Home Buses Laguardia-focused SBS to improve airport travel times

Laguardia-focused SBS to improve airport travel times

by Benjamin Kabak

Dedicated bus routes will drastically improve public transportation ride times to Laguardia Airport. [pdf]

Thanks to a bunch of NIMBYs in Astoria, we don’t have subway service to Laguardia Airport, and we’ve been waiting years for the city to wrap up endless studies concerning bus improvements. Today, though, marked a potential turning point in the much-maligned airport’s accessibility as the New York City Department of Transportation and MTA announced a sweeping series of bus improvements that will drastically reduce travel times to the airport.

Three new Select Bus Service routes will connect the airport to Manhattan, the Bronx and parts of Queens as well as nearby subway lines, the LIRR and Metro-North. With speedier buses running up and down 125th St., on Webster Ave. and through Jackson Heights, local bus service, as Streetsblog detailed earlier, should improve as well. According to the city and MTA, travel times could drop for some airport-bound commuters by as much as 40 minutes thanks to pre-board fare payment options, dedicated travel lines and signal prioritization efforts. The new routes should be rolled out over the course of 2013 and 2014.

“LaGuardia Airport is a transportation hub and a city unto itself that needs a better connection to the transit network and the region’s economy,” DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement. “These routes will open the terminal doors to new neighborhoods and bring more reliable local service to people across three boroughs.”

As many New Yorkers know, Laguardia remains infuriatingly close but oh so far from the city’s public transit system. Even with service from five bus routes, service is painstakingly slow, and buses fill up very quickly with folks using local service, those who work at the airport and travelers with giant suitcases. Without a direct rail link or any bus improvements, the current situation is untenable.

So what are the details? Well, in Manhattan, new M60 SBS service would bring speedier connections to Metro-North and the subways at 125th St. while speeding up airport service by nearly 10 minutes. Harlem community leaders have long voiced the need for better bus service as well. In the Bronx, some Webster Ave. SBS rides would cross the Triboro Bridge and head to the airport, cutting travel times by nearly 50 percent. This extension is still under consideration. In Queens, new service to Woodside and Jackson Heights would utilize the BQE to clear up local streets and provide quicker and more direct service. (A PDF summary of these proposal is available here.)

Ultimately, these bus improvements are welcome, but they are no substitute for rail service. Improving access to Laguardia has long been a goal of Mayor Bloomberg and his PLANYC2020 vision, and it appears as though a part of his lasting transportation legacy will involve faster bus service to this airport. Still, we should not lose sight of the endgame: The subway — or at the least, an airtrain — should extend to Laguardia. Until then, incremental improvements, and not a game-changing scenario, are the best we can hope to achieve,

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bgriff October 11, 2012 - 2:55 pm

Hopefully the opportunity is taken to improve the pre-pay street boxes, especially the ones placed at the airport — it is silly that so much was spent on the existing boxes only for them to offer no additional payment methods over what you could do aboard a bus (at the very least they should be able to take credit cards).

This is particularly critical given what a pain it is to arrive at LGA and discover that your MetroCard is empty (or to be new in town and not have one).

Brian October 11, 2012 - 3:04 pm

Based on the map, looks like the Manhattan start point of the M60 would move further south from the current 106th & Bdwy to 96th & Bdwy as well. That would bring even more riders to the bus.

TP October 11, 2012 - 3:47 pm

If you’re at 96th and B’way you should take the 2/3 to 125th and Lenox and catch the bus there instead of getting on the bus at 96th and slogging through traffic all the way uptown. I had thought this was why the M60 started at 106– that’s the point where 1 train riders don’t have a good way to get over to the 2/3.

The M60 should really operate as the “125th Street Limited” and only stop at St Nick (A/C/B/D), Lenox (2/3) Park-Lex (MNRR-4/5/6), and 2nd Ave (M15 SBS). There are a bunch of other buses along the corridor that can serve as the locals that stop every avenue.

Steve October 12, 2012 - 10:43 pm

What about people who live along the 1 north of 125th? People going to LGA or wanting to go across 125th don’t live only to the south.

TP October 15, 2012 - 9:32 am

They should go across 125th on the Bx15 to get to the M60 at St Nick? I think that’s what they do now. I don’t see how this would change for them.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 9:56 pm

Take the 1 to 116th and transfer there, as now.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 9:57 pm

The M60 starts at 106th because there’s an easy place to turn the bus around there. It used to terminate at 116th, but the Claremont Avenue residents didn’t appreciate that, and before that it terminated at 125th and Lenox.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 9:56 pm

Except that the location marked at 96th is actually at 106th. I think “96th” is just a typo.

marvin October 11, 2012 - 3:11 pm

At a minimum segregated 2 “lane” elevated roadway should be built from the terminal to the citifield subway/lirr station.

In the short term it could be used for articulated buses but should be built to be convertable to rail (subway or airtrain) ussage later.

