Today’s news:

Nostrand Avenue buses put on the fast track

One of the borough’s longest thoroughfares is in the running to receive a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) pilot project this year. Nostrand Avenue, which runs north to south for about 10 miles from Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay to the Williamsburg Bridge, will get the BRT either this year or in 2008, according to Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson Chris Gilbride. BRT lines usually consist of more express stops, designated bus lanes, specialized service design, real-time bus arrival information, larger waiting stations and occasionally buses with distinct appearances to make them easily identifiable. Borough President Marty Markowitz recommended the Nostrand Avenue corridor for the pilot program as it is an area where residents are affected by slow bus service in neighborhoods far from subways. “The BRT project will vastly improve travel to neighborhoods in Brooklyn underserved by public transportation,” said Markowitz in unveiling the program at Borough Hall last week. Markowitz also complimented the BRT team consisting of New York City Transit, and the city and state DOTs in proving that agencies that work together can accomplish more for the public. The new line will co-exist and occasionally replace the B44 local and limited bus lines, and the B49 line which currently runs along the thoroughfare on nearby Rogers Avenue. Other neighborhoods along this line include East Flatbush, Flatbush, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. According to Transit Authority statistics the B44 has an average weekday ridership of 43,000 passengers. Among the subway lines that intersect the corridor include Brooklyn College/Flatbush Avenue ( 2 and 5 subway lines), Nostrand Avenue/Eastern Parkway (the 3 subway line), Nostrand Avenue (the A and C lines), Bedford/Nostrand Avenues (G line) and Marcy Avenue (J. M and Z lines). Under the plan, it is anticipated the BRT service would supersede local B44 service, and the BRT will operate more frequently and with longer hours than the current B44 limited-stop service. Locations for BRT northbound stops include Emmons and Nostrand avenues, and then running north on Nostrand Avenue stopping at Avenue X, Avenue U, Kings Highway, and the Flatbush Avenue junction near Brooklyn College. Then running north along Rogers Avenue the BRT is slated for stops at Church Avenue, Clarkson Avenue (for the B12 and kings County Hospital), Empire Boulevard, and St. Johns Place. Continuing north along Bedford Avenue, the BRT will stop at Fulton Street, Lafayette Avenue, Flushing Avenue and Taylor Street before completing its run at the Williamsburg Bridge/ Washington Plaza. On its southbound run the BRT will start at Williamsburg Bridge/Washington Plaza and run along Lee Avenue stopping at Taylor Street and Flushing Avenue. It will then turn southbound onto Nostrand Avenue and make stops at Lafayette Avenue, Fulton Street, St. John’s Place, Empire Boulevard, Church Avenue, Clarkson Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Kings Highway, Avenue U, Avenue X, Coyle Street and Emmons Avenue and ending at the Emmons/Nostrand Avenue intersection. Generally speaking because of space constraints, the BRT will run along the corridor in mixed traffic lanes as opposed to having designated bus lanes. The one exception to this is along Rogers Avenue north of Flatbush Avenue where the BRT will have a dedicated curb bus lane between 1 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday thru Saturday will be created. During these hours, there will also be restricted parking. Additionally, 14 new BRT stations are slated along the corridor although the exact locations have not been determined yet. Gilbride said the BRT team picked a bus corridor in each of the city’s five boroughs and two will be chosen to receive BRT service this year and the other three next year. The BRT team will continue to meet with local elected and community board leaders, and it hasn’t been determined which corridors are slated for this year, he said. Meanwhile, transit riders along the corridor gave a mixed reaction to the B44 buss service. Lakiema Brown, a high student at Boys and Girls High School on Utica Avenue and Fulton Street, said she takes the B44 local every day to school. Brown said the longest she has ever waited for the bus was about 15 minutes and on Saturdays it’s even faster. “Sundays I wait 20 minutes in the cold weather watching four limiteds pass to get on the local,” she said. Form more information on the BRT and to view the complete study for the Nostrand Avenue corridor log onto www.nyc.gov and go to the link for the Department of Transportation. - Stephanie Dubreuze contributed to this story

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