The Bronx Gets Its Second Select Bus Service Route

Photo: NYC DOT

Yesterday marked the launch of Select Bus Service on Webster Avenue, speeding transit trips on a critical north-south corridor that lacks convenient subway access. To keep buses in motion, NYC DOT and the MTA upgraded the Bx41 route with dedicated bus lanes, pre-paid fare collection, and all-door boarding. Bus bulbs will be constructed at SBS stops along the route next year. The introduction of faster, more reliable transit on Webster Avenue will speed trips for 20,000 daily riders on the Bx41 and complement the city’s plan to foster more intensive mixed-use development along the corridor.

The city's newest Select Bus Service route brings pre-paid fares and all-door boarding to the Bx41, with dedicated bus lanes between Gun Hill Road and 165th Street. The BxImage: ## DOT##

Before these improvements, the Bx41 ranked as the most unreliable bus route in the Bronx. With faster boarding, buses will be able to stay on schedule and won’t bunch up so much. The MTA estimates that SBS will increase bus speeds between 15 and 20 percent on the route.

While bus ridership has been trending downward citywide since Albany transit raids and other budget pressures led the MTA make wide-ranging service cuts in 2010, SBS routes have attracted new riders. The city’s first SBS route, implemented on Fordham Road in 2008, cut travel times by nearly 20 percent and grew ridership by 7 percent, according to the Straphangers Campaign. On First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, an 18 percent improvement in bus speeds led to a 9 percent uptick in ridership.

Speedier, more reliable transit fits into a broader plan for Webster Avenue, which was rezoned in 2011 to allow for more commercial and residential development. The New York City Economic Development Corporation is working to foster more mixed-use development on the Webster Avenue corridor between Gun Hill Road and Fordham Road. “This new service will not only make travel easier and faster in the Bronx — it’s also central to our larger efforts to bring new life and economic strength to Webster Avenue,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement released today.

Together with Manhattan, which has SBS on the East Side and on 34th Street, the Bronx is now the second borough with two SBS routes. Political support for SBS seems to be especially deep and broad in the Bronx. State Senator Gustavo Rivera has been a strong supporter of the Webster Avenue project and has called for upgrades to bus service on the Grand Concourse. Council Member Joel Rivera, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Jeff Klein, and Congressmember Jose Serrano all hailed today’s SBS launch in the city’s press release.

Next up for Select Bus Service: The long-awaited upgrades on the Nostrand Avenue corridor in Brooklyn, where SBS is slated to start service later this year.

  • Joe Schmo

    This service runs on Webster Avenue, parallel to the former route of the old Third Avenue Elevated train (the 8 train) which was torn down in the 70s as the city disinvested in the Bronx and left many working-class neighborhoods to burn.

    It’s incredible that even 40 years ago it was considered a good idea to demolish an entire subway line in New York City.

  • Bronxite

    The Bronx needs a new Third Avenue rapid transit line yesterday…

    Maybe not as many stops, but it’s vital for the revitalization of the once most decayed part of NYC.

    I’m glad it appears the Webster Ave SBS lane does in fact reach E 149th St. Initially I thought the bus lane terminated at E 167th.

  • Bolwerk

    Yeah, and in any other first world city such a thing would be a priority for The Bronx. There would be a plan right now to tie SAS into a new line.

    However, new rail is for wealthy people. Poor/brown people aren’t worthy, but they can have meh buses as a consolation prize.

  • Bronxite

    I think the “master plan” called for extending the SAS into the Southeast Bronx with a terminal station at East Tremont Ave in Throgs Neck. Another area that desperately needs rapid transit.

    A Third Ave line is more likely the priority though due to the already high levels of density in Melrose, Morrisania, East Tremont, Bathgate, and Belmont. Plenty of opportunities for growth too.

    In all honesty these should be elevated lines. Cheaper and faster to complete. A rapid transit line is better than none.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Great news that the new SBS is rolling in the Bronx. SBS shows that bus transit can be better all the time with innovation and investment. I live near the B44 bus in Brooklyn, and I’m so excited for when it is improved, speeding bus travel for thousands of Brooklyn residents daily.

  • Bolwerk

    I don’t see why they should be elevated, unless something about geography really calls for it. The area is dense enough where a cut-and-cover subterranean line is financially justified.

  • Joe R.

    I agree. The problem with els is NIMBYs can tie them up in court forever on aesthetic and other flimsy grounds. On the other hand, it’s a lot more difficult to find real reasons to stop a subway (although I’m sure NIMBYs will try).

    On another note, I’d love for any new grade separated rapid transit to include bikes in the plan. That would might a separate, smaller tunnel for bikes if subterranean, or hanging the bike lane on or under an el. I particularly like the latter as modern els are often made of hollow reinforced concrete box beams. Plenty of room inside the beam for bike lanes. You just need to add light (and maybe cameras for security). You can incorporate the entrances/exits at the same location as stations.

  • Bolwerk

    The NIMBYs are actually in the places that arguably should get els, like the extremes of Astoria that might not be dense enough to financially justify underground construction. Bronxite is talking about a dense part of The Bronx. The NIMBYs just tend to be more influential.

    I really don’t see why the bikes shouldn’t just be on the surface. It’s the other, faster, more dangerous traffic that should be moved or removed.

  • Joe R.

    “I really don’t see why the bikes shouldn’t just be on the surface. It’s the other, faster, more dangerous traffic that should be moved or removed.”

    In a perfect world you’re right-get rid of the cars, and then there’s no problem having bikes on local roads (provided you remove the traffic lights and stop signs once motor traffic levels are reduced). Unfortunately, NYC seems to have little political will for doing this. That’s why I’ve come to the conclusion the best long term solution for bicycles is completely separate infrastructure. Yes, it’s a lot more expensive than surface roads, but it solves a whole bunch of problems which can’t really be solved in any other way besides reducing motor traffic. I look at it this way-cars have highways. Bikes should have something very similar.

  • Bolwerk

    My major advocacy point in re bikes is widening the sidewalks for bike lanes. It’s a little more expensive than just painting a lane of parking spaces, but it does a better job keeping cars out of the bike lanes and saves lives.


Upgrades to LaGuardia Bus Service Will Speed Local Trips Too

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 […]

MTA Maps a Five-Borough Network for Select Bus Service

At a press event yesterday to announce service restorations and upgrades, the MTA also went public with a citywide plan to expand Select Bus Service. With tunnel-boring mega-projects consuming billions of capital dollars apiece, the agency is featuring low-cost bus improvements more prominently in its strategy to increase transit capacity. Stephen Smith at the Observer reports: […]