An extension into Flushing would give thousands of busriders a reasonable one transfer way to get to laguadia.

to placate NIMBYs (although this is a non-residential stretch) consider adding a 3rd segregated lane for bikes and walking.

mike d. October 12, 2012 - 6:58 am

There is a bus called the Q48 Flushing – LGA, look at the map!

Henry October 12, 2012 - 8:06 pm

A bus that comes every 20 minutes isn’t particularly useful – plus, it stops very frequently, and from Main St it’s a five minute drive to LGA, so it’s not particularly useful for those coming in from Queens.

mike d. October 12, 2012 - 11:35 pm

Look at the ridership data! Not even that crowded. 15 to 20 mins is rapid for 30 to 40 min cheap ride.

marvin October 11, 2012 - 3:13 pm

Also consider extending any Bronx buses into Flushing as well. (Yes Bronxites could have a one seat way to come and boo the Mets.)

SEAN October 11, 2012 - 4:41 pm

Boo the Metts, boo the Mets, step right up & boo the Mets. Bring your kiddies, bring your wife, your going to have the time of your life.

Jerrold October 11, 2012 - 9:19 pm

Us kids circa 1964 used to sing:

Beat the Mets, beat the Mets, any team can beat the Mets.
Bring the kiddies, bring the wife, because even THEY
could beat the Mets, beat the Mets.

LLQBTT October 12, 2012 - 10:56 am

Yes, thanks!!

BoerumBum October 11, 2012 - 3:25 pm

Well, that’ll be an improved crosstown Harlem option!

Larry Littlefield October 11, 2012 - 3:38 pm

The Woodside/Jackson Heights/LaGuardia express is a possible game changer, and not something I had thought of. If service is frequent enough, I’ll take it.

al October 12, 2012 - 2:22 pm

Its quite a nice fit, with ADA work completed at both 74th-Broadway and Woodside last decade providing a positive knock on effect for luggage toting riders. Woodside has curb space on Roosevelt and there is the bus terminal @ 74th-Broadway.

Jordan Hare October 12, 2012 - 4:17 pm

Huge game-changer. The LIRR connectivity is awesome, and as a Sunnyside resident it greatly improves access to LaGuardia via transit. Prior to this, anyone in southern Astoria / Sunnyside / Woodside was consigned to the Q33 from 74th, commingling with all the local traffic.

Henry October 17, 2012 - 1:03 am

I like the concept, but I don’t know how well it’d work in practice – the GCP and BQE can suffer from terrible congestion, so the local might actually end up being faster in some situations.

David October 11, 2012 - 3:41 pm

The M60’s travel could be improved drastically at no cost immediately simply by eliminating some of the stops. Currently it stops only every 5 blocks or so from 106 to 125th (roughly every 1/4 mile). Along 125th, however, it stops at every single block (even when Madison and Park are spitting distance from each other). I’ve often outwalked it going along 125th.

Woody October 12, 2012 - 11:18 am

Yes, please!

Harold October 11, 2012 - 3:48 pm

Nothing for Brooklynites?

Benjamin Kabak October 11, 2012 - 3:51 pm

Sadly no. For a lot of Brooklyn, both NYC airports are not high up on the accessibility list. This should help at the least by delivering riders to key subway lines faster. Not sure direct bus service from Brooklyn to Laguardia would do much to improve on that.

BrooklynBus October 11, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Most people in southern Brooklyn use JFK not La Guardia and nothing is done for them. Only one route to the airport for an entire borough is just a disgrace.

You ask about rail? The MTA and city have dismissed any new rail lines not currently under discussion. They intend to push through SBS as a substitute along SI North Shore. They may even try it instead of reactivating the Rockaway line. You are correct. SBS will be an improvement but is no substitute or rail.

Bolwerk October 11, 2012 - 7:59 pm

How much choice do you have? Most of my flying is to Europe or between the coasts, so JFK or Newark are my only options. On the off chance I have to fly to some nowhereville or even minor city (e.g., Syracuse) on the east coast, I’m often stuck with LaGuardia.

Someone October 11, 2012 - 9:53 pm

Well, if the Q33 is going to use SBS they better realign the route to a much straighter alignment. With all these turns in the current alignment, the 60-foot buses can’t turn. Or they could use 30-foot buses…

mike d. October 12, 2012 - 4:24 pm

There is no 30 foot buses that MTA owns.

marvin October 12, 2012 - 5:36 pm

For express LGA to 74th/Roosevelt Ave bus service why not have buses run in a priority lane on the GCP to the BQE and then exit the BQE at Broadway making a left to the station?

The issue from the airport south is allowing the buses to bypass/have priority over car traffic from the GCP which backs up as the traffic exits on to the BQE. I note that in California there is traffic metering that give priority to seperate carpooled lanes.

North bound to the airport it would seem that the buses should be able to use the BQE/GCP with no special accomodations needed.

