Queue Jumps for Buses — The Ethical Way to Cut in Line

A new queue jump is speeding up service on the M96.

This short bus lane segment on East 97th Street lets M96 bus bypass the bottleneck preceding the traffic light.
This short bus lane segment on East 97th Street lets M96 bus bypass the bottleneck preceding the traffic light.

Cutting in line is pretty much unacceptable behavior among decent human beings, but there’s one exception to the rule: A bus carrying dozens people should go to the front of the line at traffic lights.

A “queue jump” is a simple street engineering tool to let buses bypass the queue of private vehicles at signalized intersections. They’re quicker to install than full-on bus lanes but can still make a big difference by giving buses a way around the worst traffic bottlenecks on a route.

NYC DOT and the MTA are just beginning to install queue jumps on city streets. In this video, TransitCenter cheers on the new queue jump for the M96 at 97th and Madison, which was recently installed by DOT:

The M96 isn’t one of the city’s Select Bus Service routes, which typically have a basket of features like off-board fare payment to speed up service — but that doesn’t preclude smaller interventions at key locations, which is what DOT has done here. Citywide application of these targeted improvements is one of the recommendations in transit advocates’ Bus Turnaround Campaign.

More please.

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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.