One of Manhattan’s busiest — and slowest — bus routes will soon join the growing list of select bus services (SBS). The M79 crosstown bus, which serves more than 14,000 riders each day, is expected to make the change in service later this May. The select service will require riders to pay at kiosks on the sidewalk before boarding the bus, in an attempt to cut down on time spent idling and improve the route’s 4.3 mph average speed. Signs with real-time arrival information will also be installed at each stop. The annual operating budget is expected to be approximately $1.73 million, according to the January 2017 MTA Transit and Bus Committee meeting handbook.
Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, personally requested that the service be implemented.
“Our crosstown buses serve tens of thousands of passengers a day and it makes a huge difference and cuts a lot of time off people’s commutes,” he said. “On 79th Street I, like many residents, have had to wait in lines around the block to get on the bus and I’ve often found that when the lines get that long it’s faster to just walk where I’m going instead of waiting for the bus.”
City Councilman Ben Kallos, who has been pushing for the stops to be returned, posted photos on Thursday of MTA workers installing the ticketing machines.
New York, NY – Today, the City Council voted to approve a potential franchise agreement between the City of New York and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). After more than 20 years of operating without an agreement, a proposed franchise has been approved for two 25-year terms, granting the City the authority to negotiate with RIOC to continue operating the unique and iconic aerial tramway from Tramway Plaza on Second Avenue between 60th and 59th Streets over the East River to Roosevelt Island.
“The Roosevelt Island Tram is here to stay. After 20 years of needless bureaucracy, we’ve protected the tram through 2068, the end of RIOC’s 99-year land lease,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who represents Roosevelt Island. “Thank you to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for their partnership in protecting the tram.”
Citi Bike has seen nearly 37 million trips completed since its inception in 2013, with few serious injuries and no deaths—but with more riders joining the bike share, they see further safety measures as a necessary step. (Learn everything you need to be a safer rider with the Bicycling Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills.)
“As Citi Bike ridership soars even during the dark winter months, it is important that we look for new innovative ways to keep pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers safe,” said Council Member Ben Kallos in a press release. “By testing out the Blaze Laserlights, the city is showing its commitment to safety in our streets.”
“As Citi Bike ridership soars even during the dark winter months, it is important that we look for new innovative ways to keep pedestrians, cyclists and drivers safe,” said city council member Ben Kallos. “By testing out the Blaze Laserlights the city is showing its commitment to safety in our streets.”
Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side, said his grandfather used the vehicular elevator while serving as a doctor at Coler-Goldwater Hospital. Kallos first remembers taking the tram with elementary school classmates in the 1980s. “We had a birthday party on Roosevelt Island, and that’s the first time I remember going there,” he said. “At the time, the only way you were going to get there was on the tram.”
The tram served as an '80s backdrop not only for Kallos’s childhood memories, but also for high-flying scenes in the cheesy 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks, where Sly’s character pilots a helicopter in a bid to rescue hostages held in one of the tram cabins.
Finally, the subway opened in 1989. The next year, the city came to an interim agreement with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the state authority that manages the island, to continue operating the tram, which remained popular.
New York City Councilman Ben Kallos explained, “New Yorkers want to get where they are going fast. Everyone hates traffic jams, especially when they are for road work, but no one is actually there doing the work. It’s about making sure we are only impeding traffic and causing traffic when we absolutely need to.”
Construction sties that block roads and snarl traffic when no actual work is going on would face fines under a bill being introduced Tuesday in the City Council.
The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos, would require that roadblocks like traffic cones, barrels and Jersey barriers only be set up in the street for one hour before and one hour after work is underway.
Kallos (D-Manhattan, photo) said drivers often encounter traffic backups caused by construction barriers and road closures, only to find the site empty.
“New Yorkers want to get where they are going fast. Everyone hates traffic jams, especially when they are for road work, but no one is actually there doing the work,” he said. “It’s about making sure we are only impeding traffic and causing traffic when we absolutely need to.”
Private developments are popping up right alongside the construction of MTA contractors. Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), whose district encompasses the new Upper East Side subway line, has watched two new developments rise from across the street of his district office.
Kallos said the line brings concerns, like the scale of new buildings, pricing out of residents and potential overcrowding at schools if the greater accessibility attracts more residents—“Not only are our trains crowded, but so are our schools,” he said.
“A concern is protecting my residents and making sure that those residing in rent-regulated housing are protected,” Kallos said, noting that his office will be open to all constituents with lease questions.
“For the businesses that survive the construction, they’ll have the benefit of increased foot traffic,” he added. “Sadly, for those who didn’t, we hope to see many of the empty storefronts revitalized.”
Commute times of Second Avenue residents could increase between 10 and 15 minutes, Streeteasy estimates show. Transit experts fear that villainizing mass transit as a driver of rent hikes or gentrification is counterproductive to building a more equitable city.
