Debate on Kings Highway SBS Heats Up; Elected Officials Blast DOT Plan as Economically Disastrous

Community leaders, a bevy of elected officials, a conglomeration of retail shop owners and a large percentage of public transportation riders in the Kings Highway area of Brooklyn are up in arms over a proposal by the Department of Transportation to initiate Selective Bus Service on the B82 bus route.
New York City Council for the 44th district Kalman Yegar

Community leaders, a bevy of elected officials, a conglomeration of retail shop owners and a large percentage of public transportation riders in the Kings Highway area of Brooklyn are up in arms over a proposal by the Department of Transportation to initiate Selective Bus Service on the B82 bus route.

In an exceptionally busy commercial corridor, those who are staunchly opposed to the SBS proposal say that they are concerned with such a route bringing further congestion.

The B82 route currently runs from Seaview Avenue in Canarsie to Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island. The majority of the route travels on Kings Highway which narrows to two lanes at Nostrand Avenue.

The new bus-only lanes will be located along Kings Highway at:

  • MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, consulted with Brooklyn leaders on this issue

    E. 4th Street to McDonald Avenue

  • Coney Island Avenue to Ocean Parkway
  • E. 18th to E. 16th streets
  • E. 13th to E.15th streets
  • E. 18th Street to Ocean Avenue

The lanes will be in effect from 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm Monday through Friday.

Calling the proposed SBS on Kings Highway ill advised, Brooklyn Councilman Chaim Deutsch said, “This plan will remove over 100 parking spots during peak hours – and local stores will be the ones that suffer, as customers choose to shop elsewhere. People who use their cars to come to the shopping districts will have a more difficult time finding parking and they will be discouraged from coming there.”

Echoing Councilman Deutsch’s sentiments was Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo who said, “If you put in a bus lane, where is that going to go on Kings Highway? You would have to take away parking. If I was a business merchant, you might as well kill my business right now. This would be a disaster for Kings Highway.”

Calling the proposed SBS on Kings Highway ill advised, Brooklyn Councilman Chaim Deutsch said, “This plan will remove over 100 parking spots during peak hours – and local stores will be the ones that suffer, as customers choose to shop elsewhere. People who use their cars to come to the shopping districts will have a more difficult time finding parking and they will be discouraged from coming there.”

Councilman Deutsch said he has met several times the DOT and MTA to discuss the proposal. Scavo said city officials briefly discussed the plan with the community board last year.

“Once again, here is government telling people what’s good for them, as if they know better,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Midwood). “Why is it necessary to hurt them — to hurt residents and businesses?”

Adding their voices of opposition from their respective constituents to the proposed Kings Highway SBS are Republican State Senator Marty Golden, State Senator Simcha Felder, City Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

On narrower blocks of Kings Highway, the DOT plan would repurpose 134 parking spots for bus lanes that will be in effect on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Outside of those times, the curb would still be reserved for car storage.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is opposed to the Express Bus plan

In a March 8th letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Senator Golden opposed the conversion of parking spots into rush hour bus lanes on a proposed B82 SBS route. He wrote that it would result in

“less shopping” and cause “permanent damage to retailers and businesses.”

According to Margie Bijou of the Kings Highway Business Association, the DOT has advised “our elected officials that they would not place any metered parking on the side streets in front of residential properties. That is currently their policy. The DOT has not yet confirmed whether that is a law or just policy. As such, there is no definitive information available at this time. She added that the revised DOT plan does not include new targeted loading zones for delivery truck drivers. That was something that was initially proposed by the DOT (with the placement TBD), but it was later removed.”

The city has been bantering around this proposed SBS route for several years and has called for public hearings. Only until recently have community board members taken this issue seriously and have expressed their constituents angst about the severe congestion and economic harm that such a plan would involve.

The MTA and the DOT say that they want to make the changes to the B82 lines to improve travel times for its 28,000 daily riders who trudge along at an extremely slow pace for a good portion of the route.

City Councilman Mark Treyger

According to published reports, adding SBS along the B82 route is part of a larger plan to expand transportation options in southern Brooklyn. A 2009 DOT study found that commuters in the area stated their desire for improved cross town bus service. The MTA is also considering bringing SBS to the B6 route, which runs through Midwood on its way from Bensonhurst to East New York. The city says the expansion will bring riders faster, more reliable service.

In October of 2017, several elected officials in other boroughs of New York City offered their plaudits for Selective Bus Service is the areas that they represent.

“Expanding NYC Select Bus Service is absolutely critical, especially for residents in the outer boroughs” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “I am pleased the city will be upgrading more than 21 city routes, including the Bx9, Bx28, and Bx38 lines in the Bronx.”

