Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Staten Island will be the third borough in New York City to get so-called "Select Bus Service." The service, the S79, will connect the Staten Island Mall and the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. The MTA expects the service to reduce travel times by 20%.
Some 8,900 passengers travel that route daily, according to the MTA, compared to 52,000 along First and Second Avenues in Manhattan and 45,000 along the route of the Bx 12 in the Bronx, New York's first SBS, which has been running since 2008.
SBS is a BRT-like service, though without some of the features that characterize BRT systems around the globe, like physically-segregated lanes and subway-like stations.
However it does incorporate designated lanes, signal priority, and fewer stops. The Staten Island buses will not have off-board payment, a feature that has irked some Manhattanites unaccustomed to paying before they get on the bus.
Along the busier routes, paying off-board is a big time-saver, the city DOT has said. But in Staten Island, the route is so lightly traveled -- or "highly dispersed," as the MTA calls it, that the authority has concluded it wouldn't make much of a difference. Walker Hook, the CEO of the Innstitute for Transportation Development Policy, which sets up and provides technical advice for BRT systems worldwide, called that assumption "reasonable."
The S79 will only run as a select bus, with local passengers being served by the S78 and S59.
The service will start in September.