Q44 Select Bus Service, What It Means, and What It Could Be

Planned Q44 SBS Service and Stops (Source: DOT)

The Q44 and Current Plans

The current Q44 is one of the busiest routes in Queens and the city, linking 9,240,459 riders annually with Jamaica, Flushing, and the Bronx. In Queens, it runs through severely congested corridors such as Main St in Flushing, and Hillside Blvd, Sutphin Blvd, and Archer Av in Jamaica, while in the Bronx it makes all local stops. With the introduction of SBS, travel times will be slashed by using off-board fare payment, traffic signal retimings, and bus lanes in congested areas.

Q44 DelaysProposed Bus Lanes

Offset bus lanes in the most congested sections of road in Jamaica and Flushing (as is proposed for Main St, and hopefully the plan in Jamaica) would be a godsend and allow significantly improved bus flows if the bus lanes work as intended and are properly enforced. In this case, curbside lanes are not an acceptable alternative; in the sections where there will be bus lanes, there are often so many bus stops that the entire curb has no parking because it is all reserved for bus stops. Curbside lanes implemented in areas like this would effectively be useless, because buses coming up to occupied stops would have to pull out into general traffic to get around bypass stopped buses, rendering the bus lanes rather pointless.

Ultimately, the plans for new bus lanes are very welcome. However, they’re not the best plan, and they certainly don’t solve all the issues with traffic congestion in Jamaica and Flushing.

What the Jamaica-Flushing SBS Could’ve Been

Original plans did not call for the Q44 to be the only SBS link between Jamaica and Flushing. Originally, as seen in these images from previous study PDFs, the Q25 on Kissena and Parsons Blvds was also considered for SBS treatment in the beginning stages of the study.

Flushing-Jamaica Travel Speeds Original Flushing-Jamaica Plan

The Kissena Blvd/Parsons Blvd corridor is similarly very congested in both Jamaica and Flushing; due to the street layout of Downtown Flushing, nearly all bus routes heading from the southeast (the Q17, 25, 27, and 34) all have to merge onto Kissena Blvd and then Main St to get to Downtown Flushing. SBS treatments such as bus lanes, traffic signal priority, and prepayment would’ve helped traffic on not only the Q25, but these other routes.

To illustrate this point, here are the amount of buses entering Downtown Flushing and Jamaica on a weekday between 6-7PM:

Jamaica-Diagrams Flushing-Diagrams

Highlighted in these images is the path of the Q44:

Jamaica-Diagrams-Q44-only Flushing-Diagrams-Q44-only

As you can see, the Q44 shares its main stretches with a large number of bus routes. However, the lanes for the Q44 would not cover all of the busiest routes (in the case of Jamaica) or would only cover a short distance of the busiest routes (in the case of Flushing.)

Highlighted in the following set of images are the paths of the Q44, and the Q25:

Jamaica-Diagrams-Q44-Q25 Flushing-Diagrams-Q44-Q25

Existing Jamaica Bus LanesIn Jamaica, the impact of the additional Q25 bus lanes would be limited; Jamaica is already covered by a good deal of both offset and curbside lanes, as shown here in an image from DOT’s earlier Jamaica Bus study. However, it would provide bus lanes to a particularly segment of Parsons Blvd that hosts the Q110, Q111, Q112, Q113, and Q114, and would also provide bus lanes on a stretch of Sutphin Blvd that the Q44 does not serve.

In Flushing, the Q25 lanes would have a bigger impact. Most buses heading into Flushing from the south do so using the path of the Q25, from Kissena Blvd to Main St. Bus lanes on these routes would benefit the Q17, Q27, and to a lesser extent the Q65, as well as the Q25. So it is unfortunate that the Q25 seems to have been passed up for SBS improvements.

What to Do Next

Giving the Q44 SBS is good. Giving other busy routes into Jamaica and Flushing SBS service like the Q25, Q65, Q12, Q43, etc. would be even better. However, the limited nature of SBS improvements would probably only be good for a short period of time before Flushing and Jamaica would become congested again. The core of the issue is that all bus traffic in Flushing (and to a lesser extent, Jamaica) is largely funneled into a few roads that become very congested. The problem is particularly acute in Flushing, where nearly all traffic from the south heading further north than Roosevelt Av must merge onto Main St.

The only true way to solve these problems in the long term would be to both extend the subway network east, and to grade separate the busiest of the remaining bus routes. Currently, many routes from the south and east of Jamaica, and the north and east of Flushing, must go out of their way to reach the two subway hubs. Extensions of the subway, while certainly very expensive and very far in the future, would allow routes to be reconfigured in a more optimal manner so that routes would only go into Flushing and Jamaica when necessary. That being said, Flushing and Jamaica are also the two biggest commercial hubs in Eastern Queens, so even then there will still be significant bus traffic in the area.

This significant bus traffic would be best off grade separated; doing so would allow the freeing up of sidewalk space currently taken up by bus stops, and in addition would improve both surface and bus congestion. Ideally, either busway or light-rail tunnels (built to B Division subway standards for later conversion) would traverse the busiest roads in Jamaica and Flushing, with surface portals in less congested areas for diverging branches, similar to what is done in the Philadelphia and Boston streetcar systems. Such a busway system could also be configured to have turnstile-restricted fare control, thus allowing both all-door payment and potential in-station transfers to subway stations. These developments would reduce congestion and allow future growth in Eastern Queens.

Posted in Uncategorized

Moving to a new page!

Hello! It’s been more than a year since I’ve made a post on this blog, and I’d like to apologize for the delay; I’ve been working on making new maps after being inspired by the wonderful posts at Transit Maps on Tumblr. So, I have some announcements to make:

1. I’ve started a general New York transit map Tumblr blog. Most of my regular maps will be moving here, as well as the frequent transit maps I post.