Someone October 13, 2012 - 12:08 pm

*40 foot buses

LLQBTT October 12, 2012 - 11:04 am

Lots of choice..I drive to the airports and use long term parking. It’s worth it because a cab service usually costs nearly as much (round trip), and forget mass transit to the airports. The pitiful transit airport access we have is geared for commerce anyway, business travelers on the cheap taking AirTrain to LIRR or the airport bus. This is especially true when the family joins. Plus LGA is a quick car ride from my place and probably over an hour on 2 subway trains and 1 local bus. As I said, try that with your family and luggage, and then you first have to fly after that! no thanks

Bolwerk October 12, 2012 - 11:39 am

I don’t even know what you’re responding to? Of course transit access to the airports sucks, but none of that has to do with which flights leave from what airport. If your only flight option is from x airport, you go to x no matter what mode you take to get there.

I know there is some overlap, but the tendency appears to be for LGA to be the airport for regional flights, and JFK and Newark to be for the longer-distance option.

Henry October 12, 2012 - 8:05 pm

I believe the FAA actually limits the distance flights from LGA can fly, so that explains why LGA is mostly, if not all domestic.

JetBlue does run a very strong domestic operation out of Terminal 5 at JFK, though.

Bolwerk October 12, 2012 - 11:04 pm

Yes, I think it’s a thousand miles plus Denver. I have flown to Toronto from LGA though.

Alon Levy October 13, 2012 - 1:27 am

Flights to Canada can use domestic airports because of preclearance at Canadian airports.

Justin Samuels October 12, 2012 - 12:40 am

Realistically, I think a good SBS service connecting to the A train would do wonders for people from the Rockaways traveling to other parts of Queens. And I also don’t see any new train lines being built in the outer boroughs UNLESS the federal government decides to do a massive infastructure build.

Even then, the first priority would probably be to build the remaining phases of the second avenue subway.

Bolwerk October 12, 2012 - 1:48 am

Just how much do you think trains cost? Or are you talking about subways to scantly populated areas? Even if buses are using existing streets that surface rail can’t use, it’s a bit hard to ignore that chained LRVs can pull an order of magnitude more people with a single driver. Either SBS or LRT can be built for a rounding error on the SAS’s budget, and the SAS does fairly little for the boroughs.

Henry October 15, 2012 - 9:08 pm

I have a hard time believing that the MTA is building subways at more than twice the per-mile cost of the Tokyo Metro’s Oedo line, when Tokyo is denser, the line is deeper, and it’s being built to earthquake resistant standards and is fully automated.

Sure, some of it is a risk premium, and some of it is because of work rules, but you really don’t approach that kind of cost unless there is some serious graft involved.

LRT would be better, but maybe not for Second Avenue, if only because it’s one-way for all of its length. That being said, Phase 3 SAS parallels the Lexington Av line without its convenient transfers, and Phase 4 has a terrible routing (it turns away from Brooklyn, this preventing an extension into that borough)

marvin October 15, 2012 - 11:05 pm

Subways were a 19th century solution that are not (in large part due to the cost of buiding) serving 21st century needs.

Sky transportions systems with stations 10+ stories above the ground linking the sky lobbies of near-by building will allow for increased evironmentally friendly increased density without over burdening the already congested streets and sidewalks. A second commerical zone will allow for a real 3 dimensionsal city rather that our current two densions city with tall buildings acting as cul de sacs.

Yes – think of a “jetson” type city where all transport does not require hitting street level. Visit friends in a neighboring 10th floor apartment without traveling a needless 20 stories.

It is reasonable that every sky station has walk ways situated such that users walk up to 2 blocks to the nearest part of each station through connecting skyways. Assuming that station is 1 block long each station serves an area of 18 bocks!

I am advocating a denser city where people will live the sky. Going to the park or for a jog may be more pleasureable and practicle by going up to sky parks and using skyways as jogging trails rather than desending into the caverns of level 1.

The facilitator of such a denser efficent city is super elevated trains.

Given the cost of tunneling , this is the direction that we should go and have the real estate interest contribute in exchange for higher limits.

Nyland8 October 16, 2012 - 2:37 am

This might work in a brand new city, designed from the ground up. But there are no structures in New York capable of handling the cantilevered construction required to connect to each other way above ground level. The cost would actually exceed the cost of tunneling.

And in a city where buildings pay for “air rights” above other buildings, the litigation involved in ruining somebody’s penthouse view would crush any such project before it left the CAD screen.

What can be done, however, is to build modern elevated trains. The technology exists to make them as silent as the subways that run beneath our feet. And modern construction methods can build them in a fraction of the time.

Henry October 16, 2012 - 8:32 pm

I’m just going to point out that stations 10 floors above the ground would take a long time to ascend and descend from.

Also, even Manhattan still has room to densify in its current form before such a costly system would need to be created.

