Request a condition for support of M23 SBS plan
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Transportation Committee for Community Board 6 voted for a resolution in support of the Department of Transportation and NYC Transit’s plan for select bus service along the M23 route, but only on the condition that the proposal reconsider the elimination of bus stops near Peter Cooper Village along the route.
The DOT and NYCT presented the plan to the committee at last month’s meeting and one part of the proposal included consolidating the East 20th Street stops at First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop on the westbound side of the route. The plan would relocate the First Avenue stop closer to the existing Loop stop, to a location between the two but closer to First Avenue.
The proposal argued that the distance between the two stops is short, even for local bus spacing, and the stop at First Avenue would need to be lengthened anyway to install the fare payment machines for Select Bus Service, so consolidating the stops would potentially decrease travel times along the route.
Neighborhood residents at the meeting this month, however, were not convinced that the time saved by eliminating a stop would be worth it. Stuyvesant Town resident and CB6 Transportation Committee member Larry Scheyer argued that this tactic also doesn’t even have the intended effect.
“Previous attempts to speed up service along the route haven’t worked,” he said, referring to the elimination of a stop along the route at Fifth Avenue in 2006. “The bus speed continued to be as fast as pedestrians walking. The extra 400 feet to Madison Avenue added minutes to trips, causing missed connections (with other buses).”
City Councilmember Dan Garodnick also sent a letter to NYCT and the DOT on Monday, urging the agencies to reconsider the elimination of the stops that serve many Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants.
“The surrounding community of 30,000 people already is significantly isolated from mass transit, and with the potential closure of the L train stop at First Avenue looming on the horizon, we should be extremely careful about limiting the alternative connection points on the horizon,” Garodnick said in the letter. “As I understand it, the decision to consolidate stops is based on striking the balance between ridership and the distance between stops. While the ridership at these first stops on the route is slightly lower than other stops, I ask that you also consider that a high percentage of them are senior citizens living in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper.”
Garodnick suggested that a possible solution could be to move the 20th Street stop farther east so there is better spacing between the First Avenue and Avenue C stops.
While the plan to implement Select Bus Service along the M23 is one of the recent attempts to speed up service along the route, NYCT has been struggling with the speed, or lack thereof, on the M23 route for a number of years. The bus was given a “Pokey Award” twice from the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, for being the city’s slowest route, and the route earned a mention in a cheeky New York Times piece titled “Shall We Walk, or Do We Have Time to Take a Bus?” in 2002 when it was runner-up for the slowest bus in the city.