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Bus-Only Lane Coming to 125th Street Despite Community Opposition

By Gustavo Solis | August 19, 2015 4:33pm
 The city has begun painting chalk outlines for a bus-only lane on the north and south sides of 125th Street between Lenox and Morningside avenues. The lane is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
The city has begun painting chalk outlines for a bus-only lane on the north and south sides of 125th Street between Lenox and Morningside avenues. The lane is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

HARLEM — The writing is on the asphalt.

Bus-only lanes are coming to 125th Street between Lenox and Morningside avenue by the end of the month. The Department of Transportation began marking north and south lanes with chalk lines, diagonal arrows and the words "BUS ONLY" Tuesday.

“I think it’s great that they are doing this because it will make my trip a little faster,” said Rogner Tagme, 46. “It’s a very good idea.”

Tagme, who rides the M100 nearly every day, used to live in Switzerland where they have more bus only lanes and the public transportation is more efficient, he said.

City Councilman Mark Levine, who represents West Harlem, has been advocating for bus only lanes for over a year, especially after the MTA released a study saying lanes on the west side have reduced travel times by as much as 30 percent.

“Buses that travel to West Harlem on 125th Street have been slowed to a crawl without a dedicated bus lane,” he said. “This new bus lane will speed up commutes and provide more reliable service to Harlem residents.”

The city set up bus-only lanes along 125th Street east of Lenox Avenue in Spring 2014. A westward expansion has been delayed by community opposition, mainly concerns from the Community Board about how the move would impact parking and congestion in central Harlem.

The DOT met with Community Board 10 and addressed many of their concerns in June, said Chair Henrietta Lyle. 

Still, the board remains worried that replacing one lane of traffic with a bus-only lane could negatively effect 125th Street. They have asked the DOT to conduct a comprehensive study to look at how traffic and air quality may be affected, she added.

"The implementation of the dedicated bus lane has a potential to increase traffic congestion on 125th Street and avenues leading to 125th Street," Lyle said in a statement. "Central Harlem continues to have a high volume of out-of-town vehicular traffic traveling up and down 125th Street as a result of three major highways leading into the neighborhood."

People waiting for a bus along 125th Street Tuesday had mixed reactions to the bus lane expansion.

“It will make a difference,” said Micheala Brown. “The buses are quicker on the east side.”

Others had reservations about the lanes.

“What they need to do is put more buses on the street,” said Gloria Jones, 60. “I don’t think [the lane] will make a difference. This is 125th Street, there’s always traffic. People are just going to park on the lane.”

Jones said she spends as much as 30 minutes waiting for an M101 bus to take her home on the weekends.