Kai B October 11, 2012 - 3:59 pm

The biggest pain in the journey from Brooklyn are the slow, infrequent buses that take you from various Queens Blvd and 7-Train stops to the airport, but stop at every tree along the way. Improving this portion, which is part of the plan, will make a big difference.

BBnet3000 October 11, 2012 - 4:08 pm

Maybe they’ll run a LaGuardia Airtrain to a far-northern Queens Triborough RX stop a la Howard Beach.

MTA circa year 2100. Improving Non-Stop.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 9:59 pm

Brooklyn is quite a distance from LGA – any bus ride would be quite long. From most of Brooklyn, it would be quicker to take the subway to one of the airport routes in Queens or Manhattan.

nyland8 October 11, 2012 - 6:56 pm

I seem to recall that the AirTrain to JFK was a Port Authority project – because they operate all the airports in the metropolitan area.

So why isn’t the Port Authority extending the AirTrain up the Van Wyck, up the Grand Central, across the 7 Train in Flushing Meadow and on to Laguardia? Why is Newark worthy of train service, JFK worthy of train service, but LGA isn’t?

The right-of-way is available, the technology is proven, the system is viable, and there are even justifications for connecting the two airports! Ridership goes up on the AirTrain every year.

How long ago was the AirTrain to JFK built? It’s almost 9 years old! In a sane world, an extension to LGA would already be under construction. Tell the PA to get cracking.

If we wait for the MTA to provide rail service to LGA, our great-grandchildren won’t live to see it.

SEAN October 11, 2012 - 8:37 pm

If you want to raise funds for the AirTrain extention, the easyest way to do this is to increase the PFC for each flight at LGA. This will decrease frequency, but may reduce crowding, delays & the number of regional jets used. To learn more on the aviation side, go to http://www.crankyflyer.com.

SEAN October 11, 2012 - 8:39 pm Reply
AK October 12, 2012 - 9:18 am

LaGuardia’s PFC (like JFK’s and EWR’s) is already the maximum allowed by law: $4.50. Should that ceiling be raised? You bet.

Justin Samuels October 12, 2012 - 12:48 am

The Port Authority used fees it charges airlines to land at terminals to build the Airtrain. The airplanes fought the Port Authority tooth and nail in courts on that one. The current Airtrain will not be extended from its current route to LaGuardia. There’s no chance, as I don’t think the Port Authority wants another bruising fight with not only the airlines, but with NIMBY’s. Keep in mind the Port Authority also had to spend BILLIONS rebuilding the World Trade Center, which they owned and which was a priority for them.

The best you can hope for is an Airtrain that goes from LaGuardia to Shea Stadium to connect to the LIRR and Flushing Lines. That route would have the least amount of residential opposition.

nyland8 October 13, 2012 - 9:47 am

Well … the great thing about using existing highways and commandeering a small parkland corridor for ROW is that you don’t have to fight the NYMBYs. For the most part, the path is already clear. All that’s required is the political will.

And if I recall, the rebuilding of the WTC was done mostly with dedicated federal funds and insurance money – not on the backs of the PA.

Extending the AirTrain from Jamaica to LGA is doable, reasonable, and carries with it the not inconsiderable political clout of Long Islanders – plus, by swinging past the 7 train, it would finally connect the airport to the subway lines.

The airlines might have fought the PA tooth and nail – but they lost and the public won. The AirTrain ridership has continued to rise every year and keeps untold of traffic off the highways. It serves over 5 million riders annually. Like so many infrastructure projects, despite all the griping and bickering before they’re built, they turn out to be a godsend when they are finally put into service.

Not counting the current SAS and 7 extension, does anybody alive remember the inconveniences of building the existing subway system that we have? Perhaps a handful of people. But in the intervening decades, they’ve all benefitted from that system incalculably.

The AirTrain is clean, quite, and inconveniences virtually nobody. It doesn’t suffer any of the annoying ringing of a steel skeleton that our older elevated trains do. And if the extension went to a pre-cast, pre-stressed, post-tensioned channel design, nobody would ever even hear a train coming or going. That would be a great example to demonstrate to the NIMBYs that they shouldn’t be afraid of elevated rail. We’ve come a long way in 100 years.

Justin Samuels October 13, 2012 - 2:13 pm

Governor Chris Christie, who would not allow the new NJ Transit tunnel to come into existence, is going to allow a new creation of an Airtrain in NY? The Port Authority is co owned by NY and NJ. Cuomo is not really interested in the creation of new train lines, either.

Also, operationally, who would take the Airtrain from JFK to LaGuardia? If not that many people take it, where are the subsidies coming from? Keep in mind the MTA Payroll tax has been ruled unconstitutional (this decision is being appealed, but still).

Many Long Islanders drive to the airport, or have someone give them a ride, btw. LI is the place where Nassau privatized its bus system. They aren’t that supporting of new trains in LI, overall.

