NYC Council approves creation of citywide bus rapid transit plan

Source: (April 16, 2015 ) – by; Anna Sanders

Select bus service, the city's version of bus rapid transit, is considered to be a possible way to ease traffic congestion on the North Shore. (Advance file photo)
Select bus service, the city’s version of bus rapid transit, is considered to be a possible way to ease traffic congestion on the North Shore. (Advance file photo)

«People in outer borough communities of all types, from Staten Island to southeast Queens to the eastern Bronx, lack mass transit options at a time when we need more mass transit options,» said the law’s sponsor, Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn). «Bus rapid transit is a smart, affordable way to significantly expand mass transit options.»

Areas of the city underserved by mass transit would have to be considered in the BRT plan, as well as strategies for serving growing neighborhoods, operating costs and how to incorporate the system with other transportation like subways and ferries.

Potential BRT routes the city plans to establish by 2027 must also be included.

Staten Island’s entire Council delegation voted in favor of establishing the plan. Councilwoman Debi Rose, a member of the Transportation Committee and a cosponsor of the law, has been pushing for BRT on North Shore.

«Developing and implementing BRT in our city will reduce commute times for many New Yorkers while making our city more resilient for future generations,» she said in a statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to approve the bill. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told Council members in February that she looked forward to working with them to expand select bus service (SBS) — the city’s version of BRT.

The city will implement 13 new SBS routes by the end of 2017. The first potential routes will run in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

The DOT and MTA, which operate SBS, may consider future development, transportation service and changing demographics or population when determining where to put the remaining routes.

The preliminary budget for fiscal year 2016 assigns $295 million for the expansion of the SBS routes, including $55 million in expense funding through fiscal year 2018.

There is also $84 million in new funding of $240 million in capital commitments through fiscal year 2025, and the city is seeking additional federal funds.

The borough currently has one SBS route, running along the S79 line between the Staten Island Mall and the 86th street subway station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, via Richmond Avenue to Hylan Boulevard.

Ms. Rose and other locals have been pushing SBS and BRT on the North Shore, arguing more mass transit will help current residents and leverage new development.

Unlike an SBS route, the North Shore BRT would operate on a five-mile fully dedicated bus path, connecting Arlington and St. George.

That proposal has remained in funding limbo after being excluded from the MTA’s capital program, which has a $15.2 billion deficit. A 2012 MTA study found that the project would cost an estimated $371 million.

The New York Assembly included $100 million in its budget proposal for BRT programs across the state, including about $33 million for one on the North Shore. But the measure wasn’t included in the state’s final budget.