The latest DOT plans for the 34th St. Select Bus Service call for physically separated lanes. (Click to enlarge. Courtesy of NYC DOT)
Over the last few years, as the New York City Department of Transportation and the MTA have worked together to develop plans for a comprehensive city-wide bus rapid transit system, the proposals have all fallen short on one front. None of the routes set forth have included physically separated bus lanes. The 1st and 2nd Ave. Select Bus Service routes suffer from this flaw, and although DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has long promised a true BRT network, she had not yet delivered those separated transitways.
Today, though, NYC DOT has revealed bold plans for the 34th St. corridor that include physically separated lanes from the Hudson River to the East River. Now calling it the 34th St. Transitway, DOT says the crosstown route will feature a “high quality right-of-way” including physically separated bus-only lanes, passenger boarding islands, a prepayment fare system, and “other bus operations improvements.” The route will be used by local and express buses and should speed up cross-island traffic by 35 percent.
As Streetsblog noted today, 34th St. was ripe for this type of ambitious planning. The route will connect with subway stops at Lexington Ave., Herald Sq. and the Penn Station stops at both 7th and 8th Aves. With the ARC Tunnel under way, even more people will be pouring into Penn Station and the surrounding streets as well.
Furthermore, as Noah Kazis noted, this is a very pedestrian-friendly plan. “Running bus service in both directions along one side of the street allows for wider sidewalks and pedestrian refuge islands, according to an analysis of different options for the corridor,” he said, referring to DOT’s Alternatives Analysis screening report. “Compatibility with loading and deliveries was also a make-or-break factor — the configuration maintains curbside access to one side of the street along the entire route.” It is, for now, unclear what type of barrier DOT would employ to ensure that cars do not stray into the bus lanes.
The Department of Transportation, which hopes to attract federal money for this project, warns that these plans are still in their infancy. The agency still has to conduct an environmental review, hear public input on the design needs for the corridor and study necessary changes for the city’s truck route network. Still, these plans deserve praise because they truly represent the bus network the city must implement to realize faster and better Select Bus Service.
After the jump, a few cross-section views of the proposed 34th St. Transitway.
34th St. cross-section at the BRT stations. (Click to enlarge)
34th St. cross-section along the route. (Click to enlarge)