New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg today unveiled the design concept of main road bus lanes for Select Bus Service (SBS) on Woodhaven / Cross Bay Boulevards. The SBS corridor is based on the existing Q52/53 Limited bus route and carries 30,000 daily bus riders over 14 miles from the Rockaways to Woodside. The Woodhaven SBS would be the most intensive and most beneficial SBS route to be implemented and is a vital transportation route for thousands of residents of the Rockaways and central Queens, 43% of whom do not own a car and 60% of whom commute by public transit.
DOT and MTA developed three design concepts with the goals of providing faster and more reliable bus service, safer streets for pedestrians and drivers, and maintaining traffic flow. The design concepts were presented to the community and after one year of meetings, open houses, workshops, Design Concept 2, a “transit-oriented boulevard” where buses travel in designated lanes in the main roadway, was selected. Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it a priority to improve transportation options in areas of the City beyond the reach of the subway system. The Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevards bus route will be an ambitious design to provide better transit service to those in Queens, while making the street work better for all users. The design will also make the street safer, supporting the City’s Vision Zero goal.
This concept provides faster and more reliable bus service, allowing buses to travel free from turning or parking conflicts, with an anticipated travel time savings of 25-35%. Median transit stations with shelters, seating, and real-time bus information will be constructed, giving passengers high-quality waiting areas. Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard are both identified as Priority Corridors in the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, with 24 fatalities since 2008 on the length of the SBS route. Aligning with Vision Zero, this design will have new medians for pedestrian refuge and a greener streetscape. There will be a physical separation of local and thru traffic, allowing thru traffic to travel free from parking and turning conflicts and local traffic to travel through calmer service roads. The different designs for Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards, which will have offset bus lanes, reflect the different corridor widths, land uses and traffic patterns. Details of the design will be presented to the community for feedback at upcoming workshops.
“This is the kind of ambitious overhaul New York City’s bus riders deserve. This project means faster trips for tens of thousands of riders,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It means safer streets that save lives. And it means that communities from the Rockaways to Elmhurst that have long been underserved by public transit will see real improvements in their daily commute. We look forward to working with the broad coalition of elected officials and local partners who have helped shape this project since the outset. ”
“This is the biggest, boldest, and most ambitious design concept the City has attempted for Select Bus Service and I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for his support,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Queens deserves better public transit and we’re excited to bring this innovative design for bus rapid transit to move New Yorkers efficiently while at the same time making the streets safer for all.
“Moving Select Bus Service on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards into the project development phase brings us one step closer to providing 30,000 daily bus customers with faster, more reliable service as well as safer streets for pedestrians and motorists along this busy corridor,” said President of MTA Bus Darryl Irick.
“The Woodhaven Boulevard corridor has long suffered from a lack of adequate transit options and the City’s innovative and exciting Woodhaven Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit plan can be just what the doctor ordered for transit riders from the Rockaways to Howard Beach to Woodhaven to Woodside — who now suffer one of the worst transit slogs in our city. This ‘Bus Rapid transit’ plan can turn this corridor from a transportation desert to a transportation oasis for tens of thousands of Queens residents, and also be a boon for local property value and area businesses,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“As a cost-effective option that will reduce travel times while increasing connectivity for thousands of New Yorkers, the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevards Select Bus Service will go a long way toward meeting the needs of Queens communities that have long been underserved by public transportation,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “I thank the Department of Transportation for engaging local residents on a design that not only ensures efficient and reliable service but one that also makes safety a top priority.”
“The benefits of this concept could not be clearer,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “From improved bus stops, to designated lanes for SBS service, these changes can vastly improve the commuter experience for the thousands of New Yorkers that depend on the Woodhaven Blvd transportation corridor. I applaud DOT for working extensively to create the public transportation options that will fulfill our city’s growing needs.”
“Select Bus Service will connect Queens’s residents from the Far Rockaways to Woodside,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “This Department of Transportation plan took careful consideration of how to keep traffic flowing and pedestrians safe. I support this program.”
“Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard will improve the flow of traffic on one of Queens’ busiest corridors and make the road safer for pedestrians and drivers alike,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich.
“The DOT’s selection of Concept 2 for the BRT project along the Woodhaven Blvd Corridor in Queens is a win for everyone – with a dedicated lane for buses, riders will see more reliable service and shorter commutes to school, work, and home. The redesign will cut down on congestion for drivers, make the corridor safer for pedestrians, and calm traffic along the service roads that tens of thousands of people live along. We look forward to continuing to work with the DOT and City Hall to ensure more robust treatments that will make this corridor an improved transit solution for the low income, transit-starved New Yorkers who need it the most,” said BRT for NYC Coalition.
Current community concerns for this corridor include the slow and unreliability of current bus service, dangerous pedestrian crossings on Woodhaven Boulevard, long trips for drivers due to congestion, and difficult navigation due to changing road widths and configurations. The three design concepts of offset bus lanes, main road bus lanes, and median bus lanes were screened across three areas of transit operations, safety and pedestrian amenities, and traffic mobility and accessibility. Design Concept 2 addresses all of the community concerns and performed well against the three areas, balancing pedestrian safety and improved transit mobility and accessibility.
This project will cost approximately $200 million. The City is in the process of applying for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts funding, with the support of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, for a substantial part of this funding.
Like other SBS routes, the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard route will have off-board fare collection and transit signal priority treatment. There are currently seven existing SBS routes for the city: Fordham Road, First/Second Avenues, 34th Street, Hylan Boulevard, Webster Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, 125th Street-LGA. SBS provides improved service to its passengers, with a 15-23% faster bus service, 95% rider satisfaction, 10% increase in ridership, and a 20% reduction in crashes.
This spring, DOT will have block by block design workshops for the SBS route to get feedback on the design and look forward to further community input.
For more information about DOT’s Bus Rapid Transit work, please visit www.nyc.gov/dot.