Riders Call for Increased Service on Slow-Moving York Ave. Bus Line

By Lindsay Armstrong on May 14, 2014 8:49am 

 Riders waited for a 5:07 p.m. M31 bus, which didn't arrive until 5:22 p.m.
Riders waited for a 5:07 p.m. M31 bus, which didn't arrive until 5:22 p.m.
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DNAinfo/Lindsay Armstrong

YORKVILLE — Locals fed up with waiting for sluggish M31 buses are pushing to speed up service on the York Avenue line after the MTA slashed the number of trips it makes.

Riders said they regularly wait 20 minutes for buses to arrive on both the uptown and downtown sides, and that buses often don't arrive on schedule, which further slows down the buses because a large number of passengers are forced to board at once.

“It could be a very convenient line,” said Ellyn Gerry, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. “I want to take it, but it’s slow and doesn’t come very often, so then you have all of these people waiting, which slows it down even more.“

The M31 was one of six Manhattan lines that saw a reduction in service during peak times in 2011, a decision the MTA said was based on ridership.

The line — which runs along York Avenue between 92nd and 61st streets before turning to head across town at 57th Street — is one of the only transportation options available to those on the far eastern side of the neighborhood. It is scheduled to make stops as frequently as every six minutes during the morning rush hour and no longer than every 20 minutes during off-peak hours, but riders have reported waiting up to 40 minutes for a single bus.

“I’m 86 years old, and I’ve waited up to an hour-and-a-half a dozen times for this bus, all in the last few months,” said Bobby, an Upper East Side resident who did not want to give his last name.

The bus provides a link to several hospitals and health care facilities clustered along York Avenue, including the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

A recent visit to the M31 stop near 86th Street and York Avenue during rush hour revealed delays, with the scheduled 5:07 p.m. bus not arriving until 5:22 p.m.

Michael Chung, who has lived in the area for 12 years, gave up before the bus arrived.

“Most of the time I just have to walk it,” he said. “The bus is always late in both directions.”

Several residents gathered to voice their concerns to MTA representatives at a recent meeting of Community Board 8's transportation committee, requesting an increase in the number of buses on the route.

But officials shot the riders down.

“It is not financially prudent for us to schedule more buses than there are riders,” MTA spokesman Marcus Book said.

Others suggested the MTA place more new buses on the route to ease entrances and exits for riders with limited mobility, shortening wait times.

“The M31 services a hospital corridor. A lot of people who ride that bus have walkers or wheelchairs, and they’re slow getting on and off,” said Rita Popper, a member of CB8's transportation committee.

Popper pointed out that the M31 has more older buses, which have steps to the front entrance and lifts that have to be manually operated by drivers. The newer buses lower themselves to street level and have automatic ramps that make for a quicker entrance or exit, she noted.

“It makes no sense to not have these [new] buses on this route,” Popper said.

The CB8 transportation committee passed a resolution stating that the buses that service the M31 route should predominantly be new buses with automatic ramps.

MTA representatives at the meeting remained mum on the resolution.

The MTA did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.

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