Photo of passengers boarding the M79 via MTA.

By Mark Bollettieri

The MTA plans to bring Select Bus Service to the M79 next year to speed service, the agency said last week, but one stop will have to be removed.

Select Bus Service means that passengers purchase their ticket at the bus stop and can board the bus without having to swipe their ticket. It also increases the amount of dedicated bus-lanes and gives busses traffic signal priority. In general, the service has sped up boarding and travel times.

The MTA and the city Department of Transportation presented the plans to last week at a community board transportation committee meeting. Robert Thompson, Long Range Bus Service Manager at the MTA, and Julie Schipper, Community Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Transportation, gave a joint presentation in which they outlined the success of the M86 select bus service and their revealed their timeline for implementation on the M79 line. We’ve posted their full presentation below.

After the service was implemented on the M86 line, route ridership increased 7% in 11 months and travel times were reduced by nearly 10%. Customer satisfaction is at 96%. Thompson and Schipper were hopeful that similar results would be achieved on the parallel M79 route.

Some members of the community board were concerned that SBS, which doesn’t require the rider to swipe their card or present their ticket to the driver, would increase fare-dodging. Thompson countered that SBS actually increases the percentage of riders who pay full fare. On a normal route, those who don’t wish to pay simply enter through a back door or walk past the driver, usually without penalty. With SBS, if the team of ticket-inspectors finds a fare-dodger, a large fine is likely.

In order to implement SBS on the M79 route, the stop at 81st street and Amsterdam will be discontinued. The sidewalk there is too narrow to support off-board fare equipment. Riders who use that stop will have to use the one at 79th street and Amsterdam instead.

The MTA and DOT plan to finalize their analysis, develop street design, and begin construction off-board fare equipment this fall. They project that the service will be launched in the spring of 2017.

The community board also voted on other unrelated issues. A quorum was not present, so all votes will be finalized by the full board on the meeting November 1st.

The curb lane, sidewalk, and street closures for the Winter’s Eve festival in Lincoln Square were approved 5-0-0-0.

Lloyd Realty, LLC’s request to construct, maintain, and use a new stoop and fenced-in area at 326 West 77th Street was approved 5-0-0-0.

The application from 322 Realty Corp. for a revocable consent to construct, maintain, and use a fenced-in planted area at 322 Central Park West was approved 5-0-0-0.

The board did not vote on Mohammad Islam’s application to build a newsstand at the corner of Broadway and West 94th Street. There was concern that the newsstand would obstruct views of the nearby TD Bank ATM vestibule, and the board wishes to inspect the site before putting the matter to a vote.

M79 M86 Presentation by westsiderag on Scribd

NEWS | 26 comments | permalink
    1. Tike Turbley says:

      Great coverage by you guys, always pertinent and clearly expressed.

    2. Diane Park says:

      Salient article on an important issue!

    3. Carolyn says:

      The M60 SBS service is very
      disappointing these days: the
      printed schedule at 106th Street says every 10
      minutes but I’ve waited as long
      as 35 minutes, while 4 empty buses
      and 3 drivers and a dispatcher
      stood around chatting. If the schedule
      has actually changed, riders should
      be notified: I’ve missed several trains’at the Metro North connection on
      125th Street because of reduced
      but unannounced service.

    4. Dkman says:

      Amazing, that they can fit 60 Citibikes into 3 parking spaces, but can figure out how to install a 3 foot ticket machine on 81st street!

      • Judy Harris says:

        the 81st street stop is the one stop I use, and now it will disappear. Thanks a lot.

        • Carlos says:

          Now you will have to walk a few hundred extra feet to the one at 79th and Amsterdam (which is halfway to 80th) or the one at 81 and Columbus. A lot of people walk a lot further to get to a bus and survive. I always wondered why that stop was there to begin with.

        • Leon says:

          Chimps are dying and you are complaining about a longer walk to the bus. How dare you!?!

    5. AC says:

      Eliminating a bus stop will indeed result in faster times. SO why not do that to the existing route; relocate the stops away from the subways (that’s the source of the delay); and use the money on other well needed improvements?

