Southern Brooklyn

DOT, MTA Fail To Inform Local Businesses About Major Traffic Changes On Nostrand Avenue

Klearview is one of the many businesses that will be affected by SBS service, but was not informed about the changes by the city. (Source: Klearview)

The Department of Transportation and MTA have been pushing a Select Sus Service route along Nostrand Avenue since December 2009 that could cause major traffic and parking changes, but Sheepshead Bay businesses along the commercial corridor were never notified.

Several business owners on Nostrand Avenue told Sheepshead Bites that they were never approached by the city, and some only found out when we visited. Businesses south of Avenue X will see the addition of a dedicated bus lane during rush hours, which the city will enforce with cameras and policing to keep it free of double-parked cars or trucks making deliveries.

“I found out [about SBS service and the bus lane] when I saw a guy measuring something on the sidewalk,” said Howard Blady, owner of Klearview Appliances at 3707 Nostrand Avenue. Blady said he made the discovery two days before Community Board 15’s October 25 meeting, in which the DOT and MTA made their second – and, likely, final – presentation about the service. “I am a little bit disappointed between the Community Board and whoever is in charge of soliciting our opinions for not doing it.”

He’s glad he found out, since bus lane hours could coincide with the hours Klearview receives deliveries. In addition to attending the meeting and speaking to DOT representatives, Blady enlisted the aid of Assemblywoman Helen Weinstein, who has an office on Nostrand Avenue. They’re working together with the city agencies to ensure minimal disruption to the business’ operations.

But many businesses south of Avenue X were not as well informed as Klearview. A DOT spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites that they’ve had direct meetings with the Nostrand Avenue Merchant’s Association, but admits to focusing the outreach to the northern part of the corridor where they feel the most significant changes are expected. No business below Avenue U belongs to the merchant’s association.

That’s a problem for many local businesses, who are concerned about how loading and parking changes may affect their operations.

“It’s obviously going to be an inconvenience for customers,” said Gena Golman, the manager of Health Choice Pharmacy (3735 Nostrand Avenue). Golman was not made aware of the new bus service until we spoke to him. “It’s going to be difficult for pick-ups.”

Golman expressed frustration at not being made aware of the Select Bus Service at any point during the last two years of planning.

“It’s not right,” said Golman.

Several other business owners on the strip told Sheepshead Bites that they were not informed, but requested not to be quoted or identified. Assemblywoman Weinstein said businesses who have concerns about the changes can contact her 3520 Nostrand Avenue office by calling (718) 648-4700.

Though the outreach may have been deficient, not all business owners think the changes are bad for business. At Klearview, one of the neighborhood’s largest retailers, Blady would’ve liked to have been consulted, but overall he thinks it could be beneficial for the area.

“As long as it doesn’t affect the parking spaces, I think it’ll be good,” said Blady. “It’ll just be another bus that will attract more people to this part of Nostrand Avenue.”

The project begins in the spring of 2012.

Comment policy


  1. Not only did the city fail, but, apparently, so did local politicians and the Community Board. Nice going representatives!

  2. So does this mean the businesses that are already hurting and the locations that just cant keep a tenant will lose more (i would say profit) money?
    Things just keep getting better for the small businesses.

  3. As much as I like the B44 SBS, I will concede that they either need to lose the bus lanes (south of X only!) or create some loading zones in this area.

    How bad is the traffic south of X anyway? How long does it take to drive from the B4/B44 bus stop at the northeast corner of Emmons Avenue-Nostrand Avenue to the B36/B44 bus stop northeast corner of Nostrand Avenue-Avenue X under the worst conditions? What about from the B36/B44 bus stop at northwest corner of Nostrand Avenue-Avenue X to the bus stop at the southeast corner of Shore Parkway-Nostrand Avenue?

    The reason why I am being so specific is because of factors such as the traffic signals one has to wait on and the timing of the signals. Estimates from those who know this area very well will do. I know it pretty well but I do not live there or go there all the time, so you know.

    I was back there the other day (no car) and it does not look like it should take longer than two minutes at any time, unless there is some rush hour gridlock along Nostrand south of X that I am unaware of. This is driving without stopping for anything other than red signals, just to be clear.

  4. I love the idea that businesses have to be approached one by one in order to know what’s going on around them. And then, of course, they have some special power of approval.

    Such sad, sad souls.

  5. The bus lane is supposed to be offset (adjacent to the parking lane), so no parking spaces would be lost due to bus lanes.

