Queens Residents Oppose Loss of Parking for Bus Rapid Transit

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Trend Watch: New York City Community Boards and civic groups opposing progressive transportation projects on the grounds that they interfere with car owners’ on-street parking and double-parking privileges. Last week, while DOT was catching flack in Brooklyn for its plan to stripe bike lanes on Brooklyn’s 9th Street, Community Board 13 in Queens was putting up a fight over the removal of parking spaces for a new Bus Rapid Transit on Merrick Boulevard. In the Bronx, Coop City residents were calling BRT plans "a recipe for disaster."

The Queens Chronicle reports:

Transit officials say the New York City Bus Rapid Transit system will be a commuter’s dream. With fewer stops, dedicated lanes and on-board technology that can communicate with stoplights to clear right of way for the buses, advocates hope to create a quick and more convenient mode of transportation that will beat driving to work.

But with a pilot route scheduled to begin on Merrick Boulevard in the fall, some residents are voicing concerns about the impact the buses might have on local merchants and businesses.

The buses will use dedicated lanes during peak hours, according to Ted Orosz, Bus Rapid Transit project manager for New York City Transit. The change will be accompanied by more police enforcement to prevent motorists from parking in the dedicated lanes during operating hours.

"We already don’t have enough parking," said Bess DeBetham, a member of
Community Board 13 and a local business advocate. "Elderly people going
to see the doctor can’t even double park to see the doctor right now.
Now having a bus stop in front, that’s going to have an impact on
business."

Photo: SuperEvilBrian/Flickr

  • Anne

    “Elderly people going to see the doctor can’t even double park to see the doctor right now.”

    DOUBLE PARK TO SEE THE DOCTOR??
    most doctor visits include at least a half hour in the waiting room!!!

  • Observer

    We’re getting into this cycle of doing nothing. “Yeah, its bad, but can’t do this or that. Too inconvenient.”

    Meanwhile, the situation continues to spiral down the drain.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Could you change that to “Some Queens Residents …”?

  • One of the problems with the city’s BRT program is that people are being asked to give up parking for something they don’t believe is going to work. Despite the city’s assurances, cops are as likely to park in bus lanes as enforce them. Why should these new lanes be any different? And the projects aren’t ambitious enough (time of day lanes, painted lines, unclear whether signal pre-emption, enforcement cameras etc are going to be included) to garner active support of pro-transit groups. Check out some U.S. BRT planning that looks likely to rebuild major city avenues into transit boulevards:
    http://www.sfcta.org/geary.htm
    http://www.sfcta.org/vanness/

  • v

    ok, yeah, “elderly residents doubleparking for doctor’s visits”…yeah, ok, that seems like a really good reason to oppose public transit. ridiculous.

    a lot of queens doesn’t have subway service. bus rapid transit can help ALLEVIATE the attending problems. these kinds of complaints are *the* reasons why streetsblog and streetfilms are so important.

  • Orcutt,

    Those San Fran BRT plans look a lot like what I saw in Paris. The Parisian BRT guys were saying that the BRT lines that run down the middle of the Avenue, two-way, with a station in the median right in the middle, were the corridors that were performing best, by far.

    Indeed the NYC BRT designs do not seem to be all that ambitious by comparison but do you see any amount of advocacy changing the plan or the design at this point?

  • busfan

    v: so instead, we have the leader of one of the main advocacy groups arguing against doing BRT…

  • liz

    the problem is not parking spaces being turned into bus priority lanes or bike lanes. the problem is people using streets for long term parking. the solution is to price remaining parking so that it favors shorter term parkers– customers, patients and the like.

  • Arguing for doing BRT well so it does not become a discredited concept here is very different than arguing against doing BRT at all.

    We are hoping that new MTA and new NYC DOT leadership will review the city projects and focus on getting a few really good models in place. There are some win-win outcomes that can be achieved that get beyond saying Queens residents are jerks for defending their parking spaces. Note that the SF options which the planners say work the best do not take any curb lane space at all.

    The downtown bus bulbs are a good development but shouldn’t be seen as something that alone delivers “rapid” bus service. They in fact could and should be implemented on every bus route in the city.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    That sounds good, Jon, and I also would like these corridors to be successful. But as far as I’m concerned BRT (as opposed to just “worthwhile bus improvements”) is already a discredited concept, and a red herring that distracts attention away from streetcars. By the time you spend enough money to make a significant improvement in bus service, you’re almost at the level of LRT. I don’t know Merrick Avenue, but the 207th Street/Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway route would be perfect for a streetcar (just as designed).

    I know you’re a busy guy, but I’ve posted this link here before, and I’m hoping that some day a transit advocate that supports BRT will tell me why it’s wrong:

    http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_brt.htm

  • nimby pimby

    Orcutt & Aaron —

    There are some big problems with what you are saying and the comparisons you are making. First because of the limited width of the street in the outer borough BRT corridors and the fact that most of them are two-way, you cant fit boarding islands and more radical measures into the right of way. Both Geary and Van Ness have tremendous rights-of-way that don’t exist on Nostrand Avenue, for example. And the more dramatic the plans certainly the more radical the opposition.

    Second, the comparison to San Francisco is ludicrous given that we want to push NYC to do things dramitically and fast. Look at those links and the history. Geary alone is a 3 year study and AFTER those three years then the EIS process will begin. From study to target for “Phase 1” (a likely limited implementation, not what you see in the renderings) you are talking about 2004 to 2011. Add this to the fact that the Geary corridor was supposed to get BART train service in the original 1970s plan and we are talking about a municipal failure to provide mass transit here nearly on the scale of the 2nd Avenue subway. They’ve been talking BRT for Geary through the late 1990s. What’s the big delay? Well, basically because parking and car loving NIMBYs have ridiculous amounts of power in San Francisco despite the look-at-me-liberal talk. All the processes they are doing is to get around them/convince them/keep their lawsuits from freezing everything (look at the non-implementation of the SF Bike Master Plan as an example.)

    Thankfully, in New York, NIMBY’s generally don’t have that kind of power so if the City gets the right push and advocates out-organize them, they can be beaten.

    Please find a better example than SF to compare NYC to. How about LA’s MetroRapid — that is an impressive story. If NYC had a fancy rendering like SF would that make you happier?

  • Anonymous

    I really wish that people would get over this one mode v another debate, all that does is lenghten the whole process; rather the answer lies in a truly integrated land use and transportation planning exercise. To date no organization or individual has had the strength of will to stand up and honestly express what truly is in the best interest of the city and region as a whole. Everyone is busy advocating solutions to symptoms of a problem without addressing its root causes. It hasn’t been acknowledged that transportation is only one part of a wider problem, and also in truth it is about ACCESS. Access to essential services, to education, to healthcare, to employment. The estimated 1 million additional people in the City and 4 million in the Metro area, will not just add increase traffic congestion, but to all facets of life.

    People need to stop fixating on BRT or LRT or whatever the mode-du-jour RT is being pedalled. There are plenty examples of half empty streetcars operting around the country, as there examples of BRT running not very rapidly. Any alternative will only be successful if it is supported by and part of a wider range of policies that promote sound planning with tangible benefits to all!

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Interesting point, Nimby. For this study, the MTA/DOT could have chosen some of the boulevards that were designed for streetcars (like Queens Boulevard, Northern Boulevard or Southern Boulevard) and are wide enough to fit those boarding islands.

    They didn’t, and it’s typical of the kind of bait-and-switch that’s standard practice when implementing a BRT system. You start out with Curitiba and after everyone’s objections are taken into account, you wind up with a bus that’s just like the old one but painted a different color.

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