The Bill Perkins Flip-Flop on Better Bus Service for 125th Street

Well, this takes a lot of chutzpah. After blocking measures that would have sped bus trips for tens of thousands of people on 125th Street every day, State Senator Bill Perkins now claims he supports Select Bus Service.

Bill Perkins

Following the initial workshops and public meetings for 125th Street SBS held by NYC DOT and the MTA, which began last September, Perkins’ office served as the umbrella for various groups that opposed changes to enable buses to move faster. He sent a letter to DOT, ostensibly to complain about process, which said that “feedback” about existing SBS routes “indicated dissatisfaction and even failure.” In May, when DOT and the MTA announced they would scale back the bus lanes, left-turn restrictions, and parking meters in the plan, Perkins’ office said, “We are definitely pleased.”

When the news broke yesterday that DOT and the MTA would scrap the whole 125th Street SBS route, we checked in with Perkins’ office. We have yet to hear back.

But the state senator did talk to the New York World:

In a phone conversation on Tuesday afternoon, Perkins said that the community welcomes Select Bus Service, but that he opposes the way in which it was handled.

“We are unequivocally in support of SBS bus service,” Perkins said. “And we are looking forward to SBS service coming across 125th Street.

“This is not the Bill Perkins show of trying to stop something,” he continued, “quite the opposite.”

To recap, Perkins insisted on a “process” that elevated opponents of proven measures to speed up bus trips. He proposed no alternatives to the DOT/MTA plan. Then when the project died, he said he unequivocally supports Select Bus Service.

If you believe that, there’s a bus lane in Harlem I’d like to sell you.

  • Anonymous

    …and if SBS gets implemented in the end, I bet he’ll claim that it was his idea!

  • PurpleNinjaTurtle

    Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

    Face palm.

  • Anonymous

    after watching so many political tv shows, i imagine that he wanted something in return for permission to place SBS in his district

  • Daphna

    NY State Senator Bill Perkins got the M60 Select Bus Service on 125th Street cancelled. There was very minor opposition to this plan. The Transportation Committee of Manhattan Community Board 11 supported the 125th Street re-design. A few (very few, like just the one or two people who attend meetings) of the Transportation Committees of CB9 and CB10 were opposed. Also a couple officers of the the local BID who did not even know what the plan was were opposed.

    The Transportation Committees of CB9 and CB10 are completely non-functional. Without Bill Perkins galvanizing, spearheading and promoting the opposition, those few people objecting would just have continued to grumble to the one or two other people present at their scarcely attended committee meetings. They would not have raised a big fuss against this plan beyond that. The SBS on 125th Street could have been implemented in the same way Adam Clayton Powell was re-designed: that improved street design was implemented without CB10 having any resolution for or against it. The chair of the Transportation Committee of CB10 did not want the ACP improvements, but her committee does not even get a quorum of attendance and is not organized to pass a resolution against it. The same thing could have happened with SBS on 125th Street: CB9 and CB10 would have grumbled disapproval but would have failed to actually pass any resolution either way. The DOT and MTA could have gone forward. But Bill Perkins elevated the grumblings of a few people and gave them huge representation and attention.

    If Bill Perkins wants this amenity for his district, then he should not just give empty rhetoric but should take action. He should revive the whole original plan – Amsterdam to 2nd Avenue!

    The DOT had more than 50 meetings with the community about this 125th Street improvement. That is more meetings than any other Select Bus Service route needed. Over 50 meetings definitely qualifies as a good “process” and sufficient community involvement. That Perkins would fault “the way in which it was handled” shows that no process would ever pass muster with him.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Why is this man smiling? “Slow busses make me happy!”

  • Steven Kopstein

    I just wrote him a letter (was out of town when this went down). Anyone know when is he up for re-election? Write to him here…


Who Killed 125th Street SBS: A Timeline

Throughout the development of the 125th Street Select Bus Service project, local elected officials and community boards never came out in support of actual bus improvements. Instead, they cloaked their opposition in concerns about “process.” Following yesterday’s announcement from the MTA and NYC DOT that they will no longer pursue Select Bus Service on 125th Street, now is […]