Disembarking at 69th Street and Third Avenue, July 2, 2008
I live in Bay Ridge, and commute to Manhattan by mass transit. This has always meant a journey involving the R train, but not this past week. I decided to conduct a scientific experiment and commute for a week via the Express Bus.
Since most people in Bay Ridge have never taken an express bus, let me first say what they are. There are two express buses serving Bay Ridge- the X27 goes to downtown Manhattan, while the X37 travels to midtown. They travel the length of Shore Road to 69th Street, from which they hang a left on Third Avenue, where they take the on-ramp to the Gowanus Expressway.
The Gowanus is painfully congested at all hours, but worse still during the rush hours. But since the express buses get to use the HOV lane, they cruise at a blazing 45 mph or so, while the cars to the right stand still.
For the week of my experiment, I boarded the X27 at Third and Senator, and took it to a stop at Rector and Church. The trip back was from Cedar and Broadway to 69th and Third Avenues.
How was it? On the way in to the city, it was pretty damned good. Despite the fact that I was boarding near the last Bay Ridge stop, there were plenty of cushioned, if tight, seats. The trip was very fast- 14 to 20 minutes going to Rector, vs 30-35 minutes on the R train to the identical location.
For whatever reason, the return trip always took longer, 22 minutes at best, 35 minutes the longest. I am told that its always longer going back.
Lots of women who don't like subway rush hour ride the express bus.
Unfortunately, cell phones work on the bus. The bus drives post nastygrams asking cell phone users to sit in the back and to keep it down.
The fare on the Express bus is $5 each way, vs $2 for a normal bus or for the subway. You can buy a special 7 day unlimited-use MetroCard that allows use of all local and express buses, plus the subway, for $41. That's a sweet deal, esp. if you use mass transit both to commute to work, and on the weekend.
I'll be returning to my normal R train commute tomorrow, but I'm happy I took the time to learn about the Express bus option. Everyone in Bay Ridge should learn how to use it--even if you don't live particularly near one of the stops. Its a boutique service, a mass transit luxury liner, and a handy option the next time the R train derails or is flooded out.
Which idiot decided to run it the express buses on Shore Road anyway? Very inconvenient for the huge majority of Bay Ridge residents. No skin off my back, as long as you keep that Senator St. stop, boys.