      • Nathan says:

        If you eliminate the subway connections the bus would be much less useful. Sure, it’d be faster, but for who?

      • rk says:

        I assume the subways are the source of the delays because people are transferring to and from the subway and bus, right? Why would you want to make that process harder? Seems that the SBS strategy of three entry doors with prepaid tickets is just the ticket to solve that problem and make the system work better for the commuters.

        • AC says:

          Been riding the subways/buses for about 50 years. As ridership increased on the subways over the last several decades, so has connection(s) to the buses. On this particular route: 79 street/Bway, & 81st/CPW , , , once the bus is ready to leave, a stream of subway passengers start the ‘conga line,’ delaying the bus departure up to 10 minutes (yes, I’ve actually timed it). If the bus stop on Columbus was the primary stop, the block walk for the existing passengers would remove the delay (same if the one on B’way was relocated to WEA).

          I’m up for saving money. Such expenditures on TVM (ticket vending machines) will solely bolster MTA’s excuse for a subway increase Next Spring, 2017. MTA sources are slowly leaking a 7% to 9% increase.

          • B.B. says:

            Am not sure but would guess the large uptick in bus to subway and vice-versa transfers are the result of the free transfers that came into being when Metrocards were introduced.

            The elimination of two fare zones has made commuting and just traveling around Manhattan much easier and cheaper.

            Since we do not have cross-town subway service for the UWS and UES suppose it is the best the MTA can manage.

    6. dannyboy says:

      “Customer satisfaction is at 96%.”

      …someone’s not reading the WSR.

    7. Lois says:

      Is it basically an honor system? You buy a ticket and give it to no one?

      • K8 says:

        Yes, it works mostly on the honor system, although I have actually seen MTA officials board a bus to check people’s tickets on B’way and 123rd or so.

      • Maggie says:

        It’s the way a lot of public transit works in the rest of the world. You get a ticket and hold onto it. Periodically they will send transit cops in plainclothes to check receipts. Got thrown off the M60 once because I couldn’t remember where I’d put mine – luckily found it before I got the ticket, which is expensive, or arrested which I think is an option.

        • dannyboy says:

          “I couldn’t remember where I’d put mine – luckily found it before I got the ticket, which is expensive, or arrested which I think is an option.”

          ..you’re describing a No Trust or Honor system.

      • RK says:

        We were in Toronto this summer (Toronto: like if NYC were run by the Swiss) and the newer streetcars work like this. Except that there’s a machine in the streetcar as well.

        IIRC the San Francisco streetcars work like this as well, which is why you see people hanging off the sides.

    8. Gena says:

      Select buses should have one place to pay INSIDE the bus, so a passenger arriving at the stop just as bus is about to leave can board and pay inside. I have often been faced with the choice of risking a fine or missing the bus.

      • K8 says:

        Yes! We need ticket machines inside the bus in addition to on the sidewalk. My husband and I were just in Eastern Europe, and all the trams worked this way. The machines on the trams were tiny in comparison to the monsters MTA installs on the sidewalk. No idea why those machines have to be so big.

        • Jerry says:

          How many times has the bus not moved while someone standing at the fare box looks for their metrocard? If that person were thinking, they’d already have it out before they boarded the bus. With machines on the street, there’s no excuse since you’re paying before boarding. And, there’s always another bus…

    9. Janine Serual says:

      Deblasio at work for you.

      • B.B. says:

        You do realize mayors of NYC including the current occupant of that office have very little to do with the MTA (a state agency).

        Aside from sending a few members to the MTA board and (some) financial contributions New York City long ago ceded control of New York City Transit to the state/MTA.

        Cuomo had to drag BdeB kicking and screaming then finally resulting to public pressure to get the City to up its financial contributions to the MTA. This when NYC is enjoying vast budget surpluses and has money to throw at various other schemes.

        • West Sider says:

          Counterpoint: why should the city increase its contribution when it’s got essentially no representation on the MTA board? The state has loaded the MTA with more and more debt, and will soon raise fares again to help service that debt. Meanwhile, ridership has soared and service quality has plunged.