SBS Launches on 23rd Street – Placard Holders Remain Oblivious to Bus Lanes

"Flexible bollards" at Sixth Avenue aim to keep motorists out of buses way. Photo: David Meyer
At Sixth Avenue, “flexible bollards” keep motorists from violating the eastbound bus lane. Photo: David Meyer

Select Bus Service launched on 23rd Street in Manhattan this morning, the twelfth SBS route in the city and the sixth to start up under Mayor de Blasio.

With dedicated lanes, off-board fare collection, and consolidated stops, SBS should mean faster crosstown service for the riders who make 15,000 trips on the M23 on an average weekday.

The bus lanes extend eastbound from mid-block between Tenth and Ninth Avenues to Second Avenue, and westbound from mid-block betweens First and Second Avenues to Eighth Avenue. DOT’s initial 23rd Street proposal limited bus lane enforcement to either rush hours or 7 a.m to 7 p.m., but the agency adjusted its plans after local community boards asked for more bus lane hours. The bus lanes will be in effect 24/7, with the exception of a single westbound block between Seventh and Eighth avenues, which is a commercial loading zone outside of the morning and evening rush [PDF].

This morning riders took advantage of all-door boarding along the route, but illegally parked cars were a problem. Vehicles with government placards filled the north curb between First Avenue and Second Avenue, forcing delivery trucks into the bus lane and buses into the general travel lane.

A delivery truck forced this bus out of 23rd Street's dedicated bus lanes. Photo: David Meyer
With the curb blocked by vehicles with government parking placards, this Fedex truck stopped to unload in the bus lane. Photo: David Meyer
agency business placard 23rd st
A vehicle with a Department of Education placard was one of several blocking the bus lane between First and Second Avenue. Photo: David Meyer

The city painted the bus lanes in August, but the enforcement system just started sending warnings yesterday. Fines won’t take effect for 60 days.

There’s usually an adjustment period following any significant change to the street, but it was still disconcerting to see a few people with parking placards mess up the bus lanes for everyone. The 34th Street bus lanes are also frequently obstructed, often by NYPD.

Off-board fare enables faster boarding on the city's Select Bus Service lines. Photo: David Meyer
Off-board fare collection enables fast all-door boarding, a feature transit advocates want to extend to all MTA bus routes. Photo: David Meyer
Photo: David Meyer
  • JudenChino

    Official Agency Business — we really need to clean this shit up. It’s such an insult. You want perks — fine, you get perks. But WTF — the placard abuse is straight up corruption. It’s illegal. It imposes significant costs on others. Who will be the brave pol to cut this shit out.

  • com63

    In other news, the newish Union Sq East bike lane was free of NYPD vehicles every time I passed. It seems like they are getting the message there.

  • ohnonononono

    If it’s a DOE employee they aren’t allowed to live in NJ so the PATH probably isn’t too relevant for them, but they CAN live in the far reaches of Suffolk County and drive 2 hours every day, ’cause logic.

  • HamTech87

    Somewhere, there is an ambitious ADA who can make his or her name on this….

  • JudenChino

    Too bad there isn’t a train that goes from Suffolk county to Grand Central Station that then has a 6 train that goes south from Grand Central to 23rd street. Sarcasm aside, even if I had a free parking spot, I’d almost never drive anyway!

  • ohhleary

    I was not as lucky last night, when one was parked squarely in the bike lane in the middle of the intersection of Union Sq East and 15th Street.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If it’s a DOE employee they aren’t allowed to live in NJ”

    NYC teachers are allowed to live in NJ or anywhere else outside NYC where there are good schools. They were allowed that when the cops, firefighters and others moving out of the city were limited to the NY suburbs, at least in theory.

  • Flakker

    Writing this partly for future reference but I think it’s important to get these rules straight.

    To clarify what Larry said there appear to be different rules for different jobs and they might be pretty granular. For example the NYPD site says that police officers must “be a resident of New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange or Putnam county”

    Compare to DSNY which specifies that “Sanitation Workers must reside within New York City, Nassau County, or Westchester County.”

    As Larry says, according to the NYDN, teachers have no restrictions: -that article, from 2008, is about DC 37 members wanting legislation to be able to live outside the city too. At the time they could not. I don’t know what happened with those bills.

    Presumably city employees who work outside of the city (reservoir police, for example, and I think there are some NYC employees who work in NJ for some reason) have some leeway but then again I myself saw a DSNY truck driving on NJ-440 in Jersey City two days ago, so who knows.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The Sanitation workers got state legislation, over the city’s objection, to be allowed to live outside the city. Seeing the writing on the wall Bloomberg agreed to have the state legislature do the same deal for NYC.

    All these rules apply to NYC only. Local governments everywhere else in the state are allowed to limit their government job to local residents, or to exclude NYC residents from taking them.

    Basically the NYC unions represent those who are retired, who don’t do their jobs, and/or those who live outside the city for a lower tax burden and better services than they themselves are willing to provide to the serfs.

  • Sean Kelliher

    In addition to the straight-forward “on official business” placard corruption, there is also the “two step” type where private organizations such as the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Captain’s Benevolent Association, Knights in Blue, etc. profit personally from selling parking passes (in the form of cards, mini-badges, placards) for public streets. This is just as wrong and should be prosecuted.

  • Miles Bader

    It doesn’t matter where they live. They should receive no special parking privileges. If they want to drive every day for 2 hours, fine, but they’ll need to pony up for city parking too.

    ’cause logic.

  • J

    It’s as if NYCDOT and MTA have never looked at the other bus lanes in NYC, which are constantly blocked by illegally parked cars. Put the damn busway in the middle of the street. Every successful BRT and LRT in the world does this,but for some reason, NYCDOT thinks that the next time will magically work, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

  • Vooch

    The obvious Solution Is to eliminate all placards. Somehow, private businesses seem to get around perfectly Fine w/o Parking placards

  • We asked for it but it could be done only on two blocks without removing a lane of traffic. Each block on the street is of different width. These two way streets are way narrower than they seem .

  • So proud of the separation on 6th avenue . CHEKPEDS and CB4 asked for the lane to be physically separated along the whole corridor. So this is a “test area” .

  • bolwerk

    Not saying center lanes are inherently bad, but re the picture that’s not really very good design either. Look at all the traffic people have to cross to get to the bus.

    FFS, unless there are four transit lanes, you don’t ever need streets that wide.

  • AMH

    OMG, yes, I couldn’t believe how bad it was yesterday! In my experience people have been hesitant to block new bus lanes but they become more brazen as the novelty wears off. Perhaps this is an indication that drivers are getting used to violating them citywide. Also, how great is it that CBs are asking for more bus lane enforcement hours?

    Anyone else have problems making a round-trip (“Just Used”)?

  • AMH

    I guess there will be one eventually!

  • Res Ipsa

    Some businesses are able to just hire black cars for their employees and allow the cars to idle on the street at will…see law firms, for example.


Eyes on the Street: NYC’s Newest Bus Zones on 23rd Street, Jay Street

DOT crews recently put down new terra cotta paint for buses on 23rd Street in Manhattan and Jay Street in Brooklyn. In the fall, Select Bus Service will bring faster bus service to the M23’s 15,000 daily riders with dedicated lanes, off-board payment, and consolidated bus stops. The bus lanes are set to run eastbound from Ninth Avenue to Second Avenue and westbound […]