DOT and MTA Launch M86 Select Bus Service

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and other officials at today’s M86 Select Bus Service launch on the Upper West Side. Photo: Ken Coughlin
Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and other officials at today’s M86 Select Bus Service launch on the Upper West Side. Photo: Ken Coughlin

Electeds and other city officials today launched M86 Select Bus Service, which should reduce travel times for thousands of New Yorkers.

With 25,000 riders a day, the crosstown M86 carries more passengers per mile than any other New York City bus route. DOT first identified the line as an SBS candidate in 2009.

Unlike other Select Bus Service lines, the M86 will not have designated bus lanes. But it does have off-board fare collection and all-door boarding, which are key to keeping buses moving.

M86 SBS buses will have flashing blue destination signs so riders can distinguish them from local buses. Bus bulbs, likely to be added later, are also part of the plan.

DOT estimates the new service will speed M86 commute times by around 20 percent.

The de Blasio administration has committed to bringing 13 new Select Bus Service routes online by the end of 2017.

Photo: DOT
Photo: DOT

Photo: DOT
Photo: DOT
  • Joe Enoch

    This is fantastic. I ride this line all the time and as any rider will tell you, you spend most of the route waiting for people to board the buses on the east side. Now they just need to make off-board fare collection standard practice across the board.

  • Bus rider

    Congrats, New York! You now have something that’s been available on entire systems in other cities for at least 15 or 20 years! At this rate, you should get real BRT by 2035 or so.

  • J

    While this is a good and needed improvement, I thought De Blasio promised “World Class BRT”. Mixed traffic buses are a long long way from that goal.

  • HamTech87

    Let’s see: cheap, on-street parking for a few dozen motorists versus a dedicated lane for 25,000 bus riders. Definitely keep the parking! ;-(

  • Andres Dee

    Amen. This should be standard, at least on all crosstowns. A ticket should be good for 2 hours in both directions, essentially creating a “hop-on-hop-off” shuttle serving local shoppers. This should win over all but the most pig-headed local merchants (with apologies to actual pigs, which are supposedly lovely, intelligent creatures).

  • snobum

    Definitely agree that all the crosstown routes should have this at a minimum. They are some of the shortest routes but are among the slowest.

  • HamTech87

    86th St. SBS is “don’t ruffle feathers” transportation policy-making. Akin to not putting enough Citibike stations in a neighborhood. Or double-parking lanes on West End Ave. Mediocrity at its finest.

  • Drivin’ Here!

    Why was this necessary? Couldn’t we just have installed wide parking lanes?

  • Niles

    The queue jump lane on W 86th and Central Park West is already on the agenda for tomorrow’s CB 7 Transportation Committee meeting.

    “Discussion of concerns of residential buildings on the south side of 86th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue regarding the M86 SBS “buses only” lane.”

  • Andres Dee

    Find the offending building and park a bus in front for a week, preferably with the engine running.

  • AnoNYC

    Surprised that bus only lanes were not installed along the traverse, or is it too narrow?

  • datbeezy

    Like: the real time arrival setup
    Hate: the perspective-oriented route map. North should be up!

  • Diagonalec

    Real-time arrival box reminds me of the Monolith from the Odyssey 2001 🙂

    I hope that compared to previous travel time the bus service now has sped up to the speed of light. 🙂

  • qrt145

    I hate perspective-oriented maps too (Citi Bike, I’m looking at you!), but curiously I never thought of bus route maps that way. I thought they were laid vertically only to make more efficient use of space and to make it easier to have horizontal text labels.

    For the most part, a bus route map is just a “topological map”, showing the order of stops and maybe transfers, but not necessarily depicting the true shape of the route.

  • Andrew

    Only two lanes (one per direction), except at the extremities.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    citibike will help alieviate congestion on crosstown route between UES & UWS.

    crosstown travel times:
    Bike 10 minutes.
    Taxi 20 mins.
    Bus 30 mins

  • qrt145

    Is there any reasonable and legal way of crossing Central Park on a bike between 72nd and 96th St? I don’t consider the traverse roads reasonable. 🙂

  • Alexander Vucelic

    I did try biking on one of the traverse roads: once.

    Both 72nd and the circa 96th cuts are the easiest and fastest ways across the park. I go back and forth all the time. Cycling in so relatively fast, that even making a 10 block detour isn’t a big deal.

    Some riders do use the old horse trails as cross town shortcuts, I’ve tried a couple times but found it simpler to use 72nd or circa 96th.

  • Matthias

    “M86 SBS buses will have flashing blue destination signs so riders can distinguish them from local buses.”

    It should be noted that the M86SBS is the local bus. There is no concurrent non-SBS route.

  • Matthias

    72nd St is a good bike route through the park, but I’m not aware of any other bike routes across the park. How do you use 96th St? Do you bike on the transverse? I think the transverses should be upgraded with bike infrastructure; as long as they feel like highways they will not feel safe to ride.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    there is a crosstown section of bike path/jogging just North of 96th on the CP loop, it is very easy to miss.

    One can also use the bridle path between the reservoir and 96th Traverse to go Cross town.

  • JL

    The cut through path at 96th is clearly marked as such between the CP east and west drive. I am not sure if it is marked or accessible without walking bike between 5th and CPW.

  • Andres Dee

    Yeah, the loss of buildings’ ability to treat the area in front of their awnings as their private space.

    It’s time for the city to fine buildings that put up their own “do not block the entrance signs”.

  • Drivin’ Here!

    To get to the 102nd St transverse, one would have to enter the park at W. 100th St, bike against traffic, then again against traffic on the east side, and then exit on E. 102nd.
    Biking “the wrong way” introduces chaos into the very delicate balance of our society which was built exclusively for cars.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    use The central Park loop

  • Perhaps someone can explain to me the brilliance of this plan. With NFS and wireless it’s instant recognition. So now if you bought a $120 monthly card you miss the buss every time you’re close. You have to waste time printing out paper (costs and not environmentally friendly) for machines which must be filled (maintenance) and fixed when it stops working (more maintenance) and which is extremely difficult to enforce (more personnel needed) and risks of big summonses when receipts aren’t handy even though you have your metro card! (especially difficult when the machines don’t function, cold, etc.) I am at a total loss to understand this system. Asia has had these wireless systems for years.

  • Gilberto

    I think all posts are on the same line. The truth is that bus is inevitable. I see my routes on a website http://nycbusroutes.com

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There are three queue jumps on the M86 route, including this one at Fifth Avenue and 84th Street. Photo: DOT

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While bus ridership is down citywide -- and especially in Manhattan -- there are some routes that are bucking the trend. One that's gaining riders is the M86, which got a package of upgrades from DOT and the MTA in 2015. The improvements included off-board fare collection and queue jumps -- short bus lane segments that enable buses to cut ahead of other traffic at signals.

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Select Bus Service on 86th Street in Manhattan won’t be getting full bus-only lanes, but riders will benefit from short bus lanes at busy intersections. DOT has added two “queue-jump” lanes where 86th Street and 84th Street meet Fifth Avenue, to keep buses from getting stuck behind traffic waiting at lights. The most important component of the M86 SBS upgrade is off-board fare collection. The sidewalk fare […]