Rush hour on Woodhaven Boulevard is torture for all commuters; bus riders, car drivers, truck drivers, everyone. But the SBS (Select Bus Service) solution currently being proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) is not a solution for everyone.
It’s a bit like fixing a scratch on your car door by taking a blow torch to the paint. You’ll get rid of the scratch, but leave the door in much worse condition.
At the very heart of the debate is what impact leaving two lanes of Woodhaven Boulevard only for buses will have. Certainly the impact on bus riders will be positive as they will be swept past traffic to their destinations.
However, this will come at tremendous expense to everyone else. If traffic for vehicles is bad right now, it’s going to be a lot worse when there’s one less lane in each direction.
This isn’t speculation or guesswork. All you need to do is drive on Woodhaven Boulevard north of Metropolitan Avenue weekdays during rush hour where they’ve already carved out two “Bus Only” lanes.
Don’t take my word for it, try driving it for yourself. You’ll find yourself sitting in traffic worse than ever next to an empty lane that carries a bus past your car once in a while.
Public transit lobbyists and proponents of SBS say that removing a lane will “calm” traffic and will actually make the commute faster for vehicles. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.
But beneath the surface is a desire to make driving vehicles on Woodhaven Boulevard so painful that people will get out of their vehicles and, instead, pay the city to take public transportation.
And that’s the only way this “solution” will work; for you and tens of thousands of other drivers to abandon their automobiles and take the bus. It’s a $231 million social experiment to create more paying transit riders.
Plans for its implementation were going pretty smoothly until people began to wake up and start asking questions. At a standing room-only meeting late last year, resident after resident gave DOT reason after reason why this cockamamie plan needed to be reconsidered.
DOT agreed to postpone implementation for one year while they hold more public meetings in Woodhaven to hear feedback. It doesn’t mean they aren’t going through with it, as they seem pretty determined to see this plan through. But it does mean that there is a window of opportunity to change their mind.
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association has asked DOT to study alternatives, such as the implementation of a bus route along the abandoned LIRR track. The WRBA will hold their first Town Hall meeting of 2016 on Saturday, January 16, at noon at the American Legion, 89-02 91st Street, behind PS 60.
Even if you are not a regular driver during rush hour, as a resident of this community other details in this plan have to concern you. For example, the proposal to ban left-hand turns off Woodhaven Boulevard to accommodate the new bus stops, which will now be in the center of the boulevard.
This, along with the congestion caused by reduced lanes, will force additional traffic to spill off of the boulevard and on to our side streets.
If you live within a few blocks of Woodhaven Boulevard you can always tell when there’s an accident or a lane closure because of all the added traffic on your normally quiet street. That’s what you’ll be looking at 365 days a year. That’s the solution they are pushing on us.
The window of opportunity to implement a solution for all, to improve the commute along Woodhaven Boulevard for everyone, is open for the next few months. Residents need to take advantage of this, starting with the WRBA meeting next Saturday on the 16th.
If you don’t speak up now, you’ll have little cause to complain about the final solution you finally do end up with.