Direct comparisons between Seattle and New York have a lot of problems, but I think here’s a case where the differences aren’t really relevant. New York is implementing bus service that is high-quality in nearly every respect, and doing it cheaply. It’s cheap because they’re simply taking existing right-of-way and repainting it for buses.
Importantly, my understanding of SBS is that off-board payment is universal. It’s totally understandable that Metro has a budget crisis going on. But as someone who prefers great service in a few places to lousy service everywhere, I’d much rather they go cut some unproductive routes to pay for a good RapidRide level of service than the status quo.
I’ll always prefer rail in high-density corridors as the gold standard of service quality, but many of my problems with BRT would fall away if I had any confidence that agencies (and governing boards) could avoid the temptation to water it down to enable a low-frequency spread of service over the entire area. Swift (no longer operating on Sunday) and RapidRide (minimal off-board payment) don’t give me that confidence. That’s usually the fault of the King County Council rather than the incompetence of agency planners, but it’s an institutional problem nonetheless.
For more information, the Wikipedia page on SBS is pretty good.