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Downtown Express: M15 riders in for a quicker commute Downtown


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M15 riders in for a quicker commute Downtown

 

By Robert Voris

 

The accordion-style M15 Limited bus was nearly full at 12:20 on Tuesday afternoon when it left the Allen Street stop, just below Houston. Twenty minutes later it arrived at its destination, City Hall, one-and-a-quarter miles away. The MTA bus map estimates that a person could walk that distance in about twenty-three minutes, meaning that the riders on that bus saved only three minutes for their $2.25.

 

That is the reasoning behind the Department of Transportation’s recent decision to extend “transit signal priority” to buses along the M15 route, as part of its Select Bus Service (SBS) from 125th Street to South Street Ferry. Signal priority allows bus drivers to change the lights in front of them in order to reduce time spent idling in traffic. A similar program along Fordham Road in the Bronx has reduced travel time by 20 percent, according to a January presentation by the MTA and DOT.

 

“If it worked and made the buses quicker, that would be great,” said Nancy Cronkite, 61, as she waited for the M15 at the Stanton Street stop. Cronkite uses the bus to commute to her job as a yoga instructor on 86th Street. She said that the trip took anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the traffic.

 

Though the Select Bus Service will entail street re-designs along most of its route, the impact below Houston is muted, with new SBS stops at the intersections of Oliver and Madison Streets, Grand and Allen Streets and Houston and Allen Streets the only planned changes for Downtown.

 

That was welcome news to Manolo Urena, 34, who was unloading a truck full of Dow gas lines at Grand and Allen on Tuesday. Urena said the recent redesign of Broadway had caused extra traffic and decreased the availability of parking. He said he normally could accomplish six or seven deliveries in an hour, but that number would drop to four or five if he got stuck on Broadway.

 

“It’s like ‘Survivor’ out here, you just do what you gotta do to get the job done,” he said. “But it helps when they don’t change things on you.”

 

Kay, the driver of the M15 bus that navigated Downtown’s busy streets on Tuesday afternoon, said that she is delayed on her route about 25 percent of the time. She said the signal priority would be helpful, but that the knots of traffic and delivery trucks downtown were a bigger problem below Houston than red lights.

 

“It only takes one truck to create a catastrophe,” Kay, who declined to give her last name because she was still on duty, said.

 

Ro Sheffe, a Community Board 1 member, said that the Select Bus Service was “kind of a no-brainer.” He said the loss of parking spaces that would result from the new stops would be more than offset by the new ease with which people could move through Downtown.

 

“I have yet to see anything that even resembles a downside to this,” Sheffe said. “Any improvement, I don’t care if it’s oxcart transport, to allow people to move between downtown and uptown, I’m for that.”

The traffic in the Chinatown area is sickening. By the way, will enforced lanes be used in the downtown area for the M15 SBS?

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The traffic in the Chinatown area is sickening. By the way, will enforced lanes be used in the downtown area for the M15 SBS?

 

No. South of Houston St, there will not be bus lanes, but there will be the pay-before-boarding system. Not sure if there will be transit signal priority,

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The traffic in the Chinatown area is sickening. By the way, will enforced lanes be used in the downtown area for the M15 SBS?

 

I doubt it, those lanes would also interrupt express bus travel, considering bus stops between the M9-M15, BM1-4, QM1/A/11/24 are not that far apart from each other. But we'll have to wait and see I suppose. Although in the M15 +SBS+ plans, bus lanes were not supposed to be made South of Houston, it would be nice if they repaved the roads though. Allen Street took a beating this past winter. We'll have to wait and see.

 

What I'm worried about is the Allen Street Corridor layout, since they made the bike lane with signal priority along that area, the traffic has gotten so much more worse. Parking is also another big thing along that street which makes the situation no better along with the annoyingly slow double decker tour buses.

 

Two days ago, there were a few express buses rerouted via Allen Street. The traffic heading uptown along Allen Street gets so bad because of the new signal system, that light changes too fast and it causes too much traffic issues along that area.

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I doubt it, those lanes would also interrupt express bus travel, considering bus stops between the M9-M15, BM1-4, QM1/A/11/24 are not that far apart from each other. But we'll have to wait and see I suppose. Although in the M15 +SBS+ plans, bus lanes were not supposed to be made South of Houston, it would be nice if they repaved the roads though. Allen Street took a beating this past winter. We'll have to wait and see.

 

What I'm worried about is the Allen Street Corridor layout, since they made the bike lane with signal priority along that area, the traffic has gotten so much more worse. Parking is also another big thing along that street which makes the situation no better along with the annoyingly slow double decker tour buses.

 

Two days ago, there were a few express buses rerouted via Allen Street. The traffic heading uptown along Allen Street gets so bad because of the new signal system, that light changes too fast and it causes too much traffic issues along that area.

