August 30, 2012New S79 Select Bus Service to Reduce Travel Times and Improve Service for 32,000 Daily Riders along Hylan Boulevard, the Borough's Busiest Bus Corridor
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota today previewed Staten Island's first Select Bus Service route. The new Select Bus Service line will bring dedicated bus lanes to Hylan Boulevard's S79 line as well as other bus routes along the boulevard, and faster and more reliable bus service for commuters between the Staten Island Mall and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn - the closest subway access which thousands of Staten Islanders rely upon every day. This new route, which launches on Sunday, September 2, marks the City's fourth Select Bus Service line following its establishment on Fordham Road in the Bronx in 2008; on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan in 2010; and on 34th Street in Manhattan last November. These services have each reduced bus travel times by approximately 20 percent and increased ridership by about 10 percent. An estimated 32,000 Staten Island bus passengers ride along Hylan Boulevard routes each day, with about 9,000 daily riders on the S79 line alone. Improved bus service in all five boroughs is a critical goal under PlaNYC, the Mayor's long-term sustainability agenda, and is the result of extensive cooperation and collaboration between the Bloomberg Administration and the MTA. The Mayor made the announcement at the Yukon Avenue/Richmond Avenue S79 Select Bus Service stop, where he was joined by Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.
"Bringing select bus service to Staten Island is just another way we're working with the MTA to improve mass transit throughout the city," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Select Bus Service is a proven winner for commuters - reducing travel times by 20 percent and boosting bus ridership in the process. We've already seen its success along Fordham Road in the Bronx, on First and Second Avenues and on 34th Street in Manhattan, and we expect the same positive results in Staten Island."
"Staten Islanders take 120,000 bus trips daily, so speeding up buses lifts up the entire economy," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "The S79 Select Bus Service is a major down payment on a surface subway system connecting the borough's largest retail and employment destination with Brooklyn and the city's subway network."
"We know how much Staten Islanders depend on MTA buses, so we want to make our bus service as fast and convenient as possible," said MTA Chairman Lhota. "With the recently announced bus service investments and the better coordination between the city's ferries and our buses, Select Bus Service is just the latest MTA initiative to improve service for Staten Island customers."
"This will introduce Staten Island to the 21st Century and will help move both buses and vehicles east and west bound," said Staten Island Borough President Molinaro. "I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sadik-Khan for instituting a plan that will help expedite the movement of buses and passenger vehicles."
"As a borough with notoriously long commutes, I welcome Select Bus Service and the innovative ways the MTA has sought to streamline daily travel, making public transportation a more attractive option for Staten Islanders," said Assemblyman Matthew Titone.
"I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and the MTA for providing mass transportation to an underserved part of our island," said MTA Board Member Allen Cappelli of Staten Island. "We need to find ways to get cars off the road on the South Shore of Staten Island, and get commuters to their destinations as quickly as possible. The introduction of Select Bus Service on Staten Island is an important step toward achieving that."
The new service streamlines the number of stops from 80 to just 22 along the 16-mile route, which runs from the Staten Island Mall on Richmond Avenue and crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Other major stops include the Eltingville Transit Center and Staten Island Railway station and New Dorp Lane and Clove Road on Hylan Boulevard. About 4,000 of the S79's current passengers travel to or from the route's two endpoints alone, and local service to bypassed stops will be retained on the S59 and S78 lines. The service will also provide free transfers to commuters using the R train in Bay Ridge.
Unlike other Select Bus Routes corridors, the S79 Select Bus Service line will not employ off-board fare collection, as boarding times were determined not to be a primary cause for bus delays. Local and express bus routes along Hylan Boulevard served 32,000 riders last year, amounting to one quarter of the borough's 123,000 bus riders. This new service is expected to reduce travel times along the S79 route by more than 18 percent - from about 80 minutes to 65 minutes - and up to a 16 percent decrease - 13 minutes - in travel times for other buses along the S79 line. Additional bus routes along the corridor will also benefit from the dedicated bus lanes and improved signal timing implemented for this project.
The Department of Transportation and the MTA undertook an extensive public process, including more than a dozen meetings and briefings with a range of civic and local groups and elected officials since summer 2010, tailoring a project to enhance travel times for buses while balancing other traffic needs in the borough. New left-turn lanes have also been added to the route, as have five new pedestrian refuge islands, seven new bus shelters, as well as improved concrete bus areas to prevent wear on street pavement and sidewalks to make getting to and from the bus stop safer and more convenient. Four miles of red bus lanes were painted and over a mile of the Hylan Boulevard has been resurfaced from curb to curb, benefiting bus passengers and drivers alike.
All express and local bus lines may use the new dedicated lanes, speeding up service for thousands of additional bus riders in Staten Island. Private vehicles may enter the lane only to make right turns or to quickly pick up and drop off passengers, with the goal of reducing lane-changing that currently slows traffic along Hylan Boulevard. Emergency vehicles, school buses and sanitation vehicles also are permitted to use the bus lanes. Except for a few short portions of the route that will remain restricted to buses at all times, all vehicles can use the bus lanes during non-weekday rush hour times.
Select Bus Service improvements on 34th Street - including bus lanes installed in 2008 and the addition of off-board fare collection last year - have speeded buses on the M34 by about 23 percent, and the service has improved travel times by up to 18 percent on First and Second Avenues. Launched in 2008, Select Bus Service on Fordham Road in the Bronx improved travel times by about 20 percent.
In 2007, the Department of Transportation installed Traffic Signal Priority on Staten Island's Victory Boulevard, which extends green lights or shortens red lights for approaching buses. Next spring, Transit Signal Priority will also be installed along the S79 line, ensuring buses stop at fewer traffic lights and further enhancing bus service in the borough.
Marc La Vorgna / Kamran Mumtaz
Seth Solomonow / Scott Gastel
Adam Lisberg (MTA)