Permanent Gowanus Bus Lane Through Battery Created
Thanks to the aggressive encouragement of the NYCDOT and the State Department of Transportation, the MTA upgraded the High Occupancy Vehicle Lane on the Gowanus Expressway in April to require three passengers instead of two (HOV-3). Effectively, this means a new bus lane which can carry more people faster from Staten Island and Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan. Demand for express bus service to downtown has been soaring for the last five years, and has really accelerated since 9/11. Speeds on the Gowanus HOV lane have fallen below 20 mph on some days, but are expected to climb back to 45 mph. Praise is due to NYCDOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall for pushing the bus lane, and NYSDOT Region 11 Director Doug Currey for making it happen.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Transportation Alternatives and Straphangers Campaign have been advocating for a permanent bus lane on the Gowanus since the late 1990s.
New York Behind the Curve on HOV Lanes
A 1999 NY State DOT study found that, by far, the greatest number of people in the Gowanus HOV lane are transported by vehicles with three or more passengers. Seventy-nine percent of people traveling in the lane were transported by bus, 9% by three-plus passenger vehicles, 11% by two-person carpools and only 1% by vehicles with one passenger (cheaters).
The bus share of passengers in the lane has very likely increased since the DOT study was carried out because of service increases and robust express bus ridership. Some Staten Island routes posted rider gains of 30% or more from January 1999 to January 2000.
-Tri-State Transportation Campaign press release on January 31, 2001