When it comes to Staten Island, the Department of Transportation and MTA are considering a different model for Select Bus Service.
The service planned for Hylan Boulevard will provide dedicated bus lanes for less of the route than on existing SBS lines, but high-tech features like transit-friendly traffic lights and even a possible pilot of smart card fare payment technology will be included.
Bus service along Hylan Boulevard is an essential lifeline for transit riders on Staten Island. Sixteen thousand local bus riders travel on the street every weekday, as do another 15,000 express bus riders. One-third of all Staten Island bus commuters live along the corridor. Those numbers might be even higher if transit service weren’t so slow. Almost three-quarters of transit commuters in the area have trips longer than an hour.
A final plan hasn’t been prepared for the new bus service, but DOT and the MTA presented the basic concept at a public meeting last Thursday [PDF]. The project is scheduled to be implemented in 2012 or 2013.
Unlike on the existing Select Bus Service routes on Fordham Road and First and Second Avenue, DOT is not planning to paint dedicated bus lanes along most of the route. Instead, they’re installing bus lanes in the three most congested areas: a roughly two-mile stretch toward the northern end of the route; the area where the S79 bus turns off Hylan and toward the Staten Island Mall; and near the entrance to the mall itself.
The Staten Island service will have a number of features not found in Manhattan and the Bronx, however. “Advance signals” will allow buses to stop a little further forward at an intersection than private vehicles. Currently, buses stopped at the curb and cars trying to turn right have to weave past each other; with advance signals, there’s room to separate the movements, speeding up traffic. The advance signal could also let buses jump to the front of the queue at certain red lights.
Another feature, transit signal priority, holds green lights a few extra seconds when a bus is approaching, giving precedence to vehicles carrying dozens of people rather than one or two. When tested out on Staten Island’s Victory Boulevard, it shaved ten percent of the time off bus trips (and five percent of the time off private automobile trips). This spring’s update of PlaNYC promised that eleven bus routes across the city will get transit signal priority. Hylan Boulevard will be one of them.