Neither the political nor the public will is there, nor will it be there at any time in the forseeable future. Its pure fantasy, a train directly from JFK to LaGuardia when we still do not have a train directly from Penn Station to JFK (which would make more sense, but the MTA and the Port Authority can’t seem to figure that out).

The Port Authority itself had to invest major money in the rebuilding of the WTC, and 1.5 billion in the building of the new Path Terminal downtown. Again, its funds are depleted. Chris Christie used 3 billion of PA money on NJ highway construction, so its funds are also diverted. Some Port Authority money went to existing MTA capital projects (such as the Second Avenue Subway, Cuomo insisted this in exchange for allowing Christie to spend money on NJ highways). So the money is simply not there.

You can insist on your fantasy all you want, but its not even on the drawing board of any of the players in the region.

Nyland8 October 16, 2012 - 3:02 am

Your opening argument involves the words Christie and Cuomo – and we all know that the planning and implementation of any major transit project in the NYC region outlives any governor’s political life expectancy, be they in favor or against the project.

The purpose of connecting to Jamaica Station is to connect to Jamaica Station – the fact that it would connect the two airports is merely a coincidental benefit. It is the Port Authority that owns and operates the airports, and it is the Port Authority that has built AirTrain’s at both Newark and JFK. It is the Port Authority that has yet to build any AirTrain to Laguardia.

We do have a train directly from Penn Station to JFK. It’s called the A train. What we don’t have is any train that goes to Laguardia.

Henry October 13, 2012 - 2:31 pm

The problem with the AirTrain as it stands now is that there are no intermediate stops in Southeast Queens between the airport and Jamaica, and that’s on purpose – federal funding of people movers doesn’t allow for local stops.

It’s sort of okay for Jamaica-JFK, because that’s not a particularly long distance, but to build something that could serve as a really good intra-Queens service and then not build any local stops for those in Queens (which has the least subway service of the four boroughs currently served by the MTA) would probably be a political nightmare. I’m pretty sure the PA is not interested in building a intra-Queens line anyways, and the MTA will probably be very upset over another authority encroaching on its turf, so it’s a political nightmare.

Nyland8 October 16, 2012 - 3:33 am

I read the phrase “political nightmare” and similar expressions a lot on these boards, perhaps because people really believe it. But in the world of human political achievement, these things are actually quite easy.

New Yorkers seem to be willing to accept the fact that a person going from Hoboken to Yankee Stadium or Barclay’s Center – a distance of a few miles – should have to use different mass transit systems with different payment methods and different pay rates. But we live in a world where you can buy a single Eurail Pass that can get you through 23 different countries. 23 entirely different political systems – that don’t even speak the same language! In fact, just a few years ago, some of those countries didn’t even exist.

In the realm of human political achievement, building, funding and operating a sane mass transit system – that serves ALL the boroughs AND Connecticut AND New Jersey – is a relative piece of cake. All that is required is the will.

But it begins with people believing in the possibility.

Henry October 16, 2012 - 8:39 pm

I think you misinterpreted my statement. It’s not that such a connection is unnecessary and doesn’t need to be built. The PA, however, uses federal funding for its people mover and a surcharge on its plane tickets. By law, this money can ONLY be use to facilitate airport-bound traffic. Thus, any AirTrain extension to LGA would only be allowed to stop at existing subway stations and LGA.

Queens has the least subway mileage of any borough save Staten Island, which is odd because Queens’s population is not significantly smaller than any of the other boroughs. Instead, residents of Central and Eastern Queens funnel into either Jamaica or Flushing using the bus system. They would probably resent building a project that provides no real benefit to them – because of federal law, they’ll still be stuck with the 40 minute bus ride instead of the 10 minute AirTrain ride. If it had local stops, it would certainly be a very helpful link – Jamaica and Flushing have no direct, quick links even though they’re the biggest bus hubs in the borough. Unless they build local stops and forgo ticket surcharges and federal people mover funding (highly unlikely), Queens residents probably won’t support such a project.

Henry October 17, 2012 - 1:05 am

In any case, as to what we can do quickly, and cheaply, I’ve outlined a plan here: http://queenstransit.wordpress.....a-service/

that would do more to improve inter-borough connectivity and connections between LGA and Queens than the existing plans, for not that much more. Most of the routes I’ve outlined stop just short of LGA for reasons I don’t understand, so there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to improving LGA connections.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 9:53 pm

It also wouldn’t be very useful to connect from the airport to Manhattan – both Flushing and Jamaica are too far east.

Spendmore Wastemore October 11, 2012 - 6:57 pm

I can’t see a point of tossing in an SBS bus only lane on 125th. There’s only 2 travel lanes each way, and currently the buses are impeded by each other more than car traffic. The biggest single thing slowing that road down are buses which often block both lanes.

