Why not a bus?
Answering those who ask “Why not a bus?”
A streetcar with a dedicated right of way is the transit mode that makes the most sense for this corridor for both technical and pragmatic reasons. Unlike a bus, the BQX has the ability to accommodate the projected ridership in a single, efficient route. As a permanent piece of infrastructure with a dedicated right of way, the BQX would be faster and more reliable than any potential bus route along the corridor, while also helping attract riders and catalyzing economic growth and opportunity in a way that buses do not. And, unlike a bus, this form of urban light rail can be built and operated by the city without the MTA.
- The projected demand along the route to accommodate future growth is too high to be adequately serviced by SBS. Even with frequent service, moving 50,000 passengers a day in SBS vehicles would lead to significant service disruptions and delays as buses “bunch” along the route.
- No bus line serves this complex and indirect 14-mile route and there are no plans to create one. The streets along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront are complex and indirect, and the proposed route is long, which is why no single bus line currently serves the entire corridor. While buses and rapid bus transit in the form of SBS have an important role to play as part of New York’s transit system, especially along simple, linear routes, they aren’t the best fit for this corridor. Even if they were, there are no current plans to bring any bus line, let alone a Select Bus Service line to this corridor.
- True BRT would require many of the same street changes without the benefits of urban light rail. The current SBS routes in the city are an improvement over regular bus service but they aren’t true rapid transit as the SBS lanes are often blocked or slowed down by local buses, tour buses, private coaches, frequent utilities work, or private vehicles making pick-ups or drop-offs. For true Bus Rapid Transit to work, it would need a dedicated right of way that wouldn’t be disrupted. The same street level changes, and some utilities relocation, would be necessary in order to create a piece of transit that is fast, frequent, and reliable. The cost of building a true BRT route on this corridor would not be relatively that much less expensive than building a light rail.
- Bus lines can’t attract value based financing or more employers and jobs to the corridor. Any new bus route wouldn’t be able to generate sufficient value to cover the costs of construction and would therefore end up costing taxpayers more. An urban light rail requires tracks and more permanent infrastructure, and will generate more investment and value since unlike a bus line, it can’t be easily rerouted or canceled. Furthermore, urban light rail will help attract more employers and jobs to the corridor, since few employers locate somewhere because it is served by bus service. Rather, they prefer to be in locations that are easily accessible by more reliable and faster mass transit.
- Buses are run by the MTA. Even if a bus line made sense for this corridor, the city would not be able to add one without funding and approval from the MTA. The BQX can be done by New York City alone, without the complications and political issues that comes from projects requiring coordination among city, state, or federal agencies.