Monday, June 7, 2010

Fast lane for buses in New York

Buses in New York are as slow as snails. It is as sure a thing as Yankees wearing pinstripes and congestion on the Cross Bronx Expressway. But an ambitious $10 million project to bring European-style rapid-transit buses to First and Second Avenues — among the most highly used and heavily congested bus routes in the nation — is aiming to turn that truism on its head. Starting in October, buses will be granted an exclusive lane to speed up travel on those avenues from Houston Street to 125th Street, a trip that can last an hour and a half — the length of an Amtrak ride from Pennsylvania Station to Philadelphia.  The plan represents the latest move by the Bloomberg administration to siphon away space from private automobiles in favor of other forms of transport. Once dominated by trucks, cars and taxicabs, First and Second Avenues will now gain cycling lanes and concrete pedestrian islands, as well as a bus route meant to function more like a subway. The city’s Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hope that bus travel times will improve by about 20 percent. That could benefit more than 50,000 riders on Manhattan’s transit-starved far East Side, still waiting for its subway line after 80 years. Read on in the NYT.