  6. The bus lane south of Avenue X is totally unnecessary and the SBS buses should terminate at Sheepshead Bay Station, not at Knapp Street where there are hardly any passengers.  The MTA just wants to force B4 riders to use the SBS to get the subway at the Junction so they can eliminate the B4 entirely in Sheepshead Bay which they will do if the route loses any more riders.

    Also, I couldn’t find any mention of a Spring 2012 implementation date in the link you provided which is outdated anyway because a stop has since been added at Newkirk Avenue but it is too much of an effort for the MTA to update the page.

    The date has been pushed back to Fall 2012 / Winter 2013.  There are actually two links on the MTA site, one still stating a Spring 2012 date and another with the later date.  They can’t even get the date straight, so how well could they have planned this whole thing out.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that the businesses have not been notified.  Anything the MTA tells you, you have to take with a grain of salt or should I say a tablespoon of salt.

  7. Who cares klearview is wak anyway. There shit is refurbished and service is horrible. There sales people look at u like you are a $ sign and want to sell you junk that costs less even at pc Richards

  8. I agree with everything except the thing about the southern terminus. We had this discussion before and I said that it is better to have it serve Knapp Street. First of all, this makes it easier for the buses since they have fewer lights and less traffic to deal with. If the bus goes to Sheepshead Bay station, that means one bus (going to SB) has to sit at the red signal on Nostrand while the other one goes through the green on Z. This detracts from the quality of the ride for the people on one bus sitting at the red while the other bus goes through on green.

    With the way it is set up right now, the signal one bus going in one direction has does not interfere with the signal the other bus has going in the opposite direction. When Nostrand has the green signal at the Belt Parkway, the northbound buses go right up Nostrand while the southbound buses simply have to wait for a gap in traffic to turn left onto Shore Parkway Service Road South.

    Secondly, I am certain that sending it to SB does not help more people than it hurts. As I said before, it helps people get to Coney Island faster but does not give people south of Z a better or more solid connection to a subway, which would make them more willing to leave the car at home. And the B44 SBS has plenty of potential to gain ridership down there: Six- or seven-story apartment buildings by Shore Parkway-Nostrand Avenue, a building by Emmons Avenue-Nostrand Avenue, and a bunch of buildings just west of Knapp Street and north of Shore Parkway, just west of Knapp Street along Emmons Avenue, and in the area bounded by Knapp Street, Ford Street, Emmons Avenue, and Shore Parkway. Those who work at the nursing homes and drive to/from work can also switch to the B44 SBS.

    Still want to send the B44 SBS to SB station, where it only helps those who currently ride the B36 to the BMT while shafting those south of Z, who have to spend a half hour riding a B44 local with 10-minute headways to go to the IRT, or spend 15 minutes riding a B4 local with 15-minute headways to go to the BMT? When they can spend 15 minutes riding a B44 SBS with 3- to 5-minute headways to go to the IRT? And it will take 15 minutes for the B44 SBS to get from Knapp Street to the junction. To be exact, 16 minutes from the time it leaves the first stop to the time it leaves the junction during the busiest hours. But for those getting off at the junction it is one minute less, as they get off as soon as the bus arrives. Mark my words.

    The fact of the matter is that the B4, a local bus route stopping every 2-3 blocks, is not attractive to those who live back there because its headways are terrible and because it is a local bus route. And its headways are terrible and have been terrible for years because its ridership is so low. Local and limited buses are a big headache when it comes to operation and economics.

    They are not conducive to sustainable socioeconomic growth unless (and to even make this exception is a bit of a stretch) they operate through dense areas where it is difficult to find parking and the people either do not have access to or cannot afford indoor parking. I even have a local bus in my area that carries few people with its 15 minute headways during middays and weekends when it rarely gets standing loads, and I have plenty of 20-story apartment buildings in my area. People in my area either park indoors or use car services.

    They have been doing this for 10, 20 years or more. Why? Because even when service was better, we were still dealing with local buses that stop every 2-3 blocks and have so many problems that I have exhaustively described on numerous occasions. Even as much as 10, 20 years ago we might have seen a bus every 5 minutes rush hours, 10 minutes non-rush hours, but just about every other day there was a big delay and then two, three buses pull up at once. This is not uncommon in other neighborhoods and has essentially not changed much over the years. As time goes on, those who no longer want to deal with it either move out of neighborhoods where they have to use local/limited buses to get around or switch to their personal cars. Another factor is the unpleasantness of local/limited buses. “Move to the back.” “We cannot move unless you step behind the white line.” “Stop ringing the bell at every stop just to play pranks. People need to get to work.”