The other features of SBS make sense for airport service. The M60 should run limited stops both ways; leaving the airport it ways. But the correct solution is to dig a hole under 125th and put in a subway with stops only at connecting lines and the airport.

AlexB October 12, 2012 - 12:59 pm

There are currently 2 travel lanes in each direction and 1 parking lane on each side. Convert one parking lane and one travel lane to bus only during rush hour and convert one travel lane to a left turn lane at intersections. Vigorously punish double parked cars and the whole street would flow a lot more smoothly.

If that’s a non-starter for the community, they could explore some type of express service on 124th/126th that bypasses all the local stops and congestion on 125th.

I agree that a subway is the best option, but that’s 10 years away from opening if they started today.

Someone October 11, 2012 - 9:49 pm

Oh no, not the Q47 or the Q33! These routes can only handle 30-foot buses

mike d. October 12, 2012 - 6:57 am

Check your facts, its the Q33. MTA does not have 30 foot buses.

Someone October 12, 2012 - 9:00 am

I know. I meant 40-foot buses, as I mistyped

al October 12, 2012 - 2:35 pm

Which is why the the proposal straightens the routes out.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 9:54 pm

Articulated buses can make sharper turns than 40-foot buses.

Terratalk October 11, 2012 - 10:55 pm

While the Select M60 is a pretty good idea, it doesn’t take into consideration the East Side people that take the M15 up to 125. Many people would be forced to take their luggage up that hill on Third Avenue (between 86th St – 97 St) to either get to the Third Ave bus or the Lexington Ave subway (or walk to the cross town at 86 or 96 Street). There should be a M60 stop at 125 and 2nd or the 1st Avenue bus should turn on to 125 and make their last stop at 3rd Ave (Pathmark) and then go to the bus depot (both changes relatively inexpensive to make).

Also: As an East Sider using the M15-M60 connection on a daily basis, I would hope that the local traffic M60 would not be as bad as our local M15 which seems to run once every 30 minutes while the Select seems to go by every 5 minutes almost empty. We desperately need a dependable way of getting across the bridge to get to work that does not turn it into a two fare zone. As it is, the M60 frequently only runs every 1/2 hour (instead of every 8 minutes as scheduled at 4-6pm) and now they are talking about eliminating some of the local buses and replacing them with tandems (the articulating double buses). They don’t show up now as it is … what are we going to wind up with … once an hour? I would rather them keep the shorter buses on the local and run them every 10-15 minutes. The shorter buses can get thru the local streets faster and would not have to deal with luggage thus seating more customers than is presently occurring.

BoerumBum October 12, 2012 - 9:35 am

The problem with the M15/M15SBS frequency comes down to the fact that the SBS is heavily used in the center of its run… crushingly so during rush hour. I wonder if there would be a way to make the last couple stops local. Granted, this would cause payment issues.

TP October 15, 2012 - 9:45 am

Where does the proposal say that the M60 SBS won’t stop at 1st/2nd Ave to connect with the M15? I didn’t assume that’d be true.

Terratalk October 15, 2012 - 1:42 pm

Actually it was discussed at one of the study meetings and if you click on the PDF link under the picture above, it shows a clearer picture of the proposed SBS line with boxes for the proposed stops; I’ve put in my two cents several times for a stop at the 2nd Avenue location, just because not everyone takes the subway up to 125th Street (like me). May be this will eventually work out once the Second Avenue Subway meets up with 125th Street (if I’m still alive)

Henry October 15, 2012 - 9:03 pm

Really? I was under the impression that the boxes only indicated stops with transfers to subway lines. If that was the designation for all stops, then that provides even less than the meager benefit to Queens residents than I thought.

Terratalk October 16, 2012 - 8:41 am

Let me clarify my statement; they want to have a local and an “express” M60. The local is supposed to continue stopping at each stop to handle the local traffic; the Select Bus is to help get people to and from LaGuardia.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 10:01 pm

That’s not correct. There’s no need for a local M60 as well as an SBS – the other 125th St. routes can handle the intermediate stops just fine.

And Henry is correct: the dots show major transfer points, not all bus stops.

Terratalk October 16, 2012 - 10:20 pm

I’m sorry Andrew, but the study was quite clear that two M60’s would be involved, a local M60 for those people who need to work and travel from 125th Street to the Queens area (Astoria Blvd) and a Select M60 that would transport those people from transit links directly to the airport. Whether the local M60 remains an “M60” or is assigned another number was still up in the air.

Andrew October 16, 2012 - 10:28 pm

The local bus in Manhattan will be called the Bx15 or the M100 or the M101. It will not cross into Queens. The local bus in Queens will be called the Q19. It will not cross into Manhattan.

I think you misunderstood. Like on the M34 and S79, all M60 buses will be SBS.

