34th Street Select Bus Service
The 34th Street Select Bus Service project addresses three major issues facing the corridor: slow bus service, crowded sidewalks, and projected population and employment growth. The project also provides the opportunity to expand curb access and loading for residents, businesses, and institutions on 34th Street. DOT has developed a design that meets these goals, and has incorporated changes based on community feedback.
Off-board fare collection has begun on 34th Street. The M34 is now the M34 Select Bus Service (SBS) and the M16 is now the M34A Select Bus Service. Construction of curb extensions, new bus lanes, and loading zones will being in the spring of 2013. Check the Project Timeline for an update on the construction schedule. Learn how to pay your fare on the SBS
The 34th Street Select Bus Service project seeks to improve traffic, transit speeds, pedestrian safety and curb access on a corridor that extends for two miles from the 34th Street Ferry Terminal on the East River to Twelfth Avenue. The corridor is served by the crosstown M16 and M34 bus routes, which together carry over 17,000 passengers daily, but average only about 4.5 miles per hour. The street is also used by commuter buses that carry over 16,000 passengers daily. During rush hour, over 100 transit buses an hour traverse 34th Street, and hundreds of tour buses additionally use the street over the course of the day.
34th Street is a key transit corridor, accommodating over 33,000 bus trips a day
Within a quarter mile, there are about 50,000 residents and 300,000 workers; 82% of these residents and 86% of the workers commute by transit or walking, and 82% of residents do not own a car. In addition to residential communities on the East and West sides and Midtown Manhattan, the corridor serves the Javits Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, Penn Station, and other key destinations.
The 34th Street Select Bus Service project will include two packages of improvements:
In 2011, fare pre-payment on 34th Street began on November 13th, and video camera enforcement will expand for the existing bus lanes. At that time, the M34 was renamed the M34 SBS and the M16 was renamed the M34A SBS. These changes have been made to improve passenger communication. Note that the service frequency and routes remain the same on the M34 SBS and M34A SBS. For more information on the renaming of the 34th Street routes and the introduction of fare pre-payment, visit the MTA website
Starting in 2013, DOT will create improved bus-only lanes along 34th Street, as well as bus bulbs at many station stops and sidewalk expansions to address pedestrian safety. The improved bus lanes will also benefit the express and tour buses that use the corridor. At the same time, DOT will implement transit signal priority and other signal improvements to improve bus speeds and general traffic flow.
Overall, the 34th Street Select Bus Service project is expected to have the following benefits:
- Faster travel times for bus passengers
- Improved bus reliability
- Additional sidewalk space for pedestrians
- Accommodation of expected growth in crosstown travel
- Expanded curb loading access
The full project will be built in three sections.
- The West Section (Tenth to Eleventh Avenue) is part of the Phase 1 Hudson Park and Boulevard Project and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013.
- The Middle Section (Eleventh to Twelfth Avenue and Lexington to Tenth Avenue) is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013.
- The East Section (FDR Service Road to Lexington Avenue) will be constructed in coordination with water main improvements between First and Third Avenues, and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014.
The Need for 34th Street Improvements
Slow Bus Service
Bus service along 34th Street is among the slowest in the city. Buses travel at an average of 4.5 mile per hour, only slightly faster than walking. Despite these slow speeds, 34th Street is a major east-west bus corridor, carrying over 33,000 bus riders a day on local and express routes.
Some of the sidewalks on 34th Street, particularly near Herald Square and Penn Station, regularly suffer from pedestrian overcrowding. At these spots, over 6,000 pedestrians an hour pass along 34th Street. The packed sidewalks force many pedestrians to walk in the street, creating a safety concern for walkers and drivers alike.
During the outreach for the 34th Street project, DOT has heard from residents, businesses, and commercial building owners about the need for more loading space on the corridor. Curbside access for deliveries, moving vans, oil trucks, and other vehicles is essential to the buildings and businesses on the corridor.
The 34th Street Select Bus Service project will expand curb access for deliveries and drop-offs.
Developments like Hudson Yards and Moynihan Station will bring 750,000 new workers and 20,000 new residents along 34th Street. The new development will put more stress on the bus system, slowing speeds even more, and cause additional sidewalk crowding.
Benefits of the 34th Street Select Bus Service Plan
Faster Bus Service
A combination of bus rapid transit features, including off-board fare collection, new off-set bus lanes, bus bulbs, and camera enforcement, will dramatically improve bus reliability and increase bus speeds by 15 to 25%. These improvements will shorten the daily commutes of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and help to accommodate future growth.
