Riding the Bx12 Select Bus Service
Veronica Vanterpool of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign recently took Streetfilms for a journey on the Bx12 Select Bus Service (SBS) instituted last year on Fordham Road in the Bronx. Travel time on the route has been cut by 20 percent thanks to the improvements, and commuters we spoke with certainly sang its praises. A recent report showed the SBS is carrying 30 percent more riders than the line it replaced, and a NYC Transit rider report card found 98 percent of users rated it satisfactory or very satisfactory.
It uses some of the elements of Bus Rapid Transit - pre-boarding so buses load faster, it has limited stops, features buses that look different then standard MTA buses, and it has a painted terra cotta lane which cars are supposed to avoid. However, since the lane is not physically separated from traffic, there are periodic problems with illegally parked vehicles. Still, based upon its success (come on 98% approval is pretty incredible!) NYC is looking at other areas to expand to with similar treatments.
Veronica Vanterpool: [0:07] Right now we're in the East Bronx, on the Pellham Parkway section of the Bronx. In the corridor with the new Select Bus Service. And we are taking the bus east bound right now into Clark City. This particular corridor actually connects East and West Bronx, in a one seat ride. [0:24] Which is the first kind of this kind of service to come to this area of the Bronx, ever. Previously, anyone that wanted to go from the east to the west Bronx needed to take a bunch of buses, maybe even two trains. And now you just hop on the SBS. And it takes you across the Bronx in about 45 minutes.
[0:44] Well, the unique thing about the Select Bus Service is that it has off board fare collection, which is actually a new system. And it's what really makes this sort of bus service efficient and reliable. What it is, there's a bus shelter, and every bus shelter has ticket machines.
[1:03] And passengers insert their Metro Card. You can use pay-per-ride or unlimited. You put it into the machine, and a second or two later it spits out a receipt. And you keep it in your pocket. And you board the bus, to the rear or the front. And it's pretty much an honor system.
[1:20] You are expected to pay, and there are inspectors on random buses who can ask you to produce your ticket. And if you don't, there is a fine. But it seems that it's running really smoothly. And most people are definitely abiding by this honor system.
[1:38] This route connects to seven subway lines, and about 14 other bus routes. So there's a lot of connections that can be made. And in fact, it's probably one of the reasons why this ridership on this particular route is so high. It's about 30 percent higher than the service that it replaced, which was the, BX 12 limited bus.
[1:59] So it does show that riders are utilizing the connections, and do find this a very convenient and reliable way to travel from one side of the Bronx to the other side, east to west.
Speaker: [2:14] I find it pretty convenient, because it's a lot faster. Because there's usually a big line of people that get on. And when I take a local, sometimes it takes longer to go a shorter distance. Because everyone's taking their cars and everything.
Speaker: [2:27] Pros are, for those of us who pay our fares, you can board the front or the back. So it really speeds how quickly the driver can get moving again. [2:34] The downside is, people who have always boarded illegally without paying their fare, feel they can do that with impunity. But for the average person who is a law-abiding citizen, I think it's a really great idea.
Speaker: [2:43] I enjoy it. It gets me quick to where I got to go. It does each stop. It's just like two stops and I'm there.
Speaker: [2:51] I still take the local one. But the express just gets you everywhere you're going in 10 minutes.
Speaker: [2:56] I've lived around here all my life. So I've been taking the 12 bus regardless.
[2:59] How do you like the difference between the two?
Speaker: [3:01] Oh, I love it. I love it.
Interviewer: [3:02] Is there a big difference?
Speaker: [3:03] It's a huge difference. Before when I used to go to school, during the 12 bus. It used to take much longer. I used to stay here in traffic. Now I take the limited, and I save an extra 15, 20 minutes actually.
Speaker: [3:13] Yeah. It's very convenient. They should make it city wide, like that. [music]
Veronica Vanterpool: [3:19] We're at the intersection of Webster Avenue and Fordham Road. And we've just gotten off the SBS bus and there's a tremendous amount of foot traffic in this area. In fact, DOT did a study that showed, during an average 12 hour weekday period, there's about 80,000 pedestrians that are walking the street. [3:38] This particular area of the SBS route has a red exclusive bus lane that's painted on the street. And it serves as a bus lane just for buses to use, both the SBS bus and the local BX 12 bus. And it is really one of the ways that the bus is able to get through expediently in this section.
Without having a dedicated bus lane, the buses would be stuck in traffic. Sometimes it is congested with cars that are parked there illegally, despite signs clearly saying that a bus lane is in effect from 7: [4:02] 00am to 7:00pm during the weekdays. But for the most part, the bus drivers are saying it's working pretty well.
[4:22] One of the best things about the Select Bus Service is, it runs about every five to six minutes. And there's only 14 stops, which makes it a quicker commute from east to west Bronx. It shaves 11 minutes off an originally 58 minute route.
[4:38] So people are getting from the east to the west in about 47 minutes, which is really, really good. The Bronx is the first borough to actually experience the SBS. It started as a pilot in June, 2008. And it's really working very well.
[4:53] It's a bold experiment. And the Bronx is lucky to benefit from being the first borough to try it out. And the DOT and the NTEA have worked very closely with community members, and businesses, and residents, to make sure that this works really well for them in their communities.