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Mayor Bloomberg Unveils New MTA Select Bus Service (SBS) System

bloomberg 2.jpgNYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander and New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today unveiled new buses that will soon start running as part of the City’s Select Bus Service (SBS) system to bring faster, high-performance bus service to key areas citywide. The system features more frequent service, specially designed buses with flashing lights, traffic signals that will expedite bus movement, and an off-board fare collection system that speeds passenger boarding and allows boarding at all bus doors. Expanding its use to other SBS corridors citywide-including First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, and Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island will be made possible if the City receives $354 million in federal aid, which is contingent on the approval of the Mayor’s congestion pricing proposal by the City Council and the State Legislature. Governor David A. Paterson has submitted a congestion pricing bill to the State Legislature, where it was introduced in the Senate yesterday.

“Select bus service here on Fordham Road will cut five minutes off the average rush hour ride from Co-op City to the IRT station at White Plains Road, which is actually a significant time savings for commuters catching trains,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The innovations we’re announcing today could quickly become realities for commuters in all five boroughs, too – if and when the $354 million in federal funds contingent on congestion pricing become available. Without that money, we can’t expand this service. It’s that simple.”

In addition to these corridors, DOT and NYCT will focus on improving existing bus lanes by fall 2008, with upgrades to bus lanes on 34th Street, and on Fifth and Madison Avenues in Manhattan. The agencies will also address localized improvements to bus routes in Jamaica Queens and downtown Brooklyn.

Select Bus Service, like other Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems around the country, incorporates features of a light-rail transit system without the cost or time constraints of building rails. The Fordham Road route includes high-visibility dedicated bus lanes painted a bright terracotta color, fewer bus stops and other improvements that result in up to a twenty percent time savings. In some areas, such as Nostrand Avenue, SBS could be used along longer street corridors, while in others, like Jamaica, enhanced bus lanes and signal timing, increased enforcement, and improved transfer locations targeted to specific streets, will yield similar results.

“Select Bus Service has the capacity to completely alter the way our customers view their bus trips. If we demonstrate to our customers that they can look forward to fast, reliable service it will encourage even more New Yorkers to use mass transit to travel around the City,” said MTA Executive Director Sander. “With Select Bus Service we envision significant savings in travel times over what customers can expect with local bus service, or the limited-stop service Select Bus Service replaces.”

“The streets of New York City are the rails for our bus network, and this system is a huge step will help keep those rails as clear as possible for the buses that are carrying an ever-growing number of commuters,” DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan said. “Select Bus Service is a transportation commitment that we’ve made under PlaNYC, and we desperately need the funds that congestion pricing would bring to continue to make investments like this one across the City.”

Under SBS, a fare payment will be made prior to passengers boarding the bus through the use of vending machines at “stations” along the line. Initially, a MetroCard or cash will be required, and a system to accept credit cards will be installed at a later time. When paying at vending machines, customers will be issued a receipt which must be displayed upon request by enforcement personnel aboard buses. Using this fare payment method reduces the time a bus must remain stopped and allows customers to board either the front or rear door of the bus without stopping at the fare box. NYC Transit will work closely with NYPD and DOT to keep bus lanes clear of traffic, ensuring the free-flow of buses along SBS routes. DOT will expand its Fordham Road red-lane pilot to other portions of the corridor. SBS buses will also be sped along with the use of Traffic Signal Prioritization. This system was recently tested on Staten Island and has been shown to be effective at holding a green signal by several seconds to allow a bus through an intersection without stopping, or expediting changing a red signal back to green when a bus is approaching.

The Bx12 SBS will replace the existing limited-stop service on the Bx12 line on June 29th. It will be the culmination of a three-year collaborative effort among, NYC Transit, the DOT, NYPD (NYPD) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The crosstown Bx12 route, which begins at Broadway and 207th Street in Upper Manhattan, traverses the central Bronx along Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway and terminates at the Bay Plaza Mall Terminal in Co-op City. During the summer, Bx12 Select Bus Service will extend to Orchard Beach. Bx12 SBS will make stops at six subway lines, two Metro-North stations and serve the Fordham Road Shopping District, Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical garden, Fordham University and the Jacobi Medical Center.

Bx12 bus customers will see increased service throughout the day and the frequency of local service will not be reduced from current levels. The expected success and customer acceptance of Bx12 Select Bus Service will lead to the introduction of the enhanced bus service along other corridors throughout the city. In addition, DOT and NYCT will focus on improving existing bus lanes by fall 2008, with upgrades to bus lanes on 34th Street, and Fifth and Madison Avenues in Manhattan. The agencies will also address localized improvements to bus routes in Jamaica Queens and downtown Brooklyn. If additional federal aid is made available through congestion pricing’s approval, full select bus service will be pursued on 34th Street, First and Second Avenues, Nostrand Avenue and Hylan Boulevard.

“I am quite excited about the possibilities of the new bus rapid transit route for the shoppers and commuters in the Bronx,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. “I eagerly look forward to its success and for it to be expanded to other communities throughout the City.”

“This much needed service will provide bus rapid transportation to thousands of my constituents traveling to and from the Bronx. The Bx 12 passes right in front of my district office,” said Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat. “I am happy that we are fast tracking this vital transportation service that has been known to work successfully in many places in the world including Bogotá, Colombia. This is one of the many measures including congestion pricing that will help reduce traffic gridlock across New York City.”

2 Responses

  1. what’s new about getting onto the bus from all doors? the students at other schools seemed to that all the time back in the 70’s and early 80’s.

  2. The downside to pay-before-you-board is that you have to schedule extra time to buy a ticket so if you’re running late, you’ll have to miss the bus in order to prepay.

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