    [i]Great, now I have to explain why SBS buses are ‘immune’ to that last thing.[/i]

    Because the SBS stops are so far apart that a SBS bus is far less likely to skip stops than a local/limited bus. Because local/limited buses have so many marked stops that there are quite a few stops that people do not want each trip. Here is another situation that makes local/limited buses so bad due to the fact that they do not work properly unless everybody exhibits perfect behavior when in fact nobody is perfect:

    I am unfamiliar with an area and I am riding a local bus or a limited bus near the end or beginning of the route where it makes local stops. Or I am on an entire half of the limited route where that limited makes local stops. Take exhibit A, the M101 on Amsterdam/3rd/Lexington Avenues in Manhattan. Limited 7 days a week. Limited stops from 24 Street to 125 Street, but local all the way from 125 Street-3rd/Lexington Avenues in East Harlem to Amsterdam Avenue-190 Street in Fort George.

    Anyway, I am unfamiliar with the area and ring the bell by mistake. The bus operator stops and opens the doors because s/he thinks somebody wants to get off. Nobody is at the bus stop. Nobody gets off. Now the bus stopped for no reason. Now it leaves the bus stop and gets caught at a red signal that one time even though it usually makes the signal when it is green. Now everybody is upset and those who saw me ring the bell look at me like I have a third eye in the middle of my head. Terrific. Because I was imperfect everybody is upset with me. Or I am annoyed because I inconvenienced everybody else when it was not my damn fault because I am not perfect and neither is anybody else. I am so sure such an experience will further endear me to local/limited buses.

    And I have had that particular experience as well as plenty of bad or unfavorable experiences with them to crystallize my ill feelings for local/limited buses, which I have alluded to so many times and so exhaustively before and alluded to again here.

    I am sorry, but the reality is that most people do not want to have to deal with local/limited buses if they do not have to! Including myself! For the most part, the only way they can make all the bus improvements people want (excluding SBS), is if they successfully raise fares a significant amount without the people blowing a gasket and without losing lots of ridership due to the fare hikes. I am thinking like $3.50 a swipe, maybe $4.00 a swipe as opposed to the current $2.25 a swipe. Unlimited metrocard prices and reduced fares would be increased in proportion to 3.50/2.25 or 4.00/2.25, whichever gets chosen.

    Make these fares the maximums unless, God forbid, some economic disaster of truly horrible proportions or runaway inflation occurs. Then maybe you can have the B4 local to SB station every 5 minutes rush hours, 8 minutes other times and the ridership will be sustainable. But all that is still a maybe because the higher fares do not change the fact that the people have to pay on the bus and does not eliminate all the other headaches!

    If you really want to save the B4, the only way to do it would be to have off-board fare collection at major stops and transfer points, kill off the quiet stops, and increase the service frequency like with SBS. It may not need bus lanes and that would be difficult due to the fact that it is not as straight as the B44, but this is how you would get people to use the B4, keep the B4 and B44 over there, and keep B4 ridership sustainable. But the B44 is a far better choice for SBS than the B4.

    But if you think you can encourage travel to the Brighton line by increasing service frequencies and keeping this on-board fare collection and the mess that currently passes for a local/limited bus system, I am sorry, but you are incorrect. At best you would have a B4 every 5 minutes rush hours, every 8 minutes off hours, and the ridership would increase, but then people would get tired of it again, as some variable would rear its ugly head (as many variables do in the wonderful world of local/limited buses), turning 5 minutes into 10 or 15 on a regular basis, with two or three buses arriving simultaneously, one bus practically empty, two buses jam packed, and the people would be like “what is this crap, there is no hope for local/limited buses” and leave the B4 or any local/limited bus route, again.

    [i]Great, now I have to explain the business about transfers at Atlantic Avenue and all those other places where the Brighton and Nostrand trains connect.[/i]

    As much as you might like to believe that people who currently make subway transfers in these places would continue to make subway transfers in these places, the reality is that making subway transfers adds time and uncertainty. I repeat, time and uncertainty. And pressure, stress, and aggravation at times. And it is easier said than done. Who wants to keep doing that every day? It flusters you, which is especially bad if you want to be relaxed before you get to work or class. I should know since I have done it so many times all over this city and use the subway every day.

    Frankly it is a real doozy (for want of a better word) to say that people would continue to make transfers during rush hours at Atlantic Avenue, the third busiest station in Brooklyn, Union Square, the fourth busiest station in the system, or Times Square, the busiest station in the system. So people are going to rush through these stations to make transfers during rush hour when they are trying to have a relaxing trip to work or back home after a long day? Seriously? Do they not have enough to think about already, like how to go about the day, what to say to the boss, how to deal with the kids and family upon arriving at home after working all day?

