Express yourself! MTA wants select bus between Bushwick and Downtown

The pioneer: The B44 select bus already connects Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay.
Brooklyn Paper
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Put me in coach!

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority hopes to create a so-called select bus service between Downtown and Bushwick in the next few years, state documents reveal — welcome news to straphangers along the route sick of zig-zagging between subway lines, who say they can already see themselves whizzing along the express route.

“I would take it — I would have no objections to a bus,” said Johanna McManus, who hits the G, A or C and F trains just to get from her home in Clinton Hill to her job in Dumbo. “It’s almost pleasant because you can look around, you have cellphone service, the whole shebang.”

The city is seeking federal funds for an estimated $9–$15-million project to create the speedy coach line from Jay and Tillary streets to Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues, according to the state Department of Transporta­tion’s recently published list of proposed ventures through 2020 called the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

A transit authority spokesman claimed it is too early to say what streets the buses would take, but the main roads that run directly between the two nabes with enough lanes to accommodate the service are Flushing, Park, Myrtle, Lafayette, DeKalb, and Willoughby avenues.

But any of those would need to sacrifice a lane of traffic or parking and undergo other adjustments to accommodate a rapid new route.

Select bus services typically require dedicated lanes, some curb extensions at new stops, and often impose right-turn restrictions on cars at certain hours.

Removing parking spaces will be an especially tough sell to many residents along the route, according to one local leader — the city Department of Transportation recently shelved a plan to add a bike lane on Clinton Avenue after Clinton Hill residents railed against the loss of car-storage sites.

“Removing parking is the third rail of local politics, you saw that if you followed the Clinton Avenue bike lane,” said Community Board 2 district manager Rob Perris, who nevertheless thinks the service would be a boon to those living far from subway stops. “If they said they would remove parking from Franklin Avenue to Downtown for example, people would just howl.”

Business owners will probably need some convincing as well, according to one transit expert.

“They have to do retail outreach, but a lot come around to support it because they make the neighborhoods more viable, because it’s connected by transit,” said former city transportation department policy director Jon Orcutt, who now works at Transit Center, a foundation that advocates for public transit projects in the city.

The authority identified the need for a “bus rapid transit” system route between the nabes in a 2009 study, about a year after the first select bus hit the streets. At the time, people made around 56,000 bus trips between or within Bushwick and Downtown per day, of which 4,000 were “long and slow,” according to the report.

A trip from the Myrtle–Wyckoff station to Jay Street–MetroTech stop takes about a half hour on the M and F trains, which requires a trip across the East River and back again. A straight shot on Myrtle Avenue on the existing B54 bus during rush hour takes about 50 minutes, according to Google Maps.

The transit authority is also hoping to add another select service along Flatbush Avenue from Livingston Street Downtown to Avenue V in Marine Park, according to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program documents.

There are already two of the speedy routes in Brooklyn right now — the B44 from Williamsburg to Sheepshead Bay, and the B46 from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Kings Plaza in Marine Park.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to clarify funding arrangement.
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Slope says:
Great news. Fast bus service is needed throughout the city. Taking a lane of parking or car driving is also good, as it discourages car drivers from using the streets. Fewer cars = even faster buses moving more people than cars can. Fewer cars = less pollutants and fewer asthmatic children. Let's go MTA!
Aug. 3, 2016, 9:12 am
Guest from NYC says:
Years? These SBS routes should be rolled out a lot faster. We should have had several citywide years ago. Most features should actually be standard.
Aug. 3, 2016, 9:13 am
Paul from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Do it! All major streets should have SBS/dedicated bus lanes.
Aug. 3, 2016, 9:57 am
Craig from Bushwick says:
This would be fantastic, and save a ton of time.
We need to be ok with removing parking spots—the vast majority of people in these areas don't even have a car, and the bus is abysmally slow.
Looking forward to supporting this!
Aug. 3, 2016, 10:57 am
kevd from Flatbush says:
B41 SBS would be great. B35, too. But the flatbush ave. dollar vans will probably still be quicker.
Aug. 3, 2016, 11:15 am
D from Queens says:
Myrtle Ave is a straight shot. Make portions of it selectively one way for cars, two-way for buses. Keep all your parking, have some sweet exclusive bus lanes. Design in 2016. Install in 2017. Operational in 2018. B54 ftw!
Aug. 3, 2016, 3:49 pm
Tiffany from Bronx NY says:
It would be a excellent idea. I go to bushwick to my daughter family house and I go to downtown Brooklyn to Brooklyn hospital. So this plan will be excellent.
Aug. 3, 2016, 4:01 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
As a former resident of Williamsburg, currently living in Northeastern Bedford-Stuyvesant, I am cautiously optimistic and realistically skeptical about the overall implementation of SBS, especially in my own backyard. The reasons are as follows: 1) Major gridlock in and out of Downtown Brooklyn; 2) An increasing number of bicyclists are using these streets; 3) An increasing number of commercial developments along the proposed BRT corridor; 4) An increasing number of residential developments along that same corridor. As of a result, I propose the following: 1) Have transit signal priority along the entire corridor; 2) Have immediate SBS machines that these riders must pay before they board, in order to deter fare evasion; 3) Make every SBS stop a bus transfer stop; Put bus lanes along the corridor, in order to speed up these buses.
Aug. 3, 2016, 7:51 pm
Rachel from Williamsburg says:
Cars parked on the street contribute to traffic congestion.
Aug. 3, 2016, 9:32 pm
Mike from Prospect Heights says:
SBS should be everywhere. The city needs to step it up.
Aug. 3, 2016, 11:41 pm
Mike from Prospect Heights says:
...and the MTA as well.
Aug. 3, 2016, 11:42 pm
BK Commoner from Clinton Hill says:
There was an elevated train line that ran along Myrtle Ave from Flatbush Avenue to Broadway. It was removed in the 50's and 60's When "white flight" took hold of NYC. I guess the city didn't want to invest in an area that had become more brown. Now that all the white flight birds are coming home to roost the city wants to invest in better infrastructure. This transportation issue wouldn't be a discussion today if this area was never redlined and forgotten about by the city planning and policy makers of the 50's and 60's who wanted nothing to do with investing in minority neighborhoods.
Aug. 4, 2016, 12:49 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Rachel, what really contributes to traffic congestion are vehicles that are double parked. If there was better enforcement on that, the streets wouldn't be that congested. BTW, cars aren't allowed to park in bus stops and bus lanes anyway, because they are automatic no standing zones. Also, double parking does block off a lane while parked cars don't.

BK Commoner, the real reason the Myrtle Avenue El was torn down was due to low ridership for a while especially when other subway lines nearby ran faster, so there was no reason to keep it, which is the same reason why so many other elevated trains were taken down at that time as well, and this had hardly anything to do with race, just the amount of usage of such lines.
Aug. 4, 2016, 2:55 pm
TOM from Sunst Park says:
I love it! "Whizzing along the express route." "Speedy coach line." We are talking Brooklyn?

Remind me please, a bus that terminates at Jay & Tillary connects you to what destination?
Aug. 4, 2016, 4:22 pm

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