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Test driving the BRT • Brooklyn Paper

Test driving the BRT

Plans to bring Bus Rapid Transit to Nostrand Avenue may have given some Brookynites pause, but riders already enjoying select bus service along Fordham Road in the Bronx and Manhattan say not to worry because it’s one sweet ride.

“I’m really impressed with it,” Lehman College student Jimmy Louis said while waiting for the Bx12 at Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse last Friday morning. “It’s very efficient and more comfortable than a normal bus.”

Extra-long BRT buses, with their articulated mid-sections, appeared so frequently — less than 10 minutes apart — that even uninitiated user Jeremiah Taylor couldn’t be that upset when a stone-faced driver closed the doors on him and told him to wait for the next bus.

Taylor was told to wait because he hadn’t pre-paid for his ride using a nearby MetroCard-style vending machine.

“I’m from New Jersey.” Taylor said. “I wasn’t aware of how the system works.”

The MTA says that thanks to dedicated bus lanes and specially-controlled traffic lights, BRT’s speed the ride for everyone.

“It’s worth the investment,” Manhattan rider Eddy Rojas said. “The buses are big and roomy.”

There were plenty of open seats as the Bx12 made it way to 207th Street and Broadway at about 9:30 am. No one even appeared interested in checking passengers for receipts.

But it isn’t always wine and roses.

Earlier in the morning, passengers packed a Bronx-bound Bx12 that took 20 minutes to arrive.

“People were screaming,” said straphanger Angela Balbuena. “It was like a horse race to get to the bus.”

Despite that hiccup, Balbuena said that she is generally pleased with the Bx12 and BRT provides a needed service.

Select buses and curbside fare boxes first appeared on Fordham Road in 2008. The MTA plans to use a $28 million grant from the federal government to bring the system to the B44 on Nostrand Avenue in 2012.

Similar efforts to bring select bus service to Merrick Boulevard in Queens were scrapped after the MTA failed to garner community support.

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