BY JANIE ROSMAN
Transit signal priority that will keep lights green when buses approach an intersection is one of several Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) improvements provided by the Lower Hudson Transit Link — a new bus system that will replace the current Tappan ZEExpress lines Suffern to White Plains and Spring Valley to Tarrytown (via Nyack) — in fall 2018.
No more waiting at red lights that take forever to turn green especially when there are no cars coming through the cross streets.
Last the state Department of Transportation Project Team hosted two open houses on ICM — which manages systems more effectively with technology like sensors in the road and real-time traffic information — for bus routes that will stop at key points in Westchester and Rockland identified by engineering firm ARUP.
While the mass transit task force’s February 2014 report suggested seven bus routes, the state chose to start with two lines until additional funding becomes available.
“We made the decision (to begin the bus routes in November 2018) around two bits of information,” ARUP’s Brad Hartwig said. “One was, ‘When will the second span of the bridge open?’ The other was, ‘When will Rockland stop operating the Tappan Zeexpress?’” He said the county’s contract with the company that operates the bus service expiries at the end of October, “and it will be a seamless transition.”
Plans include upgrades along Route 59 and a more comfortable and faster ride for those using Tappan Zeexpress. Westchester County’s I-287 and Route 119 between I-287 and White Plains train station will have new signal priority and upgrades, new bus stops, ramp metering — using a signal to regulate traffic entering the highway via sensors on the road — and queue jump lanes for buses.
While there are no dedicated bus lanes on the new bridge, on I-287 or on local streets, buses will have priority with queue jump lanes at select highway on-ramps and at several intersections along the Route 59 corridor.
“The good news is the bus stop was moved from a residential area onto Road F,” South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian commented later. One LHTL stop will be within Interchange 10 (South Franklin Extension) in South Nyack and at Artopee Way in Nyack, the state DOT confirmed.
“We’re still looking to see if it’s viable for South Nyackers,” Christian said. “Does it benefit our residents? We have a lot of residents who take the local tour bus, which will no longer run as there now will be a commuter line. We have to see.”
Pomona resident Ivy Kramer was disappointed to learn her direct bus route from Lot J at the Palisades Center would take her to White Plains train station instead of to Tarrytown train station.
“I certainly did my homework about commuting into the city before I accepted this offer,” Kramer said about her new job in the building above Grand Central Station. “This current bus ride (to Tarrytown) is perfect, less than 20 minutes.”
Traveling to White Plains means increased time on the bus and will be less convenient, she said. Her Metro-North ticket for Tarrytown is part of the Guaranteed Ride Home Program. “In the event you’re working late or you’re out late, you’re guaranteed a ride home from the station to your house.”
White Plains is not one of the program’s seven participating Metro-North train stations.
“Everybody wanted to talk about buses,” ARUP Transport Planner Harrison Peck said when this reporter told him about Kramer’s plight. “We’ll be talking about that at another open house later this year.”
A Request for Proposal for the transit operator is currently being revised with a guarantee from the state that bus service will start in November 2018. “We hope to have a contract awarded by the end of the year,” he said.
Pilot bus shelters can be seen at the Exit 14 Nanuet Park and Ride construction site and at Elizabeth Street in Tarrytown. “The shelters will be equipped with Wi-fi and real-time information: when the bus will arrive at the station, stops along the way to White Plains and Tarrytown, and connecting train schedules to New York City,” Hartwig said.
In Tarrytown, the only significant change will be new buses and bus stops. Noted David Aukland, Village of Tarrytown Liaison to the Replacement Bridge Project, “It’s nice that we have a new bridge (and shared use path) that will reduce the accident rate, and the emergency stop shoulder will be a benefit.”
However, Aukland continued, “Not much else will change for commuting drivers, as there will be backups on the bridge.”
Officials are studying a proposal for a dedicated bus-only lane on the new spans. For more information visit https://www.dot.ny.gov/LHTL.