Letter to MTA From East Side Electeds to Restore Select Bus Service at East 72nd Street

10/07/2016

October 5, 2016

 

Veronique Hakim
President, New York City Transit
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2 Broadway
New York, NY 1004

Dear President Hakim,

Please restore the M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street. The M15 Limited stopped at 72nd Street until it was phased out in favor of M15 Select Bus Service. With high bus-dependent populations, infrequent local service, crosstown bus service, hospitals, community support and opening of the Second Avenue Subway with a station at 72nd Street, now is the perfect opportunity to increase ridership by restoring M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street.

72nd Street Only Location Omitted from Select Bus Service

When Select Bus Service was introduced to First and Second Avenues on the M15 route, Select Bus Stations replaced Limited Service stops in every location above Houston Street other than East 72nd Street. Since October 2010, residents living in the East 72nd Street area, for example at 73rd off York Avenue, now must choose between walking three avenues and six blocks, more than half a mile, to a Select Bus Service bus station at 67th or 79th Streets and Second Avenue, versus half that distance to 72nd Street. Walking more than half a mile in both directions is simply too far for many residents.

High Concentration of Seniors and Children Need Select Bus Service at 72nd Street

The neighborhood that would be served by a Select Bus Service station at 72nd Street includes Census Tracts in Manhattan number 124, 126, 132, and 134 spanning from 69th to 79th between 3rd Avenue and the East River with a population of 44,756, one of the highest near any Select Bus station:

  • 8,679 or 32.7% of households include children (under 18) or seniors (65 and over) who may rely on bus service due to age:
    • 3,326 or 12.5% of households have children under 18 years-old.
    • 5,353 or 20.2% of households have seniors 65 years-old and over.

The need for children and seniors to use buses for traveling short distances is best exemplified through the MTA’s current policy of providing these populations free and reduced-fare MetroCards. Seniors, 65 years of age and older, as well as the disabled, qualify for reduced-fare MetroCards. The Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation offers a half-fare or free MetroCard to all students Kindergarten to 2nd Grade and a half-fare MetroCard to all students in 3rd through 12th grades who live more than half a mile, but less than a mile from their schools. These programs are frustrated for children and seniors living in the vicinity of East 72nd Street who must walk more than half a mile to even use Select Bus Service.

Infrequent Local Service Mandates Expansion of Select Bus Service Station to 72nd Street

Local M15 bus service used to be more frequent and limited service on the M15 was less frequent, but now there is more frequent Select Bus Service and less frequent M15 local service. As of the 2016 schedule, during downtown rush hour between 7AM and 9AM, M15 local buses are scheduled every 6 to 9 minutes versus M15 Select Bus Service scheduled every 2 to 4 minutes. This leads to a complaint of residents seeing four or more M15 Select Bus Service buses go by for every M15 local bus that arrives.

Precedence for Select Bus Stations Less than a Half-Mile Apart to Serve Hospitals

The M15 Select Bus Service currently makes three stops over the course of eleven blocks starting at 23rd Street, then five blocks away at 28th Street, then again six blocks away at 34th Street. This provides precedence for adding a station in between 67th Street and twelve blocks away 79th Street.

Points of interest noted on the M15 Select Bus Service timetable from 23rd Street to 34th Street include:

  • Veteran’s Administration Hospital – 23rd Street
  • Bellevue Hospital – 28th/29th Street
  • NYU Medical Center – 34th Street

Points of interest noted on the M15 Select Bus Service timetable from 67th Street to 79th Street include:

  • Memorial Hospital Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – 67th Street
  • Rockefeller University – 67th Street
  • New York/Cornell Hospital – No station near 71st Street
  • Hospital for Special Surgery – No station near 71st Street

Other points of interest that should be considered for addition and would be served by the restoration of M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street include:

  • Memorial Hospital Sloan Kettering Cancer Center/Hunter –73rd Street
  • Ronald McDonald House –73rd Street
  • Marry Manning Walsh Nursing Home – 72nd Street
  • Marymount Manhattan College – 71st Street
  • East River Esplanade Entrance – 71st Street

Given the number of institutions within one block of 72nd Street, a Select Bus Service station should be restored to serve the thousands of New Yorkers who visit these locations every day.

Crosstown Bus Service at 72nd Street Necessitates Transfer to Select Bus Service

More than six thousand people ride the M72 crosstown bus everyday but are unable to transfer to or from the M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street. The M15 Select Bus Service has a stop for every other crosstown bus above 14th street, including M14, M9, M23, M34, M42, M50, M31, M57, Q32, M66, M79, M86SBS, M96, M106, M116, M100, Bx15, M60SBS, and M35, omitting only the M72 at 72nd Street. Additionally, 72nd Street is the only major bi-directional transverse above Houston Street that does not have a Select Bus Stop. Select Bus Service at 72nd Street will help better connect M72 riders on the East and West Sides.

Second Avenue Subway Station at 72nd Street Necessitates Transfer to Select Bus Service

The Second Avenue Subway slated to open in December of this year with a station at 72nd Street but without a corresponding Select Bus Station for millions of riders each year who may wish to transfer. The Second Avenue Subway is not slated to go south of the 72nd Street Station on Second Avenue until Phase 3, whose completion is at least a generation away. Riders must be able to transfer at a Select Bus Service Station going south at 72nd Street. This is the only Second Avenue Subway station that will not have a corresponding Select Bus Station. Restoring the M15 Select Bus Service Station is an opportunity to increase ridership and serve the local community.

Thousands in Community Support Select Bus Service Station at 72nd Street without Opposition

In recent weeks, the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association gathered over 2,400 signatures from residents seeking a restoration of M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street. This is the most signatures ever submitted to our offices on a local issue, and we have seen no opposition from community members.

Please restore M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street as part of the rebuilding of Second Avenue in anticipation of the Second Avenue Subway opening. We look forward to your prompt positive response and riding the M15 Select Bus Service to and from 72nd Street in the near future.

Sincerely,

 

Ben Kallos                                       Liz Krueger                           Carolyn Maloney         

Council Member                            State Seneator                     Congress Member 

 

Dan Quart                                       Rebecca Seawright 

Council Member                            Assembly Member      

                                                                        

Cc: Thomas F. Prendergast, Chairman, MTA
Darryl Irick, President, New York City Transit Bus
Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation