Despite Demand for Select Bus Service Lines, Rollout is Often Slow
Riding the bus is rarely the quickest way to get around the city, though riders on some lines benefit from speedier Select Bus Service. The rollout of those lines is often just like local service, though—on the slow side. NY1's Jose Martinez filed this report.
Select Bus Service lines have commuters moving more quickly along eight routes citywide, but for riders who could use more of the buses that make fewer stops and allow for pre-boarding fare payment and entering from any door, the rollout hasn't been quite as swift.
"In my district, there's no shortage of places which are crying out for this kind of improved bus service. On 135th Street, on 145th Street, on 155th Street," says Councilman Mark Levine.
On Thursday, politicians and advocates called for a rapid expansion of 10 more SBS lines, saying they would offer significant upgrades to riders who rely on pokey local service.
They cited smoother service on the M60 since it got SBS along 125th Street in May 2014.
"Transportation is a business where if you get a 10 percent improvement in speed, that's a big deal," Levine says. "But on the M60, since we introduced Select Bus Service, our speeds east of Lenox are better than 30 percent improved."
Riders say they've noticed.
"Waiting for the bus, it might be normal, like waiting for any other bus. Once you get on the bus, it starts to pick up, because it doesn't make every stop," one rider says.
"It's easier than swiping the MetroCard once you hop on the bus," another says.
The process of shifting to Select Bus Service isn't quite so simple, though.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that local officials, from community boards on up, bear their fair share of responsibility for the sometimes plodding pace of Select Bus Service rollout.
The Bx12 became the first SBS line seven years ago, but only seven more lines have followed since then. The Q44, linking Queens to the Bronx, is set to get Select Bus Service later this year. Same with the B46 in Brooklyn—the third busiest line in the city.
The latest arrived on Monday, the famously pokey M86 crosstown.
Advocates say the MTA and Department of Transportation face significant hurdles before launching the lines.
"It's really car drivers that are standing in the way of a lot of these lines. It's NIMBY's, people who say, 'We don't want these changes in our community,'" says Nick Sifuentes.
They're coming though, so long as everyone gets on board.
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