Graphed: How East Side Select Bus Service Cut Trip Times and Gained Riders

More passengers are taking the M15 along First and Second Avenues, where Select Bus Service launched last year, while overall ridership in Manhattan is down. Image: NYCDOT/MTA

Yesterday, we reported on the impressive gains in speed and ridership along the First and Second Avenue Select Bus Service route. Since then, NYC DOT and the MTA released their official progress report on the project. It’s full of graphics that show the boost for bus riders even more clearly.

Along the full M15 route, Select Bus Service shaves nearly seven minutes off the time spent at bus stops and five minutes off the time stuck in traffic. Image: NYCDOT/MTA

Select Bus Service cut the length of a full trip down the M15 route by 12 minutes. Seven of those minutes were saved at bus stops thanks to faster, all-door boarding, while five were thanks to dedicated, camera-enforced lanes keeping buses clear of traffic.

Those improvements have attracted about 10,000 more daily riders to the SBS than the old M15 limited, while ridership on the M15 local is down about 5,000. All told, it comes out to a nine percent increase in ridership on the corridor, suggesting the SBS buses are picking up some former M15 local riders as well as thousands of New Yorkers who didn’t care to wait for the old limited.

Ridership is actually down slightly on the local, with Select Bus Service is far more popular than the limited was. Image: NYCDOT/MTA
  • Glenn

    Why this wasn’t started in 2006 or earlier when all the stars were aligning around this is beyond me. The gains are indisputable and come at little expense. This data is useful as it suggests even more incremental time improvements would be possible with better traffic signal prioritization. The lanes are cutting travel time and the pre-paying is cutting bus stop time.

  • Joe R.

    Agreed on the traffic signal prioritization.  That’s a bucketload of time wasted at red lights.  Also, the time in motion might be able to be cut substantially by keeping the bus lane clear, and perhaps allowing buses higher speed limits (this generally becomes more important the further apart stops are spaced).

  • a.v.

    In my limited experience riding it, I would say the gains could be improved by making the bus lane about six inches wider. Although most vehicles are respecting them, the buses are forced to slow regularly because a truck or cab will have its tire on or just over the line.


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