Can you believe there exists a State Senator who thinks NYC DOT moves too quickly in implementing Select Bus Service improvements? Can you believe there is yet another Manhattan community intent on suffering through crippling crosstown traffic rather than enjoy a realignment of street lanes that would better prioritize transit? In the public farce of New York City, you better believe it.
This time, the corridor in question is the M60 via 125th St. Ostensibly a bus route that feeds Laguardia Airport, most of the M60 ridership uses the bus as a crosstown connection along 125th St. while some use it to access Astoria and Queens. A small portion — some travelers, some airport employees — use it to reach Laguardia. It is absurdly slow as it inches along the congested corridor at 2.7 miles per hour and spend approximately 60 percent of the time at a standstill.
To better accommodate the bus, DOT has proposed a series of changes. Streetsblog summed them up in March:
DOT is proposing off-board fare collection to speed bus boarding, transit signal priority to hold green lights for buses, and converting the M60 to a Select Bus Service route serving six stops along 125th Street. A one-mile stretch of 125th Street between Morningside and Third Avenues would be remade with camera-enforced, offset bus lanes, located between the parking lane and the general travel lane, much like the set-up that has significantly improved bus speeds on First and Second Avenues.
Along with the reduction of general travel lanes in each direction from two to one, DOT will introduce left-turn restrictions at most intersections between Morningside and Third Avenues. Left turns would still be permitted at Madison Avenue, to allow access to the bridge across the Harlem River.
DOT also proposed adding parking meters on 125th Street west of Morningside Avenue and east of Fifth Avenue. Between St. Nicholas Avenue and Lenox Avenue, the agency is also considering extending meter hours until 10 p.m. Putting a price on the curb speeds buses because it cuts down on double-parking and cruising for open parking spots.
It all sounds sensible and progressive — which, apparently, is cause for concern. In a letter to DOT, State Senator Bill Perkins urged the agency to “slow down.” (It’s hard to imagine DOT moving any slower on SBS rollouts while still making forward progress, but I digress.)
Despite community meetings and a public comment period, some people don’t like the plan, and they have Perksin’ ear. These folks argue that implementing metered parking along a small section of 125th St. would make parking unaffordable to public housing residents (who can otherwise afford to own a car in Manhattan anyway). And they’re annoyed at the inconveniences turn limits would place on drivers.
DOT has since revised the plan. The bus lane will run only from Lenox Avenue to Third Avenue. The turn limits will be rescinded, and no parking meters will be implemented along the corridor. Yet again there is no balance between the experts and the amateurs as another busy street has decided it prefers the congested status quo to a smoother ride for all.
DNA Info spoke to one person — Detta Ahl — who understood. “It was an holistic approach that would have made things safer for pedestrians and transit users. It’s not just people using the M60 that would have benefited,” she said. If only everyone else would understand as well, then, we wouldn’t have to suffer through sub-par bus service from Manhattan to its closest airport.