Press Releases

Press Release #10-047

Seth Solomonow/Monty Dean (212) 839-4850

NYC DOT and MTA Mark Debut of Select Bus Service On 1st and 2nd Avenues, Bringing Faster, More Efficent Transit To Manhattan’s East Side

Dedicated bus-only Lanes from 125th Street to Houston Street

Pole-mounted cameras will help enforce bus lane violations by other vehicles starting in November

Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay H. Walder today marked the debut of new, faster, more efficient Select Bus Service (SBS) on First and Second Avenues from 125th Street to Houston Street, using dedicated bus-only lanes to speed transit on one of the slowest bus corridors in the city. The officials took part in a demonstration of the service today aboard new, three-door buses which will benefit 54,000 daily riders of the M15 bus line, which previously took 90 minutes to travel the 8.5-mile route between 125th Street and South Ferry—longer than a train ride from New York to Philadelphia. In addition to using dedicated lanes, SBS allows passengers to pay their fares at on-street payment machines before boarding, and the new service makes fewer stops than the former M15 Limited. Creating more Select Bus Service routes was one of the Mayor's 2009 campaign promises and is a part of the transportation chapter of PlaNYC. These improvements are expected to result in an overall 20 percent reduction in travel time.

“It's a new day for transit on the East Side,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “By treating commuters as VIPs, the innovative SBS network is redefining what it means to get around this city by bus.”

 “Partnering with the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Police Department, bringing Select Bus Service to our busiest corridors is already having tangible results,” MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder said. “SBS in the Bronx on the Bx12 has improved bus speeds by 20% and increased ridership by 30% over the service it replaced.  Now with cameras and more lane enforcement in the fold, we will be able to bring even faster and more reliable service to our customers along the M15.”

Camera enforcement of the lanes will start next month under authority granted by Albany earlier this year to deter motorists from improperly blocking the lanes. Starting next month, pole-mounted cameras will begin to come on-line at locations throughout the corridor to keep the bus lanes clear of vehicles stopped or illegally using the lanes, and violations will be issued to be adjudicated through the Department of Finance. NYPD enforcement will also keep the dedicated bus lanes clear of vehicles.

The system uses off-board fare collection, where passengers pay by inserting their MetroCards at sidewalk fare machines along the route, which provide a receipt that passengers keep as proof of payment. Passengers may board at any of the SBS buses’ three doors and must show their proof of payment to inspectors on request.

While one of the busiest buses in the city, the M15 bus on First and Second Avenues was also one of the city’s slowest, with an average travel speed of less than six miles per hour. The improvements are expected to yield an estimated 10 percent increase in ridership.
As part of the project’s development and implementation outreach, DOT and MTAls led an extensive series of public meetings, soliciting and drawing input from elected officials, community groups, businesses, hospitals and other institutions throughout the corridor. Accommodating deliveries, drop-offs and short-term parking were factored into the planning process.
Implementation of the bus lanes began in June. While exclusive bus lanes were created in most locations up and down the corridor, buses will operate in general traffic within the Second Avenue Subway construction zone on Second Avenue between 100th and 68th Streets. DOT worked with local businesses to establish delivery windows in curbside bus lanes along portions of the route.
DOT and MTA drew on the success of the successful implementation of Select Bus Service on Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, first implemented in 2008, along which travel times improved by more than 20 percent and ridership increased by 30 percent compared with the limited service it replaced.

The project is also expected to serve as a safety improvement for this corridor, which reports a high number of injury crashes every year. Safety enhancements include landscaped pedestrian islands on First and Second Avenues between Houston Street to 34th Street and upgrades to the bike network along the corridor.

Phase Two of the project, which will begin in 2011, will include bus priority traffic signals between South Ferry and Houston Street and “bus bulb” curb extensions that will further improve bus lane performance. 

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