Southern Brooklyn

CB15 Wants Your Input: Is Faster Bus Service Worth Losing Parking, Lanes?


A proposal to bring an experimental bus program to the neighborhood has some asking whether its worth the hassle, and Community Board 15 is holding a public hearing this evening to discuss the issue.

Since 2004, the MTA’s Bus Rapid Transit project has been evaluating neighborhoods across the city to determine test routes for Select Bus Service. The experimental service is aimed at speeding up the city’s notoriously slow bus routes and easing congestion. The system will feature dedicated bus lanes, larger capacity vehicles and off-board fare payment. In Sheepshead Bay, the entire B44 Limited route will be replaced by SBS service, running the entire length of Nostrand Avenue to Rogers Avenue and then Bedford Avenue.

But benefits may not be as significant as the project’s advocates suggest. Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo said that the SBS’s first and only test site, along Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, has only shaved off six minutes from commuters’ trips. But the larger buses (and the bus “bulbs” associated with SBS service) eat up valuable parking spaces that businesses clamor for. Furthermore, the dedicated bus lanes reduce access for cars, adds to congestion, and makes turning difficult.

The MTA’s proposal falls on a community particularly upset over recent bus service cuts, including to the B4 in Sheepshead Bay and the B31 in Gerritsen Beach. The authority diminished service along those routes, citing financial belt-tightening. And, speaking as a resident and not as CB15 Chair, Scavo said she’d rather see the money spent on restoring those lines.

“For all this money they’re putting out during a time when they’re cutting service, how much time are they really saving?” said Scavo. “I dont think six minutes is worth all of this disruption.”

Check out the MTA’s Select Bus Service presentation below to learn more about the proposal. Then attend CB15’s meeting tonight to chime in on whether or not potentially shorter bus commutes are worth losing parking and car lanes. The board will be voting on whether to support or oppose the plan following a public hearing.

(CB 15 meets at 7 p.m. in Kingsborough Community College’s faculty dining room.)

Comment policy


  1. Anybody that bitches about how slow buses up here are really need to go down to Tampa where, if you miss one bus, you're waiting an hour and a half for the next one. Don't make roads more congested and parking impossible because of that. Really.
    The only bus lane I've seen that's been justifiable is the one on Fulton and Flatbush before the Fulton Street Mall, but only because a good ten or so bus lines go down that road, and it truly DOES cause congestion. But on Nostrand? pffft. Around Flatbush Junction, things do get hairy. Other than that, it's a smooth ride. I've ridden it from Bushwick to Avenue Y, and while it's a bit longer than the train, it's not that bad of a ride.

  2. Before we eliminate traffic lanes, enforcement of current traffic rules– no stopping in bus stops, No double parking, etc. . If this is done, magically 2 things would happen– 1. traffic would move better, and 2. the city would make some money!

  3. The only thing I see being enforced are parking tickets, even if you have done everything correctly, because some people will just pay the fine or a reduced fine, rather than spend the time to contest it, thus giving the City revenue to help fill those outstanding “budget deficits.”

  4. Slow buses can mean two thing: Buses that don't come often, like you cite in Tampa or buses that travel slowly like crosstown in Manhattan. As you stated, Nostrand Avenue isn't that slow, and you already have limited stop service to make it faster.

    I like the idea of Select Bus Service (if they could get people to pay their fares, which they are not doing in the Bronx), but as I told the MTA four years ago, the B44 is the wrong route for this. For one thing, it has a high turnover. Not too many people stay on it for more than a couple of miles. People do not ride from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg to get the benefit of the time savings. They should have chosen a variation of the B82 with it terminating at the Gateway Mall on one end and Cesars Bay Bazaar on the other. If the ride were fast, people would use that route for long distance travel to go shopping at these places. To save three minutes to get to the Nostrand Avenue subway on the B44 makes no sense.

  5. Ned, I think you got your facts confused somewhere. I just came back from the Community Board Meeting and there was no public hearing this evening on the Select Bus Service. Apparently, the hearing was at Brooklyn College last night. They only gave a 5 minute synposis at the beginning of the meeting as to what happened at the hearing. As that I arrived 5 minutes late, I missed the synopsis. I hadn't seen the hearing advertised anywhere.

  6. I confirmed all the info on Monday with Scavo, including that they'd be holding a public meeting and having a vote to support or oppose. I sent a reporter to the meeting who told me that plans had changed, and that no vote would be held. I'm a little confused myself, and realize I'm with a foot in my mouth, but I'll find out what happened today (Wednesday).

  7. 6 minutes is a lot of time to save if you are travelling a route every day. I'm sure the Community Board would be up in arms if there was street construction that added 6 minutes to someones car trip every day. Faster bus service also means better bus service, more people on buses and less traffic.

  8. Yes six minutes is a lot of time if you are talking about a 30 minute trip, but that's not the case. If six minutes is for the entire route, someone would have to ride from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg to benefit. How many people do that? The savings to the Junction would be 2 or 3 minutes which is negligible which could be achieved just with better traffic enforcement or giving buses a priority signal which could be done without the expense and inconvenience of Select Bus Service.

  9. I'm just as confused as you are because I should have received a direct mail notice of the public hearing at Brooklyn College since I am on the MTA Select Bus Service Mailing list having attended the first meeting in 2005. Didn't see a songle notice on the buses.

    Also notice how long this is taking. The first IRT line was completed in four years.

  10. Six minutes … or even three minutes – is the amount of time I can slip into a store and buy a softdrink or a loaf of bread – or countless other things.

    Multiply that times the number of bus passengers.

    And if you think 6 minutes is nothing … remember that the next time a clerk/cashier is ignoring you while engaged in a personal cellphone call.

  11. Six minutes … or even three minutes – is the amount of time I can slip into a store and buy a softdrink or a loaf of bread – or countless other things.

    Multiply that times the number of bus passengers.

    And if you think 6 minutes is nothing … remember that the next time a clerk/cashier is ignoring you while engaged in a personal cellphone call.


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