To the relief of many Upper East Siders who have wanted the change for years, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has disallowed left turns onto E. 79th Street for cars heading north on York Avenue.
Though there was never a turn signal at that intersection, the light would remain green for drivers going north on York after the other three lights had turned red so the northbound cars could make a left turn. This confused pedestrians, who would think all lights were red and would cross the street without realizing some of them were in the path of the northbound cars who still had a green light.
“This is an intersection where I myself have felt unsafe,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who helped accomplish the safety improvement. “I brought the concern to the Department of Transportation and we went over multiple different options.”
After deciding that eliminating left turns all together was the best move, Kallos and the DOT took it to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association for a vote.
Betty Cooper Wallerstein, president and founder of the neighborhood association, is happy to see the intersection made safer, but frustrated that it took more than four years to do so.
“People are used to, when the traffic stops, crossing,” Wallerstein said. “The streets have to be safe for blind people, too. It never, never, never should have taken so many years to correct that mistake.”
The letter — signed by Councilman Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Assembly members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright — listed several reasons why East 72nd Street deserves 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," read the letter.
During Wednesday night's meeting the board also voted to adopt a resolution to ask NYC Transit for increased local bus service to the stop for the next six months. Since select bus service was instituted on the M15 line, local bus service has deteriorated, in some cases being four times as slow as before select bus service, according to a press release.
“Residents feel abandoned by our buses. Watching five Select Buses go by what used to be a Limited stop makes seniors with limited mobility feel abandoned as they wait for a local bus that never seems to come,” said Kallos in a press release. “Seniors and children live in one-third of the households near 72nd Street and they must be able to rely on bus service to get where they are going.”
Although the community board was in overwhelming favor of both resolutions, the body is simply advisory. The ultimate decision on whether to extend select bus service to East 72nd Street must be made by NYC Transit.
New York, NY – The Department of Transportation has eliminated left turns off York Avenue at 79th Street to make the street crossing safer for pedestrians, in response to advocacy by the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, Community Board 8 Manhattan, and Council Member Ben Kallos.
For seven years East 79th Street and York Avenue had the distinction of being one of the only intersections in the city where red lights would stop cars going South, East and West, but not North, leading to conflicts between pedestrians and speeding vehicles. A frequent vignette would play out multiple times a day, where a pedestrian seeing vehicles stopped in three directions would begin to cross York Avenue at 79th Street, only to be surprised as a vehicle going North, did not stop entering the intersection at high speed, often causing the pedestrian run or jump out of the way.
"Why can't we just pay with our cellphones like you can in so many other places? Why can't you just tap and go as you get on every single entrance of the bus?" said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.
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.
UPPER EAST SIDE — Thousands of locals have signed a petition to add East 72nd Street to the M15 Select Bus Service route along First and Second avenues.
The stop was removed from the M15's express route when the MTAreplaced limited bus service with Select Bus Service along the line six years ago.
Now, residents have to walk to East 68th Street, East 67th Street or up to the East 79th Street stop to catch the Select Bus, a hike they say is difficult for the elderly and disabled. The other option is to wait up to 30 minutes for the local bus, residents said.
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.
New York – On Thursday, the Bus Turnaround coalition held a rally at City Hall to call on the MTA and DOT to undertake sweeping changes to fix bus service, where ridership has been in free-fall for a number of years. At the rally, the coalition released a new website, BusTurnaround.nyc, which features new route-level “report cards” with speed and reliability data for local buses and interactive “ride-along” stories where users can compare the buses NYC has today with the buses we could have if the Turnaround campaign’s practical strategies are implemented.
Dear Chairman Prendergast and Commissioner Trottenberg, Thank you to New York City Transit and Department of Transportation for addressing the previous letters concerning service quality on crosstown buses by implementing Select Bus Service for the M86. I now request that you expand crosstown Select Bus Service to improve service on the M66, M79, and M96.
Each year, the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign evaluates bus service, and grants the “Pokey Award” to the slowest bus line in the City, an honor received on a regular basis by crosstown buses serving my district: the M66 in 2012 at 3.9 MPH and again in 2015 at 3.1 MPH, the M79 in 2014 at 3.2 MPH and the M96 in 2008 at 3.7 MPH. New York City Transit and the Department of Transportation can bring improvements to both bus lines by implementing Select Bus Service that provides off board payments to reduce dwell times in order to move buses faster.
Councilman Ben Kallos opposed the new Citi Bike station last year and plans on working with the DOT to get it moved.
Recently the councilman suggested the agency move it around the corner against Ruppert Park on Second Avenue between East 90th and East 91st streets.
“This is a very uphill battle,” Kallos said. “Citi Bike has not moved very many locations, except to the extent that we’re able to work with the community for minimal changes.”