Select Bus Service Coming to 34th Street
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is set to introduce the first phase of Select Bus Service (SBS) along the 34th Street crosstown bus routes in November.
The new service, to be called M34 SBS, will replace the current M34 and M16 service.
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, and a branded, easily identifiable service. Similar service changes have already brought a noticeable improvement in speed, reliability and ridership along the Bx12 SBS on Fordham Road in the Bronx and the M15 SBS along First and Second Avenues in Manhattan. These routes have improved bus speeds by 20 percent and increased total route ridership by 10 percent.
Currently, the M34 and M16 routes spend more than 35 percent of its total trip travel time stopped while customers board. With off-board fare collection, travel time for the M34 will be reduced substantially. M34 and M16 service currently carry over 18,000 passengers on an average weekday primarily along 34th Street which sees high pedestrian volumes with people accessing Penn Station and several subway stations along the corridor.
"About 300,000 people work within ¼ mile of 34th Street, and about 50,000 live within this area, yet bus service experiences significant delays with an average operating speed of only 4.5 mph,' said New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast." Bringing Select Bus Service to this vital corridor will dramatically improve service as it has along the Bx12 and M15 routes, and will accommodate future development that will only increase the number of people that work and live in the area."
"As a result of the installation bus lanes along 34th Street in 2008, ridership has increased more than five percent,' said Department of Buses Senior Vice President Darryl Irick. "If we are able to further reduce travel time through faster boarding and improved fare collection, we can expect an additional increase in ridership of five to ten percent."
Implementation of M34 SBS on 34th Street will not increase bus operating costs and will operate the same hours and frequency as current M34 and M16 service. There will be no reduction in service from the current levels of service. Select Bus Service would have two branches replicating the current M34 and M16 service, relabeled M34 and M34A respectively. The M34 SBS would operate via 34th Street from Twelfth Avenue to the East 34th Street Pier replicating the current M34. The M34A SBS would operate via 34th Street from Ninth Avenue to Second Avenue between West 43rd Street/Ninth Avenue and Waterside Plaza as replicating M16 service.
Bus stops will mirror current stops with some exceptions. In an effort to space the SBS stops more effectively, East Side stops at Lexington and Madison Avenues will be consolidated into one new stop at Park Avenue South. Additionally, a westbound stop at Tenth Avenue was relocated to Dyer Avenue and a lightly used M16 stop on 43rd Street near Ninth Avenue will be consolidated with a stop on Ninth Avenue near 42nd Street. A part-time stop on Ninth Avenue at 38th Street will be discontinued.
The M34 SBS will initially utilize the service schedule comparable to the current service schedules of the M34 and M16. Weekday service will operate from 5:25 a.m. to 1:17 a.m., Saturday service will operate from 4:45 a.m. to 1:11 a.m. and Sunday service will operate from 4:45 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. As with all routes, service levels will be adjusted to bring supply into conformity with demand.
Fare machines will be located at every SBS stop except at the end of the routes where boardings are very few. The Eagle Team fare inspectors will not issue summonses at stops where there are no fare machines.
Fare machines will not be in place at the following locations:
- 11th Av & 34th St (M34 SBS)
- 8th Av & 37th St (M34A SBS)
- 8th Av & 40th St (M34A SBS)
- 23rd St & 1st Av (M34A SBS)
- 23rd St & Av C (M34A SBS)
- 34th St & 1st Av (M34 SBS)
One key element of SBS is dedicated bus lanes. Currently red colored curbside bus lanes are in place on the full extent of 34th Street. NYCDOT will introduce red colored offset bus lanes on much of the route in 2012. Offset bus lanes are located next to the parking lane, instead of next to the curb, reducing blockages and allowing for sidewalk extensions at stops, called bus bulbs. To facilitate deliveries to businesses, there will be loading zones on each block along 34th Street.
New York City Transit and NYCDOT will continue to work closely with the NYPD on bus lane enforcement. NYCDOT has already successfully tested and operated camera enforcement technology on 34th Street and adjudicated violations by taxi drivers. Subsequently the New York State Legislature authorized use of camera enforcement for all vehicles in 2010. Vehicles may enter a bus lane only to make the next available right turn, or to quickly drop off or pick up passengers. Violating bus lane rules results in a $115 -; $150 fine.
In November 2008, testing began on a technology and management system to enable the use of a bus-only signal priority system. After a successful testing period, a turn-signal priority system that gives buses an exclusive signal phase to turn left onto Seventh Avenue was activated.