Bus Lanes and Faster Boarding Come to Flushing and Jamaica

Sunday marked the first day of service for Q44 Select Bus Service linking Jamaica, Flushing, and the southeast Bronx, so I headed over to Sutphin Boulevard and Main Street during the p.m. rush yesterday to check it out.

Photo: David Meyer
The new bus lane on Main Street in Flushing. Photo: David Meyer

The Q44 SBS features the standard package of improvements that DOT and the MTA have employed to cut travel times on several other routes since 2008 — off-board fare payment, dedicated bus lanes, and priority for buses at traffic signals. State legislation enacted this year will enable camera enforcement of the bus lanes. The bus lanes don’t cover the whole route, since eastern Queens pols threw a fit about them in Briarwood and Kew Gardens Hills, but they do enable riders to bypass traffic on the most congested sections in Flushing and Jamaica.

Bus riders make more than 28,000 daily trips on the Q44. It’s the first bus route in Queens to be upgraded to SBS that doesn’t serve LaGuardia.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people were still getting used to the new fare payment system yesterday. Whereas riders on the old Q44 paid one-by-one entering the bus, the new system allows them to do so before they get on and board at any door, speeding the process significantly.

DOT and MTA reps standing by each station to guide riders through it said people are settling into the new and improved Q44. “Most of the people, after they use it a few times, they understand the system,” said DOT’s Artenio Angeles, who was assisting passengers at a stop on Main Street.

One younger rider, Mohammed, who declined to give his last name, said he had stopped riding the Q44 months ago due to overcrowding and long wait times — until this week. “It’s better than it used to be. There’s a lot more room,” he said. “I like the fact that you don’t have to wait.”

ticketing-at-sutphin-and-archer
Buying a ticket at Sutphin and Archer in Jamaica. Photo: David Meyer
  • scastro87

    Off board fare payment should be so implemented on a much wider basis.

  • BBnet3000

    When we get contactless taggers they should put them at all doors and move to Proof of Payment.

  • As a regular Q44 commuter, I can attest that the buses load a lot quicker now. On Monday the bus had filled up and left before I could get my bike folded; today the bus drove off before this one jerk had gotten his ticket and he ran into the street and actually cracked one of the side windows in frustration.

    Yesterday we had the inspectors get on and they were fairly quick, but the bus was not crowded. The bus waited at Lafayette and Hutch Service Road until they finished.

  • kevd

    That is so completely stupid that they STOP THE BUS to control tickets.
    No other city does this.
    The MTA needs to pull its head out of its own ass and do it that way every other city does it – people get on the bus, the doors close and they pull out their badges and ask for proof of payment while the bus is moving. So, Ta-Da! It doesn’t slow anyone down.

  • Chris Corr

    >>Yesterday we had the inspectors get on and they were fairly quick, but the bus was not crowded. The bus waited at Lafayette and Hutch Service Road until they finished.<<

    NYC is the only place I know of where they stop transit vehicles in order to conduct fare checks. How stupid is that? When you stop the vehicle you are slowing down the service, which counters all the measures to speed up service in the first place.

  • ohnonononono

    The MTA inspectors don’t want to ride the bus while they check tickets. How would they get back to where they parked their cars?! Do you expect them to get off and cross the street and stand around for who knows how long and wait for the next bus in the opposite direction? Like common folks? What a waste of time for them that would be!

  • Or inspectors don’t want to be moving around on moving buses in case they fall down. But from talking to the helpers in reflective pinnies at the SBS stops, it’s my impression that SBS guidance is not very clear.

    Maybe the SBS doctrine calls for the buses to keep moving, but the inspectors prefer to do static checks, and nobody tells them otherwise. Like the way that NYCHA employees never wear seat belts. The employees know how they are supposed to act, but they don’t do it, and the leadership doesn’t bother to check on them.

  • bolwerk

    Concur with what kevd said: that is stupid. Some cities even let you board and buy on the vehicle. Nobody has to choose between paying their fare and boarding their vehicle.

  • sbauman

    The MTA removed the Q44 arrival times from the schedules at each Q44 bus stop.

  • Nick Ober

    This. Contactless at every door would suddenly speed up every bus in the city. Makes it even more of a sin that the MTA has taken so long to kill off the Metrocard.

  • AnoNYC

    What other SBS lines can we expect in the near future?

  • ahwr
  • Matthias

    All three times I’ve been inspected, the bus was held for no apparent reason. This study from 2012 does not indicate that holding the bus is standard procedure, but that inspectors ride the bus while inspecting or check disembarking passengers (scroll down to p64 of the pdf). It seems that the MTA needs to clarify and enforce best practice.

  • AnoNYC

    Thank you. South Bronx crosstown is going to really make a difference to me. I hope it is implemented sooner than later.

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