    I can hardly even think during my commute because I have to practically jog (or as I like to say, tumble) down a giant hill for 15 minutes to reach my train station. Then I have to run up the stairs since it is elevated, and then run up the stairs again since I get off at an underground station. My train ride is 15 minutes long. I have hardly any time to contemplate, read or write something. Or draw pictures. I jog/tumble/run rather than walk since I am always in a rush and trying to get someplace as quickly as possible like everybody else. This is no different for a passenger trying to get through a busy station. And the connecting train will be carrying a lot of people, because this is rush hour at very busy stations. And time is still lost from having to navigate the station complex, even before time gets lost due to your having to wait for your connecting train to arrive.

    Also, this was you about three weeks ago:

    “Reducing B44 travel time by 4 minutes is not much encouragement to get people to switch to the SBS from those crosstown buses. It will happen during the morning rush hour only because you can get a seat at the Junction. During other times most people will still prefer the Brighton Line.”

    Then this was you about a week ago, in the comments section of this article:

    “As far as transferring between train, I already explained that most people would not want to make extra transfers in the non-rush hours, but I really doubt it if is is much of a factor in the rush hours.”

    Contradiction much?

  9. Unacceptable! Nobody should be paying for public transit in this day and age. Buses, trains and bridges should be free for all. This is being done for the cameras sake. For the $115 that all unsuspecting passengers and customers of these stores will have to pay because of city and corporate MTA greed. I hope with all the revenue they will be collecting from these poor people and businesses they will at least build the nostrand avenue subway extension that was supposed to be in existence by 1993!

  10. 1. The city shouldn’t have to ask everyone their precious opinion.  It’s been on the MTA website for years, and there are community board meetings.  If you don’t know, it’s your own fault for putting zero effort into staying informed and connected to your community. 
    2. The part of the select bus service in Sheepshead Bay doesn’t even have a dedicated lane so the changes will be minimal.  All these merchants worried about changes to parking obviously have no idea what the changes are. 

  11. 1. It’s not a question of asking their “precious opinion”. It’s a question of informing them or the local business association if there is one. You also can’t assume that everyone uses the Internet. Yes it’s been on the Internet for years with outdated information and conflicting information like when the start date will be and incomplete information like not telling anyone that through traffic will share a lane with left turns south of Avenue X and 2. There is a dedicated lane during rush hours in Sheepshead Bay. Looks like you also have no idea what these changes will be.

  12. By informing merchants business might have had time to make adjustments.
    Like why stay and pay rent? Why open a business here in the first place?
    Will there be grants to compensate for their loses?

  13. I look at it the same way as sticking bike lanes everywhere. 
    The regulations on that have changed also.
    The city is just not obliged to making things easier on small businesses.

  14. No I did not contradict myself.

    You are living in a fantasy world.  No one will leave their car home because of SBS. That’s because there are no traffic generators north of the Junction along Rogers and Bedford for anyone living in Sheepshead Bay.  No one will be riding the B44 SBS from Sheepshead Bay to the A train.  Those needing to transfer will still have to change for a slow local route.  Saving 6 minutes will not cause them to leave their car home which they would be doing only because of a shortage of parking near their destination.

    The best you can hope for is that the faster speed of SBS will cause a few people to make trips they might not have made otherwise.

    Don’t understand what you are saying about one bus stopping at the red and another going on the green.  You seem to think that the buses will be so much faster on Nostrand south of Z where there are very few riders than they will be on Avenue Z where there is a demand.  What you are not considering, is that in order for people to park south of Avenue X, they will have to momentarily stop in the bus lane before they back up.  Buses will either have to wait or merge into the crowded single lane for cars.  They will not be zooming from Emmons to Avenue X and they better not be going faster than 30 mph. 

    You say on locals there are many frequent stops that most people do not use.  So why on the B49 in the afternoons, do the B49s stop at every single stop with 5 or 10 people getting on and off at each of them?  The stops are there because the people use them heavily.  If it ran more often than every 12 minutes, they would skip more stops.

    Yes buses bunch and local buses are a pain, but every route can’t be SBS and even if the B4 ran every 5 minutes, it still would be empty, but it is still a needed route.  Not every route can have a heavy demand. But I don’t want the B44 SBS used as an excuse to discontinue the B4 which will happen if a few people do switch to the B44. That is in the back of their mind and they are hoping that will happen.  The purpose of the SBS is to save money, not to help riders.  If local buses are slow slow and people hate to use them and avoid them at all costs, how do you explain that 70% of MTA passengers surveyed said they are satisfied with the speed of local buses?


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