“We have seen what a great improvement SBS has made in the lives of the commuters on currently existing lines,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “Thanks to SBS, New Yorkers can get where they are going faster and more reliably. I am thrilled that Mayor de Blasio and the DOT are expanding SBS to more lines in my district.”

Elaine Lan Chao is the 18th and current United States Secretary of Transportation

“Our mass transit system is the lifeblood of our city and the investments we make in it are critically important for our vitality and economic growth,” said Congressman Joe Crowley. “Select Bus Service is a cost-effective option that reduces travel times and increases connectivity for thousands of New Yorkers. I’m thrilled to see the program expand to reach even more riders, while meeting the needs of countless communities. I thank DOT and the MTA for collaborating on this initiative to ensure New Yorkers are able to get where they need to go, when need to get there.”

“Buses are notoriously slow and unreliable, and the consequences are severe: when we surveyed bus riders this summer, we heard from people who missed work, lost wages, and sometimes even lost jobs because of poor bus service,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.

“But Select Bus Service works: riders know it from experience and the data shows it’s true. It’s time to apply lessons from the successful Select Bus Service experiment to the rest of the city. We need more SBS routes. We need more improvements on local routes that serve hundreds of thousands of riders. We should work to make buses modern, convenient and attractive to riders, so people who have given up on buses will come back. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Transportation for taking this important step of committing the City to improving bus service for hundreds of thousands of riders in the coming years.”

By: Jacob Fishbein

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

COMMENTS
  1. It has just been misinformation that has been published by the MTA and advocates of this proposal. First of all, most people around the district in question drive. This is really not disputable. The area is full of single family homes with driveways, and condos with garages and the parking is at saturation from the Waterfront to the Railroad cut on Avenue I.

    Secondly, very few people take this bus (B82) through the route. Only about 8k riders take the limited all along the route, and the majority of riders are in Canarsie. The reason for that is that Canarsie is suburban bedroom community with a single subway and is carved out to prevent through traffic on the majority of its streets. That puts extreme transit stress on the one real route in, though and out of the community, which is Flatlands Avenue. The majority of users that use the B82 use it for local traffic in and around Canarsie.

    On the other other hand, what the riders in Canarsie are proposing is a proposition that they would never accept on Avenue L, which would be turning the Kings Highway business district into a Bus Lane with an exclusive right of way for buses only on a very narrow street used by many different constituencies.

    It has been suggested here that Kings Highway provides necessary outer-ring route. That is not only wrong, but it is a matter of historical accident that the road exists at all. The road was only designed for local traffic from Ocean Avenue to Stillwell Avenue and never widened ehough to even handle its designation at a truck route.

    It has been suggested that the bus moves the most people in the district and should get priority. I’m sorry, but that is not only wrong, but it is laughable. Maybe the proponents who write this somehow over looked the Q and B train, the B100, the B31, B2, and the B7 buses. Less than 8% of all the people that come to the entire span from Stillwell to Ocean Avenue arrive by any bus.

    The vast majority of the people who come and use that district are not surprisingly the local population that live nearby. According the MTAs own numbers, they make up over 80% of the surveyed population. They come by walking or driving. The trips made by walking and driving are also the highest valued forms of transit in that they involved complex door to door carting services and are complex and diverse routes for a highly valuable form of transportation. This includes, for example, the taxiing of individuals to appointments, schools, meetings and leisure activities along the route. It includes the shopping and moving of large amounts of goods and services. It includes transportation for the elderly and handicapped, etc. Obviously, the bus can not provide this kind of service to families, not in Canarsie or in Midwood. The bus is only useful for the simplest types of trips, trips where one can go to an inconvenient designated pick up spot, arrive an an equally inconvenient drop of spot, and most often return the same route, and without carrying any substantial luggage or freight. Bus transit is therefor only useful for repeated trips to work or school, as long as one is adequately mobile and not loaded up with freight. It is useful for restaurants, bars, starbucks, and sometimes movies theaters. Bus transport is all but useless high valued transportation such as when transporting whole families, shopping for weekly groceries, clothing shopping, medical appointments for the elderly, sick or handicapped, or any trips that require multiple stops, and lots of packages.

    The rational thing to do here would be to decouple the B82 back to the B50 and divide the east west portions of the route. This would maximize the usage for Canarsie residents and increase the local service for them, since they use the local service more than 2:1 local over express service. If you do an SBS service it needs to go down Avenue P. That will give it quick and easy access to the Brighton Linei, a half a block from the Avenue P and East 16th bus stop, and gives direct access to the F train at the Avenue P station. It properly bypasses the N train, which is redundant service to the B, Q and F trains, and that station is designed only for local access anyway.

    The best explanation of the details of all this is at http://www.brooklyn-living.com – specifically http://www.brooklyn-living.com/b82_sbs_opposition.html

    ~

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

INTERNATIONAL NEWS