As Elana reported earlier today, the Obama Administration’s 2011 budget includes $28 million for the Nostrand Avenue Select Bus Service project. The announcement should help build momentum for a high-priority transit project set to launch in 2012.
Nostrand Avenue SBS would ply the B44 corridor in Brooklyn, a route where ridership is already high, demand is higher, and bus service is currently the most unreliable in the city. Select Bus Service already operates along Fordham Road in the Bronx, and the MTA and DOT recently released their design for First and Second Avenue SBS in Manhattan.
The FTA’s announcement should help turn this project into reality. "That funding helps assure everybody that the project is going to move forward in these difficult times," said Joan Byron of the Pratt Center for Community Development, which has been a major advocate for bus rapid transit in New York. Byron highlighted the fact that the design for the route is still very much an open question and that secure funding will make the public outreach process more effective.
In the past, SBS projects — including the Nostrand Avenue route — have encountered resistance from those afraid of changing the status quo on the street. The promise of federal dollars could help shift that dynamic. "It’s a strong incentive for local officials to get behind the project," said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "We’re living in a time where money for all services, including transit, is scarce. Elected officials along the corridor should not look a gift horse in the mouth."
Slevin noted that riders on the Fordham Road SBS route, where ridership has risen 30 percent, have rated the new service highly. "Advocates love it, riders love it, and the federal government is showing it values these types of projects, too."