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MTA could add more Bronx Select Bus Service

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If you love the Bx12 Select Bus Service on Pelham Parkway and Fordham Road, get ready to ride. If you hate the Bx12 SBS, let the MTA and Department of Transportation know, because the Bronx is due for at least one more SBS.

On Thursday, May 28, the MTA and DOT held a Bronx SBS workshop at the College of New Rochelle on E. 149th Street. About 50 people attended. So far, transit experts have identified Third Avenue-Webster Avenue and Soundview as potential SBS corridors. The MTA and DOT also hope to speed bus traffic on the Bruckner Expressway and Major Deegan Expressway.

Select buses arrive more often and stop less often. SBS riders pay before boarding; the buses receive an extended green at traffic signals and keep to dedicated SBS lanes. The MTA and DOT want to expand SBS to save money, speed traffic and relieve subway crowding. It is much less expensive to open a select bus corridor than it is to dig a new subway tunnel.

A recent assessment identified four needs – high density neighborhoods beyond walking distance from the subway, bus trips that travel 30 minutes at less than eight miles per hour, subway lines that experience severe rush hour crowding and growing neighborhoods with limited subway access. In the Bronx, both Third Avenue-Webster Avenue and Soundview sit beyond a half-mile from the subway and boast more than 26,000 residents per square mile.

Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado asked the MTA and DOT to extend any Third Avenue-Webster Avenue select bus route north of Fordham Road to Mosholu Parkway and Montefiore Medical Center. CB7 hopes to rezone and rejuvenate Webster Avenue in Bedford Park. Anna Vicenty of Nos Quedamos in Melrose asked the MTA and DOT to consider recent development on Third Avenue and on Boston Road. Melrose lost the Bx2 bus in 2008. According Adam Leibowitz of The Point CDC, the MTA overlooked Hunts Point. No bus or train serves the western half of Hunts Point. The Point CDC has advocated for a permanent bus to the park at Barretto Point.

Leibowitz was surprised that the MTA and DOT didn’t identify any “difficult trip” bus routes in the Bronx. A number of Bronx buses run excruciatingly slow, he said. The MTA and DOT reported rush hour crowding on the 4-train between E. 149th Street and E. 161st Street.

In order to speed express bus traffic on the Bruckner from City Island and Co-op City, and on the Major Deegan from Woodlawn, Norwood and Riverdale, the DOT could add dedicated bus lanes. It and the MTA will select eight to ten new SBS corridors citywide before the end of 2009. The Bx12 SBS has cut time off the Bx12 route and weekday ridership is up 11 percent, but the Bx12 SBS bus lane, which replaced metered parking, has hurt a handful of businesses on Fordham Road. Critics of the Bx12 SBS point to unpaid fares, dangerous traffic conditions and broken fare machines.

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