New Bronx Bus Saves Time, TSTC Staffer Finds

The following is a first-hand account from Tri-State associate director Veronica Vanterpool:

Yesterday morning, I rode to our Manhattan office aboard the newly launched Bx12 Select Bus Service. As a Bronx resident, I was eager to see how the three-day-old system was working and how bus riders were responding to the change. I boarded at the Bay Plaza Shopping Mall in Co-op City and got off at the last stop, 207th and Broadway.

As to be expected with any change in service, many riders were initially confused by the ticket machines. However, once instructed to insert their Metrocards–by either the helpful bus driver or the customer representatives dispatched to each of the bus shelters along the route–their apprehension eased away as a proof-of-payment ticket came out about a second later.

Most passengers still boarded through the front doors but quickly went to the back when suggested by more experienced riders or the customer representatives. In one case, a long line had formed while passengers waited for a passenger in a wheelchair to be lifted through the front doors, but it quickly dispersed when an exiting passenger told them they could board in the back and not wait.

Some work needs to be done along the bus corridor. As of yesterday, the Fordham Road corridor was the only section with clearly marked red “bus only” lanes and overhead signposts with placards indicating bus lane hours. We passed a painting crew in progress along a part of this corridor.

Fordham Road, a dense shopping district, is one of the most congested areas along the route and it was refreshing to see cars backed up in Fordham Plaza while the bus cruised by in the empty bus lane. However, a few blocks ahead, our smooth sailing was interrupted by a NYCT van and two delivery vans.

I did see several police cars and officers on foot in this area; a pair had stopped a livery cab in the lane. It was difficult to determine which police were enforcing bus lane restrictions and which were on regular police patrol, but a NYCT representative indicated that nearly 100 summons for bus lane violations had been issued on Monday.

Overall, I crossed the East Bronx to the West Bronx in 48 minutes on a ride that averages 65 minutes. Time savings should increase as passengers become more familiar with the payment machine and boarding through back doors — and with vigilant enforcement of bus lanes.

“Double shelter” at Broadway & Isham St, near the west end of Bx12 route.

Images: TSTC.

4 Comments on "New Bronx Bus Saves Time, TSTC Staffer Finds"

  1. Bus rider | July 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm |

    Many kinks still to be ironed out. Odd that there are 5 SBS stops around the Bay Plaza shopping center — yet only 3 stops for the entire stretch of Pelham Parkway. The other stops along that route have a reduction in the number of buses serving those areas and a wait time of half an hour would not be uncommon.

    I recall a previous test of “off-board payment” in lower Manhattan about 15 years ago where bus passengers would walk through turnstiles and wait in an enclosed bus shelter. That trial period lasted a few months — never to be seen again after that.

    I still wonder how the local buses will handle the number of people boarding via the back door — which is all too common at some stops — now that it is being encouraged for the SBS. I am sure some people will be confused, and others taking advantage.

  2. Howard Kelly | July 4, 2008 at 11:52 am |

    I’ve never understood why in the USA we hardly at all utilize the “proof of payment” system on transit. Everywhere I traveled in Europe (through a total of 13 countries), this system was used with much success. Purchasing and validating a ticket on your own time while waiting at the stop saves an immense amount of time for all. Europe also tended to have excellent GPS tracking on their buses, with electronic signs at the stops saying when the next bus on each route would arrive (and accurate too!) If only we could get our systems to that point, they would actually get respect and more use.

  3. Bus rider | July 8, 2008 at 11:40 am |

    I agree that an off-board payment system is a great idea — but to have a mixed system where it is only accepted on some buses but not on others on the same route is a problem. People are complaining after pre-paying for SBS, but a local bus arrives first, and even after it leaves an SBS is still nowhere in sight.

    To those raving about the increased speed of the SBS — keep in mind that all the SBS buses I have seen had substantially fewer passengers than local buses. Is that the way to run a bus system — to have all these buses with just a few passengers? It seems that these buses should be making more stops — such as those Limited stops that were taken away when the SBS replaced the Limited service. The entire stretch of Pelham Parkway has only 3 stops — whereas the Bay Plaza shopping center alone has 5.

  4. The MTA wants to talk about fare evasion? I’ve known several people who’ve gotten on the back of the Bx12 bus with that “proof of purchase” receipt and have used the same one DAYS LATER without NO ONE checking it! How about them apples?! I’m still stuck in traffic at the 207th St. Bridge and they eliminated the Sedgwick Ave. stop, which was very important to Fordham Hill and surrounding area residents! This “Select bus service” is garbage!

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