Select Bus Service has arrived on S79

The distinctively wrapped Select Bus Service or SBS buses began providing passenger service along the S79 Sunday, ushering in a new type of service for Staten Island. The new service, which features four miles of dedicated bus lanes and fewer stops, will mean faster and more reliable bus service for thousands of daily Staten Island commuters looking to reach the Staten Island Mall or to transfer to the 86th St - Bay Ridge R Subway station in Brooklyn.

After months of preparation, Select Bus Service is now operating along S79  route between Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Photo by Ted Orosz, NYC Transit:
Customers board Bay Ridge - 86th St bound SBS S79 at Staten Island Mall

Ted Orosz, Director of Long Range Bus Planning for NYC Transit says customers were prepared for the change. "Our customers know a good thing when they see it, and in this case they can see and feel the difference in the amount of time their trips take," said Orosz. But Orosz admits the true test will take place in the coming days as more riders return from vacation, and school opens on Thursday.

This new Select Bus route is the fourth introduced since 2008 when the Bx12, which runs along Fordham Road, became the first Select Bus line in New York City.  The Bx12 was joined by the M15 on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan in 2010; and on the M34 along 34th Street in Manhattan last November. These services have each reduced bus travel times by approximately 20-percent and increased ridership by almost 10-percent.

Unlike other Select Bus Service routes, the new SBS S79 will not employ off-board fare collection, as boarding times were determined not to be a primary cause for bus delays. The new S79 service does streamline the number of stops from 80 to just 22 along the 16-mile route, which runs from the Staten Island Mall on Richmond Avenue and crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. About 4,000 of the S79's current passengers travel to or from the route's two endpoints alone and the new service will provide for free transfers to commuters using the R Subway train in Bay Ridge.

Local service to bypassed stops will be retained on the S59 and S78 lines. Local and express bus routes along Hylan Boulevard served 32,000 riders last year, amounting to one quarter of the borough's 123,000 bus riders. This new service is expected to reduce travel times along the S79 route by more than 18 percent – from about 80 minutes to 65 minutes – and up to a 16 percent decrease – 13 minutes – in travel times for other buses along the Hylan Blvd corridor. Additional bus routes along the corridor will also benefit from the dedicated bus lanes and improved signal timing implemented for this project.

New left-turn lanes have also been added to the route, as have five new pedestrian refuge islands, seven new bus shelters, as well as improved concrete bus areas to prevent wear on street pavement and sidewalks to make getting to and from the bus stop safer and more convenient. Four miles of new red bus lanes have been painted and over a mile of the Hylan Boulevard has been resurfaced from curb to curb, benefiting bus passengers and drivers alike.

All express and local bus lines can use the new dedicated lanes, which will speed up service for thousands of additional bus riders in Staten Island. Private vehicles may enter the lane only to make right turns or to quickly pick up and drop off passengers, with the goal of reducing lane-changing that currently slows traffic along Hylan Boulevard. Emergency vehicles, school buses and sanitation vehicles also are permitted to use the bus lanes. Except for a few short portions of the route that will remain restricted to buses at all times, all vehicles can use the bus lanes during non-weekday rush hour times.

In 2007, the Department of Transportation installed Traffic Signal Priority on Staten Island's Victory Boulevard, which extends green lights or shortens red lights for approaching buses. Next spring, Transit Signal Priority will also be installed along the S79 line, ensuring buses stop at fewer traffic lights and further enhancing bus service in the borough.

For more information on SBS on the S79, click here.