By Sabina Mollot
After months of planning — and a canceled plan to remove a Stuyvesant Town bus stop — Select Bus Service has come to 23rd Street.
SBS buses have sped up service by 10-30 percent, according to the mayor who made the announcement via a press release on Monday. The news was cheered by local elected officials, who pointed out that the M23 has been one of the city’s slowest buses, even twice winning the annual Straphangers Campaign’s Pokey Award for the slowest route.
“My constituents agree: the M23 is one of the slowest bus routes in the city and it’s often faster to walk than take the bus,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.
State Senator Liz Krueger said the SBS couldn’t come at a more needed time: ahead of the dreaded L-pocalypse.
The SBS is different than regular buses in that the fare is paid ahead of time, there are dedicated bus lanes along the routes and there is real-time passenger information at totems along the routes. Buses have three doors, an SBS blue logo and blue flashing lights.
Bus lane cameras were activated on Sunday to make sure lanes are kept clear for the buses. The mayor said warnings will be issued for the next 60 days, but after that anyone else in the lane is risking a summons.
According to city data, along with speeding up bus routes, SBS has also led to a reduction in crashes, and the mayor is committed to having 20 SBS routes.
Last spring, when the MTA proposed implementing SBS on 23rd Street, the agency had wanted to consolidate two bus stops along Stuyvesant Town. However, neighbors protested the move, arguing the loss of one stop would be a hardship for seniors.
Along with the bus stop issue another bus concern has already been resolved. Initially a fare station had been installed at the northeast corner of First Avenue and 20th but not that close to the bus stop. It’s since been moved to a more convenient spot at the corner on the greenstreet.
Council Member Dan Garodnick, who’d pushed for the move, said the ticket machine went right onto a three-foot-wide spot where “for some reason nothing was able to grow” along with a pedestrian area.
He added,“It looks much better now.”
Another related issue was noted by Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, who said residents have been wondering what happened to a bench that had been at the corner alongside Petite Abeille restaurant. The seating disappeared a couple of months ago without an explanation.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told Town & Village it was removed to make room for the SBS fare machine, or rather where it was originally placed.