Southern Brooklyn motorists are furious at the MTA’s plan to bring bus-only lanes and larger B44 buses to Nostrand and Rogers avenues in hopes of speeding up the notoriously slow route.
The city is also on board for the plan to bring “Select Bus Service,” which features curbside fare machines, electronic arrival information and a traffic signal priority system that gives more green lights to buses to the heart of Brooklyn. All of these conditions are meant to ease congestion on Nostrand Avenue, which is the fourth busiest bus route in the city with 13.6 million riders, according to MTA reports. However, local drivers say that the service will increase traffic, take away parking spaces and make turning dangerous for cars.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” said Jay Schneider, who drives down Nostrand Avenue to get to work. “The street is already congested and difficult to park on, and the extra bus lane will just make things worse.”
Schneider was one of dozens of people who attended the city’s presentation about the service on Nov. 15 at Brooklyn College. Nostrand Avenue business owners also expressed their concerns about the service.
“Right now, it’s convenient for customers to park in front of our liquor store,” said John Tam, whose shop is between Lefferts Avenue and Sterling Street. “But if we lose parking spaces on that road, our business could decrease.”
Spokespeople for the city and the MTA spent most of the meeting telling residents that only a handful of parking spaces would be lost because the bus lane would likely replace a traffic lane, not a parking lane. But residents remain convinced that other aspects of the service, such as expanding the sidewalks for bus stations and running buses that are twice the length of current B44 buses, will make parking more difficult. They are also skeptical that an exclusive bus lane will reduce traffic.
“The plan will definitely be a problem in Sheepshead Bay,” said Carl Romali. “Nostrand Avenue is already overcrowded with people trying to park and trying to drive around cars that are double-parked.”
The B44 limited-stop bus route will be replaced by select service sometime next year. The B44 begins at Knapp Street and Shore Parkway, and continues up Nostrand Avenue to Rogers Avenue, concluding its route along Bedford Avenue through Williamsburg. Southbound, select bus service will run down Nostrand Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, before picking up again at Avenue X. In Sheepshead Bay, the select service and bus lane will run on Nostrand Avenue in both directions from Avenue X to Emmons Avenue, seven days a week, from 5:30 am to 10 pm.
This meeting isn’t the first time that residents have voiced their concerns. In April, Community Board 15 voted unanimously against the plan.
“The select bus service will steal away parking spaces,” said Chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “And the service’s traffic signal priority system could lead to speeding buses, which would make the roads more dangerous for cars who are also trying to reach green lights.”
Despite the opposition, many in attendance at the meeting were bus riders who are looking forward to higher capacity buses, fewer stops and increased service.
“It’s ideal for people who ride most of the route up until Williamsburg,” said Cheryl Lee.