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The M86 Moves Faster and More People Are Riding Thanks to Queue Jumps

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

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.

Bus ridership in Manhattan has fallen 27 percent since 2007, and until recently the M86 was losing riders too. Between 2010 and 2015 ridership dropped 8 percent. The launch of Select Bus Service in 2015 changed that.

Travel times on the M86 are down 10 percent and ridership is up seven percent as of last September, according to a new DOT report [PDF].

With the queue jumps and faster fare collection -- improvements the NYC Bus Turnaround Coalition wants to scale up citywide -- travel times are down 11 percent eastbound and 8 percent westbound. Reliability also improved, with a higher share of buses arriving within a few minutes of the scheduled times. Now ridership is on the rise.

Travel times on the M86 are down 11 percent
M86 buses are spending less time stuck in traffic and stopped while people board. Image: DOT
M86 buses are spending less time stuck in traffic or picking up passengers. Image: DOT

There are three queue jumps on the route. They were installed before the rest of the SBS features were added, allowing DOT to isolate their effect: a 7 percent reduction in westbound travel times and 30 percent reduction eastbound (which received "more extensive queue jump treatments," according to DOT).

m86 queue jump stats
The impact of the new queue jumps. Image: DOT
The impact of the new queue jumps was felt even before SBS launched. Image: DOT

DOT released the report at an event this morning that also heralded the arrival of the Second Avenue Subway, new bike lanes, Citi Bike, and ferry service on the Upper East Side in the last year.

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