Upgrades to LaGuardia Bus Service Will Speed Local Trips Too

Image: Port Authority, MTA and DOT. Full-size map available ##http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/pdf/LGASBSmap.pdf##here##.

Mayor Bloomberg, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota this morning announced a long-anticipated plan for Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport, which should speed travel times to and from neighborhoods in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens while improving service for local transit users.

On the table are three routes: a Select Bus line on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, to extend across the Triboro/RFK Bridge to the airport via Astoria Boulevard; an SBS upgrade for the M60, which runs along 125th Street in Harlem and is currently the busiest LaGuardia bus route; and a new direct route from Woodside and Jackson Heights via the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

The Webster Avenue line would offer a one-seat ride, and could reduce travel time between LaGuardia and Fordham Plaza from 83 to 43 minutes. Proposed options for Webster Avenue SBS include dedicated center lanes with elevated boarding platforms, which would allow for quicker speeds. The extension of the Webster Avenue route to LaGuardia is “still being evaluated as the public outreach continues,” according to a media release.

Advocates in Northern Manhattan have been active in lobbying for Select Bus Service for 125th Street, where passengers spend 60 percent of their time on stopped buses. The M60 Select Bus route should shorten cross-town trips by at least five minutes, and airport trips by nine minutes, while providing improved reliability. Twelve subway lines and Metro-North connect to the M60 for service to and from LaGuardia. Over 32,000 riders board one of 125th Street’s four bus lines every weekday, according to West Harlem Environmental Action.

Proposed SBS for Queens would bring new bus service to Woodside and Jackson Heights, potentially cutting trip times between LaGuardia and Penn Station by almost 32 percent, and over 60 percent between the airport and 74th Street at Roosevelt Avenue. Adjustments would be made to preserve local service while also providing airport connections.

While overall city bus ridership has declined, more transit users are turning to Select Bus Service, which features faster trip times thanks to pre-paid fares, all-door boarding and dedicated lanes. In addition to air passengers, the new LaGuardia service will speed commutes for thousands of airport employees.

The public input process for Webster Avenue is already underway. Further route and service specifics will be hammered out through a series of public hearings, the first of which was held Wednesday night at Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights. The new service is expected to launch in 2013 and 2014.

  • J

    I was skeptical of the Bronx to LaGuardia bus connection at first, since the M60 (which will also be improved) already connects to all of the subway lines in the Bronx. However, the connection between Astoria and the Bronx is actually incredibly useful in terms of improving the regional network. Right now, to get from anywhere on the N line to the Bronx requires either taking the N train south into Manhattan and then transferring to an uptown subway to the Bronx, a lengthy detour, OR taking the M60 bus into Manhattan and then transferring to a subway into the Bronx. Neither is direct, so this will be a much-needed improvement, knitting together two adjacent boroughs that currently have rather poor transit links between them.

  • AlexB

    Each of the three routes identified have obvious value and should be implemented.  My question is, are they all going to be implemented or is the city going to pick one or two?  Anyone know?

  • Larry Littlefield

    This is great to hear.  Two things I’d like to see added:

    A better “station” for bus riders at 31st Street in Astoria, and “put ins” from there to LaGuardia when the M60 is tied up on 125th Street or the bridge.  The ride from 31st Street to LGA is fine, but the wait is unreliable and the service should be more frequent.

  • Anonymous

    Are these done deals? Or just proposals?

    And which parties have a say in which package of SBS features will end up on which lines? Does CB 10 need to OK bus lanes on 125th? 

  • JK

    Great news. Cheers to WEACT and their TRAC campaign. I especially look forward to SBS on 125th Street, which is a mess of a street, and terrible for bus riders. It’s common for traffic to come to a complete stop.  The street is regularly blocked in one direction when a vehicle waits to turn left next to a double parked car.  Every time an emergency vehicle stops — which happens a lot — buses are stuck. The community boards cannot have it both ways. Parking rules have to be changed for SBS to work. Meter rates have to be raised on 125th and adjacent streets, plus, there needs to be metering end to end, and curbside parking near intersections needs to be eliminated. This street is currently dysfunctional for all modes of travel because a small number of people with disproportionate influence on the community boards want to hold onto the fantasy that they can drive and park in front of their favorite store.

  • Guest

    I think the map might be missing some of the transit connections?

    Ex. I would assume the Bx route would connect to the 6 at 138th.

  • Anonymous

    Good ideas.


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