The elimination of flashing blue lights on the MTA’s Select Bus Service vehicles is probably the most absurd transit setback of the past year. Since New York state law limits the use of flashing blues to volunteer firefighters, the MTA caved in to pressure from Staten Island pols and took them off SBS buses this January.
The flashing SBS lights are important for a few reasons. At the top of the list is that they help riders distinguish between local buses and SBS buses. Without an easy way to tell the buses apart, boarding takes longer and buses get delayed.
While it may seem equally absurd that this issue needs a legislative fix in Albany, that does seem to be the case. A bill sponsored by Assembly Member Micah Kellner and State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein would enable SBS buses to use flashing purple lights. The Assembly bill has 12 co-sponsors, and while the Senate version has none, it should benefit from Klein’s leadership position. Along with speed camera legislation and the transit lockbox bill, this one of three bills in Albany that livable streets advocates have their eyes on as the end of the current legislative session approaches this Thursday.