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Upper East Side Bid for 72nd St. Express Bus Rejected by Transit Authority

By Shaye Weaver | January 10, 2017 11:57am
 An M15 Select Bus, which runs along First and Second avenues.
An M15 Select Bus, which runs along First and Second avenues.
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DNAinfo/Olivia Scheck

UPPER EAST SIDE — The New York City Transit Authority shot down a request —supported by thousands of residents — to add express bus service to East 72nd Street.

Select Bus Service — which is known for shortening commute time with fewer stops and off-bus ticket purchasing — won't be coming to the M15 bus stops at East 72nd Street on First and Second avenues because there isn't enough ridership there to support it, NYCTA spokesman Marcus Book told members of Community Board 8's transportation committee and more than a dozen other residents on Jan. 4.

In the fall, roughly 3,000 residents signed a petition demanding Select Bus Service on the street, citing long wait times for the local buses and its impact on elderly and disable residents in the neighborhood.

Book had assured residents during a CB8 transportation committee meeting in October that concerns about slow local service and the request for the Select Bus Service would be addressed, but returned to the board last week without solutions.

"72nd Street is not a Select Bus Service stop and we don't have plans on making it one," Book said.

"A lot of consideration has gone into the placement of [existing Select Bus Service stop locations]" and adding new stops would cramp the route, he added.

In addition to rejecting the proposal for added service, Book did not mention making any improvements to wait-times for the local bus, sparking anger among residents at the Jan. 4 meeting.

"This is about servicing the community. They have established a need and a use for that stop at 72nd Street," said community board member Michele Birnbaum. "If it's not to the MTA’s current standard, then I am asking MTA to change its standard that if there is enough community outcry [something is done]."

Several board members and residents argued that the reason there may not seem to be a need for express service at the stop is because the local M15 bus is extremely slow to arrive at 72nd Street and therefore puts commuters off, especially if they're older and unable to wait or walk long distances.

"This is a result of the local M15 not running enough," said resident David Rosenstein. "People get discouraged when they wait so long and they take the subway or a taxi."

CB8 has decided to write another letter to the NYCTA, saying it disagrees with its decision to not expand Select Bus Service to East 72nd Street and encouraged residents to contact local elected officials to get involved in the fight.

"We can’t physically, on the community board, do any more than what we have done," said member Rita Popper. "Call them and send your copies of your petitions. Ask them to consider a 72nd Street stop. We need you to take it one step further."