UPPER EAST SIDE — Thousands of locals have signed a petition to add East 72nd Street to the M15 Select Bus Service route along First and Second avenues.
The stop was removed from the M15's express route when the MTA replaced limited bus service with Select Bus Service along the line six years ago.
Now, residents have to walk to East 68th Street, East 67th Street or up to the East 79th Street stop to catch the Select Bus, a hike they say is difficult for the elderly and disabled. The other option is to wait up to 30 minutes for the local bus, residents said.
Neighbor Alvin Chisik says his disabled wife is forced to take taxis because she can't wait for long periods and can't walk farther to get on the Select Bus.
"The frequency of the local bus is at best almost non-existent in comparison with the frequency of the Select Bus Service," he said on Wednesday during a Community Board 8 transportation committee meeting.
When they do wait for the local M15, they watch many Select Buses go by while there are no local buses in sight.
"In the last six years, local service has deteriorated greatly," said Valerie Mason, president of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association. "You can stand there for 25 to 35 minutes and see three Select Bus Service buses go by. I don’t understand that."
The 72nd Street stop was left out of the Select Bus Service route when the plan was presented to the community years ago, said Marcus Book, assistant director at NYC Transit, during the meeting. Officials at the time cited low ridership as reason to drop the stop, he said.
But residents said spotty service has caused the low ridership, because people have been "taught" to go elsewhere.
Mason called on CB8's transportation committee to support a petition started by her and a group of other residents calling on the city to add a 72nd Street stop to the M15 Select Bus Service route. The petition has so far gathered 2,700 signatures, she said.
The transportation committee passed a resolution to support it and to increase local bus service at the stop.
A number of elected officials, including Councilman Ben Kallos, have also written in support.
“Residents feel abandoned by our buses," said Kallos, who grew up on 72nd Street.
"Watching five Select Buses go by what used to be a Limited stop makes seniors with limited mobility feel abandoned as they wait for a local bus that never seems to come. Seniors and children live in one-third of the households near 72nd Street and they must be able to rely on bus service to get where they are going.”
Book assured locals that slow local service and the possibility of adding the stop to SBS "will be addressed."