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Bus Rapid Transit

19 NYC Electeds Call for Separated Bus and Bike Lanes on East Side

4:17 PM EST on December 16, 2009

electeds_headshots.jpgState Assembly member Micah Kellner, City Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Dan Garodnick, Council member-elect Margaret Chin, and State Senator Bill Perkins are among 19 local electeds calling on DOT and the MTA to implement "true BRT" and "complete streets" on First and Second Avenues.

A group of 19 elected officials has urged NYC DOT and the MTA to think big as the agencies design a Bus Rapid Transit corridor for First and Second Avenues. With the right configuration, the project could improve bus speeds dramatically, relieve crowding on the jam-packed Lexington subway line, and enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians on a corridor that's currently roiled by wide rivers of traffic.

In an email to constituents this week, Assembly member Micah Kellner shared this letter [PDF] sent to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and CC'd to MTA Chair Jay Walder. Kellner and other electeds representing Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are calling for a design that outdoes New York's pilot Select Bus Service route on Fordham
Road. It's a significant display of political support for physically separated bus lanes and bike lanes on the East Side:

We call on DOT to take advantage of this rare opportunity to overhaul street-level transit in a progressive and innovative manner that reaches well beyond SBS. DOT should institute changes to the First and Second Avenue route that include not only prepaid off-board fare collection, signal priority, and a dedicated rush-hour bus lane (all present in the Fordham Road SBS), but also a physically separated busway, a physically separated bikeway, level boarding, safer crossings for pedestrians, and real-time arrival information. It is our understanding that buses running via a true BRT system on the current M15 route from beginning to end would be approximately thirty-three percent faster, on average, than SBS buses on the same route. 

Such a plan would elevate the City to even greater national and international prominence for sustainable urban development initiatives that innovate and endure, and we believe there would be substantial public support for BRT -- significantly greater support than we expect the SBS plan to generate. With a sensible "complete street" design that keeps cyclists and pedestrians out of harm’s way, this project would also save lives. 

The list of signatories includes City Council members, state legislators, and U.S. representatives (see the full roster after the jump). They want to see "true BRT" and "complete streets." Will DOT and the MTA deliver?

Details of the East Side configuration remain in flux, but according to a Daily News report last month, DOT is considering separated bus lanes "along some stretches" of the corridor. In public meetings so far, DOT has only shown an "off-set" bus lane as a potential design option for the East Side avenues -- a configuration that would not deliver the same benefits for bus riders as physically separated lanes. 

Streetsblog asked DOT and the MTA for updates on the status of the East Side project. "We expect to have a plan to propose in January and we are heartened by the support for BRT from these elected officials," said DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow.

The MTA declined to comment.

Here's the full list of electeds who've signed on:

Brian Kavanagh  

Liz Krueger
State Senator   

Carolyn B. Maloney
U.S. Congresswoman

Jerrold Nadler   
U.S. Representative  

Nydia M. Velazquez
U.S. Representative  

Thomas K. Duane
State Senator

Bill Perkins    
State Senator   

José M. Serrano
State Senator   

Daniel Squadron 
State Senator

Jonathan L. Bing  

Deborah J. Glick

Richard N. Gottfried 

Micah Kellner   

Adam Clayton Powell IV

Daniel R. Garodnick
Council Member

Alan J. Gerson
Council Member  

Jessica Lappin   
Council Member  

Melissa Mark-Viverito
Council Member

Margaret Chin
Council Member-Elect 

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