WEST HARLEM — Local politicians called for better bus service on 125th Street and said bus-only lanes need to expand west beyond Lenox Avenue as soon as possible.
City Councilmen Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez called for the expansion at a press conference at 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue during the morning rush hour. They were joined by transit advocates who have been calling for more selected bus service throughout the city.
“There is no logical reason to oppose extending this bus lane,” said Levine, who has been fighting for the lane since Spring 2014. “If we don’t put in the work orders now then we are going to loose another year because we can’t do this when it’s cold out.”
The Department of Transportation has promised to bring the dedicated bus lane from Lenox Avenue to Morningside Avenue next month.
Levine does not doubt the DOT’s intentions, saying they have been “terrific partners” that have “done everything possible to mitigate any negative impact on the bus-only lanes.”
He is, however, worried about some community opposition that have pushed back the expansion for the last year, he said.
“We want to make sure no push back from the community derails that,” he said. “We are going to keep the pressure on every day until the work is completed.”
Harlem’s Community Board 10, who did not have any representatives at the press conference, has previously criticized the DOT for forcing the expansion on the community.
They have declined to support the expansions because of concerns of what it will do to parking spaces and congestion in their neighborhood.
Neither board immediately responded to questions about the expanded bus-only lanes.
Transit advocates say dedicated bus lanes and select bus service have increased speeds along the east side 125th Street and they would like to see that on the west side.
“I used to be able to walk faster than the M60, so the Select Bus Service is a big improvement,” said Harlem resident and Deputy Director of the Riders Alliance, Nick Sifuentes. “The City should extend the bus lane across 125th street so the M60 can continue to be a model for fast, reliable SBS for local residents.”