terra cotta paint for buses on 23rd Street in Manhattan and Jay Street in Brooklyn.

In the fall, Select Bus Service will bring faster bus service to the M23’s 15,000 daily riders with dedicated lanes, off-board payment, and consolidated bus stops. The bus lanes are set to run eastbound from Ninth Avenue to Second Avenue and westbound from mid-block between First and Second Avenue to Eighth Avenue.

The red lanes are here already — Streetsblog alum Stephen Miller snapped this photo of 23rd Street looking west from Seventh Avenue.

And in Downtown Brooklyn, there’s fresh red paint on Jay Street at the long bus stop alongside the Myrtle Avenue plaza:

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New York City Subways and Buses, All on a Single Map

Downtown Brooklyn on the Bullet Map

Downtown Brooklyn on the Bullet Map

Here’s a really cool project years in the making: Queens native and OpenPlans alum Anthony Denaro put New York City subway and bus lines on one map.

Denaro says the idea was to include all lines accessible with a single swipe or an unlimited MetroCard. To wit, the “Bullet Map” covers all subway lines, New York City Transit and MTA Bus lines, as well as the Long Island NICE Bus and Westchester’s Bee-Line Bus. Not included: the Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, PATH, express buses, and NYC EDC ferries.

As he explains on a Medium post detailing the project, one thing Denaro hopes to accomplish is to make the MTA’s complex bus system more legible to New Yorkers who might use it more if they saw the full extent of its connections with the subway.

Millions of NYC residents live beyond a 15 minute walk to a subway station. Hundreds of thousands of people start their commute by boarding a bus and then transferring to the subway. This is a map for us.

The attention to buses is apparent, with bus lines in the foreground on the map, and subway lines in the background. And there are no insets. “The densest parts of a transit diagram are the most important,” says Denaro.

Denaro told Streetsblog he’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks, and will be selling pocket maps as well as poster prints. An app may eventually be in the works, too.

In the meantime, he’s looking for feedback on how to make the Bullet Map better for transit users. You can find him on Twitter, or leave your impressions in the comments.

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The Jay Street Bike Lane Won’t Work If NYPD Parks All Over It

Double-whammy: these caps are blocking a bus stop and the bike lane. Photo: Brandon Chamberlin

Police officers block the bike lane and a bus stop on Jay Street this morning. Photo: Brandon Chamberlin

As crews restripe Jay Street to implement a curbside protected bike lane, some sort of learning curve is to be expected. Drivers need a little time to adjust to the new parking lane, which floats to the left of the bike lane buffer. But NYPD should know better from the start.

Streetsblog reader Brandon Chamberlin snapped the above photo of two police vehicles parked in the bus stop in front of City Tech on Jay Street this morning, blocking the way for both buses and cyclists. The bus stop has always been there — it’s not new.

In DOT’s redesign, the bike lane and curbside bus stops are “shared space” — as opposed to a floating bus stop design where bus drivers would pull up to a boarding island to the left of the bike lane. It’s a situation that requires some extra effort, with cyclists and bus drivers having to look out for each other — even without factoring in illegal parking.

If police ignore the rules and park at the curb, things will break down quickly. Cyclists will have to weave out of the bike lane into traffic, and bus riders will have to walk off the curb to board. The stress and chaotic traffic conditions that the Jay Street redesign was supposed to fix will just resurface in slightly different form.

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A Better Bus Stop: Big Ideas From Transit Riders for a Better Wait

Streetsblog has been calling attention to the dismal state of transit waiting areas with our Sorriest Bus Stop in America tournament. Transit riders have to put up with conditions that no one should stand for — bus stops with nothing to sit on and no shelter, bus stops by dangerous, high-speed roads with no sidewalks, even “secret” bus stops with no visible marker that they exist.

Every bus stop ought to be a safe, comfortable place to wait for the bus, and riders across the country have ideas about how to go a few steps further than that. Bus riders in 10 cities have proposed some creative ways to improve bus stops in the annual “Trick Out My Trip” crowdfunding initiative from ioby (“in our backyards”). Through the end of this week, all the funds raised for these bus stop improvements will receive a match of up to $10,000 from TransitCenter.

Here’s a look at what bus riders are proposing in three cities. You can check out all 10 bus stop ideas (and give generously) at ioby. The matching period ends Friday.

