Home Asides Four months in, SBS service earns its praise

Four months in, SBS service earns its praise

by Benjamin Kabak

When Select Bus Service debuted along 1st and 2nd Avenues in early October, it had a rocky beginning especially in the press. East Siders couldn’t come to terms with the changes to their painfully slow local bus routes, and the media found faults with the new service from Day One.

Now that the East Side SBS has been on the road for four months, both East Siders and the city’s transit reporters are coming around to the new service. I’ve received numerous emails from riders who love the increased speeds and want to see this service elsewhere around the city, and in today’s Daily News, Pete Donohue praises the service. Although he references the “bumpy start,” which might be more a creation of the media than a reality on the ground, he notes that bus travel times have improved by 12-16 minutes or nearly 20 percent. Only Second Ave. Subway construction work (and the lack of truly dedicated lanes) is an impediment to even faster travel.

The MTA and NYC Department of Transportation offered up some statistics. Northbound travel from South Ferry to 126th st. now takes 62 minutes instead of 75 while southbound trips during rush hour can last 76 minutes instead of 88. The NYPD, meanwhile, has handed out 15,200 summonses to bus-lane violators, and 156 cars have been towed. When signal prioritization goes online this year, the trips should be even smoother. “The success of these first corridors in reducing travel times shows the enormous potential that exists if we can put ideas into play across the city,” Transit head Thomas Prendergast said.

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JP January 19, 2011 - 12:30 pm

I’ve found that (a) crosswalks are not green long enough for old ladies to cross the street anymore and (b) sorry, “bus travel times have improved by 12-16” what, exactly?

When they turn around the ticket machines so as not to face the street, improve maintenance on them in general, and basically address (a) as above so I can stop worrying about my mom getting mowed down by this blue light special, I’ll do the dance of joy.

John January 19, 2011 - 2:38 pm

a) They don’t need to stay GREEN long enough to get all the way across the street. Are you saying if they start crossing when it’s GREEN they can’t get across by the time it turns solid RED?

b) 12-16 minutes, across the length of the route

Benjamin Kabak January 19, 2011 - 2:41 pm

What does the timing of crosswalks have to do with Select Bus Service? They haven’t shortened the crossing times and have no plans to do so. If any older person crossing the street can’t get across all the way now, he or she couldn’t have before October.

JP January 19, 2011 - 10:28 pm

Yes, at 23rd street.

The unit “minutes” was added after my comment.

“When signal prioritization goes online this year, the trips should be even smoother.”

Signal prioritization = changing the length of crossing times.

I helped an old lady with a walker across not two hours ago. We started when it turned green, and the cars patiently waited for us to cross the last lane of traffic- perhaps in part because I was staring them down?

al January 20, 2011 - 8:56 pm

It depends on how the signal prioritization is implemented. If they’re just holding a green light a few seconds longer to let a bus through to the next block, and don’t borrow time from the next light cycle, then no this shouldn’t affect the minimum time allotted to cross the street.

If the current signal cycle is too short for the elderly/injured to go from curb to curb in the time that the light turns green until it turns solid red, then this is a problem with the current signal setup. Its one that you need to bring to the community board’s and DOT’s attention.

paulb January 19, 2011 - 12:37 pm

It’s still an hour or more to go, what, 8 miles? Or not even that. Even riding quite conservatively I can do much better on my bike. I hope the time can be knocked down even more. I’m thinking it will.

Chris G January 19, 2011 - 1:18 pm

Torn by this article. First off, it makes me feel old as 4 months has flown by and I can’t quite remember.

But as far as the article goes, this is something most of us knew would happen. Most of the bad press was because of change more than bad service.

I do wonder who is towing the cops that park in the bus lanes.

Christopher January 19, 2011 - 1:43 pm

Well if it’s like the feds that park on the sidewalk by the Army recruiting station in my neighborhood in Brooklyn: I’d say no one.

Hank January 19, 2011 - 4:19 pm

I love the SBS- take it to work daily.
That being said:

A) Give the inspector’s pass readers for people with unlimited cards.
B) Get more/better machines in place. I get on every morning at 88th and 50% of the time only one machine is working. Very slow and inefficient.
C) Better bus lane enforcement!

Alon Levy January 19, 2011 - 4:44 pm

In cities where the unlimited monthly discount is large, not more than 1-2 machines are necessary even at train stations, so many people use unlimited cards.

Joe Steindam January 19, 2011 - 6:16 pm

It would certainly be an improvement if you didn’t need to get a receipt if you have an active unlimited card. If the inspectors can just swipe the card to see that it’s a valid unlimited, all the people who use unlimited cards then don’t have to buy receipts.

Is the issue of the machines running out of receipt paper being resolved or is it just less of an issue?


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