Our Town Faster crosstown bus service sought by Sarah Nelson
City officials petition MTA, DOT for Select Bus Service on the M66, M79 and M96 lines
The MTA is considering whether to add Select Bus Service to the M79 bus route, one of the city’s slowest lines. The service improves speed and safety with off-board fare payment, designated lanes and extended green lights for the buses.
The proposal comes more than a year after the authority introduced Select Bus Service to the M86 line, a few blocks north. The changes brought a 10 percent decrease in travel time, reducing ride time from 23-24 minutes crosstown to 20 minutes, officials from the city Department of Transportation and the MTA said at a Community Board 7 meeting last week. That outcome is largely the reason Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, requested that the authority add SBS to the M66, M96 and M79 bus lines.
“After the success of M86, we wanted to bring it to M79,” Kallos said after the meeting.
On any given day, M79 buses move efficiently only 40 percent of the time in service, with the rest spent either at a stop, stuck in traffic or moving less than 2.5 mph, city and MTA officials said. In 2014, M79 earned the “Pokey Award,” an annual verdict given to the slowest bus line in the city from the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign.
Traffic analyses are underway to ensure safety along the route, specifically at the intersections of Broadway, as well as at Lexington and First Avenue. There is also talk about removing the M79 stop on 81st Street and Amsterdam, largely due to low ridership.
The DOT and MTA presented their plans to install fare machines at bus stops this fall. By winter, the agencies want to solidify their plans and solicit community feedback before launching in spring 2017.
Relatedly, support for a residents’ petition seeking an additional bus stop on East 72nd Street was approved unanimously by Community Board 8’s transportation committee on Oct. 5.
The petition was spearheaded by the 72nd Street Neighborhood association with the intention of adding M15-SBS bus stops at 72nd Street on First and Second Avenues.
“72nd Street is a major crosstown avenue,” CB 8’s chairman, Jim Clynes, said.
The transportation committee voted unanimously to approve the addition of the bus stop, which will now be taken up by the full board on Oct. 19.
“I am sure the full board will vote to approve this bus stop,” Clynes said. “I feel the more bus stops the better — especially for the elderly.”