By Jon Cronin
The Rider’s Alliance, a transportation and bus rapid transit grassroots advocacy group, is calling for a faster implementation of Select Bus Service along the Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.
The group claims that one third of all commuters on the corridor during rush hour, more than half of the residents along the corridor use public transportation to get to work, and the strip serves over 30,000 bus riders per day.
Public outcry criticizing the design of SBS along the corridor has pushed back the implementation until 2017. During that year the City Department of Transportation will hold more meetings in which they will consider public input.
The Rider’s Alliance wrote in a recent statement, “bus riders are disappointed that after two years of public engagement on planning and design, and a congested corridor study that began in 2009, implementation of the highest quality bus rapid transit for the rest of the corridor has been delayed. Woodhaven Boulevard has been found to be one of the most congested and deadly roadways in New York, and not all major bus stops or intersections will receive full bus rapid transit treatment anytime in the near future. “
The advocates look forward to upgraded median bus stops on Woodhaven Boulevard between Park Lane South and Rockaway Boulevard, bus-only lanes, off-board fare collection, signal priority, and real-time bus arrival information and protected bus shelters.
Katherine Stier, a Glendale resident and Alliance member, was concerned for traffic and pedestrian safety on the roadway. “While the plans are headed in the right direction, I don’t feel reassured that the current proposal addresses ongoing vehicular injuries and fatalities,” she said.
John Maier, Community Board 5 Public Transit Services Committee co-chair and Alliance member believes safety and improved transit should be the priority, “The process is too slow and bus riders need improved travel times now. Beyond just travel, commitments to key safety measures in the original concept, such as pedestrian safety improvements, at locations like Metropolitan Avenue, have disappeared for the foreseeable future.”
Opponents to the SBS implementation have also feared for safety of pedestrians but they are concerned median strip bus stops would place bus riders in dangers, bus-only lanes would create congestion and removing left turns on to Jamaica Avenue would deter drivers from shopping there.
“Since this plan was announced, I have stated that the changes DOT and MTA are looking to make must have our community’s best interest in mind,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) when SBS was put on hold last month adding, “I don’t want Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard to be even more congested, or residential streets becoming dangerous with traffic looking to bypass the main road, nor local businesses located on streets such as Jamaica and Liberty avenues suffering due to the implementation of a ‘no left turn’ rule.”