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PR- 408-11
November 14, 2011


New Report: Select Bus Service Launched Last Year on First and Second Avenues has Reduced Travel Times, Increased Ridership and Improved Safety

Expanding Select Bus Service was a Part of the Mayor’s 2009 Campaign Mass Transit Plan and the City’s Long-Term Sustainability Program – PlaNYC

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and MTA/New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast today launched curbside fare payment for Select Bus Service on 34th Street, the latest phase of the new service on 34th Street that is bringing faster, more reliable service to the more than 33,000 bus passengers that use the corridor daily. Select Bus Service features dedicated bus lanes, bus-lane camera enforcement and off-board fare collection with hybrid, low-floored buses – all to improve travel time and safety. Additionally, the Department of Transportation released a report that found, one year after implementing the M15 Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenues bus travel times improved up to 18 percent, ridership increased nine percent, time passengers spent boarding was reduced by 36 percent, and there was a 21 percent reduction in crash injuries on the section of the corridor where the fullest street safety treatments were used. Fare prepayment machines installed at M34 Select Bus Service stops along the corridor are expected to cut the time buses spend stopped for passengers to board, and the Department of Transportation will also expand camera enforcement to deter unauthorized vehicles from blocking the existing bus lanes. The new bus service, called M34 SBS and M34A SBS, replaces the previous M34 and M16 service. The City plans to enhance bus service on 34th Street further next year by implementing off-set bus lanes and installing bus bulbs to bring the curb out to the bus lane and create more space for waiting passengers and pedestrians while providing more curb space for local access. The Mayor, Commissioner and President greeted commuters at a Select Bus Service stop this morning at 34th Street and 8th Avenue.

“Select Bus Service is proving to be a success wherever we install it,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Travel times go down, ridership increases and safety improves with Select Bus Service. We expect to see the same positive results here on 34th Street and we will continue to look for more opportunities to expand this great service. We all know that when mass transit works well, more people use the service, which helps to free up our streets – a boost for our economy and our environment.”

“Ninety percent of the people using 34th Street at rush hour are in a bus or on foot and these enhancements make the street work better for everyone,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Select Bus Service has improved travel times and increased ridership in the Bronx and on Manhattan’s East Side and we’re bringing the full package of improvements to 34th Street to create a bus network that New Yorkers can depend on.”

“About 300,000 people work within ¼ mile of 34th Street, and about 50,000 live within this area, yet bus service experiences significant delays with an average operating speed of only 4.5 mph,” said New York City Transit President Prendergast. “Bringing Select Bus Service to this vital corridor will dramatically improve service as it has along the Bx12 and M15 routes, and will accommodate future development that will only increase the number of people that work and live in the area.”

“Congestion is a constraint to economic growth and we are constantly searching for innovative ways to free up traffic so people and goods can move through the city more quickly,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Select Bus Service has proven its effectiveness and we will continue to look for opportunities to expand it, working with local businesses to get their input as new service is planned.”

“As a result of the installation of bus lanes along 34th Street in 2008, ridership has increased more than five percent,” said MTA Department of Buses Senior Vice President Darryl Irick. “If we are able to further reduce travel time through faster boarding and improved fare collection, we can expect an additional increase in ridership of five to ten percent.”

The improvements are the latest in the City’s efforts to expand faster, more reliable and sustainable transportation choices for New Yorkers, as set forth in PlaNYC, the City’s long-term sustainability agenda. Since launching in 2008, the BX12 Select Bus Service along Fordham Road in the Bronx improved travel times by 20 percent and ridership by 10 percent.

The current routes along 34th street are affected by the same reliability issues encountered by riders of the First and Second Avenue buses prior to Select Bus Service implementation. Currently, buses on the M34 and M16 routes on 34th Street spend more than 35 percent of total trip travel time stopped while riders board. The M34 and M16 service carry more than 18,000 passengers on an average weekday primarily along 34th Street, which sees high pedestrian volumes from people accessing Penn Station and several subway stations along the corridor. Last year, the New York State Legislature authorized the use of cameras to enforce bus lanes traffic laws, and the program already in effect on 34th Street will be expanded to prevent other vehicles from entering the lane and impeding buses. Vehicles are permitted to enter the lane provided they are making the next available right turn, and taxis and private vehicles are allowed to expeditiously pick up and drop off passengers.

MTA New York City Transit and the Department of Transportation have been working closely with local stakeholders to bring Select Bus Service to 34th Street, while balancing the needs of the local community. The agencies have hosted more than two dozen public meetings to present and amend designs to improve service and address concerns about congestion and loading access. These meetings included open houses where officials presented results of the traffic analysis and provided information on the fare prepayment system starting in November.

The M15 Select Bus Service project on First and Second Avenues used proof-of-payment curbside fare collection, new bus lanes and improved bus lane treatments such as off-set bus lanes next to the parking lane. Additional service improvements included revised scheduling, new buses, enhanced stations, route simplification and more customer information. The progress report found 99 percent of riders described themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the new service.

M34 Select Bus Service and M34A Select Bus Service passengers will be able to use two types of pre-payment machines along the corridor: weatherproof MetroCard Fare Collection machines or solar powered coin fare collection machines, both of which have been successfully used along other routes.

Enforcement against fare evasions and unauthorized driving in bus lanes has resulted in fewer evasions and contributed to the reliability improvements. Observations along the M15 line prior to and after the implementation of Select Bus Service indicate fare evasions decreased by 37 percent. Cameras along the First and Second Avenue lines – pole-mounted cameras and cameras on buses and mobile units – have resulted in more than 30,000 summonses.

The implementation of off-set bus lanes one lane away from the curb next year along 34th Street will free up space to increase daytime loading from 32 spaces to 258 spaces with a loading zone on every block, while maintaining at least one lane of general traffic and one bus lane in each direction. Two-way traffic will be maintained from river to river. The plan also adds more than 20,000 square feet of pedestrian space along 34th Street next year, reducing crowding and improving safety by extending the curb at bus stops to meet the off-set lane.

Selected Bus Service was first launched by Mayor Bloomberg, the Department of Transportation and MTA on Fordham Road in the Bronx in 2008.


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

Seth Solomonow (NYC DOT)   (212) 839-4850

Kevin Ortiz (MTA/NYCT)   (212) 878-7440


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