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Plans to Add More Select Bus Service Lines May Take a While

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A cut in travel times and a bump in ridership have become hallmarks on the city's speedier Select Bus Service lines, and the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have plans to add more, even if it's a drawn-out process. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

They move faster with fewer stops, and fares get paid before boarding. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants more like them, only better.

They're the city's six Select Bus Service lines, and they've picked up a following among commuters on lines like the B44 in Brooklyn.

"Instead of taking the local, I'm going to take this instead," said one commuter.

"The SBS, it is a different time from the regular bus, but you can reach where you're going a little bit faster just because of the speed," said another.

There are now SBS lines in every borough but Queens, but de Blasio envisions what he's called a "World Class Bus Rapid Transit" network of more than 20 lines.

A report from the Pratt Center for Community Development makes the case for such a system to serve transit-starved neighborhoods.

"It really gets to be a subway-like experience," said Joan Byron of the Pratt Center for Community Development. "The bus pulls up, people get on and off all the doors, the doors close, boom, the bus is gone."

The report envisions potential corridors linking the Rockaways in southern Queens to LaGuardia Airport in the the north, Hunts Point in the Bronx to the Flushing and Jamaica sections of Queens, and another connecting neighborhoods along Staten Island's North Shore, among others

"The only way that needs in those neighborhoods are ever going to be met in our lifetime is bus rapid transit," Byron said.

However, if the buildout of the existing SBS lines is any indication, that could take a while. It took five years of planning before Select Bus Service came to the B44 last fall, so transit experts say the city Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will have to pick up the pace on planning if the mayor's lofty goal is to be met.

"The focus is going to be on DOT," said public policy analyst John Petro. "They're going to be the ones that are going to be doing the community outreach, that are going to be doing the planning. They're going to need the appropriate number of staff to carry out multiple projects at the same time."

The agency said its next move is bringing SBS to the M60 along 125th Street in Harlem and that it's laying the groundwork for a line along Woodhaven Boulevard. But will it be "world class"? That's for the riders to determine.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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