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Mayor de Blasio Announces new Busways on Jamaica and Archer Avenues, the Most Impactful Bus Improvements in New York City History

October 29, 2021

Most substantial improvement to transit in Southeast Queens since 1988 subway extension

Brand new busways on Jamaica and Archer in Southeast Queens to speed commutes for 250,000 daily riders across 26 bus routes

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Hank Gutman today announced the official opening of the Jamaica Avenue/Archer Avenue Busways in Queens, the most substantial busway treatment in the city’s history and the biggest improvement in transit in Southeast Queens since the subway was extended to Jamaica in 1988.

Commissioner Gutman was joined by NYC Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano to cut the ribbon on the new busways, which will speed commutes for 250,000 New Yorkers per day – more than any other busway installed to date. As part of the de Blasio administration’s Better Buses commitment to install new and improved bus lanes in 2021, the one-year pilot projects will also improve truck and delivery access for local businesses. 

“This project will help working people across Queens access faster, safer, more reliable bus service. Public transportation will fuel our city’s recovery, and I’m proud to work with partners across government to make commutes faster for 250,000 people every day,” said Mayor Bill de Blaiso.

“This is a historic milestone in our effort to improve bus service for all New Yorkers,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “We’re bringing faster and more reliable service to over 250,000 people each day, saving them precious minutes to spend with their loved ones, to pursue opportunities, or even just to make sure they make their subway connection on time. In terms of the number of lives improved each day, this is the biggest change we have made since the program began and the most dramatic transportation development in Southeast Queens since the subway was extended in 1988.”

"The Better Buses program just got even better with the completion of new busways on Jamaica and Archer avenues,” said New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano. “The residents of this bustling part of southeast Queens will significantly benefit from dedicated bus lanes that will allow people to get to their destination at a much faster pace than before on both local and express bus routes. These roadways experience high traffic volumes – but now with these bus lanes anyone using an MTA New York City Transit bus can rest assured that their journey will be much more seamless.” 

“Jamaica and Archer avenues are critical arteries in southeast Queens carrying 26 MTA New York City Transit bus routes," said MTA Bus Company Acting President and New York City Transit Department of Buses Senior Vice President Frank Annicaro. "The completion of these busways are an exciting moment in the continuing work to increase bus speeds across the city, promote the use of public transportation, bring New Yorkers back to the system, and ensure riders can get to where they need to go efficiently. Many southeast Queens residents rely on the MTA’s buses every single day to get to where they need to go and the MTA is excited to partner with the DOT to improve the riding experience and quality of life for Queens residents."

“The NYPD has long recognized the importance of bus infrastructure as vital to so many New Yorkers who depend on safe, reliable public transportation as part of their daily lives. The department’s committed traffic safety agents work tirelessly, every day to move traffic and ensure compliance. These important DOT and MTA road treatments will only work when those using the roadways obey the carefully constructed layers of corresponding rules,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster.

"Busways are climate action," said Ben Furnas, Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Climate and Sustainability. "Our transit system enables New Yorkers to maintain the lowest carbon footprint of residents of any major city in the country. With today's announcement, we are prioritizing efficient and sustainable transportation that improves travel times and public health for the residents of Southeast Queens."

The 26 unique bus routes on Jamaica Avenue and Archer Avenue connect to the E, J, and Z subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. Due to traffic congestion and vehicular conflicts, buses along Archer Avenue previously had average speeds of 5.7 to 6.1 MPH during the afternoon rush. On Jamaica Avenue, buses moved even slower, with speeds of only 4.7 to 4.9 MPH, due to traffic congestion on heavy curb demands as a busy commercial thoroughfare. 

The busways will be enforced by the NYPD, alongside DOT and MTA automated enforcement cameras. Bus lane cameras will be activated on both corridors beginning today with warnings being issued for the first 60-days. After the 60-day warning period, bus lane cameras will issue fines starting at $50 and progressively increasing to $250 for subsequent violations. The 60-day warning period goes into effect on today.

Archer Avenue Pilot
On Archer Avenue, the physically protected eastbound busway begins at 150th Street and extends to 160th Street, with the following elements:

  • Physically protected double bus lanes eastbound from 150th St to 160th St for MTA and NICE buses only (no trucks or local access)
  • Concrete barriers to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering busway and prevent illegal U-turns
  • All Archer Avenue eastbound traffic must turn left on 153rd Street except MTA and NICE buses. There is no eastbound traffic allowed from 153rd to 160th Streets.
  • No curbside access between 150th Street and 160th Street for any vehicle except MTA and NICE buses.
  • Commuter Van pickup/dropoff zones on 153 and 160 Streets between Archer and Jamaica Avenues.
  • Busway regulations are in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jamaica Avenue Pilot
On Jamaica Avenue, the Busway pilot begins at Sutphin Blvd and extends to 168th Street in both directions, with the following changes:

  • Buses and commercial trucks can drive along Jamaica Avenue at all times of day.
  • New curbside regulations now allow parking, truck loading, and pedestrian space where bus lanes are were removed.
  • Passenger vehicles cannot drive along Jamaica Ave from Sutphin Ave to 168th Street and are encouraged to use Hillside Avenue and Liberty Avenue as alternatives.
  • Passenger vehicles may turn onto Jamaica Ave from side streets and travel for short distances – they must generally make the next right turn to exit the Avenue.
  • Busway regulations are in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

DOT held an extensive community outreach process with a series of open houses to gather feedback on its proposals for the two corridors and held nearly 20 events with Community Advisory Boards and other local stakeholders in 2020 and 2021, extending the outreach period to address concerns from local elected officials. Throughout the one-year pilot, data on bus speeds, safety, parking, and traffic will be collected for monitoring and evaluation of the busway’s performance.

More information on the pilot can be found here and here.

"Southeast Queens riders will now save precious time thanks to the Jamaica and Archer Avenue busways," said Riders Alliance Lead Organizer Mayra Aldas-Deckert. "These twin busways are game changers for a community that has long suffered some of the longest commutes in the nation. Riders are grateful that public officials heard community members and implemented both projects together to meet the needs of a quarter million New Yorkers each and every day."

"The Better Buses program continues to set a good example for the rest of the country," said Liam Blank, Policy & Communications Manager for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "The new busways on Jamaica and Archer Avenues will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of bus riders, while also making streets safer and improving air quality in Southeast Queens. Given the climate emergency we are facing, New York City must double down on improving bus service, especially in environmental justice communities. We look forward to many more ribbon cuttings of new bus lanes and busways throughout the five boroughs."

“Amalgamated Transit Union welcomes this busway for Archer Avenue,” said Mark Henry, President/Business Agent of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1056. “We long advocated for improvements in this corridor plagued by illegal van operations and we hope the busway accompanied by enforcement delivers not only quicker rides for our passengers but a safer corridor for bus operators and riders. ATU will look forward to working with DOT, MTA, NYPD and TLC to make the busway a success.”

“If we hope to reduce transportation emissions in New York City, we need to build a reliable, accessible public transit system. We’re thrilled to see that Mayor de Blasio and NYC Department of Transportation Commissions Hank Gutman opened the Jamaica Avenue/Archer Avenue Busways. This is a significant improvement for transit in Southeast Queens. Expanding public transit helps reduce harmful transportation pollution and cleans the air in communities that have been harmed by environmental pollution for decades. We look forward to continued investments in public transit and implementing congestion pricing to speed up these investments,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

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