While aesthetically the Pike-Allen Street project looks nice, it only favours the cyclists. The light for east-west travel is fast for pedestrians. Most of them could only make it to the median. That project is a sad waste of money, all of those lights confuse people. Oh yeah, you have new left turn lanes, but at the same time, it restricts the number of cars up and down the north-south corridor (and slows them down too).

 

I do agree with the fact that it will affect other buses. Eastern Bus currently parks between Division and East Broadway at Pike, and a bus lane would probably annoy the living bejeezus out of them, or they might use the bus lane for their purposes.

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The traffic in the Chinatown area is sickening. By the way, will enforced lanes be used in the downtown area for the M15 SBS?

 

MTR good job with article. In future (who said at one point will sue English Teacher in College if he spells Harbor the British way "Habrour" and loses points on a college paper lol) please list the newspaper article link in future. Thanks

 

At least we know that overdue SBS M15 bus service on the East Side is finally very close to happening.

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MTR good job with article. In future (who said at one point will sue English Teacher in College if he spells Harbor the British way "Habrour" and loses points on a college paper lol) please list the newspaper article link in future. Thanks

 

At least we know that overdue SBS M15 bus service on the East Side is finally very close to happening.

I'm flexible with the spelling issue. There's no rule here saying you can't spell in British English or what not, right? As long as people here can understand. If colleges have that rule to spell in American spelling, then it is of my obligation to adhere to them. On AP essays, I switch back to Am. spelling and so on, I reserve Brit. spelling for other purposes.

 

Anyway, back to the topic: yes it is very close to happening. IIRC, the project is in its late design/engineering phases. Very soon, they will work on the signals, reconfigure First and Sec Avenues and install the SBS shelters and fare collection media. I'm very sure that the NYCT and the MTACC will collaborate to offer maximum SBS service along 2nd Avenue and not hamper on the SAS construction efforts.

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For a long time, the city did not want these special lights that can be changed remotely, since there are remotes online that people can buy to change the lights for themselves. I wonder how secure these new lights are, and if emergency vehicles can change them as well as the buses.

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While aesthetically the Pike-Allen Street project looks nice, it only favours the cyclists. The light for east-west travel is fast for pedestrians. Most of them could only make it to the median. That project is a sad waste of money, all of those lights confuse people. Oh yeah, you have new left turn lanes, but at the same time, it restricts the number of cars up and down the north-south corridor (and slows them down too).

 

I do agree with the fact that it will affect other buses. Eastern Bus currently parks between Division and East Broadway at Pike, and a bus lane would probably annoy the living bejeezus out of them, or they might use the bus lane for their purposes.

 

I also think the project was useless, but it does have its advantages from a photographer's point of view so I can't really complain. I always take advantage of the bike lanes when getting photos. The whole project in itself made the Grand-Delancey portion of Allen Street just crawl, never was like that before.

 

All the private companies would use the bus lane as an excuse to park their buses along the lane, blocking the bus stop/+SBS+ bus stop. Eastern just goes, gets their passengers and move out, it would be nice for them to have their own little curbside bus stop. The company that parks by Grand & Allen takes up the entire bus stop, they've gotten stopped by cops several times and had a bus or two towed because of that.

 

Another thing that had me thinking about the corridor layout was the horrendously slow tour buses that navigate through there. They make the traffic even worse.

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I also think the project was useless, but it does have its advantages from a photographer's point of view so I can't really complain. I always take advantage of the bike lanes when getting photos. The whole project in itself made the Grand-Delancey portion of Allen Street just crawl, never was like that before.

 

All the private companies would use the bus lane as an excuse to park their buses along the lane, blocking the bus stop/+SBS+ bus stop. Eastern just goes, gets their passengers and move out, it would be nice for them to have their own little curbside bus stop. The company that parks by Grand & Allen takes up the entire bus stop, they've gotten stopped by cops several times and had a bus or two towed because of that.

 

Another thing that had me thinking about the corridor layout was the horrendously slow tour buses that navigate through there. They make the traffic even worse.

I really can't blame the tour buses because there are relatively few streets in Lower Manhattan that lead to north-south streets. Pike and Allen are fairly wide compared to Bowery which always gets clogged up in traffic. Hence there is some rationale into why tour buses might want to use the Pike-Allen corridor. Arguably, one can say that they could use Essex, which leads to Ave A. But Essex is much more narrower than Pike and Allen.

