Riding the East Side SBS With Assembly Member Jonathan Bing

Assembly Member Jonathan Bing shows off his Select Bus Service receipt. Photo: Noah Kazis
Assembly Member Jonathan Bing shows off his Select Bus Service receipt. Photo: Noah Kazis

To mark the first real weekday rush hour for the East Side’s Select Bus Service, transit advocates took local elected officials on a bus ride down Second Avenue this morning. I caught up with Assembly Member Jonathan Bing during the trip to see what he thought of his district’s new and improved bus service.

Bing started off by recalling how dysfunctional M15 service was before the roll-out of SBS. “The buses were spending 20 percent of their time idling,” he said. By allowing passengers to pay their fare before boarding and enter all three doors, he said, Select Bus Service should cut down on that delay and help alleviate bus bunching.

He also expects the performance of the route to improve in the months ahead. Bing sponsored the legislation in the State Assembly authorizing bus lane enforcement cameras, and he noted that the start of camera enforcement next month should keep the bus lanes even clearer than they are today.

Last December, Bing and 18 other electeds signed a letter urging the creation of both physically separated bus lanes and bike lanes for the entire route. While the changes eventually fell short of those goals, Bing said it’s too soon to think ahead to future improvements on the corridor. “We’ll have to see how this works,” he said of the SBS features.

Bing, whose district stretches from east Midtown to the Upper East Side, is also taking a wait-and-see approach to extending the protected bike lanes up the length of the corridor from 34th Street. “In a perfect world,” he said, “you’d be able to have bike lanes and bus lanes and separation.” For now, Bing said there remain “lots of issues.”

  • JK

    Cheers to Assem Bing! Nice to see an elected official who cares about their local bus service enough to help organize a campaign to improve it, and sponsor bus camera legislation. We could use about 200 more of these folks. I have never seen bus or subway service mentioned in my assembly member’s mailings. Though he does write a lot about the local tennis courts he paid to fix up. How many NYC assembly members have been on their local bus in the last five years? Maybe the advocates, TWU and MTA could sponsor “Take the bus” day for the electeds. Give them something to do instead of complain about parking.

  • Though he does write a lot about the local tennis courts he paid to fix up.

    He paid with his own hard-earned money? I think it says a lot about “member items” that even you fall into that trap!

  • Glenn

    He’s absolutely right that the M15 was dysfunctional. over crowding, slow speeds, bunching would all combine for an unpredictable and uncomfortable commute. People will forget quickly and will need reminding of this. Good on him for actually taking the time to see this project through and give Streetsblog the interview.

    That’s news that Bing is backing off his prior support for the bike lanes. I wonder how there are “lots of issues” north of 34th, but the current lanes are fine? Sounds like he just didn’t want to take a stand, just like congestion pricing.

  • meb

    SBS on the east side will improve, but without protected bike lanes on 1st and 2nd they’re just making it even more dangerous to ride. It must have been a halfwit or a committee that delayed the bike lane deployment on the UES and in midtown. My bike commute up 1st and down 2nd today was significantly worse today.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Glenn, agreed on Bing, his undisclosed “issues” north of 34th sound eerily like Goldsmith’s mysterious “negative byproducts” attributed to the same mysterious place.

    Meb, you’ve got a point. Riding SBS yesterday, I got the impression that the drivers have been instructed to be a bit more aggressive than the typical MTA bus driver. I always detour from Second Ave between 100 and 63rd. For that stretch, try the East River Esplanade or Lexington (or, for a ride that’s calmer than Lex but faster than the Esplanade for most trips, Park).

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