Terratalk October 18, 2012 - 2:13 pm

Actually, thank you for pointing out an inconsistency in what the MTA is saying and the LaG Access Study is saying. I have contacted both organizations requesting clarification because this could be a deal breaker if the M60 stops are not properly configured. If the SBS M60 is going to be the only M60 then we need to make sure that the proposed stops meet the needs of the local Queens businesses who use Manhattan employees or visa versa. Eliminating the local M60 eliminates the only bus that travels over the Triborough handling local traffic. It also creates a two fare zone between upper Manhattan and northern Queens since it would send approximately 8,000 people daily down to the 59th Street area to find a way across the 59th Street transit hub and back to northern Queens. Since the MTA has already cut back on Queens buses, I don’t think the Queens community is going to be happy to lose another bus link to Manhattan.

marvin October 12, 2012 - 12:41 am

If one was to run a one track monorail stopping only at the Laguadia’s main terminal, a second stop between the two other terminals and a final stop near citifield:

*how fast could the trip be made?
*how much time would be saved by eliminating the middle stop in one direction?
*what would be the cost of such a “linier elevator”?

If cost effective and both fast enough and frequent enough (remembering that like a elevator, only one set of cars could run run at a time and your frequency is the 60 minutes/the round trip time)this could be a good interum solution for Laguadia until a direct line can be built to Manhattan. Given that this is NY, interum exceeds most people’s life spans.

The Citifield Terminal could terminate at level with the walkway linking the park, the LIRR, the subway and Citifield allowing for easier connections – even for those with lugage.

The LIRR will allow fast access to both Grand Central and Penn Station, while the subway is a more affordable option allowing more subway connections.

Someone October 12, 2012 - 9:03 am

It would be inconvienent, because the monorail would have to switch tracks and there could only be one monorail. Unless, of course, it were in a circle.

al October 12, 2012 - 2:37 pm

This might be a good candidate for AeroBus.

marvin October 12, 2012 - 5:27 pm

The Aero bus sounds attractive for either a LGA-Citifield station link or maybe even for LGA-Harlem/125 Street superstop which down the road may include the SAS serving the broadway line (including the times square station) and maybe further down 2nd Avenue.

Aero bus also sound like it could serve well as route over the LIE in eastern Queens serving as a feeder to a transfer station at Queens Blvd.

Has Aero bus been built in cities – how does it look estitically?, what is the noise factor? Could it be built in lui of subway extensions?

It seems that NYC is stuck on subways or buses. See http://www.aerobus.com

Henry October 12, 2012 - 7:54 pm

Any sort of elevated connection from the west is out of the question – the GCP and Astoria Blvd in the landing path have specially shortened streetlights to provide clearance for airplanes, and if you look at Google Maps, you can see this cleared area and its lack of buildings.

Quite frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would want to spend money on a technology monopolized by one company when light rail, bus, and trains work well everywhere else.

Someone October 13, 2012 - 8:41 am

In that case, a new subway line to serve LGA might actually be a good idea. That is, if one can get the MTA to extend its (N) line from Astoria and if there is sufficient funding.

Otherwise, SBS sounds like a cheaper alternative.

KAR October 14, 2012 - 10:29 pm

The MTA tried to expand the subway to LaGuardia – but the foolish community fought it down… I guess they prefer vehicle pollution.

al October 13, 2012 - 12:59 pm

Proprietary technology didn’t stop the PA from going with Bombardier ART for JFK or that Newark monorail. Once the patents expire on proprietary technology, you can hire anyone qualified to build extensions and rolling stock. Considering how long these systems can last when they are well maintained, this shouldn’t be too big an issue.

You could have a short cut and cover section for height restricted areas.

Henry October 13, 2012 - 2:47 pm

Skytrain is a proven technology, though – Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, and other areas use them as rapid transit lines. Aerobus has never been used in a rapid transit application.

Lots of companies make monorails, and the Bombardier LRT, although unique in its LIM system (which Japanese companies have also developed), is still a standard gauge, third rail-powered vehicle, so it’s not that hard to engineer something for it. As far as I know, Aerobus technology is limited to only Aerobus itself, so if it goes bankrupt, then we’re screwed.

It’s also ridiculously expensive to extend one-of-a-kind systems – look at BART in San Francisco. In this particular corridor, I would support LRT, because it can run on-street (in dedicated lanes) and there’s a lot of off-the-shelf kit.

Normally, I would support sending it underground, except there’s no convenient place to do that without knocking down buildings, and the MTA has a bad track record when it comes to building stations that close to the water.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines October 12, 2012 - 8:59 am

[…] Bus Coverage: NYT, WSJ, NY1, DNA, News, Post, Observer, CapNY, SAS, […]

LLQBTT October 12, 2012 - 10:59 am

If the Bronx route is implemented, forget about the Triboro RX for a good, long while.

Woody October 12, 2012 - 11:17 am

I always assumed the TriboroRX would be done in stages like the Second Avenue Subway, starting in Brooklyn, and then after I’m dead …

What makes you think that the Bronx is really in the TriboroRX picture?

