Select Bus Service Arrives at 34th Street
The new service, called M34 SBS commenced yesterday, and replaced the previous 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, low-floor hybrid-electric 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.
Previously, the M34 and M16 buses spent more than 35 percent of its total trip travel time stopped while customers boarded. With off-board fare collection, travel time for the M34 will be reduced substantially. The old M34 and M16 routes carried 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 past levels of service. Select Bus Service has two branches replicating the old M34 and M16 service, relabeled M34 and M34A respectively. The M34 SBS now operates via 34th Street between Twelfth Avenue / Javits Center and the East 34th Street Pier replicating the old M34. The M34A SBS operates between the Port Authority Bus Terminal / Ninth Avenue at 42nd Street and Waterside Plaza replicating the old M16. It operates on 34th Street between First and Ninth Avenues.
Bus stops mirror previous stops along the routes with some exceptions. In an effort to space the SBS stops more effectively, the Lexington Avenue bus stop has been consolidated with the Third Avenue Stop. and the stop at Madison Avenue was consolidated with the stop at Fifth Avenue. Additionally, a westbound stop at Tenth Avenue was relocated to Dyer Avenue and a lightly used M16 stop on W. 43rd Street near Ninth Avenue was consolidated with a stop on Ninth Avenue near W. 42nd Street. A part-time stop on Ninth Avenue at W. 38th Street was relocated to W. 39th Street.
The M34 SBS will initially utilize the service schedule comparable to the previous 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.
Improved software has been incorporated into fare machines to improve reliability by notifying bus command of problems with MetroCard jams, and paper running out for receipts. The fare machines are 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 terra cotta colored curbside bus lanes are in place on the full extent of 34th Street. NYCDOT will introduce terra cotta 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. New York City Transit currently has six cameras on board buses as part of a pilot for bus lane enforcement. An RFP was recent issued for the installation of on board cameras on 90 more buses along the SBS routes.
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.