Line runs from Sheepshead Bay To Williamsburg’s Bridge Plaza
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Select Bus Service came to Brooklyn on Monday as officials inaugurated the “super-express” service on the B44 bus, the city’s fifth-busiest bus line.
The bus, which travels along Nostrand, Rogers and Bedford avenues, begins in Sheepshead Bay. It serves such important Brooklyn institutions as Brooklyn College, Medgar Evers College, Kings County Hospital and SUNY Downstate Hospital. It ends at Bridge Plaza in Williamsburg, where riders can transfer to other bus or subway lines.
Select Bus service features “bus bulb” sidewalk extensions that allow passengers to enter more quickly. Perhaps most importantly, rather than swiping their MetroCards on the bus, riders use their cards to buy tickets on separate machines at the bus station, then carry their tickets onto the bus.
Because they don’t have to pay at the front of the bus, explained Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for MTA New York City Transit, they can enter the bus at any one of three entryways – the front door, the back door or a door in the middle. Thus, more passengers can load onto the bus more rapidly.
“The thing that slows buses down the most is drivers having to accommodate passengers swiping their MetroCards,” said Ortiz. “Paying before they board the bus can speed up bus time by 20 percent.” Of course, he said, the passengers need to hold on to their tickets -- they can be asked to show them while on the bus (as this writer was when he rode on a Select Bus route in the Bronx).
Not everyone is cheering, however. The Select Bus Service on the B44 replaced an earlier, more conventional express bus service called the Limited B44. Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) says when the Limited route was replaced, several former express stops, such as one serving Andries Hudde Junior High School between Avenues K and L, were eliminated.
On Tuesday, Williams held a press conference to seek the restoration of these Limited bus stops.
Ortiz responded that one of the points of Select Bus Service is to have fewer stops. People at stops such as the one between Avenues K and L will still be served by the local B44 route, he said.
“Brooklyn’s first Select Bus Service route will serve our vibrant shopping district, and we welcome this investment in our neighborhood,” said Lindiwe Kamau, president of the Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association. “We’ve worked intensively with shop-owners, the DOT and MTA to ensure that the new service truly supports our local small businesses and we will continue to do so.”