More Sidewalk Space for Pedestrians
The plan adds over 20,000 square feet of new pedestrian space, including 14 bus bulbs and five neck downs. The new space would reduce crowding on some of New York's busiest sidewalks. The plan shortens crossing distances at 17 crosswalks, increases pedestrian safety and seeks to make 34th Street a more inviting place to walk and shop.
More Curb Space for Loading
The plan increases the amount of legal daytime loading on the corridor from about 32 spaces to about 258 spaces, an eight-fold increase. Under the proposal, every block on the corridor would have a 24 hour loading zone on at least one side of the street, providing more convenient curb access for both businesses and residents.
The design of the 34th Street Select Bus Service is based on DOT's analysis of the traffic, transit, and curbside access needs on the corridor. It was developed after extensive community outreach, including discussions with local residents, businesses, and institutions, and a rigorous traffic analysis. After a series of public workshops in March of 2011, DOT made additional changes to the design, outlined in the project's July 2011 project newsletter. Download the design (pdf)
Improved Bus Lanes
The plan proposes offset bus lanes on much of the route. Offset bus lanes are located next to the parking lane, instead of next to curb, reducing conflict with stopped vehicles and allowing for sidewalk extensions at stops and some intersections.
Wider Sidewalks at Bus Stops
A bus bulb is an expansion of the sidewalk for the length of a bus stop. The plan proposes 14 new bus bulbs. With bus bulbs, buses no longer need to pull over at stops and pedestrians have more space to walk and wait.
New Loading Zones
The plan includes 24-hour loading zones on at least one side of the street for every block on 34th Street. East of Third Avenue and west of Ninth Avenue, the plan proposes loading zones on both sides of the street. Specific curb regulations for the corridor were be developed with community input.
Continued Two-Way Traffic
Under the plan, 34th Street will be open to two-way traffic from the East River to the Hudson River. Existing access to the Queens Midtown Tunnel from both the west and east will be maintained.
DOT conducted a comprehensive traffic analysis for the project that analyzed 34th Street as well as surrounding streets. The results of the analysis were presented to the public in September and October of 2011. Overall, DOT found that traffic congestion will remain roughly the same with the addition of the project, while increasing bus speed and reliability. Download a detailed presentation on the traffic analysis
The proposed set of improvements was identified by the 34th Street Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis study. The goal of the study was to find ways to improve crosstown transit service, improve express commuter bus service, reduce pedestrian congestion, and accommodate future growth along the corridor. The study determined that Bus Rapid Transit like Select Bus Service was the only alternative that would address all of these needs. Download the 34th Street Alternatives Analysis Final Report
The 34th Street Select Bus Service project, as a recipient of federal funding, is subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is required to undergo a federal environmental review. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is overseeing the federal environmental review for the project, initially directed DOT to prepare an Environmental Assessment. An Environmental Assessment evaluates whether or not a project will have significant environmental impacts and typically examines a wide range of environmental, social, and economic topics. Under NEPA rules, an agency that is proposing a project is required to release an Environmental Assessment for public review and comment.
After further review during Fall 2011, the FTA determined that the 34th Street SBS project qualified for a Class II Categorical Exclusion (CE) instead of an Environmental Assessment. A CE is issued when a project includes elements that the agency routinely constructs as part of its normal operations. The FTA made this change based on the revisions to the scope and design of the project that resulted from community input. The project now includes standard SBS elements such as sidewalk extensions and offset bus lanes, and the analysis showed that the project would not have any significant traffic impacts. The FTA approved the CE on December 29, 2011, concluding the federal environmental review for the project. The FTA does not issue an environmental review document as part of the CE process.
DOT has a long standing pledge to share with the public the detailed analysis of the project, including the transportation and air quality analysis. DOT is committed to continuing the open communication that has characterized the community engagement process for the project. Therefore, DOT has prepared a Project Analysis Report on the 34th Street project. This report covers a wide range of topics, including transportation, social and other environmental impacts. DOT is providing this report to the CAC and the public for informational purposes and to further public understanding of the project. In preparing this document, DOT followed the methodologies of the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Technical Manual, the same guidelines that were followed in the preparation of the Categorical Exclusion. However, this document is not an official environmental impact study under NEPA or CEQR. Read the 34th Street Select Bus Service Project Analysis Report
Community involvement is a central part of the planning for the project. DOT is regularly consulting a Community Advisory Committee, holding regular public forums, and directly reaching out to key stakeholders.
