Chart of the Day: Speed of Dedicated Bus Lanes in New York City

New York City dragged their crosstown buses kicking and screaming into the 21st century last year with dedicated bus lanes on the East Side. For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, New York City generally has great north-south travel, but horribly slow east-west travel.

Anyway, via Streetsblog, here’s a chart showing the time differential that having dedicated ROW made for the bus system:

nyc bus lanes chart

Dedicated ROW (right of way) for transit is the epitome of prioritization. Without doing this, it’s very difficult to say that a city actually values transit ahead of priority for private automobiles, but in America, these kinds of lanes remain as rare as rare as  a Murray’s silver butterknife steak. (See also: the proposed Nicollet Streetcar.)

10 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Speed of Dedicated Bus Lanes in New York City

  1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

    It’s interesting that the MT arterial study specifically notes that buses stuck in traffic compose very little of the total delay time they see, even on fairly congested streets like Hennepin, Lake, Central, etc. It’s possible that for the most part traffic doesn’t slow down our buses (although anecdotal experience during rush hours, evenings, and weekend peaks says otherwise if you ask me..).

    I stumbled across this from Jeff Wood today: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2015/01/10/palo-alto-officials-protest-rapid-bus-plan
    ..and looked into the numbers a bit more here: http://www.vta.org/Projects-and-Programs/Transit/El-Camino-Real-Draft-Environmental-Impact-ReportEnvironmental-Analysis

    Officials are all upset because, according to their predictions for 2018, a full-dedicated lane BRT would cause quite literally 2-3 minutes of end-to-end travel time increases for motorists vs the full mixed-flow option. Compare that to 21-33 minutes savings for the BRT users over the same distance.

  2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    On the other hand, Cedar Ave BRT has dedicated right-of-way for almost its entire length. Does this mean it values transit more than personal automobiles?

    Alex’s reference to the arterial report is a good point. I suspect buses are rarely caught in traffic because they’re already so darn slow, the bottleneck tends to be behind them. (That is, on a four-lane street, if the bus is stopped in the right lane and traffic is passing on the right, there tends to be a good buffer in front of it.)

    1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

      On the flip side (and I may have said this before), does waiting at a red light behind 10 cars constitute “traffic light” or “congestion”? Would a preemptive/hold green system have kept it green that long?

      I find it hard to believe our arterials are so relatively uncongested that a big arterial in CA would see such gains (right along the 33% reduction NYC BRT saw) in a dedicated lane world vs mixed traffic, yet we wouldn’t see much. If that’s the case, then I’m led to believe our 4-lane arterials really aren’t operating at/above capacity, can taking away a lane her or there for cycle tracks shouldn’t be a huge deal.

        1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

          Maybe I just haven’t ridden it enough, or maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve never been on a Hennepin Ave bus stuck in traffic between Uptown Transit Center and ~5th St (except maybe a little at the Virginia Triangle). On the other hand, I’ve experienced a lot of Lake St congestion slowing the #21 — still the overwhelming issue is the frequent stops and slow boarding/disembarking process.

          1. Janne

            It sounds like you seldo or never ride the 6 on that stretch during rush hour? I board on the stretch between the Uptown station and Franklin, and frequently see the bus waiting for congestion to clear half a block before it can pull over and pick me up. And then that repeats on the next block.

  3. Brendon SlotterbackBrendon Slotterback

    The ABRT study for the Twin Cities says routes will be 25-30% faster. Of course, without a chart it isn’t real (I was going to make a chart, but I can’t find the study any more).

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