New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

M79 SBS Launch Official Remarks

Thank you to the Department of Transportation’s Manhattan Deputy Borough Commissioner Edward F. Pincar Jr. for being here.

Commutes are getting better on the Upper East Side. The lines that extended half a block on East 79th Street at York and First Avenues are a thing of the past. Waiting five minutes or more just for people to pay and board is no more.

Better commutes means more time working hard or playing hard which means more economic activity, more tax revenue, and more money to invest in public transit a virtuous circle.

Seniors in the neighborhood will be able to board in front with assistance while everyone else uses every other door.

The M79 is an award winning bus line, having the dubious honor of wining the NYPIRG Staphanger’s Campaign Pokey Award in 2014 for the slowest speed with a 3.2 mile per hour crawl, slower than Haraiian Lava flow. According to BusTurnaround.NYC the M79 now goes 4.3 miles per hour, slower than most people walk. No wonder the M79 has lost nearly 20% of its riders since 2010. With 14,660 riders a day we can and must do better.

In 2016, following great results from Select Bus Service implementation for the M86, I requested it for the remaining crosstown routes in my district including the M66, M96 and of course the M79.

Begun in 2008, SBS has been shown to increase reliability of buses and decrease travel times by as much as 30%. Earlier this month DOT released its progress report on the M86 SBS route, illustrating the success of the new route. In addition to a 96% customer satisfaction rating, the report notes that since the M86 SBS was established in July of 2015, ridership on the M86 route has grown by 7% and travel times have decreased by as much as 11%. If the M86 is any indicator I hope to see similar improvements in satisfaction for the M79 for which I get a lot of complaints.

I want to thank Betty Cooper Wallerstein and East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, for her dedication to this issue starting with survey cards and winning improved bus service. Thank you to Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Manhattan Commissioner Luis Sanchez, and Deputy Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar along with MTA for bringing Select Bus Service to 79th Street.

This Select Bus Service is the 13th City Wide and the 7th in Manhattan. I hope we can count on more Select Bus Service in the neighborhood to serve crosstown routes, perhaps the M96 with 15,442 riders can be next?

There may be a rivalry between the East and West sides but we can agree that Select Bus Service is great at connecting us.

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