 

Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan have no brains, along with their biker-friendly "urban planners". They screwed up one of the most important corridors in the Lower East Side-Chinatown area by installing those left turn lanes and the bike lane. What it does is decrease the number of lanes. However, the number of cars are NOT decreased. Where the hell are you going to put the cars so that you don't create a traffic crisis? Also, there is like one left turn lane for like every other street. There is a left turn lane at East Broadway, another one at Division. And those two streets are less than 200 feet apart. Are they really necessary? I mean, I understand the rationale with the Manhattan Bridge feeder route, but limiting traffic is not the right way to address the area's traffic problems.

 

As with the Chinese bus industry: while it is reasonable to have inexpensive bus services to destinations along the Eastern Coast and even the Midwest and the South (they have buses to Toledo, Ohio and there's one or two to Chicago, another one at Division takes customers to TN), there should be some limit on them. It's great to have them around, because New York needs tourism, on the other hand, when it conflicts with general traffic, it can yield to undesirable consequences.

 

A possible reason why the SBS planning project did not want a stop at Division Street is probably due to Eastern Bus. And I do agree. Those drivers have poor road ettiquette. If they see a lane reserved for public buses and they dare to pick up on that lane. That's why the bike lane shifted to the median rather than running on the side of the road. The private buses also jockey for space on regular thoroughfares. Look at East Broadway for example. The street was recently reduced to (literally) one and a half lanes because of that bike lane. And yet, more private buses roll in and out of that street.

 

Seriously, I think the buses should GTFO and find some other street to park in. A bus terminal may be too far-fetched, but this explosive growth in private bus traffic will be detrimental to the neighbourbood.

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hey while there at it they should make a M5+SBS+

They are planning to upgrade service along the Fifth and Madison corridor later (in a 5 year timeframe?), but not the 5th and 6th.

 

This service upgrade would mean signal priority for sure. There will be lanes as well. But I doubt there will be spaced out stations.

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I really can't blame the tour buses because there are relatively few streets in Lower Manhattan that lead to north-south streets. Pike and Allen are fairly wide compared to Bowery which always gets clogged up in traffic. Hence there is some rationale into why tour buses might want to use the Pike-Allen corridor. Arguably, one can say that they could use Essex, which leads to Ave A. But Essex is much more narrower than Pike and Allen.

 

Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan have no brains, along with their biker-friendly "urban planners". They screwed up one of the most important corridors in the Lower East Side-Chinatown area by installing those left turn lanes and the bike lane. What it does is decrease the number of lanes. However, the number of cars are NOT decreased. Where the hell are you going to put the cars so that you don't create a traffic crisis? Also, there is like one left turn lane for like every other street. There is a left turn lane at East Broadway, another one at Division. And those two streets are less than 200 feet apart. Are they really necessary? I mean, I understand the rationale with the Manhattan Bridge feeder route, but limiting traffic is not the right way to address the area's traffic problems.

 

As with the Chinese bus industry: while it is reasonable to have inexpensive bus services to destinations along the Eastern Coast and even the Midwest and the South (they have buses to Toledo, Ohio and there's one or two to Chicago, another one at Division takes customers to TN), there should be some limit on them. It's great to have them around, because New York needs tourism, on the other hand, when it conflicts with general traffic, it can yield to undesirable consequences.

 

A possible reason why the SBS planning project did not want a stop at Division Street is probably due to Eastern Bus. And I do agree. Those drivers have poor road ettiquette. If they see a lane reserved for public buses and they dare to pick up on that lane. That's why the bike lane shifted to the median rather than running on the side of the road. The private buses also jockey for space on regular thoroughfares. Look at East Broadway for example. The street was recently reduced to (literally) one and a half lanes because of that bike lane. And yet, more private buses roll in and out of that street.

 

Seriously, I think the buses should GTFO and find some other street to park in. A bus terminal may be too far-fetched, but this explosive growth in private bus traffic will be detrimental to the neighbourbood.

 

Originally from what I understand, a majority of the Allen Street private companies were supposed to start/end at Canal Street & Bowery or around that sector. Eastern used to terminate there but then moved over to Allen Street along with a few other companies, Fung Wah took over the spot at Bowery & Canal when they used to go to Chatham Square years ago.

 

If they were to streamline the companies along Allen Street, I would think they would make those places at least 1 - 2 blocks away from the M15 bus stops, or move some of the companies over to the Canal/Bowery or Canal/Chrystie areas. One private company goes by the park for pickups & dropoffs, which is a brilliant idea from what i've seen. Moving some of the buses along the Chrystie Street area would ease up issues along Allen Street & The M15

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Originally from what I understand, a majority of the Allen Street private companies were supposed to start/end at Canal Street & Bowery or around that sector. Eastern used to terminate there but then moved over to Allen Street along with a few other companies, Fung Wah took over the spot at Bowery & Canal when they used to go to Chatham Square years ago.

