SBS bus (Photo via Wikipedia)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
State Senator Brad Hoylman introduced legislation on Monday that would allow New York City Transit to use purple flashing lights on SBS buses.
“It’s hard to believe we need Albany approval to change the color of lights on select buses in New York City, but we do,” Hoylman said. “That said, it’s important we pass legislation that enables select buses to use purple colored lights to allow thousands of riders, many of them my constituents, to distinguish from a distance SBS buses from traditional buses, giving riders time determine whether they need to pre-pay the SBS fare or take a local bus. Plus, purple lights won’t cause confusion with emergency vehicles because they don’t use this color.”
The legislation comes about a month after Community Board 6 passed a resolution that supported the return of the flashing lights at the full board meeting on April 9.
Assemblymember Micah Kellner introduced a bill in the State Assembly in March, 2013 to amend vehicle and traffic law and correct the issue. Hoylman’s bill is the same as the one in the Assembly and the legislation would add a new paragraph to the law so that the MTA was permitted to use flashing purple lights for buses on SBS routes. The senator’s district includes significant portions of the M15 SBS route, which runs on First and Second Avenue, as well as the M34 SBS route, which runs crosstown on 34th Street.
Stuyvesant Town resident and CB6 board member Lawrence Scheyer has been a strong supporter of the return of the lights because of the hassle that a lack of lights has caused for both express and local bus riders. Many proponents for the lights have argued that the short warning time for an approaching SBS bus makes the curbside payment system more difficult.
“Especially during long waits for buses on dark and stormy and frigid nights, the first sighting of the SBS bus’ signature twin beacons of blinking light in the in the distance was reassuring to all waiting bus passengers,” Scheyer said. “At major stops where riders wait at different locations for local or Select buses, such early warning provided ample opportunity for everybody, calmly, to pre-pay at curbside kiosks and obtain receipts.”
Flashing lights were utilized on SBS buses from the time they were put into service in 2008 until late 2012. Elected officials from Staten Island pressured then-MTA commissioner Joe Lhota to get rid of the lights, citing confusion with volunteer emergency vehicles and no flashing lights have distinguished the buses since then.