Dedicated Bus Lane Coming to Utica Avenue to Ease B46 Commute

By Rachel Holliday Smith on April 23, 2014 2:39pm 

Slideshow
 Transit advocates, elected officials and riders said the B46 bus route along Utica Avenue needs to be improved.
Bus Lane Coming to B46
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CROWN HEIGHTS One of the most-traveled bus lines in the city is getting an upgrade.

A dedicated bus lane will be created this summer for the B46 along the mile of Utica Avenue between Church Avenue and Carroll Street, plus a two-block stretch between St. Johns Place and Eastern Parkway, the DOT said.

The improvements to the B46 — which the DOT said is the second-busiest bus route in the whole cityfollow a study by the agency on how to improve the "key transit link" relied on to travel between central Brooklyn neighborhoods and the 3, 4, A and C trains.

Riders Alliance organizer J. Anthony Holbert said the dedicated bus lane is sorely needed.

“This is like another subway line," he said. “A lot of those are people who are spending over an hour on their commute into the city and that’s because of traffic just along the B46 route.”

Members of the Alliance are working to get B46 riders to sign a petition to the DOT and MTA asking for “more frequent and reliable” service on the route by making it a Select Bus Service route with express stops, off-board ticketing and a bus lane along the full route.

The Riders Alliance has gathered 500 signatures and is hoping for many more — the line carries almost 50,000 people on an average weekday, according to the DOT.

Community Board 8 transportation committee co-chair Robert Witherwax said he’s hopeful any changes to the route within the communty board's area will improve the "snarled, dangerous tangle" of traffic on Utica Avenue at Eastern Parkway.

“If enhancements to the B46 bus such as off-board fare payment, signal priority and other tools out of the [Select Bus Service] toolkit would help make this intersection simpler and safer, we would support it," he said.

Local state Asssemblyman Karim Camara, who represents the area around the southern half of the B46 route, supports additional upgrades to the line and will be sending the MTA and DOT a letter to urge improvements, a spokesman said.

The dedicated lane will take one of the street's current two lanes of traffic in each direction. The DOT will also create priority signaling on Utica Avenue, keeping traffic lights green when a bus is coming. The method is already in use on Victory Boulevard on Staten Island and on Fordham Road in the Bronx, according to the DOT.

Riders welcomed the planned improvements but expressed doubt that anything could untangle the traffic.

“It’s a very busy street,” said St. Clair DeShong, an East New York resident and regular B46 rider.

Antoine Dixon, who commutes from Manhattan to East Flatbush, said he changed his commute to get a better chance of fitting onto the B46. He used to transfer to the bus from the 4 train at Eastern Parkway, but switched to the A because it connects to the B46 further north, where it’s slightly less crowded.

“When you get it here, you got a better chance of getting a bus because there’s so many people there,” Dixon said, referring to Eastern Parkway. He said he likes the idea of a dedicated bus lane to help with traffic, which “puts on an extra 20 minutes onto your commute.”

The DOT did not offer a specific timetable for when the bus lane would be created. The agency will "continue to work with local stakeholders and get their feedback” to make future service and safety improvements, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

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