By Julie Shapiro
MANHATTAN — A new program designed to speed up M15 bus service is launching this weekend on the east side of Manhattan.
Starting on Sunday, riders of the new M15 Select Bus Service will have to pay the fare at a curbside kiosk before boarding, so the bus spends less time at each stop.
The $60 million overhaul could reduce bus travel times by up to 20 percent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said when he announced the changes earlier this year.
The M15 Select Bus Service will replace the M15 limited, making stops about every 10 blocks from South Ferry up to E. 125th Street seven days a week from early morning until late at night. The bus will take advantage of the new dedicated lanes on 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue.
"We can take a huge bite out of delays in service," Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at a press conference announcing the program in June.
Each stop on the M15 SBS route will have machines that accept MetroCards and coins as payment for the $2.25 bus fare. Riders will get a receipt as proof of payment, and they will be allowed to board through any of the buses' three doors.
Roving inspectors may ask passengers to show their receipt. Anyone caught on the bus without a receipt could be subject to a $100 fine.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority piloted a similar fare collection model on the BX12 bus in the Bronx starting two years ago, and an agency spokesman said most people paid the fare.
The M15 local bus is not affected by the changes.