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Select Bus Service Debuts in Brooklyn, Not Without Kinks

Monday, November 18, 2013 - 05:19 PM

WNYC
Bus rolls into a stop at Church and Nostrand Aves on Brooklyn's first SBS route. (Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

Select Bus Service debuted in Brooklyn Monday on the B 44 route, which connects Williamsburg to Sheepshead Bay. Select buses, which have dedicated lanes painted reddish brown and curbside machines that let passengers pay before boarding, are designed to be speedier than standard limited bus service. But the B 44's roll-out had some kinks.

First, there's a learning curve for passengers who have no experience with the pay-before-boarding system.

"How does this work," asked several passengers on confronting the curbside payment machines for the first time. MTA workers in bright orange vests were stationed at stops to show them how.

"Come here, bring your Metrocard, real quick," said a worker to a passenger as a Select Bus waited at the curb. "Press this button..."

But the city Department of Transportation says once people get the hang of it, bus speeds can increase by as much as 20 percent, and ridership can rise by 10 percent.

"These things, it turns out, actually do save time," said Mayor Bloomberg as he posed for photos and surveyed the new SBS stop at Church and Nostrand Avenues. "Buses work better and traffic is better. And that's what this is about."

Brooklynite Lynn Whitmore takes the B 44 once a week to a medical appointment at Kings County Hospital. She liked that her bus now has a dedicated traffic lane — if only drivers would stay out of it.

"You still see some cars in front, not knowing any better or just being idiots and going in the lane," she said while looking out the front window of a B 44 Bus as it moved down Nostrand Avenue. "But the speed of the bus is definitely moving."

The B 44 is the sixth Select Bus Service route in the city.

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Comments [3]

M. Michaud from Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn

"Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn" said everything I wanted to say. It is a waste, and an inconvenience to us. After we put up with the "Limited Bus" for years and finally get used to it, "Select Bus" pop-up. I use the local bus and since the select, I have not been able to catch it from/to subway in order for me to get to work. I have been walking. I don't know what I am going to do when the weather changes. I waited 35 minutes for a bus to take me home, meanwhile 6 Select buses went by almost EMPTY, a bunch of us standing there hoping the next one would be a regular (every stop) bus.

MTA, this is very very very inconvenient, you should leave your car and/or your chauffeur and try catching a regular bus on Nostrand Avenue.

Dec. 06 2013 11:30 AM
Bronxite from NYC

Off board payment is a crital component when decreasing delays. The MetroCard needs a replacement to eliminate paper tickets.

Nov. 25 2013 04:02 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I live in the area of Brooklyn where this "select" bus service has been instituted and I have ridden it a couple of times. My comments are:

1. It is a waste of time and money on the part of the MTA, especially as the ticket machines cost money, had to be installed with electrical lines to function and print out paper tickets when we already have MetroCards. The paper tickets, by the way, are going to wind up on the ground after use, just like the Muni-Meter receipts, thereby increasing litter.

2. There is no special lane on Nostrand Avenue for the buses; the way they get where they're going faster is by skipping stops and exceeding the posted speed limit by 10-15 mph.

3. Because the buses skip so many stops, woe to the rider who gets on the wrong bus. With Limited buses, you were never more than 3 or 4 long blocks from your stop; with the "select" buses, you can be 8 or more long blocks from your destination and you can't get a transfer to go back because you can't pay on the bus, so the drivers have no transfers to offer.

4. Since I have lived on or near Nostrand Avenue, there have always been problems with the B44 buses; they are NEVER on time, and you either get 6 at the same time or you wait 40 minutes for buses that are supposed to run "every 3 to 4 minutes." Instead of fixing this problem, they made getting on a bus more complicated - because we have to use the MetroCard we already waited on line to buy to buy another ticket that we have to wait on line to buy and have to figure out the machine first - and then you have to figure out which bus to take so that you are not left off a mile from your destination. All they really need to do is get some traffic officers to keep people from double parking on Nostrand so the Limited buses can travel on schedule, and then things would run on time. As long as people north of the Flatbush Junction are allowed to continue to double park on Nostrand Avenue (and Flatbush Avenue, and Bedford Avenue), nothing will be faster unless they invent a bus with wings.

I really think this is more of a public relations move on the part of the MTA; they try to make you think they're doing something for the passengers, but they wind up inconveniencing us in as yet unimagined ways.

Nov. 19 2013 10:51 AM

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