Eyes on the Street: Painting SBS Bus Lanes on Nostrand Avenue

DOT crews were painting bus lanes on Nostrand Avenue this morning at Carroll Street. Photo: Haruka Horiuchi

Brooklyn’s B44 bus carried more than 12.5 million passengers last year between the base of the Williamsburg Bridge and Sheepshead Bay, making it the city’s fifth-busiest bus route. But the B44, which runs primarily along Nostrand Avenue, is notoriously unreliable and spends less than half of each run in motion. Half the time, it’s stuck in traffic or at bus stops and red lights.

There are 300,000 residents within a quarter-mile of the bus route, and 62 percent of households in that area are car-free, according to DOT and the MTA. Since 2009, the two agencies have been working to bring Select Bus Service to the B44. Limited-stop service would be converted to SBS, while local service on the B44 would remain.

Like other SBS projects, this one will add off-board fare collection, camera-enforced dedicated bus lanes, and transit signal priority to keep buses moving with green lights. It will also include curb extensions at bus stops, also known as bus bulbs, to keep the buses from having to move in and out of traffic every time they reach a stop.

The project, which received a $28 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, is nearing completion. Workers are painting the red bus lanes, and earlier this month, crews were spotted pouring concrete at a bus bulb near the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street.

A presentation from last year [PDF] says the project will be complete by “late 2013,” with the more intensive reconstruction of Nostrand Avenue between Flushing and Atlantic Avenues set to wrap by fall 2014.

  • Anonymous

    Still don’t understand why Nostrand Ave SBS couldn’t have a terminus in the LowLine. Even if it meant getting smaller, longer buses it would re-activate that underground station and make for a one-seat ride into Manhattan for riders.

  • yourvoiceofreason

    That 62% number is ridiculously exaggerated. Perhaps not too many people own cars towards the northern half of the line but once you get past the junction I assure you that number was just picked out of the sky. Many residents own cars because transportation options are sparse. Taking away parking spots to shave 2 minutes from a commute is not economical for anyone. Not to mention many residents are disabled. The spacing of these stops does nothing to help them. But the MTA does not care. It just sees dollar signs, like it always has. They should have finished the 2/5 line like they were supposed to. Brooklyn College was never meant to be the end of the line. But fattening up wallets became more important then serving the people. Don’t be fooled.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I rode the B44 for a couple of years and it was not a fast nor a smooth ride.

    The re-construction of Nostrand has certainly made for headaches over the last year, but now that things are smooth, and the bus lane is painted in, things look much better. Can’t wait to try it out when it’s actually rolling!

  • s

    If many residents are disabled, it might help if more able-bodied people walked and took the bus.

  • Anonymous

    62% is not exaggerated. Are you aware of the concept of averages?

  • Danny G

    This new bus service is gonna be great. When the new B44 rolls out in the winter, we’re gonna go to Sheepshead Bay and eat lobster and oysters, and then get the bus back and be home in no time. Kudos to the MTA and DOT for working together on this one.

  • Chris M

    The road workers last night responsible for doing some repaving along these lines also reported that they unearthed some old trolley lines at St. John’s and Rogers. They paved over it temporarily, but there is a portion of the trolley lines visible at Rogers & Sterling still. As transit moves forward, you can’t help but encounter the past! Does anybody have a map of old NYC trolley lines?

  • Andrew
  • flashgordon

    What? Guy, they’re speeding up the soon-to-be express service from the current limited-stop service, which is already a joke going northbound, dealing with the traffic on Farragut, New York, and Fulton.. It’s a nightmare. Buses cannot get around the traffic with one lane of travel..

    Elderly folks can still rely on the local service, and take it to the nearest SBS stop if that’s the case.. but I, for one, happy they’ve eliminated Avenue S & R as limited stops in the new SBS scheme. Let the express buses handle the bigger loads and get them to one stop as they can alight one shot deal.

    SBS is to improve reliability of the slow-paced line as it is.

  • brooklynfoo

    things are not smooth between atlantic and flushing. Its still like the surface of the moon and has been for many years. I cant believe its going to be another year before this section is completed.

  • Phil R

    As a driver, my experience has been that at night there are very few buses around, and because of the restrictions on traffic in these reserved lanes, half the available driving space is closed off, causing congestion and frustration. Add to that the fact that people double-park all the time; people turn off Nostrand Avenue all the time, causing back-ups while they wait for a chance to exit the avenue; and, last but not least, that some of the most impatient drivers simply ignore the restriction and drive along the bus-only lines anyway. If in fact the restriction is in effect 24/7, it seems counterproductive. It may be great for buses–when they’re running–but it’s hell on traffic.

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