Select Bus Service Debuts on Manhattan’s East Side
This weekend, Select Bus Service debuted on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, bringing a package of improvements to speed trips on one of New York's most-used bus routes. Buses on the M15 route were traveling at a snail-like clip of less than 6 mph before the introduction of SBS.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Transit's Director of Bus Planning Ted Orosz, and MTA Bus Company President Joe Smith spoke to Streetfilms about how SBS will make traveling on the east side of Manhattan faster and easier for transit riders. The major changes include dedicated bus lanes enforced by cameras, priority for buses at traffic lights, and off-board fare collection.
Select Bus Service in the Bronx has produced a 20 percent improvement in travel times and enticed thousands more New Yorkers to ride the bus. Officials project that once people get used to the new system on First and Second Avenues, transit riders on the east side will see similar gains. Have a look and see how it works.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [00:02] In 2007 Mayor Bloomberg launched PlaNYC which was the city’s sustainability initiative and it was focused on how we could continue to grow and thrive. And one of the big findings of PlaNYC is that we have to use our streets differently, we need to prioritise sustainable mobility on the streets of New York. And so the plan called for five Select Bus Service routes.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: [00:25] We got it working on Victory Boulevard on Staten Island, Fordham Road up in the Bronx, both have been phenomenally successful. Ridership is up 30%. Commute times are down. Almost nobody tries to beat the fare. So it’s a win-win-win for everybody and there’s no reason to think this is not going to work very well on 1st and 2nd Avenue.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [00:44] The new Select Bus Service route on 1st and 2nd Avenue goes from Helston Street to 125th Street and on the street you will see on the right hand side a terracotta bus lane which will be enforced by cameras for the first time, so if a driver goes into the bus lane they will be ticketed automatically. In addition, on the left side of the street there will be a protected bike lane from Helston Street to 34th Street. So this is really the largest multimodal transportation corridor in the nation now, 8.5 miles on 1st Avenue and the same down on 2nd Avenue. It’s really part of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to bring world-class streets and world-class commuting to a world-class city.
Jay Walder: [01:23] This is the first step in really trying to make bus lanes for buses and I think it really is the most important part of it.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [01:30] A Select Bus Service route includes a package of transportation innovations that make it easier for the bus to get through the transportation network. So what it includes is a dedicated bus lane. It also includes transit signal prioritisation, which is basically a technology that allows the traffic signals to read where the bus is and hold the green light longer for those buses. It includes off-board fare collection so that passengers can pay for their fare before they get on the bus.
Ted Orosz: [01:58] People pay with Metro Cards or use these machines and people who will be paying with coins would use these machines. And both machines support reduced fare for elderly and disabled riders. Both machines have audio jacks for the visually impaired and both machines have banish messaging as well.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [02:18] So they would just take your Metro Card, they will put it in the machine and then, quickly, a receipt comes out and this is what we use when we’re on the bus when the eagle team comes through to ensure that people have paid their fare.
Ted Orosz: [02:32] They accept all the transfers in the regular manner. If someone started on the subway and they have a transfer on their Metro Card, they insert the Metro Card and it accepts the transfer and issues a receipt.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [02:44] So it’s a low cost, quick and easy way to improve travel times on one of the busiest bus routes in New York City.
Joseph Smith: [02:51] And behind me is one of our new Select Bus Service buses, it’s the first three door bus service in New York City’s history, and it’s also the first bus in a long time that has a rear window. With these flashing blue LED lights you’re able to see this bus from a great distance and you know that that’s the bus you want to get on if you want a Select Bus Service bus. This bus is a low floor bus. This bus also improves our fuel economy 15 to 20% over the prior model, which is great for everyone.
[03:26] So Select Bus Service isn’t quite a full Bus Rapid Transit
Service. The full Bus Rapid Transit Service will have an exclusive
and protected right-of-way for buses, but this is a good down payment
on our path toward a fully designated Bus Rapid Transit corridor in
New York City.