Monday, June 2, 2008

Tunnel xRT: A Second Lincoln Tunnel XBL

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign reports that the Port Authority is planning to add another bus lane to the Lincoln Tunnel and its approach road. The current counter-flow XBL was instituted in the early 1970s and carries more than 62,000 passengers in over 1700 buses from 6:15-10AM every day, saving those passengers 15-20 minutes over drivers in general-purpose lanes.

Sadly, there is no similar lane for other peak-congestion periods, such as the evening rush, or weekend traffic returning to Manhattan on Sunday evenings. Although Tri-State reports that the idea of a second lane was first proposed in the 1980s, it has taken four years of study and will not even be formally announced, let alone implemented, until the end of 2008. In addition to (and potentially slowing down) buses, the lane will also allow cars with more than three passengers, and even single-occupant vehicles that pay tolls. Not exactly the most impressive solution; the car lobbyists must have been fighting this one pretty hard. You'll notice that none of the documentation gives a figure for how many vehicles or passengers the non-XBL lanes carry.

What would a real bus priority solution look like?
  • Worth waiting four years for
  • At least one bus priority lane open at all times, in the direction with the highest need
  • If the lane is HO/T, the Port Authority Director should have the right to exclude single-occupant cars - or even all cars - to improve bus flow
Finally, some Streetsblog commenters have pointed out that many of the bus riders experience a significant wait before they get on to the XBL. The XBL should therefore be extended north and south along the Turnpike and west along Route 3, as far as necessary for the buses to avoid congestion. Bus priority lanes should be considered on Boulevard East, Bergenline Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard as well.

1 comment:

Matt Miller said...

The 3-person carpool and pay for access lane may bode good or ill. In Utah, the pay for access has evolved into a toll lane, and is about to become a congestion priced lane.

While I'm glad to see congestion pricing being instituted, I'm a little wary of what was sold as a carpool only lane becoming a general car-access lane. Currently, the lane is allowing UTA' cross county commuter buses to achieve something like light rail speeds during peak hours.