A Bridge and Tunnel Transit Solution

Historically, East River bridges have carried more transit — and more people — than they do today. View a larger version of this image.

Last week, Cap’n Transit posted a series about running express bus lanes over bridges and tunnels, which would boost the capacity of crossings and put them on a de facto road diet. These steps will "get rapid transit value even on non-rapid bus routes," he says:

What if we had an XBL on every major bridge and tunnel? We could take
all the buses that pass nearby and feed them through it, bringing
people into Manhattan where they can get to jobs easier. This would be
a form of BRT, even if it doesn’t have fancy brands or fake subway

Enhancing the appeal of transit while taking away lanes for private cars is a fantastic recipe for mode switch. And doing it on the city’s biggest bottlenecks could capture some of the virtuous cycle benefits that might have materialized had congestion pricing passed.

The key, says the Cap’n, is not only giving buses dedicated rights-of-way on crossings, but making approaches smoother and providing logical routes after exiting as well. Here’s the short version of how he would make this work for buses going through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. (The long version is well worth reading, too.) 

  • Make the Gowanus HOV lane two-way and 24/7
  • Run more buses
  • Extend the Church Street Transitway north, and institute a parallel southbound route
  • Institute through-running of buses to New Jersey and the Bronx

And to make it work on the Brooklyn Bridge

…you first have to allow buses on the bridge. Then it’s a relatively
simple matter of running the Fulton Mall and Livingston Street buses
down Adams Street, and figuring out where they go once they get to

Easier said than done, of course, but very much in line with the city’s commitment to BRT:

Simple, yes. Easy – especially politically? Not so
much. But all these posts assume a certain level of political and
financial support for BRT. Without that, you’re not going to get much
BRT anywhere in the city.

Note to Cap’n Transit: Ideas this good deserve credit, but all we know about you is that you live in Queens (and work in "accounting"). When will you shed the mask and reveal your true identity?

Image: Federal Highway Administration (PDF)