One of the new bus rapid transit routes that New York City Transit plans on instituting will terminate in Bay Ridge. The S-79, which runs from Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue to 86th Street and Fourth Avenue is one of five bus lines, citywide, that the TA has designated as BRT routes, with increased service and fewer stops. The agency has selected one route in each borough, with Nostrand Avenue being the Brooklyn route. Two of these BRT routes will be instituted this year; the remaining three will be instituted in 2008. Which routes will be instituted in 2007 has not yet been decided. The S-79 is the Staten Island route in the pilot project, and is meant to link Staten Island Railway stops with bus stops along the eastern shore of Staten Island, as well as with the R train station in Bay Ridge, and with connections to Brooklyn buses. The addition of BRT buses to already existing local buses along the route would increase the number of S-79 buses by about a third, though there would be fewer locals once the BRTs are in service, according to Theodore Orosz, director of Manhattan/Bronx bus service planning for the TA. BRTs would run from the early morning hours through mid-evening, according to Robert Marino, deputy director of government and community relations for the TA. We hope we are going to see some significant travel time savings, Marino said. The goal is to have an increase in ridership, said Orosz. It would be presumptuous to say we can reduce the amount of car traffic coming over the bridge to Bay Ridge, but we are hoping to slow the increase by making the bus more attractive and more reliable. Traffic patterns will be re-engineered to accommodate the new bus traffic, said Joseph Barr, deputy director of policy, technology and management analysis for the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT). For Bay Ridge, he said, this means new bus shelters as well as adding a left turn phase for buses at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 86th Street, and 86th Street and Fourth Avenue, So buses dont have to wait for a gap in traffic to make the left turn. Looking ahead, he noted, You may see other improvements such as faster fare collection. Barr, Marino and Orosz spoke about the project and the S-79 route specifically at the February meeting of the Community Board 10 Traffic & Transportation Committee, which was held at the board office, 621 86th Street. Board members at the meeting were mixed as to whether the BRT service would benefit Bay Ridge. While Brian Kassenbrock opined that it was a great idea, because it would serve residents going such places as the Staten Island Mall and the College of Staten Island, other board members were not so sure. 86th Street is extremely busy, warned Doris Cruz, who advised the agency representatives to, Spend two hours at 86th Street and Fourth Avenue at rush hour. And, she added, Its not just vehicular traffic. Its the amount of pedestrian congestion, especially in the evening rush. Sometimes the street is not passable, which puts a tremendous burden on the residents of 86th and 87th Streets. How does it benefit the Bay Ridge community? asked Toby Russo, who noted that the TA plan was, Adding more traffic down our heaviest merchant block. About 2,000 people a day get on and off the S-79 in Bay Ridge, replied Orosz. These include, People going to the high schools and the hospitals, including the V.A. Hospital, he said. We think a lot of the people taking the buses to Brooklyn are not going to Manhattan but to other destinations in Brooklyn. The study that led to the pilot project was unprecedented, said Marino, because it involved three agencies working together the TA, the New York City DOT and the New York State DOT. To decide which routes to develop as BRT routes, the TA, Screened probably about every busy bus street in New York City, noted Orosz. Other routes that were chosen were First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, Fordham Road in the Bronx and Merrick Boulevard in Queens. Fares for riding the BRTs will be the same as for riding local buses and subway. Its not an enhanced fare, said Marino.
©2007 Community News Group
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