Community Advisory Committee
The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is composed of a broad range of stakeholders, including elected officials, Community Board members, civic/neighborhood groups, business organizations, and major area institutions. The CAC meets every few months during the planning process for the project. The role of the CAC is to:
- provide opportunities for input as project design and implementation progress
- provide stakeholders with information to share with their constituencies about project details and outreach efforts
- ensure that key issues are identified and addressed
- Download the presentation given to the CAC at the first meeting, on June 15, 2010 (read a summary of the meeting)
- Download the presentation given to the second CAC meeting on September 21, 2010 (summary)
- Download the presentation given to the third CAC meeting on January 18, 2011 (summary)
- Download the presentation given to the fourth CAC meeting (pdf) on March 14, 2011 (summary)
- Download the presentation given to the fifth CAC meeting (pdf) on September 27, 2011
- Download the presentation given to the sixth CAC meeting (pdf) on March 28, 2012
Public Open Houses
Public open houses take place at key points to involve the larger public. The open house format allows the public to have one-on-one conversations with project principals and review and comment on preliminary design plans for 34th Street. DOT and NYCT have held open houses on the project on: April 21, 2010 March 30th and 31st, 2011 October 6th and 11th, 2011
Contact the BRT team to be notified of future public open houses on the project.
Community Feedback Summary
During spring 2011, DOT and MTA New York City Transit conducted a Community Advisory Committee meeting and two public meetings to obtain feedback on the proposed design for Select Bus Service on 34th Street. In addition to these meetings, DOT and NYCT met with a number of project stakeholders, including local elected officials, building owners and community groups, to solicit further feedback. Read the report summarizing the comments, questions and suggestions that we received from community residents, business and building owners, local organizations, elected officials and others.
Community Forums on Curbside Access
To learn about the block-by-block curb use needs of 34th Street, DOT and NYC Transit hosted a series of forums in October and November 2010. These forums provided the building owners and managers, residents, and businesses of 34th Street a chance to learn about the 34th Street project and provide information on their individual curb use needs. DOT and NYC Transit also encouraged stakeholders of 34th Street who could not attend a forum to take an online survey to provide information on curb use activity. DOT also reached out directly to building owners and building managers to learn about specific curb access needs. View a summary of curbside activities by building on 34th Street
Community Board Presentations
DOT and NYCT are presenting the project to Community Boards as requested. Please check the DOT events calendar for upcoming Community Board presentations.
DOT and NYCT presented to Community Boards on the following dates: Community Board 4: April 18, 2012, Dec 17, 2009 & April 16, 2008 Community Board 5: June 21, 2010, March 31, 2010, & April 21, 2008 Community Board 6: May 7, 2012, November 7, 2011, January 3, 2011, May 3, 2010, & May 5, 2008
During the fall of 2010, DOT and NYCT
- convened community forums
- reached out to businesses, building managers, institutions and residents
- developed a comprehensive traffic model to analyze potential traffic impacts
- began environmental review and traffic analysis
During 2011, DOT and NYCT
- developed a preliminary corridor design based on community feedback
- completed a comprehensive traffic analysis on the project and released the Project Analysis Report
- convened Community Advisory Committee and community forums to present the preliminary design and traffic analysis and solicit feedback
- started fare pre-payment on the M34 SBS and M24A SBS on November 13, 2011
During 2012, DOT and NYCT
- convened a Community Advisory Committee meeting to discuss proposed curb regulations on 34th Street and the project construction schedule
- completed final design for the capital elements of the project
Moving forward, the 34th Street Select Bus Service project will be built in three parts, the West Section, Middle Section, and East Section.
This section includes two bus bulbs between Eleventh and Tenth Avenues. This section will also be repaved and remarked with a new bus lanes. The bus bulbs have been incorporated into the larger Hudson Yards park and boulevard capital project, which is being managed by the Hudson Yards Development Corporation. Construction started in the summer of 2012 and is schedule to be completed by the end of 2013.
This section includes eight bus bulbs between Tenth and Lexington Avenues. This section will also be repaved and remarked with new bus lanes and loading zones. Construction is being managed by MTA New York City Transit, and will begin on the blocks west of Seventh Avenue in May 2013, with work on the blocks to the east starting in June. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
This section includes three bus bulbs between Lexington Avenue and the FDR Service Road. This section will also be repaved and remarked with a new bus lanes and loading zones. Prior to the installation of the Select Bus Service project elements, a new sewer and a distribution water main will be installed between First and Third Avenues. This work is related to the City Water Tunnel No. 3 project. Construction is being managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). Work is expected to begin in the fall of 2013, with a construction duration of 30 months. As the work approaches, DDC will provide a more information, including a detailed schedule, to the community.