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.