Select Bus Service Coming to Manhattan's East Side

Bus riders will soon have faster and more reliable bus service along the east side of Manhattan with this week's announcement that new Select Bus Service is coming to First and Second Avenues. MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder joined Mayor Bloomberg, and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to announce the start of construction on dedicated bus-only lanes that will benefit 54,000 daily riders of the M15 bus line.

The first phase of the project will create dedicated bus lanes from 125th Street to Houston Street along the right side of the street on both First and Second Avenues. Select Bus Service along this corridor also calls for use of new articulated three-door buses.

Riders will be able to pay their fare at on-street machines before boarding, some sidewalks will be extended to allow buses to pick up and discharge passengers without having to exit and reenter traffic, buses will be given traffic signal priority and the new service will make fewer stops than the current M15 Limited.

"SBS is the real deal, bringing together faster bus boarding, enforced bus lanes and signal prioritization to improve bus service for New Yorkers," Chairman Walder said. "It's a terrific example of the growing partnership between New York City and the MTA, but we're not stopping there. We're working with the City to make it clear to drivers that bus lanes throughout the City are for buses only, and a new smart card pilot will pave the way for faster boarding on all of our buses."

The lack of transit options on Manhattan's East Side have made the M15 bus on First and Second Avenues the busiest bus route in Manhattan, traveling at less than six miles per hour. The improvement could help increase ridership by more than 10 percent.

Implementation of the bus lanes will begin this month, with street resurfacing starting next week. By October, the dedicated lanes will be completed and in use, while additional improvements continue to be installed.

NYPD enforcement will help keep the dedicated bus lanes clear of vehicles, and taxis will be deterred from using lanes through violations issued by the Taxi & Limousine Commission by using cameras. The City is barred from using cameras to issue violations to motorists using dedicated bus-only lanes, but the Administration has been aggressively seeking the authority utilize cameras to enforce bus-only lanes – a new State law is required to give the City enforcement ability.

The City and MTA will continue community outreach throughout the summer. Phase Two of the project, which will begin in 2011, will include bus priority traffic signals and "bus bulb" curb extensions that will further improve bus lane performance.

Select Bus Service has been highly successful on Fordham Road in the Bronx, where the first route on the Bx12 was implemented in 2008. Travel times improved by as much as 24 percent and ridership increased by 30 percent.