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bobtehpanda

MTA Revives Old Proposal For Busway Underneath M Train

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https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2020/02/13/mta-revives-old-proposal-for-busway-underneath-m-train/

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Ridgewood could be next in line for a genuine, bona-fide, car-defying Busway.

Buried on page 107 of the MTA’s Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign Existing Conditions report, the agency said it is considering a Busway under the elevated M tracks between Palmetto Street and Fresh Pond Road — a half-mile stretch that’s currently inaccessible to the public (except for some drivers who use it as a parking lot).

The proposed Busway is a revival of an old idea floated for the 2015-2019 MTA capital plan. As Streetsblog reported, a study determined that the $12.5- to $19-million capital cost for a bus-only road would save the MTA $1 million in operating costs every year upon completion. The project was never built — but now the city is in full grip of Busway fever, thanks to the success of the 14th Street no-car transitway.

The savings would presumably come from increased ridership along the B13, B20 and Q58, which all run on narrow, frequently clogged residential roads that are parallel to the potential Busway. As a result all three lines have lost riders in the past few years. The B20 has experienced the biggest ridership drop, from 8,105 riders per day in 2013 to 6,315 now, a 22-percent drop. The B13 lost 3.2 percent of its riders, and the interborough Q58 experienced a 5.2-percent drop over the same period.

A MTA official urged bus fans not to have a victory parade or burst into sudden and well-choreographed song about just yet. The official confirmed that the street improvement was a real possibility, but it wouldn’t get added to the 2020-2024 capital plan, and that its inclusion in the Brooklyn bus network redesign plan came from the middle of the MTA pyramid and not the top.

“This is from a well-meaning and well-intentioned bus planner who was being enthusiastic about the idea and wants it to be on the radar of the public,” the official said, stressing that there was a lot of work that had to be done to bring the proposal off the page. (URGENT PLEA: If you are that bus planner, slide into the DMs of one @DaveCoion and claim your prize of one dozen beers). But, the MTA official also said that reviving the idea fit in with the agency’s revived interest in making the bus work as well as possible.

“We’re in a culture where we love the bus and are trying to make the experience better,” the official said.

The Department of Transportation, which runs the city streets on which the buses are driven, deferred all questions to the MTA. Mayor de Blasio’s attitude towards more Busways has been to live up to his Brooklyn roots and tell long-suffering bus riders “Wait ’til next year” (which is now this year).

But transit activists warmly greeted the news of another potential bus-only street and called on the mayor to live up to his promise to improve bus speeds by 25 percent across the city by the end of 2020 by pushing the DOT to embrace improvements for on streets that the report labeled bus priority corridors.

“It sounds like a neat idea,” said Riders Alliance spokesperson Danny Pearlstein. “Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio, should pick the report’s low-hanging fruit and expand bus priority widely this summer. More than just moving two million New Yorkers more reliably and efficiently, faster bus trips would advance nearly every proposal outlined in his ‘Save Our City’ speech.”

Pointing to the lessons learned from the 14th Street Busway (bus priority means more bus riders), Transportation Alternatives’ senior organizer Erwin Figueroa said the rider-hemorrhaging routes that would use the Ridgewood Busway could benefit greatly.

“Buses that have to share a right of way with mixed traffic are losing riders across New York City,” Figueroa said. “Providing a dedicated right of way is the key to better service — and winning back riders.”

And Lisa Daglian of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA said that the coming of congestion pricing needs a concurrent effort to improve every kind of transit option.

“There must be investment in improving and increasing service in the boroughs to encourage people to use transit,” she said.

 

 

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WOW; I never knew there was an actual plan! I myself always said that should be made into a busway!

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Because the El goes diagonally through the street grid for a bit, the intersection at Putnam & Fairview & Forest Avenues seems like it's going to be a proper mess to create a traffic signal pattern for. The El pillars and the small park in the middle don't make it any easier, either. 

And then there's the question of where to put the actual bus stops. There isn't enough room under the El for them, and the buses are too long to stop in the footprint of that small park if it were to be removed. So the buses will most likely need to awkwardly swing around to stop at the existing B20 stop (westbound) and Q58 stop (eastbound).

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1 hour ago, P3F said:

Because the El goes diagonally through the street grid for a bit, the intersection at Putnam & Fairview & Forest Avenues seems like it's going to be a proper mess to create a traffic signal pattern for. The El pillars and the small park in the middle don't make it any easier, either. 

To me this actually has a fairly simple solution. 

