UPPER WEST SIDE — Local leaders want the MTA to implement off-board fare collection for the M86 crosstown bus to alleviate delays along the crowded route.
The bus, which runs both east and west along 86th Street and stops at West End Avenue, Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus and Central Park West on the west side, is widely used and has created a perennial problem for riders, said Community Board 7's Transportation Committee co-chairman Dan Zweig.
"The crosstown routes are very heavily traveled and congested," he said at a meeting Wednesday. "The loading of the buses has gotten longer."
As a solution, Zweig and the committee's co-chairman, Andrew Albert, recommended off-board fare collection, which allows riders to pay for their ride at a machine posted at each bus stop before boarding.
At bus stops where the bus intersects with a subway station, such as at Lexington Avenue and Broadway, the buses get especially crowded, Albert said.
"By the time everybody has boarded, you have such a line there that the next bus has actually caught up with you. You have uneven boarding and then you have long gaps," he said.
Machines at each stop would cost the MTA "considerably," he said, but would make boarding go much faster.
CB7 Chairman Mark Diller added that the off-board fare system "will also make a better utilization of the whole bus."
"If you can board at the [back] entrance, it spreads the patrons around so your experience on the bus is better too," Diller added.
The MTA has already enacted off-board fare collection along several city bus routes, including the 34th Street crosstown bus.
The committee's resolution to ask the MTA for off-board fare collection passed unanimously Wednesday night and will be presented next at the full board meeting in September for approval.
CB7 is joining with its east side counterpart, CB8, in asking for off-board fare collection, Albert said. CB8 is also asking for the M86 to feature Select Bus Service, which would involve creating a dedicated bus lane along the route.
"We want to start here and ask for [off-board collection] when we’ve got somebody on the other side of the island saying we want it too," Zweig said.
An MTA spokeswoman said the authority "acknowledges the issues with the M86 and is studying various possible solutions," which include creating a dedicated bus lane and off-board ticket collection.