By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Bus stops in Stuyvesant Town along the M23 may be consolidated when Select Bus Service is implemented along the route, Department of Transportation and New York City Transit representatives said last week. The reps from DOT and NYCT discussed the issue at a recent meeting for Community Board 6’s transportation committee, where they also discussed existing conditions for the route for the M23.
Regarding the stops near Stuyvesant Town, NYCT is considering consolidating the stops at East 20th Street/First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop because they are about 450 feet apart, which is short even for local bus spacing, according to NYCT. The two stops are only on the westbound side of the route.
Committee member Gene Santoro argued that consolidating the two stops might not be beneficial for residents who regularly use the M23, specifically because of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper’s population.
“Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are a mixture of older people and younger people with kids,” he said. “I would bet that’s why that stop is there in the first place. (The stop at Avenue C and East 20th Street) is all the way at the river. That’s a longer distance than one city block.”
NYCT representative Elizabeth Thompson said that the M23 was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile, as well as the number of subway connections throughout the route. She added that the bus is particularly slow from First to Third Avenues and the goal of SBS is to reduce travel time.
“We’ve found that the bus is not moving 51 percent of the time,” she said. “It’s either stopped in traffic or at the bus stop.”
DOT representative Eric Beaton noted that 23rd Street is also a priority corridor for Vision Zero, and Beaton said that the variance in the road width has a surprising impact on the number of traffic incidents and collisions along the street.
“The width varies from 52 to 66 feet and there are a number of crashes and safety issues because of these varying conditions due to things like sudden lane changes,” he said.
Committee member Kathleen Kelly inquired about why 23rd Street was picked over 14th, and Beaton clarified that it was not meant as a slight against 14th Street and an SBS route may be considered there in the future. But, he added, “there are certain things on East 14th that might complicate” an SBS route, so 23rd Street is a better candidate for implementation right now.
Anne Greenberg, a resident of Peter Cooper Village who is not on the committee, was at the meeting to express concerns about the speed of buses as they are now, specifically since Chelsea Piers opened on the West Side, and suggested that some of the buses should terminate at Eighth Avenue by the subway and turn them around to head back to the east side. She added that traffic throughout the entire route is extremely problematic.
“On Sunday, I walked from First Avenue to Fifth and the bus was still eight minutes away,” she said. “What am I going to do when I can’t do that anymore?”
The DOT and NYCT will be refining the plan for the M23 SBS through June and plan to implement the project from July through September.