Riders Question Number Of M15 Stops

M15 Select at 1st AveLaura Kuhn Some riders who use the M15 bus line wonder if more stops in the East Village should be added to the route. Currently, the bus makes two stops either way in the East Village, one at Houston Street and the other at 14th Street.

One recent evening, Tanya Garrett stood at the corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue counting with frustration the number of M15 select service buses that blew past her as she waited for a local.

“I probably missed the last local bus and now I’m going to wait here forever,” Ms. Garrett said Wednesday as she watched another select bus approach, its blue lights flashing.

“They have a million of those select buses going by,” Ms. Garrett said. “It’s uncalled for.”

Since its launch in October, the M15 select bus service – which runs express routes along First and Second Avenues – has promised riders faster commutes by featuring fewer stops, designated bus-only lanes and a pay-before-boarding system that requires users to purchase tickets prior to getting on at street machines.

But for some customers like Ms. Garrett, who lives four blocks away from the nearest select bus stop, the new service has only made the ride home more difficult.

“The select doesn’t stop at my stop,” she said. “I’m stuck with the local. They need to have more locals running. They don’t need all those select buses. They come back to back and you have to stand here and wait for a local forever.”

Making two stops either way in the East Village, one at Houston and the other at 14th Street, the new select bus line has been a point of both praise and criticism as riders continue to acclimate themselves with the service.

There are no plans to add more stops to the select routes, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told The Local. He emphasized the faster commutes afforded by the new service and said that according to MTA figures the select line has managed to trim up to 16 minutes off rush hour travel between 126th Street and South Ferry Station.

However, with fewer stops comes greater frustration for some East Village riders, who believe their needs have been overlooked for the sake of more rapid transit.

“They can’t blow over the East Village,” said Christopher Charles, 66, a rider waiting for the M15 local at Second Avenue and St. Marks. “They have to have more than two stops. You used to be able to get on at Eighth Street and then go up to 14th Street. That was OK. Now it is too far.”

Street machinesKathryn Kattalia Some riders appreciate the faster commutes along the select bus line; according to the MTA, rush hour commutes on the new service can be as much as 16 minutes faster than its predecessor. Above: Sidewalk ticket machines along the route.

“They need to have more stops lower than 14th Street to Allen Street,” said Mary Blanchard as she got off an M15 at Second Avenue and 14th Street. “There should be as many as there were on the limited before.”

Not all of the response has been negative. One rider, Kevin Kelley, said he enjoys a noticeably faster commute.

“I’ve been using the express bus a lot,” Kelley, 36, said. “It’s great. You can go 20 blocks in a couple minutes. It seems like it’s pretty well planned out.”

Richard Bennett, 47, who takes the bus to his job at the ConEd plant on 14th Street, said that one of the biggest differences that he enjoys with the new service is the reduced crowds.

“I take the bus because it’s less crowded,” Mr. Bennett said. “But time wise, it’s about the same.”

Still, Mr. Ortiz said, there are some who have told the MTA that they are displeased over the service.

“There’s still a local service,” Mr. Ortiz said. “It hasn’t been curtailed. If you’re hopping on a bus to go four blocks, you’re better off waiting for a local.”

But for customers like Michelle Kurtz, 50, who lives on Fourth Street — four blocks away from the nearest select bus stop — waiting for the local can sometimes take up to 40 minutes.

“I used to take the M15, both the local and the limited,” Ms. Kurtz said, waiting for the local bus at 14th Street and Second Avenue. “But now with all the changes and having to wait so long, I take the train even though I hate the train.”

Join the conversation: Do you think there should be more M15 select bus stops in the East Village?