State Senator Bill Perkins let it slip during a hearing yesterday, and today the MTA and DOT made it official [PDF]: Select Bus Service is back on track for M60 buses running along 125th Street, scheduled to launch in April 2014.
After community boards and local elected officials raised concerns about the months-long planning process, saying the project wasn’t taking the community’s needs into account during its public meetings, the agencies decided to shorten the route, before shelving plans for SBS altogether a few months ago. Now, after receiving letters from elected officials who wanted to revive the plan, and holding a series of private meetings with community members and elected officials this summer, DOT and MTA have announced that the plan for the shortened route is back, with some new additions.
Bus lanes will not extend west from Second Avenue to Morningside Avenue, as originally planned. Instead, the new plan is similar to the shortened route announced in May, which cuts the lanes in half by ending them at Lenox Avenue. Also like the plan from May, the one announced today adds left-turn restrictions at Fifth and Lexington Avenues. DOT and the MTA say they expect the service will result in a 20 percent decrease in travel times. The M60 local bus will be converted to Select Bus Service, while the Bx15, M100, and M101 will continue to run local service.
As with most other SBS routes, the M60 will have pre-board fare payment, which speeds up the process of getting on a bus. Unlike other SBS routes, the plan does not include curb extensions or bus bulbs, meaning that buses will have to leave the bus lane and pull to the curb to pick up passengers, which can increase wait times.
What’s new in today’s announcement [PDF]? 125th Street will receive 62 new LED street lights [PDF] from Morningside Avenue to Fifth Avenue, paid for with $500,000 from Assembly Member Keith Wright. The 12 SBS bus stops on 125th Street will receive new, larger bus shelters, including maps from the WalkNYC pedestrian wayfinding program and real-time bus arrival information.
The new plan also tweaks parking regulations, adding loading zones during morning rush hour on 125th Street and adding metered parking east of Fifth Avenue. DOT also says that “new parking spaces will be established along parts of 124th and 126th Streets.”
“I am happy to announce Select Bus Service will come to the 125th Street corridor after a thorough community task force vetting which included the residents, businesses, disabled communities and the local community boards,” State Senator Perkins said in the DOT/MTA press release. “However, the task force and I will continue to monitor its progress and share input with DOT as this service moves forward.”
Update: “While we hope to eventually achieve full Select Bus Service along the complete 125th Street corridor, this is nothing short of a tremendous victory that will be a clear benefit for our constituents,” State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, and District 7 council candidate Mark Levine said in a joint statement.