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SBS Brings Better Bus Service to 1st & 2nd Avenues

Manhattan's busiest bus route has received its Select Bus Service (SBS) makeover resulting in shortened travel times along First and Second Avenues. The speedier bus service is facilitated by a more convenient method of fare payment, ease of entry and exit provided by a fleet of new, low-floor buses with three doors and, coming next month, the introduction of bus lane enforcement cameras to catch errant motorists when they block the bus.

Supported jointly by MTA New York City Transit, the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Police Department, Select Bus Service is New York City's version of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) --- an increased-speed, high-performance bus system incorporating off-board fare collection, fewer stops, high-capacity low-floor articulated buses, a branded, easily identifiable service and attractive stations, including a new off-street terminal at South Ferry. Similar service changes have already brought a noticeable improvement in speed, reliability and ridership along the SBS Bx12 on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

SBS M15 service relies heavily on dedicated bus lanes. NYC Transit and the NYC DOT continue to work closely with the NYPD to keep other traffic from using the special lanes which are clearly identified with red terracotta paint and overhead highway-type signs alerting motorists that the lane is off limits. Starting in November, lane enforcement will be supplemented by video cameras, which will record bus lane violations. Last June, the State Legislature passed a bill allowing the NYC DOT and the MTA to use cameras as tools to enforce bus lane traffic regulations on designated SBS routes.

"Partnering with the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Police Department, bringing Select Bus Service to our busiest corridors is already having tangible results," MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder said. "SBS in the Bronx on the Bx12 has improved bus speeds by 20% and increased ridership by 10%. Now with cameras and more lane enforcement in the fold, we will be able to bring even faster and more reliable service to our customers along the M15."

"For high-volume routes, Select Bus Service truly is the bus service of the future and it is here now," said NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast. "We can move more customers more quickly and with the help of our partners at City DOT and the NYPD, buses carrying 80 or more riders are not slowed down by a SUV with only one person on board. Our ability to use cameras to identify bus lane interlopers will be instrumental in giving buses the free movement they need to operate efficiently."

Serving the East Side of Manhattan between E. 126th Street and South Ferry, the M15 carries more than 53,000 riders each day. SBS M15 service replaces the M15 limited, providing a significant upgrade in customers' travel experience. SBS operates over a longer span of time than the M15 Limited. Riders pay their fares prior to boarding the bus, making it possible to enter through any of the three doors eliminating the jam that often occurs at the farebox. Rather than stopping every other block, SBS M15 buses stop approximately every half-mile, only at major intersections, connecting with subway lines and crosstown buses.

As with the SBS Bx12, SBS M15 buses are distinguished by their lively graphics and the flashing blue lights above the windshield of each bus.

"Our experience in the Bronx demonstrates that SBS works," noted Joseph Smith, NYC Transit SVP of the Department of Buses. "Not only does SBS increase bus speeds and efficiency, it also boosts ridership--attracting new riders to what previously had been a slow and undependable service."

Observation of the M15 Limited showed that buses spent more than 20% of their travel time idling in bus stops while customers get on and off. The move to low-floor buses cut down on the time it takes riders to enter and leave buses. Fast, all-door boarding is permitted by the use of proof-of-payment fare payment. Fares are checked randomly by members of NYC Transit's Department of Security who regularly patrol SBS routes.