The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), MTA NYC Transit, elected officials, and transit advocates announced that the new Q44 Select Bus Service (SBS) has launched. This corridor currently serves 42,000 commuters daily, from The Bronx and Queens, and covers 13.9 miles, with Main Street in Queens being the highest ridership section. The service, operated by the MTA NYC Transit, provides a key connection between these boroughs and between Flushing and Jamaica that is otherwise very difficult to make on transit, providing connections to employment, education, retail, world-class recreation facilities, and other benefits of these two boroughs. Q44 SBS marks the 9th SBS route in the City.
“This community has some of the highest bus ridership in the whole city, and it’s long past time we got these buses moving. The Flushing Select Bus Service is going to pull buses out of traffic, and ensure tens of thousands of riders every day have a safe, affordable and quicker commute,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We pledged to put this faster service on 20 routes citywide, and we’re making good on that commitment. We are deeply appreciative of the work of Assembly Member Nily Rozic and Senator Marty Golden in securing the bus lane enforcement cameras necessary to keep these new bus lanes clear so bus riders can have the reliable service they deserve.”
“On behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio, I am excited to announce the launch of The Bronx-Flushing-Jamaica Select Bus Service,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “This newest route will connect two major transportation hubs in Queens, from Flushing to Jamaica, and improve the commute for tens of thousands of riders.”
“With Northeast Queens being home to too few transit options that connect our growing neighborhoods, I am happy to announce the arrival of Q44 Select Bus Service along the Flushing-Jamaica corridor. This new route will go a long way in improving how New Yorkers experience mass transit by providing accessible service that aims to cut down travel time, eases the flow of traffic through the use of dedicated bus lanes, and focuses on pedestrian safety,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows).
“Select Bus Service is a cost-effective option that reduces travel times and increases connectivity for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “I’m pleased to see it implemented along the Q44 route and I thank the NYC Department of Transportation and the MTA for offering this more convenient alternative for commuters who depend on this much-needed link between Queens and the Bronx.”
“As someone who has taken public transportation for most of my life, I understand how important it is to have fast, reliable transit options. I welcome the addition of a new SBS line along the Q44 route,” said State Senator James Sanders. “This service will benefit thousands of commuters, helping to cut down on travel times and hopefully reducing traffic congestion and pedestrian accidents. I look forward to taking advantage of the added bus service, and I hope my constituents will do the same.”
“Q44 Select Bus Service will speed up commutes for thousands of riders every day,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “I applaud the MTA and DOT for listening to the community and creating a plan that works for bus riders, pedestrians and drivers.”
“Expanding Select Bus Service (SBS) is a key method of improving our transportation infrastructure,” said Council Member James Vacca. “Expanding SBS to the Q44 line is especially critical because it provides a key enhancement of the transportation options between the outer boroughs. I encourage the MTA to continue to look at opportunities for SBS expansion.”
“I’m a senior, so it’s hard for me to board older buses, and standing during long waits is difficult. SBS means newer, faster buses that get me to my destination more quickly,” said Jeanne Majors, Jamaica resident and Riders Alliance member. “The fast implementation of SBS on the Q44 is great for Queens riders. SBS will help thousands of riders like me, and I hope we see more throughout New York City.”
“The new Q44 bus route marks the first tri-borough Select Bus Service corridor since the specialized bus routes launched in the Bronx in 2008. More than 42,000 weekday bus riders have been calling for faster and more comfortable bus service. New technology, exclusive bus lanes and off-board payment will finally deliver significant time savings to a commute plagued by delays. We applaud the NYCDOT and the MTA for advancing the ninth SBS route citywide and we commend those elected officials who understand that prioritizing buses on city streets delivers benefits to all users of the road,” says Veronica Vanterpool, executive director Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
The SBS comes after dozens of meetings with the local communities, including public workshops and open houses, meetings with the community boards, elected officials, and local businesses. With feedback from the local community and stakeholders, DOT and NYC Transit finalized a design that will provide faster and more reliable bus service, create safer streets for pedestrians and motorists, and maintain traffic flow.
Design elements along this route include off-board fare collection and dedicated bus lanes. DOT will build pedestrian medians at certain intersections throughout the route and the City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will construct widened sidewalks in Downtown Flushing. Both these elements will give safer and shorter crossings for pedestrians, supporting the City’s Vision Zero goal. Some intersections will also have left turn restrictions or dedicated left turn lanes.
As part of this project, DOT resurfaced 3.5 lane miles of Main Street in Flushing, to provide for a smoother roadway for all roadway users. Similar to other SBS routes, The Bronx-Flushing-Jamaica route will feature three-door articulated buses branded with the blue SBS logo, and will feature new destination signs with flashing blue lights.
As part of Vision Zero, DOT focused specifically at two major intersections along Main Street to enhance safety. At Main Street and Booth Memorial Avenue, which is identified as a Priority Intersection, there will be left turn restrictions from northbound Main Street to Booth Memorial Avenue and from westbound Booth Memorial to Main Street. At Main Street and Kissena Boulevard, DOT will construct larger medians to better accommodate traffic, turns, and pedestrians. DOT plans to construct additional pedestrian improvements along the route in 2016 as well.
This is the first route to launch following State authorization of the bus lane camera program to expand to 16 bus routes citywide. The goal of the bus lane camera program is to keep the bus lane free of other vehicles for the tens of thousands of bus riders. Legislation authorizes a 60 day warning period for new cameras that are installed; this will be true for the Q44 SBS route as well. Citywide, DOT has seen a drop in violations at each camera location, demonstrating that the program is working to keep the lanes clear.
Additionally, DOT is in the process of developing Flushing in Motion, which will be a traffic control system for Downtown Flushing that adjust signals in response to traffic congestion in real time. A similar system is already in place in Midtown, and has led to a 10% travel time reduction. This will not only speed up travel time for bus riders, but also for all motorists.
SBS has increased ridership and improved bus service, speed and reliability along the several existing routes, including 34th Street, 86th Street, 125th Street, First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, 125th Street to LaGuardia Airport connecting Manhattan and Queens, Fordham Road and Webster Avenue in the Bronx, Nostrand/Rogers avenues in Brooklyn and Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island.
The launch of the Q44 SBS route is latest step toward Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to reach 20 routes citywide, providing reliable and sustainable transit options as well as better connections to retail and job centers.
For more information about the City’s Select Bus Service routes, please visit www.nyc.gov/dot.