 

If they were to streamline the companies along Allen Street, I would think they would make those places at least 1 - 2 blocks away from the M15 bus stops, or move some of the companies over to the Canal/Bowery or Canal/Chrystie areas. One private company goes by the park for pickups & dropoffs, which is a brilliant idea from what i've seen. Moving some of the buses along the Chrystie Street area would ease up issues along Allen Street & The M15

The earliest buses in Chinatown were the casino buses. And they usually hung out at Bowery and Division Street. Fung Wah became the first long distance Chinatown to Chinatown bus route, followed by waves of new operators.

 

I'm not quite sure if this is true, but these are all from observations: Fung Wah caters to the Cantonese people and the white tourists. That part of Chinatown is more popular with the Cantonese people (close to Canal, Mott and Grand). Also, it is near the bridge and I believe they use the bridge to get up to Boston.

 

Today's Bus operated to Philadelphia exclusively. They now operate to D.C., to pick up on the market. Philadelphia has a large Fukienese enclave, and many Fukienese people live around the East Broadway area. Originally they were based out of Forsyth between Division and East Broadway. Three years ago, they got booted out because they were interfering with traffic, since SEVERAL operators started to base their services out from there. Hence they began to base out of East Broadway between Pike and Rutgers. Today's Bus is now located at Allen and Canal, I believe.

 

The Fukienese community is growing in other states, which is why there are buses to other states. Hence it is not surprising to see buses to the Midwest and the South. And it is not surprising why they are situated in areas that predominantly speak Fukienese.

 

This proliferation of bus growth has infuriated many locals, especially truck drivers and private car drivers, who now have to jockey for space. City bus drivers are equally pissed with them. Yet, there seems to be no limit for their growth. Bloomberg should not think about adding bike lanes in a competitive Chinatown, but should find ways to limit bus growth so that local buses and private cars and PEDESTRIANS could move about quickly.

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I used New Century back in 2008 when I went to Philadelphia. Overall, it was a decent ride but there was a pleasant surprise in the restroom. Only about 1/3 of the ridership was Asian.

 

As for Select Bus Service, the difference will be marginal at best. However, most bus riders probably know that the bus isn't the quickest way to travel in Manhattan. Nevertheless, I can't wait to take pics of the Nova LFSA's.

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I used New Century back in 2008 when I went to Philadelphia. Overall, it was a decent ride but there was a pleasant surprise in the restroom. Only about 1/3 of the ridership was Asian.

 

As for Select Bus Service, the difference will be marginal at best. However, most bus riders probably know that the bus isn't the quickest way to travel in Manhattan. Nevertheless, I can wait to take pics of the Nova LFSA's.

New Century from around 2000 to say 2005 or 2006 had a large Asian clientele. It was only recently that other folks started to use the buses at a large number.

 

On the subject of SBS, it may not be marginal. It really has to depend on the performance of the bus line and public knowledge of the line itself. It's definitely not going to be a "subway" on the surface, however it will offer a quicker ride for some. Of course, it's not going to be the fastest way to get around in Manhattan, that honour has to go to the subway. Nor will it take away riders from the Lex lines. However, if people are not educated about SBS and what it does, then there will be a mixed reaction.

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New Century is the one that needs to move out of its current spot, Grand & Allen street. It cripples the M15 and makes the traffic situation worse.

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New Century is the one that needs to move out of its current spot, Grand & Allen street. It cripples the M15 and makes the traffic situation worse.

And THAT location is going to be the location of the Grand Street SBS station. They could base themselves at Delancey (between Bowery and Allen) for all I care, but areas like Allen and East Broadway and other streets are a no-go for long distance coaches.

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Second Av gonna have it all. M15 SBS and the SAS

Not necessarily. When the entire SAS will open (all four phases) there would be no incentive to run the SBS. By then, the buses would be transferred to another line or yard that would require them. It will run simultaneously with the SAS when it is not finished (such as only P1 and P2 are done, not P3 or 4).

 

The stop placement mimics where the future SAS stations would be. If you look at the SBS map, almost all of the stations have counterparts. For example, the Chinatown SBS stop is merely two or three blocks from the proposed Chatham Sq Station.

 

Vancouver had a B-line bus route along Granville Street (counterpart to the SBS), this was subsequently replaced by the Canada Line when that opened. There's no need to have duplicated services.

 

Considering the MTA, I would doubt that it will run two similar services simultaneously. Even I wouldn't. It may go back to the LTD thing. But I can't be too sure.

I wonder how will M15 SBS will collect fare when NYC Marathon takes place?

I do know for fact that the M15 is rerouted along Third Avenue during the marathon for a duration of its route. If SBS is not suspended during that time, what they would probably do is have on-board fare collection on Third Avenue. But because there would be an increased volume of traffic, I doubt SBS would run at all. Besides, it's only a one-day thing.

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