Select Bus Service Gaining Traction with Riders, DOT Says

By Patrick Hedlund on June 16, 2011 11:30am | Updated on June 17, 2011 10:05am

On-street payment is intended to speed up travel on the Select Bus Service.
On-street payment is intended to speed up travel on the Select Bus Service.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

LOWER EAST SIDE — The bus route along First and Second avenues has seen a 30 percent increase in ridership since the introduction of new express buses last year, city officials said Wednesday.

Select Bus Service, which features off-board ticketing and dedicated lanes on both avenues, has been averaging 4,000 trips per day since it was introduced on the M15 line last October, representatives from the Department of Transportation told Community Board 3.

Statistics shows that SBS buses run 15 to 18 percent faster than regular M15 buses, despite early hiccups like broken ticket machines and paper shortages, officials said.

The service, which has received mixed reviews from riders and elected officials since its debut, runs with limited stops from 125th Street in Harlem to South Ferry in the Financial District.

Ticketing operates on an "honor system," whereby passengers pay on the street before boarding, but enforcement agents have still issued 4,695 citations to scofflaw straphangers as of the end of April, according to the DOT.

Additionally, cameras trained on the street to catch vehicles parked in the bus-only lanes have resulted in 5,800 summonses issued to drivers.

On both avenues between Houston and 34th streets, crashes involving injuries have dropped 14 percent, officials added.

"In terms of the service, it really has tremendously improved," said Colleen Chattergoon, a community liaison for the DOT.

However, Community Board 3's transportation committee thought that gaps between stops on the SBS and regular M15 — which are sometimes blocks apart — make it difficult for riders to choose between the two buses.

For example, one passenger said that a Select Bus Stop should be added to the busy corner of Allen and Delancey streets, where only a local bus stop exists now with no SBS stops within a few blocks.

"It's very frustrating, especially when you see all those buses go by and you don't have the option to take one," said CB3 district manager Susan Stetzer.

An M15 Select Bus, which runs along First and Second avenues.
An M15 Select Bus, which runs along First and Second avenues.
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DNAinfo/Olivia Scheck

The committee ultimately passed a resolution requesting that regular and SBS bus stops be placed closer together or combined at locations to provide riders with more options.

The DOT will look to further improve the service by introducing "transit signal priority" at stoplights below Houston Street, forcing the light to stay green longer for the bus to pass through, as well as raised platforms on sidewalks at SBS stops to allow for easier boarding.

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