Will we ever see those Select Bus Service facts? 1

Allan Rosen

Let’s examine things we’re being told about Select Bus Service and Bus Rapid Transit that aren’t true.

1. SBS/BRT is the best cost-effective solution to improve north-south travel in the Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard corridor.

Actually, restoring the abandoned Rockaway Beach Line offers more advantages. It provides faster trips without removing two needed general traffic lanes. Studies have shown the public prefers rail to bus. Rail will stimulate development. The RBL is also greener and quieter because it uses electric power. It won’t impede first responders, unlike the design the city Department of Transportation has chosen.

The DOT cannot be trusted to provide truthful figures. It had been touting $28 million for SBS, then it suddenly escalated the cost to $200 million with BRT. That cost could double if any of the work has to be redone such as switching to Option 1 midstream, because emergency response times increase. Pedestrian islands may have to be ripped out, as happened several years ago in front of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, when these islands were installed without discussions with EMS personnel.

There also are plans to destroy the RBL with the QueensWay trail, which has been priced at $120 million, and would likely escalate. The combined BRT and Queens-Way costs approach the cost of restoring the RBL, which provides a far superior level of service. Regulatory flexibility to permit shared LIRR/subway operations or an LIRR/subway transfer at Aqueduct or Howard Beach eliminates the cost of a new bridge across Jamaica Bay.

2. SBS/BRT will encourage drivers to switch to buses.

The number of transfers and fares needed to make a trip will not be reduced, a major reason why many choose to drive. Therefore motorists will not switch modes to compensate for the loss of general traffic lanes.

3. SBS increases bus reliability.

SBS buses operate no more reliably than local bus routes. SBS buses frequently arrive in bunches along Second Avenue in Manhattan and along Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. Many passengers see no improvement over the former Limited service SBS replaced.

4. Buses traveling faster equates with faster trip times for bus passengers.

Actually, for someone to fully benefit from bus travel time savings, they must ride from the first stop until the last stop, which few passengers do. There will be no savings for the passenger of up to 35 percent as DOT’s press release claims.

5. Bus passengers will save time during the off-peak.

During the midday before 3 p.m., in the evening and on weekends, buses already travel the maximum allowable speed and would not travel any faster because of exclusive bus lanes.

6. The needs of automobile drivers will be met.

Only the needs of bus riders have been considered, though they account for only one-third of the road’s users. The DOT admits that the majority — 57 percent — of Woodhaven Corridor residents own cars, though they state the negative that 43 percent of the households do not own cars.

The DOT also plans to ban left turns at Metropolitan Avenue and Rockaway Blvd. It claims that this won’t negatively impact drivers, but that is wrong. Drivers will have to travel farther and be forced to first travel in the opposite direction of where they want to go.

7. Traffic will improve after BRT is completed.

Traffic will significantly worsen with two lanes for general travel removed, and mergers from four lanes to three will become mergers of three lanes to two. The net result is increased congestion for motorists and also commercial vehicles as there is no nearby alternative north-south route. That includes livery cabs that transit-dependent residents rely on for doctor’s appointments and shopping,

8. Three lanes for general traffic will be maintained throughout the corridor.

Although this is what the DOT had promised throughout the process, only two lanes for general traffic will be maintained where Woodhaven passes beneath and above the LIRR, and a two-lane option is being considered for Cross Bay Boulevard as well.

9. Construction will be completed within a year.

None of the DOT’s past time estimates has been accurate. Even the first-year assessment for the B44 SBS is over four months late.

10. Community involvement has been adequate throughout.

Questions asked one year ago still have not been responded to, and there has been no outreach specifically for automobile drivers, who are mostly unaware of the BRT plans, which will greatly affect them. SBS was a predetermined conclusion before the first public meeting.

Allan Rosen is a retired director of bus planning for the MTA’s New York City Transit and blogs for Sheepsheadbites.

(6) comments


This is idiotic. I find it hard to believe that Mr. Rosen is doing something other than being intentionally misleading; the alternative is that he incompetent. Points #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #10 are demonstrably false; #6, #8 and #9 are either irrelevant or outright uninformed speculation, and #7 is unknown. Either way, a stunningly poor "effort" here


Allan Rosen's piece states the case for restoration of the RBL well, but there is a combined machine of interests trying to win people over to this bus service. Most of what they say is wishful thinking, they claim drivers will enjoy traveling in two lanes instead of three- at reduced speed. Doesn't compute with my experience with drivers, although fines from traffic cameras should slow traffic while infuriating drivers.


This is Allan Rosen. Okay fetish, then demonstrate how points #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10 are demonstrably false and how are #6, 8, and 9 are irrelevant? If #7 unknown, it is a myth.

Actually, the only inaccuracy is with Point 8. There will be three general traffic lanes where the road passes under the LIRR main line and over the Montauk line. That is because DOT made an error in their diagram on Page 24 of their March 26th report. They showed a continuous unbroken line as a bus lane from Queens Boulevard to Rockaway Boulevard.


My concrete question is: What aware the differences between the Select Bus Service along both Woodhaven & Cross Bay Boulevards and the Rockaway Beach Line, in terms of: 1) The total costs; 2) The impact on the environment; 3) The impact on large and small businesses; 4) The impact on large and small homes, especially on property costs; 5) The safety; and 6) The projected ridership once it's implemented. Thank you so much. [smile]

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr.


I travel on the subway and during the Spring Break I noticed how many tourists from around the World were riding the subway to Roosevelt Ave. Jackson heights to pick up Buses to La Guardia Airport. I thought this is one of the great cities of the world and tourists have to take the dirty,ugly depressing subway,lug their bags and suitcases up to the street at Roosevelt Ave. where it looks like South America crowded,noisy ugly and wait for the bus! Why don't we have another light rail or Air train system that runs from the city,around the city and to La Guardia and JFK! This would be a much better introduction to our great city,the ride would be spectacular with fantastic views of the city skyline and much more exciting and pleasurable that the current route travelers have to take!


This is in reply to Fetish. Mr Rosen is correct in many of his points such as the Rockaway Beach Line is a faster cleaner alternative. The variable operating costs of a train are less costly than a bus even though the fixed capital costs are higher to reactivate the line. People will not switch from there cars to SBS which is also correct as people are creatures of habit plus most trips along Woodhaven Blvd. are not just from South queens but from the outer boroughs, Long island & New Jersey as an alternative to the Van Wyck Expressway & BQE. Bus reliability is also correct as one day I used the M15/M15SBS route. I waited about ten minutes at a local M15 bus stop at Delancey Street/Allen Street as three northbound SBS buses passed me by. I then decided to walk about four blocks to the M15SBS since it appeared the M15 local was not coming. By the time I got there another ten minutes had passed plus I then had to wait about ten minutes for another northbound M15SBS bus to come. Based upon this all the SBS buses as well as local routes are usually.bunched together due to traffic tie ups along the routes.

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