Queensboro Bridge Bus Priority Study

The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is a key transit corridor, which carries thousands of local and express bus riders between Manhattan and Queens every day. The bridge is an especially important transit corridor for those served by express buses routes that run between Midtown Manhattan and neighborhoods in eastern Brooklyn and Queens—communities that often lack subway service. However, traffic congestion on the bridge and on connecting streets can delay buses, leading to longer commutes for riders and unreliable service.

To address these issues, DOT, in coordination with its strategic partners MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) and MTA Bus, has been studying cost-effective ways to improve bus speed and reliability in the short term, and is currently continuing to study longer term improvements.

The study kicked off on April 8, 2010. The first phase of the study, completed in the fall of 2011, assessed existing traffic and travel conditions on the bridge and approach roads, evaluated a range of priority options, and made recommendations for short term improvements. A second phase, which will look at longer range changes, is expected to be completed by the fall of 2012.

  • Queensboro Bridge Bus Facts
  • 694 buses travel over the bridge on a typical weekday
  • 16,000 bus passengers travel over the bridge on a typical weekday
  • The Queensboro Bridge is the busiest express bus route exiting Manhattan

Study Approach and Recommendations

For Phase 1 of the study, the first step was to gain a better understanding of travel patterns and traffic conditions on the Queensboro Bridge and the surrounding streets. DOT conducted extensive data collection and analysis to better understand why and where traffic delays happen. The study team gathered data on traffic volumes and turning movements, pedestrian flows at key intersections on the Manhattan side of the bridge, and bus passenger volumes and routes. Download a detailed presentation on data collection plan and preliminary findings

Based on this data collection, the study team identified five key focus areas for improvements:

  1. East 60th Street and Second Avenue: bus safety
  2. East 57th Street and Third Ave: opportunity for bus priority
  3. Crescent Street and Queens Plaza North: pedestrian and bike safety
  4. Thomson Avenue and Van Dam Street: traffic congestion and pedestrian safety
  5. Thomson Avenue Ramps: traffic congestion

At each location, DOT then developed a package of bus and safety improvements, including signal timing, road geometry, and bus route changes. Download a detailed presentation on the study recommendation

Improvement recommendations at sites 1-4 were implemented in the fall of 2011. DOT continues to analyze bus priority options at focus area 5, the Queensboro Bridge Thomson Ave Ramps.

Community Outreach

Community outreach is an important part of the Queens Borough Bridge Bus Priority Study. At the beginning of the study, DOT and MTA Bus staff gave a presentation to each community board within the project area to get feedback on the study approach and to solicit ideas from local residents. Over the summer of 2010, DOT also surveyed local and express bus riders to get their input on sources of bus delays on the bridge. Once the study had developed a set of preliminary recommendations, DOT returned to the local Community Boards for a second presentation and discussion.

What's Next

Over the coming months, DOT will be:

  • Monitor the impacts of the short term improvements put into place in the fall of 2011.
  • Continue development of longer term improvements for the Queensboro Bridge Thomson Avenue ramps.
  • Revisit Community Boards when DOT has a set of additional recommendations for the Thomson Avenue ramps.