Next Up for SBS: 23rd Street in Manhattan, Canarsie to Gravesend in Brooklyn

What people are saying about the B6 and B82
What people are saying about the B82. Image via NYC DOT

Two more enhanced bus routes are entering the project pipeline in NYC, one along a busy Manhattan crosstown street and the other snaking across a transit-hungry stretch of Brooklyn.

The Manhattan project will run across 23rd Street. The Brooklyn project would tackle a long route following the B6 and B82 between East New York and Gravesend, which carried a combined 69,586 riders on an average weekday last year, according to the MTA.

The general sweep of the southern Brooklyn route was first identified in the 2009 SBS “phase two” expansion plan. A more fine-grained map emerged in the de Blasio administration’s OneNYC environmental and equity plan, released in April.

DOT and the MTA have already gotten started on the southern Brooklyn route. The project website includes reports from the field, where staffers set up tables at busy bus stops in August and September to find out what riders want. The top complaints: Buses are too slow, too crowded, and not running frequently enough.

There are also online maps — one for the B6, another for the B82 — so riders can pinpoint areas in need of improvement.

The B82 seems to offer the best opportunity for bus lanes, especially along Flatlands Avenue and Kings Highway. Getting these changes might take some effort: The route crosses City Council and community board districts where representatives don’t have a great record on reallocating street space.

In Manhattan, SBS service on 23rd Street is a bit of a surprise, since it didn’t appear in either the 2009 plan or OneNYC. The next logical Manhattan SBS route would have been 14th Street, which was identified in both planning documents. There’s a reason 14th Street looked like a higher priority: The M14 served an average 34,487 riders each weekday last year, according to the MTA, while the M23 served just 13,971. DOT did not say why 23rd Street jumped ahead of 14th Street for implementation.

DOT has started reaching out to local elected officials and community board members in the area in advance of public meetings later this fall.

Other projects are closer to the finish line. By the end of this year, SBS is expected to launch on the B46 on Utica Avenue and the Q44 between Jamaica, Flushing, and the Bronx. The projects include transit signal priority and off-board fare payment. Some sections of both routes will have bus lanes, which may be camera-enforced thanks to a newly-passed law.

The other SBS route in the works is for the routes serving Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard, a larger capital project that isn’t slated to finish until 2018.

  • J

    14th Street would be a much better corridor. Maybe there are more NIMBYs there? Maybe there’s more car traffic? Whatever it is, this seems like another instance of a lack of political will to do good transit stuff.

  • I would say that it’s because the administration doesn’t want to do dedicated lanes on 14th St. But the M86 SBS line has proven that they’re willing to do off-board payment and what-not without the lanes, so I guess that’s not it.

    So my working theory now is that they’re trying to appeal to far east side old white people, which I’m guessing de Blasio is worried about come 2017.

    But mostly it’s just strange.

  • Danny G

    I’d guess that it’s because 14th Street has the L train below as a faster option, but 23rd Street only has the bus.

  • Try telling that to someone in Alphabet City, which is where (I think) most of the ridership is.

  • Allan Rosen

    Why do DOT and the MTA first decide the routes of SBS and then go to the communities for comments and ignore any requests for major changes. That is backwards planning.

    The communities should first be solicited as to what the problems are to first determine if SBS is even appropriate or if tere are better solutions. For example, bus connections need to be improved between Brooklyn and Queens. Why would you terminate an SBS route a few blocks shy of another proposed SBS route along Woodhaven? That makes zero sense as do many of DOT’s proposals.

    The community process is nothing but a sham since DOT and the MTA refuse to answer any questions about SBS. I am still waiting over six months for my ten B46 SBS questions to be answered.

  • ohnonononono

    It doesn’t really make sense… the M14D is the lifeblood of a lot of people in the projects on the LES. The M23 is… a bunch of people going to Chelsea Piers?

  • Fakey McFakename

    My guess: 14th St is more complicated engineering-wise (e.g., service roads by Stuy Town), so will require more study. 23rd is simpler so can just stick in the upgrades quickly.

  • Lincoln

    I think the north/south portion of the M14 complicates it. the M23 is simpler in that it is almost purely crosstown.

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