Bolwerk October 12, 2012 - 11:48 am

I’m not sure what the SBS does to substitute for Triboro RX, but is there any political momentum behind Triboro RX right now anyway?

Henry October 12, 2012 - 8:02 pm

I believe the closest thing to a political figure that has voiced anything more than hypothetical support for the idea might be Elliot Sanders.

I get the impression that most of the city’s politicians couldn’t tell you what it was if you asked, and some would probably resort to NIMBYism once it started getting built.

smartone October 12, 2012 - 12:43 pm

a couple of notes.
I have taken Laguardia Bus and transfered Ditmar Avenue Subway and beaten people who took taxis into Manhattan.

Sometimes this bus is super quick it only slows down in the airport so if you are picked up at the first terminal you lose any advantage with taking a bus.

As far as subway to Laguardia goes – why don’t they just spur off at the NQ Astoria subway station and build the subway extention to Laguardia UNDER 278? This would be most direct route to airport and solve the NIMBY issue.

Jeff October 12, 2012 - 2:02 pm

Building along a highway didn’t stop NIMBYs from fighting the JFK Airtrain though

Jeff October 12, 2012 - 2:05 pm

And that stretch of I278 is either below ground or at grade, so there’s no good way to build a ROW along the highway underground without spending large amounts of money building the tunnel.

Henry October 12, 2012 - 7:58 pm

There isn’t really a convenient place to put the train underground without condemning a bunch of buildings in Astoria, which probably won’t be popular.

Also, given the state of various subway stations around the city (including South Ferry, which only a year or two old) and the water damage they’re suffering, I think it’s safe to say that the MTA (or at least its contractors) cannot build something that close to the water without the stations and tracks becoming puddles.

Jerrold October 12, 2012 - 7:30 pm

Ben, I am beginning to miss the days when there was something new here every day. I hope that you are feeling alright. Secondly: http://bkabak.wpengine.com/201.....lentrance/ The MTA told us September 2011. It’s 13 months later, and as of today that entrance is STILL not open. It looks physically finished, but it is not open for use. And we are supposed to believe their stated dates for the opening of the SAS, ESA, #7 extension, etc.?

Jerrold October 12, 2012 - 7:34 pm

P.S. That link will not work even for ME, so here it is again:


Henry October 12, 2012 - 8:10 pm

I find it odd that in the initial study, they list LGA – Flushing as a priority corridor, yet in the final plan they do nothing about the connectivity problems.

Why not run a similar limited stop bus service akin to the M60? Simply give the College Point section of the Q25 to the Q17, and route the shortened Q25 through Northern Blvd & the GCP to LGA. That way, LGA will have a direct, limited-stop connection to both Jamaica & Flushing, the borough’s biggest bus hubs.

JJJ October 15, 2012 - 12:13 am

Why is there no ferry service to the airport?

Terratalk October 15, 2012 - 12:48 am

Actually this was discussed at one of the study meetings. The runways are situated awkwardly for a ferry landing and transporting people to the gates.

JJJ October 15, 2012 - 2:58 pm

I still think a shuttle bus + ferry could get you to lower Manhattan faster than any bus-subway combo. A ferry could stop on the upper east side, midtown and then wall street,

Look at Bostons airport, there is a BRT option, a subway option, ferry and water taxi options as well, and they all pretty much get you to the same place.

Phantom October 15, 2012 - 8:44 pm

The ferry is a lousy idea.

Esp if it makes multiple stops, ir will be a slow option, esp from downtown

Ever try taking the s.l.o.w. ferry from Yankee Stadium? Like that

VY October 18, 2012 - 1:01 pm

The NIMBY’s must be broken just like they were along the Van Wyck Expressway between Jamaica and JFK Airport for the JFK AirTrain. But unlike the JFK AirTrain the Astoria N Line should be connected to LGA via an elevated along the center of the Grand Central Parkway to LGA. An alternative could be a connection from the existing Amtrak Hells Gate Bridge Line above the northern stretch of the BQE and Grand Central Parkway to LGA. Either way creates a “one seat ride” into Manahattan from LGA. Start the lawsuits now, so by the time the courts clear everything the money will be available to build one of these connections once the economy improves, and LGA can be rebuilt.

Terratalk October 18, 2012 - 1:50 pm

One problem is how to connect the Airway to LGA … the airplane approach to LGA is very low at 82nd Street/Astoria Blvd. which means something has to be very expensively rearranged … like lowing Grand Central Parkway or removing (or moving) the Astoria overpass over GCP at 77th Street (and this is just for the start of the expense) … it’s not that simple …

Another attempt at improving travel to Laguardia :: Second Ave. Sagas December 4, 2012 - 12:33 am

[…] various bus efforts are moving forward. In mid-October, DOT and the MTA unveiled a Laguardia-focused SBS treatment aimed at improving travel times to and from the Queens airport for both workers and airline […]


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