Changing Brooklyn’s B44 to Select Bus Service improved speed, ridership and safety, city says

Converting Brooklyn’s B44 to Select Bus Service has improved travel times, ridership and safety along the route, according to a joint city report issued Thursday.

In a progress report from the Department of Transportation and MTA, the agencies found that since the B44 SBS route launched in November 2013, bus speed increased by an average of 21% while ridership increased by 10%. At 20 areas along the where street crossings were shortened with curb extensions, the agencies found a 37% decrease in traffic injuries.

To rollout SBS service on one of the city’s most popular routes, carrying almost 40,000 riders from Williamsburg to Sheepshead Bay, the city installed 9.6 miles of bus lanes, off-board fare payment and real-time service kiosks and traffic signal priority to hold green lights for buses—hallmarks of SBS service across the city.

Out of the nine current SBS routes in the city, B44’s improvements rank as the greatest.

“The B44 SBS along Nostrand Avenue is a tremendous success story, among the biggest successes in the eight years that DOT and MTA have coordinated Select Bus Service,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement.

“The success of our joint SBS program, which started in 2008 with the Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx, can be measured by the significant increase in ridership and decrease in travel times on all the routes receiving treatments,” MTA New York City Transit President Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, in a statement.

In the face of rapidly declining bus service—the city reported a drop of 46 million bus riders between 2010 and 2015—transit advocates believe that SBS treatments can help revive surface-level transit. But more focus should also be paid to congestion points along all of the city’s 307 local, SBS and express routes.

“We need to broaden approach to working on overall bus system not just going one route at time,” said Jon Orcutt, a spokesman for TransitCenter, who praised the city’s work on the B44. “There can be more little, spot traffic interventions to address congestion.”