Select Bus Service Boosted East Side Bus Ridership 9%; 34th Street Is Next

Speaking this morning at the launch of weekday Select Bus Service along 34th Street, Mayor Bloomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast released the latest stats documenting the effect of Select Bus Service improvements along First and Second Avenues.

all door boarding
All-door boarding is one of the features speeding up buses on the East Side and, as of yesterday, 34th Street. Photo: Noah Kazis

On the East Side, travel times improved 18 percent thanks to the SBS upgrades that went into effect a year ago, according to the city. Much of that speed increase comes from off-board fare payment: With passengers boarding at any door and no longer dipping their Metrocards, the amount of time buses sit idling is down 36. The enhancements also include dedicated bus lanes enforced with automated cameras.

Quicker trips are attracting new riders. Along First and Second Avenue, total ridership is up nine percent, especially impressive since overall Manhattan bus ridership has been declining.

Those numbers are up slightly from April, when preliminary data showed a 15 percent improvement in travel times and an eight percent boost in ridership.

Similar jumps in speed and ridership are expected for Midtown bus riders. Since bus lanes were installed along 34th Street in 2008, ridership has increased by five percent, according to MTA Department of Buses Senior Vice President Darryl Irick. Improved boarding, he predicted, would boost ridership along the routes by another five to ten percent.

While NYC still lacks full Bus Rapid Transit, these improvements are making a real difference for tens of thousands of riders every day and attracting thousands more.

“Select Bus Service is proving to be a success wherever we install it,” Bloomberg said in a press release. “Travel times go down, ridership increases and safety improves with Select Bus Service. We expect to see the same positive results here on 34th Street and we will continue to look for more opportunities to expand this great service. We all know that when mass transit works well, more people use the service, which helps to free up our streets – a boost for our economy and our environment.”

  • TO_Man

    Why does that 2008 article say that Select Bus Service was launching “today” (Sept. 15 2008) if it’s really not launching until now (2011). Which is it? Did SBS hit 34th Street in 2008, or 2011?

  • Yeah, looks like they had two ribbon-cuttings for this one, which speaks to the different gradations of SBS.

    But the implementation of SBS on 34th Street was always planned as a two-phase affair. The first phase went live in 2008 without much else besides the dedicated bus lanes (they added stationary cameras to catch cabbies in the lane but needed Albany to sign off on cameras to catch everyone else). The second phase was supposed to be a fully-separated busway, with the pedestrian plaza between Fifth and Sixth, but Macy’s, Vornado, Empire State Building teamed up to squash that. Instead they’re putting in a similar package to the M15 improvements.

  • @BenFried:disqus Why did Macy’s et al team up to squash it?  They like having fewer customers?

  • TO_Man

    Does this mean both MTA bus routes that run along 34th Street will be SBS (pre-paid boarding) for their entire distance, or just for the 34th Street stretch?

  • Greg Kellner

    I rode the M16 two days a week until it disappeared this week. The new M34a SELECT service was hardly that! At my stop on 39th and 9th, the first bus Whizzed by with me just standing there… I waited another 20 minutes for a second bus, got on, and the bus went out of service at 34th, so I had to get on a regular M34 that doesn’t go down 2nd Ave. I went from having a seat to being shuffled from front to back as people got on and off a packed bus and the driver packed it to the brim. I then had to get out and take the M15 down 11 blocks to my destination. SO… The new select services cause me to have to take 3 buses instead of my normal ONE! AND from the time I got to where I was going… it took 1 hour and 10 mins. AWFUL. Way to go MTA!

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