BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — After more than a year of construction and almost four years of planning, Select Bus Service finally began along Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn on Sunday morning, officials announced.
The new B44 service, the sixth Select Bus Service route in the city and the first in Brooklyn, includes a dedicated bus lane and off-board fare payment on Nostrand, Rogers and Bedford avenues, which city and state officials said would lead to faster commute times in the borough.
"[T]hanks to our partnership with the MTA, we have increased ridership and improved travel times along our Select Bus Service routes," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "We've had great success with Select Bus Service in other boroughs and Brooklyn's first route will bring a new and necessary mass transit option to more New Yorkers."
The B44 currently serves more than 44,000 riders daily from Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Flatbush, Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, according to the city, and connects to the A, C, G, J, M, Z, 2, 3 and 5 trains. The line also connects with Medgar Evers and Brooklyn colleges.
The 9.3-mile route is the fourth busiest in the city, according to the city Department of Transportation.
Select Bus Service has increased ridership by 10 percent and sped up travel by about 20 percent in other parts of the city, officials said. The new B44 service is expected to reduce the travel time on the 71-minute Sheepshead Bay-to-Williamsburg route by 14 minutes, they said.
"The B44 [Select Bus Service] alone will save its 40,000 daily passengers 1 million commuting hours a year, showing again just how huge a role that streets and buses play in the vitality of our city," Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement.
The yearlong construction project includes new stations, bus lanes, sidewalk repair and street paving, according to the MTA and DOT. The project also includes a complete renovation of northern Nostrand Avenue between Flushing Avenue and Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, according to the two agencies.
That road construction is still underway and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014.