MTA Talks About Select Bus Service

Bx12 approaching the Pelham Bay Park station on the 6 train.
Bx12 approaching the Pelham Bay Park station. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

The MTA’s New York City Transit division issued a press release discussing Select Bus Service. Here is the release courtesy of the MTA:

MTA New York City Transit, in collaboration with NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), is rolling out Select Bus Service (SBS), a new type of rapid bus operation employing advance fare payment, dedicated travel lanes and traffic signal priority. Bronx bus customers along the Bx12 route will be the first to benefit from this new type of service which is designed to be faster, more reliable and more efficient than current bus operations.

The introduction of Select Bus Service to the Bx12 is the culmination of a three-year collaborative effort among NYC Transit, DOT, and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Bx12 SBS replaces limited-stop service along the Bx12 route between 207th Street, Broadway in Manhattan and the Bay Plaza Mall in the Bronx. This service will be the first of several similar corridors throughout the city.

This is the type of innovative mass transit project that yields benefits on several different levels. It saves precious time for the commuter, makes efficient use of a limited resource: traffic lanes and helps to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, said Governor David A. Paterson. “The City’s economy depends heavily on our mass transit system and making improvements such as SBS provides benefits for all of us.

SBS utilizes high-capacity articulated vehicles with distinctive exterior graphics. The idea behind Select Bus Service is the implementation of a high-performance bus system that incorporates the efficiency and capacity of light rail transit without the limitations and construction costs of a fixed-rail system.

“We expect that our Select Bus Service customers will enjoy a much faster and more attractive ride,” said Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. “We have learned from our peers around the world that bus rapid transit truly revolutionizes surface transit. This is a great example of the ways that the MTA is improving customer service within tight budget constraints.”

Bx12 SBS will be a template for this type of service citywide. With SBS, we will be able to move more customers more efficiently and, at a time when we expect ever-increasing usage of mass transit, that is extremely important, said NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. The combined elements of SBS, notably the requirement that customers pay prior to boarding, offer significant savings in travel times over what customers can expect with local bus service or even the limited-stop service Select Bus Service replaces. This is the future of efficient bus transportation in New York City, Roberts added.

NYC Transit’s Select Bus Service, like other Bus Rapid Transit systems around the country, uses Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) and prior to boarding proof-of-payment fare collection. Traffic signal prioritization will hold or advance a green signal by several seconds to allow a bus through an intersection without stopping.

In the 21st century we have to find a more effective way to move people around New York City and use streets more efficiently, said NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. One of the best ways we can improve mobility in the City is to invest in our transit system and provide more effective service on our bus network. So, this is an important first down payment on a more sustainable New York, added Sadik-Khan.

An efficient, safe, leading-edge transportation system has always been the lifeblood of New York City, and bus rapid transit is the next milestone in our continuing effort to improve mobility for all New Yorkers, said Douglas A. Curry, New York City Regional Director of NYSDOT. We are proud of our part in the collaboration with NYC Transit and NYCDOT that has brought us this splendid day.

Customers must pay their fares prior to boarding an SBS bus through the use of MetroCard and Coin Fare Collectors at the Select Bus Service bus stops along the route with the use of a MetroCard or $2 in coins. This fare payment method, which allows customers to board through either the front or rear door of the bus without stopping at the fare box, greatly reduces dwell time at each stop. When paying at the collection machines, customers will be issued a receipt which must be displayed upon request.

SBS makes fewer stops along the route and customers wait at attractive bus stops equipped with the latest fare-payment technology. Other major elements of Select Bus Service include red painted, designated bus lanes, and a distinct, attractive bus appearance on the exterior and interior of vehicles. Combined, these service components are expected to produce as much as a 20% increase in rush-hour service for Bx12 customers.

The service is initially being rolled out along the crosstown Bx12 route, which begins at Broadway and 207th Street in Upper Manhattan, traverses the central Bronx along Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway and terminates at the Bay Plaza Mall Terminal in Co-op City. As is usually the case with the Bx12 route, Bx12 SBS will be extended to Orchard Beach during the summer months.

Along the route, the service connects with eight subway lines, two Metro-North stations and serves the Fordham Road Shopping District, Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Garden and Fordham University.

Bx12 SBS customers will see increased service throughout the day and the frequency of local service will not be reduced from current levels. On weekdays, Bx12 SBS will operate from approximately 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. westbound and 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. eastbound. On Saturdays and Sundays, the hours of operation will be 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. westbound and 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. eastbound. This is a substantial increase in operation over the service provided by the Bx12 Limited. In addition, the Bx12 SBS will operate with greater frequency than the Bx12 Limited, which has ceased operation. The Bx12 SBS will operate seven days week; the Bx12 Limited did not operate on Sundays. Six peak-hour buses will be added to the route, helping to improve service and increase capacity.

NYC Transit has worked closely with the New York City Police Department and the New York City Department of Transportation to develop a process to keep the bus lanes clear of traffic, insuring the free flow of buses along the Select Bus Service corridor. In order to accommodate businesses along Fordham Road, DOT has also established set delivery hours on both sides of the road.

The expected success and customer acceptance of Bx12 Select Bus Service will lead to the implementation of the enhanced bus service along other corridors throughout the city. By the end of the summer, New York City Transit and DOT expect to complete transit priority improvements on 34th Street. Watch for it!

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