Memphis: Bus Stops as Bike Repair Stations

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Volunteers in Memphis are raising money to install bike racks and bike repair stations at three bus stops in key locations. These will help address the “last mile” problem by making it easier to bike to the bus.

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DOT Replaces Loading Zones With Metered Parking Along B44 SBS Route

Nostrand Avenue Merchant Association Vice President Pia Raymond speaks alongside Assembly Member Diana Richardson (right) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (far left). Photo: David Meyer

Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association Vice President Pia Raymond speaks alongside Assembly Member Diana Richardson (right) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (far left). Photo: David Meyer

DOT announced today that it will adjust the curbside parking rules on Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush, where B44 Select Bus Service launched in November 2013. The agency plans to replace some commercial loading zones with metered parking along the half-mile stretch of Nostrand between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue. DOT says the changes, which merchants asked for, won’t lead to more bus lane blocking on the B44 route.

When DOT puts down new bus lanes or protected bike lanes on commercial streets, the city’s curbside parking dysfunction gets thrown into sharp relief. Double-parking that previously went more or less unnoticed becomes a more visible problem, for example, when it blocks a bus lane. The success of these projects depends in no small part on getting the parking policy right.

In this case, DOT took some steps to reduce illegal parking as part of the bus lane project. Before SBS launched on Nostrand, most of these blocks had free curbside parking with time limits. DOT added meters and loading zones in an effort to reduce illegal parking by shoppers and delivery vehicles.

But since then local merchants have said the balance is out of whack — they wanted more metered parking and fewer loading zones.

After conducting a months-long study using time-lapse video to analyze curb activity, DOT agreed that there were a number of underutilized loading zones along the corridor. The agency will replace that curb space with metered parking. DOT does not expect the changes to affect the rate of parking violations in the bus lane.

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Mayor de Blasio Needs to Step Up to Keep L Train Passengers Moving

This morning the MTA announced that starting in 2019, it will close the L train between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg for 18 months to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy — surprising no one who’s been paying attention.

For several months now, it’s been obvious that the MTA and the de Blasio administration will have to work together on a plan to keep hundreds of thousands of L train passengers moving during these repairs. The MTA will have to adjust subway service and run more buses, and the city will have to allocate space on the streets for high-capacity busways and safe bicycling.

But in a statement to the Times, Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris framed the shutdown as a problem of the MTA’s own making:

We are deeply concerned that it would announce an 18-month shutdown of this critical service without a clear plan or a commitment of resources for mitigating the impact of this closure on hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Well before this shutdown occurs, New Yorkers deserve clarity from the M.T.A. on how it intends to minimize inconvenience and keep people moving throughout the duration of the construction.

And when Mayor de Blasio addressed the L train shutdown this morning, he didn’t stray from that message:

So, we’re looking at that very seriously. First of all, I’ll remind everyone the MTA is run by the State of New York. The amount of time that they have projected — the 18 months — is a very big concern for me and for the City government. We’re going to have some very serious conversations about the MTA, about whether it has to take that long and how it’s going to be handled. I want to make sure there’s a lot of redundancy in place. By the time it happens, one — small but important factors — we’ll have the citywide ferry service in place, so that’ll be helpful, but we’re going to need a lot more than that, obviously. So I want to press the MTA to show us that 300,000 riders really will have good and consistent alternatives. And we’re certainly going to look at what we have to do in terms of the bridge as part of that. We’ll have an answer on that after those discussions with the MTA.

Noticeably absent from de Blasio’s statement is a specific mention of buses and bikes as “redundancy” measures. Ferries can help, but setting aside street space to move large numbers of bus passengers and bike riders will do more to make up for the loss of L train service.

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Stuck With Slow Bus Service? Cuomo Is Completely Oblivious to Your Pain

You can tell Governor Cuomo doesn’t get on a New York City bus unless it’s for a photo-op about on-board USB ports.

The latest evidence came yesterday, after a coalition of transit advocates released a major report on the deterioration of bus service in New York City. With bus speeds declining, ridership has dropped 16 percent since 2002. In their “Turnaround” report [PDF], TransitCenter and other advocates outline proven techniques to improve bus service, pointedly noting that it will take concerted political leadership to reverse the decline of the city’s bus system.

Cuomo is the politician whose leadership is needed most. But Politico’s Dana Rubinstein reports that the governor blew off a question about improving bus service yesterday afternoon. “If people in Manhattan are choosing to jump on the subway because the subway is faster, because there’s traffic that a bus has to deal with,” he said, “that’s not an imprudent choice, right?”

