Creating a Bus Rapid Transit Boulevard: Making Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service Work for Transit, Traffic, and the Public in Queens, New York

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bus rapid transit, land use - planning, planning - safety/accidents, planning - service improvement, operations - capacity, operations - reliability, planning - service quality


Bus rapid transit (BRT), urban mobility, Select Bus Service (SBS), street configuration


American and international cities have delivered high-quality transit service at relatively low cost through the use of bus rapid transit (BRT). However, while improved transit service is critical for urban mobility, a tension exists between creating the best possible bus facility and designing an attractive urban environment. Cities face the challenge of developing street configurations that provide reliable, high-capacity transit service while providing a high-quality public realm for the transit riders and communities that the buses serve. Woodhaven Boulevard is an auto-oriented 14-mi (22.5-km) corridor in Queens, New York, that carries more than 30,000 bus riders daily. The corridor performs poorly for transit, is inhospitable to pedestrians, and is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous streets in the city. The New York City Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Company are leveraging the Select Bus Service (SBS) program to redesign the corridor with BRT features that include improvements to the public realm while maintaining sufficient capacity for all vehicles. This paper describes the planning process and challenges of the Woodhaven Boulevard SBS project and provides lessons on how to design and evaluate an urban arterial that accommodates many users, each with his or her own set of mobility and accessibility needs. While typical BRT projects focus on the traditional goals of maximizing transit efficiency and bus speeds, the preferred concept for Woodhaven Boulevard demonstrates how a wider array of goals that includes safety, aesthetics, and place making can and should be incorporated into transit projects.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.