2. All the Tomorrow’s Subway posts are stopped, at least for now. I’ve had a year to reflect on and refine my proposals, and at some point I’ll make a new post series on a revamped fantasy subway plan.

To start off, here’s a post from my Tumblr:

Map of 2030 New York City Subway

This is the culmination of a fairly long project to create a modern map based on George Salomon’s 1959 subway map, which was New York City’s first diagrammatic map. However, he was far more visionary than that; in a report he published for the MTA, he recommended a unified wayfinding system for the subway that would represent each trunk line as one color, which is the system we use today to represent subway routes. Unfortunately, the Tauranac map threw out the diagrammatic map, so I took it upon myself to create this.

The original map, while good, had many issues – tick marks and stops were off-centered, stops were unevenly spaced, geographic inaccuracies, etc. However, thanks to the wonders of digital art-making, I was able to fix all of these issues.

Stop spacing was standardized and condensed in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, while the spacing in Queens was expanded (and made geographically accurate as well.) Trunk line names were replaced by the subway’s ubiquitous bullets. Airport routes were also included, as well as the system’s expansions since 1959 (the Chrystie St connection, the 63rd St tunnel, the Archer Av line, and the future 7 Line and 2nd Av extensions, in addition to the various transfers added and the spread of wheelchair accessibility across the system.)

A full link to the PDF can be found here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ten Minute Network – Frequent Transit Map V3.1

 

Changes:

  • B9 service added
  • Southern Brooklyn redone for better diagrammatic look
  • Cleaning up of miscellaneous service labels, transfer boxes, etc.
  • Outline of the box is now black

Link to the full PDF is available here.

Posted in Frequent Maps

Ten Minute Network – Frequent Transit Map 3.0

This enormous behemoth is the product of a lot of frustration, determination, and tears. But here it is – the first, and as far as I know, only frequent transit map of the four boroughs.  This has taken the greater part of a month to make – it depicts every frequent transit route operated by NYCT and MTA Bus – every ten minutes or better, all day, Monday-Friday. At first this was supposed to be a simple diagram of the subway, to make Tomorrow’s Subway more polished. It somehow morphed into this.

The scale of this is astounding – originally, this was a quarter of the size it is now. However, due to legibility problems, it was blown up to its current size. If you print the PDF at full scale, it comes out to about 8 feet by 10.5 feet – definitely not something you want to carry around.with you on a normal basis. Perhaps it should’ve stayed as a separate map for each borough. Who knows?

The original plan for the general frequent transit map was to cut out a lot of routes by implementing a 10 minute standard (with 11 minute midday frequencies tolerated) and make something like this Montreal frequent transit map, with individual stops for every bus route. Due to the immense scale of the map, that went out the window first. Next to go were the PATH system in New Jersey and all of Staten Island – PATH was only going to be given a small section of the map anyways, and Staten Island only had one frequent transit route serving it, the S53 – not even the Ferry or the SIR ran 10 minutes all day. After that was the collection of one way avenues in Manhattan, to reduce clutter – that was replaced by a single line representing services running on the same street, which would’ve been much easier to simplify if the M5 didn’t have its odd routing on both 5th and 6th Avenues. Finally, due to a desire to finish the thing, street labels were put aside for a later date. Hopefully, at some point in time I will actually add the features listed here – the street labels, and maybe the stops, or at least just limited stops.

There are some serious geographical distortions – I don’t know how, but somehow the entire area around Coney Island got much bigger than it needed to be. Less noticeable are the geographical distortions around Randall’s Island, the Western Bronx, Eastern Queens, and Southern and Western Brooklyn.

If you spot an error, please feel free to point it out in the comments or in a private message – due to the immense scale of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if I made mistakes here and there – it’s impossible to see mistakes on a canvas that’s 8 by 10.5 feet. Any sort of other feedback would also be greatly appreciated.

Full link to the PDF here.

Posted in Frequent Maps

Yet Another Manhattan Frequency Map

Manhattan Frequency Map

So it’s finally done! I’ve made a frequency map for every borough in the city.

This one was complex because of the density of services – unlike with the other maps, I couldn’t display separate lines for local and express service. There are also no one-way direction arrows (no room to put them anywhere), and no limited-stop circles (the actual Manhattan bus map doesn’t have limited-stops, only SBS stops, and in any case the limited-stops are only four blocks apart most of the time.)

Leave feedback in the comments below!

Manhattan Frequency Map

Posted in Frequent Maps

Yet Another Brooklyn Frequency Map

Brooklyn Frequency Map

I’ve finally finished the Brooklyn Frequent Map! This one was the hardest so far – the hardest thing is not drawing the lines, but it’s presenting transfer points in a clear, legible way, which I’ve tried to do here.

Some sacrifices had to be made – most noticeably, the map doesn’t show Brooklyn’s extensive one-way pairs. If it had any more lines running across central and Downtown Brooklyn, the map wouldn’t be legible. I won’t do this for the Manhattan map (if I make one – the transfers will be a pain @__@)

Leave feedback in the comments below!

Brooklyn Frequency Map

Posted in Frequent Maps

Yet Another Bronx Frequency Map

Bronx Frequency Map

I’ve now redone a third borough’s frequency maps! The Bronx’s was actually quite complicated – in keeping with the other updated Frequency maps, I decided to list all of the connecting trains and buses in Manhattan. Services in the Bronx are extremely densely-packed together, and there are quite a lot of services, so if the map is cluttered, my apologies. This is about as geographically accurate as a schematic map gets, though.

Got any questions or comments? Post feedback below!

Bronx Frequency Map

Posted in Frequent Maps
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