Eyes on the Street: West 125th Street Gets Its Bus Lanes

It’s showtime for West Harlem bus lanes. Photo: Stephen Miller

It’s finally happening. More than a year after bus lanes were installed on 125th Street east of Lenox Avenue, the first signs have appeared that DOT will soon be painting red bus-only lanes in West Harlem.

The first round of camera-enforced bus lanes, from Lenox to Second Avenue, have helped speed local buses on 125th Street between 7 and 20 percent, according to DOT and MTA. The M60 Select Bus Service, for which riders pay before boarding instead of swiping onboard the bus, is running 32 to 34 percent faster. Meanwhile, buses on sections of 125th Street without the bus lanes have either slowed slightly or not seen any change in speed.

Speedier buses are set to come to West Harlem after the lanes are extended from Lenox Avenue to Morningside Avenue. DOT said in April that the bus lanes would be installed this summer, and the first paint markings are now popping up. DOT says the work will be completed this fall, weather permitting. The bus lanes will eventually be accompanied by transit signal priority, which keeps transit riders from getting stuck at red lights.

It’s been a long road to getting bus lanes on 125th Street. First suggested after advocacy by WE ACT for Environmental Justice over three years ago, DOT and MTA began working with local community members on the plan in late 2012. Facing opposition from community boards and local elected officials, the Select Bus Service proposal was shelved less than a year later before being revived, in abbreviated form covering only central and East Harlem, in late 2013.

Since then, West Harlem elected officials have repeatedly called on DOT to extend the bus lanes to their neighborhood. It looks like West Harlem bus riders are finally getting their wish.

  • AnoNYC

    Ridiculous how long this has taken.

    Camera enforcement? And are all new camera routes going to use overhead cameras from here on out rather than bus mounted?

  • Emmily_Litella

    Ridiculous how long this has taken.
    – Yes but democracy is the winner.

  • There are plenty of democratic countries which can still get things done in a reasonable amount of time.

  • c2check

    But a small number of drivers holds up these processes for years, despite a majority of people not owning cars

  • SSkate

    Sounds great, but I am wondering if the existing camera enforcement is working all that well. I took the M60 back from LGA a couple weeks ago and the ride was slowed way the heck down from Lex west to around Fifth because of 6-8 vehicles double-parked in the bus lane.

  • ohnonononono

    Yes, it’s now the “throw on your blinkers and run in for a minute” lane. There is no enforcement ’cause the cops do it too!

  • Matthias

    Yay! Hopefully this will bring back enforcement along the corridor.

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Bus Lanes Coming to 125th Street in West Harlem This Summer

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Bus riders may not be stuck in crosstown traffic on 125th Street much longer. DOT plans to extend bus lanes from Lenox Avenue to Morningside Avenue this summer [PDF]. The news came last night at a meeting of the Community Board 9 transportation committee. “As far as CB 9 is concerned,” said board chair Rev. Georgette Morgan-Thomas, “I didn’t hear anything that […]