Between Forest Av and the intersection of Putnam and Fairview, the stubs of Putnam and Fairview to Forest close. The park in between is replaced by a four lane road; the inner two lanes are busway, with bus stops on either side, and the outer lanes carry Putnam and Fairview traffic to and from Forest.

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As far as cutting across the grid, it's primarily Woodbine st. it cuts across mid-block. It reaches Madison near the intersection of Woodward, so that's sort of like a typical "junction", as is Putnam, Fairview and Forest.

As for stops, that might be difficult, but they might fit in existing empty spaces that are now lots, or you simply wouldn't have the stops for different directions opposite each other, and the opposite direction would have to wait to be able to pass (this often happens on narrow two way streets anyway). 
Or perhaps make the busway one way. That would still help. Or, perhaps use if for LTD service only, and would wouldn't need any stops in it.

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As someone who has taken the Q58 to and from Ridgewood terminal that busway would definitely save that route some time especially since the streets it currently travels on gets plagued with double parkers, traffic lights and a bunch of narrow turns. This would eliminate it, the only issue I can see is the angry residents who will have those parking spots lost. 

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That doesn't seem to be resident parking in that space. The gates have signs saying authorized vehicles only. Not sure whose cars are using that space. The ROW is probably owned by MTA or the city anyway, so NIMBYism isn't an issue as far as acquiring it.

This is only between Forest and Fresh Pond. Between Fairview and Onderdonk, there's nothing parked in the ROW; it's just empty. There are parking garages adjacent to it, but those wouldn't have to be taken to open it. In fact, that should help alleviate the problem of it disrupting the houses, since most of them are not directly on the ROW.

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19 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

To me this actually has a fairly simple solution. 

Between Forest Av and the intersection of Putnam and Fairview, the stubs of Putnam and Fairview to Forest close. The park in between is replaced by a four lane road; the inner two lanes are busway, with bus stops on either side, and the outer lanes carry Putnam and Fairview traffic to and from Forest.

That doesn't really make it much better. Unless you have the outer lanes be opposite directions from the inner lanes, Putnam and Fairview Avenue traffic will still have to cross paths. Additionally, the bus stops would barely have space for a single 40 footer in each direction.

Looking at the area in more detail, the El widens west of the intersection to accommodate the island platform. So there's enough room for the bus stops under the Forest Avenue station, and then you can add an intersection between the busway and Forest Avenue.

The green light cycles can be as follows:

1. Forest Avenue (at Busway & Fairview) & Putnam Avenue (at Fairview)

2. Busway (at Forest & Fairview), Fairview (at Forest)

3. Fairview Avenue (at Busway & Forest), Busway (at Forest)

If the greens occurred in that order, cars wouldn't back up and block the Busway intersections.

 

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On 2/14/2020 at 9:03 PM, P3F said:

That doesn't really make it much better. Unless you have the outer lanes be opposite directions from the inner lanes, Putnam and Fairview Avenue traffic will still have to cross paths. Additionally, the bus stops would barely have space for a single 40 footer in each direction.

Putnam and Fairview have to cross paths today, I don't see the continuation of that being a major issue.

Alternatively, given that the grid has alternative roads to get to Forest, you could just make all Fairview traffic flow into Putnam and sever the connection to Forest. Traffic looking to exit Fairview onto Forest can use Madison instead, and traffic looking to enter Putnam can use Woodbine or 68th Dr. Putnam isn't continuous across Myrtle and 67th doesn't go past Fresh Pond Rd, so it's not like it would majorly disrupt through-routes.

 

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6 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

Putnam and Fairview have to cross paths today, I don't see the continuation of that being a major issue.

The point was, the 4-lane solution is no better than simply integrating the busway into the existing intersection without closing any roads (as I detailed above).

6 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

Alternatively, given that the grid has alternative roads to get to Forest, you could just make all Fairview traffic flow into Putnam and sever the connection to Forest. Traffic looking to exit Fairview onto Forest can use Madison instead, and traffic looking to enter Putnam can use Woodbine or 68th Dr. Putnam isn't continuous across Myrtle and 67th doesn't go past Fresh Pond Rd, so it's not like it would majorly disrupt through-routes.

That certainly has a benefit in its simplicity, but in this case, nothing would be gained from closing the segment of Fairview. When the Fairview traffic has the green light, they could either turn onto Putnam or continue to Forest without any issues. So if you want to simplify the intersection by closing Putnam, Fairview should be kept fully intact.

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Is the space under the el wide enough for buses in both directions to traverse? If only one direction can go there, I'd send eastbound buses that way. I would imagine that the trolleys that used to travel there weren't 102" wide. 

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