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PR- 259-10
June 7, 2010


Dedicated Bus-Only Lanes from 125th Street to Houston Street on First and Second Avenues

On-Street Fare Payment, Traffic Signal Priority, Curb Extensions will all Reduce Travel Times

Select Bus Service was a 2009 Campaign Promise

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay H. Walder today announced the start of construction on dedicated bus-only lanes - Select Bus Service - on First and Second Avenues from 125th Street to Houston Street, one of the slowest bus corridors in the city. The new Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenues will benefit 54,000 daily riders of the M15 bus line, which currently takes 90 minutes to travel 8.5 miles between 125th Street and South Ferry - longer than a train ride from New York to Philadelphia. The dedicated lanes also will remove buses from lanes used by passenger vehicles. Bus passengers will be able to pay their fare at on-street machines before boarding, some sidewalks will be extended to allow buses to pick up and discharge passengers without having to exit and reenter traffic, buses will be given traffic signal priority and the new service will make fewer stops than the current M15 Limited. Creating more Select Bus Service routes was one of the Mayor's 2009 campaign promises and is a part of the transportation chapter of PlaNYC. The new service is expected to improve overall travel time by 20 percent. The Mayor, Commissioner Sadik-Khan, and MTA Chairman and CEO Walder were joined by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, City Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick, and Louis Reuter, Sr., Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate at New York Presbyterian Hospital at the announcement on First Avenue in Manhattan.

"Even in these tough fiscal times, we're continuing to implement innovative new ideas that improve New Yorkers' everyday lives," said Mayor Bloomberg. "By working with the MTA - as we promised to do - we can improve the snail's pace of travel significantly for the 54,000 daily riders and finally improve transit options on the East Side."

"The wait for better transit service on the East Side is almost over," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Low-cost changes, such as off-board fare payment, new bus lanes and bus-priority signals, will transform Manhattan's busiest route from an exercise in patience to one of the city's best bus lines. Re-making First and Second Avenues to improve bus service has also given the City the opportunity to improve safety for every type of street user - drivers, pedestrians, transit riders and cyclists." 

"SBS is the real deal, bringing together faster bus boarding, enforced bus lanes and signal prioritization to improve bus service for New Yorkers," said MTA Chairman and CEO Walder. "It's a terrific example of the growing partnership between New York City and the MTA, but we're not stopping there. We're working with the City to make it clear to drivers that bus lanes throughout the City are for buses only, and a new smart card pilot will pave the way for faster boarding on all of our buses."

"With the recent service cuts and completion of the Second Avenue Subway still years away, Select Bus Service will be essential to keep the East Side moving," said Borough President Stringer. "Today's announcement marks the culmination of a year long public process to bring Select Bus Service to the East Side. I am pleased to have facilitated the MTA and DOT's Community Advisory Committee with stakeholders and electeds ranging from the East Village to East Harlem."

"Select bus service will get East Side commuters to their destinations faster and will give riders on the over-crowded 4/5/6 train a reliable alternative down the East Side corridor," said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "Improving the efficiency of our robust local transit system makes our economy stronger and improves the daily lives of thousands of transit-dependent New Yorkers."

"The East Side of Manhattan is regularly snarled with traffic, and moving around is a source of frustration for many," said Council Member Garodnick. "Select Bus Service will go a long way towards easing the strain and will do it with a state-of-the-art bus line that will give residents a taste of the future of city transit."

The lack of transit options on Manhattan's East Side have made the M15 bus on First and Second Avenues the busiest bus route in Manhattan, traveling at less than six miles per hour. The improvement could help increase ridership by more than 10 percent.

The project is designed to maintain traffic flow and accommodate deliveries, drop-offs and short-term parking, as well as improve bicycle access on the East Side. The plan is the product of more than a year of extensive public meetings and outreach, and reflects input from a wide variety of community groups, businesses, hospitals and other institutions throughout the corridor.

Implementation of the bus lanes will begin this month, with street resurfacing starting next week. By October, the dedicated lanes will be completed and in use, while additional improvements continue to be installed. The project is expected to greatly improve safety for pedestrians along the corridor, which reports a high number of injury crashes every year.

The first phase of the project will create dedicated bus lanes from 125th Street to Houston Street along the right side of the street on both First and Second Avenues. Buses will operate in general traffic within the Second Avenue Subway construction zone on Second Avenue between 100th and 68th Streets.

Select Bus Service has been highly successful on Fordham Road in the Bronx, where the first route on the Bx12 was implemented in 2008. Travel times improved by as much as 24 percent and ridership increased by 30 percent.

NYPD enforcement will help keep the dedicated bus lanes clear of vehicles, and taxis will be deterred from using lanes through violations issued by the Taxi & Limousine Commission by using cameras. The City is barred from using cameras to issue violations to motorists using dedicated bus-only lanes, but the Administration has been aggressively seeking the authority utilize cameras to enforce bus-only lanes - a new State law is required to give the City enforcement ability.

Traffic engineering upgrades will also enhance safety along both avenues without compromising mobility. Landscaped pedestrian islands will be installed on First and Second Avenues between Houston Street to 34th Street, creating a safer pedestrian walking environment. Upgrades to the bike network will be installed on First Avenue from 72nd to 125th Streets and Second Avenue from Houston to 14th Streets. New bike lanes will be installed on other areas of First and Second Avenues between Houston and 34th Streets.

Work beginning next week includes milling and paving of First Avenue north of 1st Street followed by the installation of markings and paint delineating the locations of the bus, bike and driving lanes. Parking regulations will be changed as new markings are installed, including adding new space for commercial deliveries. New shelters and fare collection machines will be installed in September, with bus operations slated to begin in October.

The City and MTA will continue community outreach throughout the summer. Phase Two of the project, which will begin in 2011, will include bus priority traffic signals and "bus bulb" curb extensions that will further improve bus lane performance. 

For more information, visit


Stu Loeser / Marc LaVorgna   212) 788-2958

Seth Solomonow (Dept. of Transportation)   (212) 839-4850


Jeremy Soffin (MTA)   (212) 878-7440

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