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Select Bus Service Coming to 79th Street in April, MTA Says

By Shaye Weaver | February 9, 2017 3:55pm
 On-street payment is intended to speed up travel on the Select Bus Service.
On-street payment is intended to speed up travel on the Select Bus Service.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

UPPER EAST SIDE — The M79, which was once ranked as the slowest bus in the city, will be replaced with Select Bus Service in two months time, according to MTA officials.

SBS — known for cutting commute times with fewer stops and off-board ticket purchasing — will start running along the M79 bus route, from East End Avenue to Riverside Drive, starting in April, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz announced on Wednesday.

The M79 currently serves more than 14,500 riders daily, he added.

Once SBS replaces the M79, the eastbound stop on West 81st Street at Amsterdam Avenue will be eliminated due to low ridership there, according to officials. And while the frequency of bus service will remain the same, schedules are subject to change.

Leading up to the roll out of SBS, the MTA will begin installing along the route signage and fare machines that customers will use to buy tickets before boarding, Ortiz said.

“With our seventh Manhattan SBS route coming to the M79 this spring, East Siders and West Siders will both discover that with dedicated bus lanes, curbside fare collection and all-door boarding, Select Bus Service is a faster and more reliable way to get across town, to Zabar's, to the Metropolitan Museum and beyond," Polly Trottenberg, the Department of Transportation's commissioner, said in a statement.

The new SBS route will cost $1.7 million annually, according to the MTA.

In 2014, the local M79 bus "won" the Straphangers Campaign's "Pokey" award for being the slowest bus in the city. The M79 was traveling across 79th Street at an average of 3.2 mph during midday, the campaign said at the time.

The bus now runs at an average speed of 4.3 miles per hour, and bunches roughly 8.8 percent of the time, according to Bus Turnaround, a coalition of transit activists calling for a comprehensive overhaul of New York's bus system.

Community Board 8 chairman Jim Clynes applauded the MTA for their "fast forward approach" in installing SBS on 79th Street.

"This further connects the East with the West, coupled with the new Q line where East Siders can be in Times Square in a matter of 10 minutes," he said. "This unites East Siders with West Siders as the family of Manhattan."