NYC expands bus route makeover to speed service

Posted on October 18, 2010

Manhattan's busiest bus route has received its Select Bus Service (SBS) makeover resulting in shortened travel times along First and Second Avenues, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The speedier bus service is facilitated by a more convenient method of fare payment, ease of entry and exit provided by a fleet of new, low-floor buses with three doors and, coming next month, the introduction of bus lane enforcement cameras to catch errant motorists when they block the bus. A similar service has been in place in the Bronx since 2008.

Observation of the M15 Limited showed that buses spent more than 20 percent of their travel time idling in bus stops while customers get on and off, MTA reports. The move to low-floor buses cut down on the time it takes riders to enter and leave buses. Fast, all-door boarding is permitted by the use of proof-of-payment fare payment. Fares are checked randomly by members of NYC Transit's Department of Security who regularly patrol SBS routes.

However, NY1 reported delays on the first day of service during rush hour. While the new service aimed to reduce ride time by 15 minutes, passengers last week said the bus was already 20 minutes late according to the pick-up time stamped on their pre-paid tickets. Other riders added that MTA needed to rethink the way transfers are handled with the service.

The New York Daily News reported on the legality of the vehicles' flashing blue lights. State law prohibits the use of blue lights on motor vehicles except those used by first responders like police and volunteer firefighters. A source at MTA told the Daily News the decision to install the blue lights was made by the previous NYC Transit administration.

SBS M15 service relies on dedicated bus lanes. NYC Transit and the NYC Department of Transportation continue to work closely with the New York Police Department to keep other traffic from using the special lanes which are clearly identified with red terracotta paint and overhead highway-type signs alerting motorists that the lane is off limits. Starting in November, lane enforcement will be supplemented by video cameras, which will record bus lane violations.

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