In one sentence, the governor betrayed his ignorance of NYC’s bus system in several ways. Here are three of them.

Buses and trains don’t do the same things

The subway system is largely a radial network, with lines converging in Manhattan below 60th Street and extending out from there. It works well for an astounding number of trips, but New Yorkers still have to get places that the subway doesn’t reach efficiently. For these trips, there is no parallel subway service that people can just “jump on” instead of taking the bus.

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It’s Time to Think Big to Turn Around Lousy Bus Service in NYC

 Image: TransitCenter

Bus ridership has dropped 16 percent in NYC since 2002, even as population and subway ridership have increased. Image: TransitCenter

Bus service in New York is getting worse and losing riders, and unless policy makers step in and make systemwide improvements, those trends may accelerate in a vicious cycle. New York can turn things around, advocates say, with a suite of policies to get buses moving quickly and reliably again.

Today a coalition of transit advocates unveiled their blueprint to fix the city’s surface transit system and win riders back over. The solutions they propose in “Turnaround: Fixing New York City’s Buses,” a new report from TransitCenter, are broad and thorough but eminently achievable — rethinking the bus network, modernizing fare technology and dispatching, and expanding street design features that have already sped service on a handful of routes to improve routes all over the city.

The poor state of bus service in New York amounts to a crisis, said Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin. With an average weekday speed of 7.4 mph, New York’s buses are among the slowest in the nation, and they’re getting slower. Making matters worse is the lack of reliability — traffic congestion, lengthy routes, and shoddy dispatching often cause long gaps in service as buses bunch up in clusters of two or more vehicles.

It’s no wonder that bus ridership in New York has steadily declined even as population and jobs have increased.

TransitCenter’s report touches on a number of ways the MTA and NYC DOT should improve bus speeds and reliability while redesigning routes to reflect current rider needs, including:

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Relief for Riders on Brooklyn’s Busiest Bus Route as B46 SBS Debuts

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Riders boarding the B46 SBS at the connection from the 3 and 4 trains no longer have to wait for everyone to dip a Metrocard. Photo: David Meyer

The B46 on Utica Avenue is Brooklyn’s busiest bus route, with more than 44,000 trips each weekday. Like other high-volume NYC bus routes, the B46 has also been susceptible to paralyzing traffic congestion and a boarding process that takes ages, as each passenger dips a Metrocard at the front of the bus. But B46 riders got some relief from slow, unreliable service this weekend with the launch of Select Bus Service.

With camera-enforced bus lanes, off-board fare collection, fewer stops, and priority for buses at traffic signals, NYC DOT and the MTA implemented a suite of improvements similar to the nearby B44, where travel times improved 15-30 percent after the debut of SBS.

Dedicated bus lanes were implemented on Utica Avenue in 2014 and 2015. Image: DOT

Bus lanes were implemented on Utica Avenue in 2014 and 2015, but camera enforcement didn’t begin until this month. Image: DOT

Where it runs through East Flatbush, the B46 serves some of the densest neighborhoods in the city outside of convenient walking access to the subway. (Last year, Mayor de Blasio suggested extending the subway from Eastern Parkway down Utica Avenue.)

DOT implemented bus lanes and transit signal priority on Utica in 2014 and 2015. On Sunday, off-board payment, bus stop consolidation, and camera enforcement of the bus lanes took effect, though drivers who violate the bus lanes will receive warnings instead of fines for the first 60 days. Bus bulbs — which enable passengers to board without the bus driver pulling in and out of traffic — will be installed next year.

On the evening commute yesterday, Elizabeth Bruno, who takes the B46 one stop between her home and the Utica Avenue subway station on Eastern Parkway, said she has noticed improvements even though riders are still adjusting to the service. “Because it’s new, I think, it takes a little while for people to get accustomed to, but once they get accustomed to [it], I think it will be fine,” Bruno said. “The Select is moving really faster because you don’t stop at every stop.”

“With the Select, it has gotten a little better,” said Yvette Glover, who rides the B46 every day from Eastern Parkway to Broadway and Myrtle. “I believe it’s a good thing.”

The B46 SBS runs from DeKalb Avenue to Kings Plaza, replacing the old B46 Limited that ran the length of the route but made express stops between DeKalb Avenue and Avenue H. The local B46, which previously stopped at DeKalb Avenue, will now make local stops from Kings Plaza all the way to the Williamsburg terminus.

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