Many bus passengers on Staten Island got a faster ride Sunday, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched Select Bus Service on the S79 line.
The service is expected to reduce travel times by about 20 percent, with dedicated bus lanes and longer green lights for approaching buses.
It also cuts the number of stops on the line from 80 to 22. The route goes from the Staten Island Mall, runs along Richmond Avenue and Hylan Boulevard, crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and ends at 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Riders can also get a free transfer to the R train in Brooklyn.
"Imagine riding on an elevator that stopped 80 times before it got to your floor. By streamlining the number of stops to 22, we're bringing a red carpet to the borough's busiest bus corridor," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Unlike other select buses in the city, riders will not have to pay before boarding.
Riders who spoke with NY1 on Sunday they already noticed a difference.
"It only take me 15 minutes to get over here. It used to take me about 45 minutes," said one rider.
"I take S79 every Sunday because my kids play soccer and it's good," said another rider who said she now has an extra 10 minutes of sleep.
Additional service has been added to the S59 and S78 to serve stops eliminated from the S79 route.
Local drivers, however, fear the buses taking a lane away from already busy streets will create even more traffic nightmares.
A whole Facebook page has sprung up for drivers to complain about the new lanes.
South Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio also said the buses will not help the overall flow of traffic.
"If you're saying those taking the bus are going to save 12 minutes, that's great. But if my constituents going to the mall are going to add an additional 20 minutes, how did you help anybody in that matter?" said Ignizio.
The councilman said he has spoken to DOT officials, who assured him they will be monitoring traffic and will make adjustments as needed.
This is the fourth Select Bus Service line in the city, following the Bx12 in the Bronx and the M15 and M34 in Manhattan.
For more information, visit mta.info.