A top transportation official said Tuesday the city has to step on the gas if it wants to meet Mayor Bill de Blasio's goal of reaching 20 Select Bus Routes by 2017.
"We need to more than triple our past pace of planning and implementation," city Department of Transportation chief Polly Trottenberg told the City Council in prepared remarks. "This is going to take lot of work."
De Blasio needs to add 13 more routes by his first term ending of 2017 . When he got into office, the city had six routes, with a 125th Street to LaGuardia Airport run added last May.
The DOT is in talks with communities to add routes on 86th Street, Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, Woodhaven-Cross Bay boulevards in Queens, as well as one between the Flushing and Jamaica neighborhoods.
One speed bump to getting these buses in more neighborhoods is "local resistance to closing lanes and removing parking," according to a Regional Plan Association report, "Overlooked Boroughs."
The MTA's Select Bus Service features a dedicated lane, street-side machines to pay fare before boarding, and fewer stops, giving riders a 15%-23% cut in travel times. An ambitious project on Queens' wide Woodhaven Boulevard would have buses running in physically separate lanes, shielded from car traffic, by 2017, a design seen internationally.
De Blasio's budget this week proposed spending $295 million through 2025 to build out SBS, according to the DOT.
In a 2009 study, the DOT identified 27 corridors for potential Select Bus Service in an expansion of the system. Now, the City Council wants the DOT to draft a master plan to "to create a citywide network of bus rapid transit lines connecting the boroughs," the legislation reads.
"The physical and demographic patterns of the city have changed," said a letter to the MTA and DOT chiefs from the City Council's Progressive Caucus. "A realistic, cost-efficient and comparatively quick way to address many of these issues is through the creation of a network of full-featured routes."