By Jon Cronin
The Select Bus Service plan for Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards was once again discussed at the Sept. 9 Community Board 9 meeting.
“The idea of using the corridor for a bus express is very dangerous,” he added the recent Resort World Casino bus crash in Rego Park, which he and others blame on the bus lanes, stating it, “was the worst bus accident in my 50 years,” stated Paul Caposcasale at the meeting
He noted that the speed limit for buses is 30 miles per hour and believes, “They have a tendency to go more than 30 miles per hour.” He considers the SBS, “a very dangerous plan” and doesn’t believe there will be much time before there is another accident. Capocasale stated that in the month since the red bus lanes have been drawn, “drivers are confused,” as to where they can make turns. Caposcasale also distributed a leaflet by the The Residents Task Force for an Informed and Safer Better Woodhaven. An email to the MTA press office to confirm the safety
He is concerned residents are too confused by the red bus lanes. He is afraid drivers will not make informed decisions during and choose, as did the driver in the Rego Park bus crash, to race the bus to make their right turn.
“They’re creating a confusing a situation,” he said. Regarding what signage the Department of Transportation have hung to explain lane usage he said, “They’re not written big and they’re not enough of them.” He encourages discourse.
Jose Bayona, deputy press secretary for the NYC DOT wrote in a statement about bus safety, “We design our streets and our speed limits so that they are safe for all vehicles, including buses. Buses operate on busy streets all over the city, and generally have an excellent safety record. We know that slower streets are safer streets, which is why we recently reduced the speed limit on Woodhaven Boulevard from 35 MPH to 30 MPH.”
“We will be doing a before/after analysis of vehicle travel times on the section of Woodhaven Boulevard where we installed bus lanes this fall, and can follow up with more information on the traffic effects once that is complete,” Bayona wrote in regards to an increase in traffic.
He also explained the city-wide expanse of the SBS has not yet reached its halfway mark, “Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to launch a total of 20 Select Bus Service (SBS) routes across the five boroughs. There are currently eight SBS routes in operation right now, touching all five boroughs. Bus Lanes are used both on SBS routes and on other streets around New York City that carry bus transit.”
Ken Wilson, chair of the transportation committee for Community Board 9, said the 2008 Congestive Corridor study turned into plans for the SBS.
“You want to see what they’re going to develop, maybe they’ll create something that works for the community,” he said.
He noted that since the DOT laid down the red lanes a month ago, he has seen average 30 minutes or more spent in traffic. Wilson is a business owner with three vehicles he uses to move equipment throughout the five boroughs, “It takes longer,” he said. “It’s added a mile of traffic before Metropolitan.”
Wilson said recently local politicians took a ride on a bus with MTA and DOT representatives and as an update he would like to see an MTA representative advise them of what was discussed on the ride.
Joel Kuszai, another Community Board 9 member, concluded, “It’s necessary that something be done. You can’t leave as it is.” Kuszai paraphrased a popular mathematical and engineering theory called Braeess’ Paradox, which in this case is highlighted in taking away a lane to lessen merging traffic and therefore streamline the corridor.
“I’m not an expert, let’s look at what the experts have to say,” adding, “I think we need to prioritize mass transit. We should make bus travel easier so people would want to do it. It becomes a lot more viable. At the expense of automobiles if need be.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin