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The Day | Bus Lanes And Bike Lanes

auburn curlsMichelle Rick

Good morning, East Village.

There’s been a lot of activity in recent days around the subject of transportation and pedestrian safety in the neighborhood and we begin this morning by taking a closer look at some of the recent coverage. DNAinfo has an informative post about five surveillance cameras that have been installed along the M15 bus route on First and Second Avenues.

The cameras will be used to help enforce a ban against vehicles riding in the lanes (exceptions are made for right turns and picking up or dropping off passengers) and drivers are subject to a fine between $115 and $150. Bowery Boogie posted a photo of a group cyclists towing rolling billboards to publicize the violations.

The benefits and drawbacks of bike lanes, a source of much debate in the neighborhood, is the subject of a piece in The Times. And over at City Room, they want to hear from readers – few New Yorkers are as well-versed in this issue as we are here in the neighborhood so go ahead and weigh in.

Examining M15 Bus Line Changes

Amid news that the MTA is working to improve efficiency on the M15 bus line, The Local East Village offers a special report on recent changes to the route. In the video above, NYU Journalism’s Alexandra DiPalma asks riders who use the service for their assessment of the changes. Bill Millard, a community contributor who frequently writes about transportation issues, offers an analysis below of whether the new system is achieving its goals.

Select Bus Service isn’t quite bus service as New Yorkers know it; it’s more a cross between buses and light rail. Like every transit innovation, it takes some getting used to. Adjusting to it boils down to three ideas: treat it like a train, stay out of the lane, and don’t expect miracles overnight.
Read more…

Plan Aims To Improve M15 Bus Service

M15 Select at 1st AveLaura Kuhn After major changes last month along the M15 bus route, MTA officials are putting new measures in place this week to improve efficiency along the line.

Last week, the MTA entered the second phase of service changes to the M15 select bus line. The move came about two weeks after changes to the First and Second Avenue express line that require riders to purchase their tickets before climbing aboard.

At first, reactions to the changes ranged from skepticism to downright anger but now the MTA is making adjustments that it believes will improve service. “Initially there was definitely confusion,” said Kevin Ortiz, spokesman for the MTA. “But we’ve had personnel to show riders how to use the machines.”

This week the MTA shifts its focus from educating riders about the new line to improving its efficiency. While cutting the number of employees helping riders at individual stations, the MTA has added three buses to its fleet of about 40 on the line. Additionally it installed an undisclosed number of cameras that will issue traffic tickets through the mail to cars and other vehicles parked in the bus-only lanes along First and Second Avenues.
Read more…

New Bus Service Hits A Few Bumps

M15Laura Kuhn Isaac Lankin prepares to board the new M15 Select Service. Some riders have complained about the new payment system.

The M15 bus line that runs up First Avenue and down Second Avenue started its Select Service on Sunday with much fanfare from the MTA and an equal degree of anticipation from customers.

But if the early days of the new service are any indication, the new system is a long way from offering the easy use that transit officials predicted.

With the new service, riders now pay fares – using coins or a Metrocard – at street machines. Instead of swiping Metrocards while boarding the bus, riders present receipts to the driver.

The idea is to save time not only by pre-collecting the fares but also by making fewer stops (only two each way in the East Village) and using an express lane.

But the system has already hit a few bumps. Despite the intermittent presence of MTA officials on the street, some riders were having trouble using the machines.

On Sunday, one man, who declined to give his name, had to insert his payment into the machines three times before receiving his receipt, only to realize the bus had left without him at 14th and Second. He stood muttering on the sidewalk while the bus heaved down the street without him.

Other riders were furious about confusing rules regarding transfers. Some worried about stops that had apparently been moved (“They changed my stop,” said one rider, Gwen Trombley, as she stood at First Avenue and 14th Street Tuesday afternoon. “I was waiting at Houston and the stop moved up to Second.”)

And already some riders were trying to figure out a way to manipulate the receipt process, which largely relies on an honor system (as one rider, Syd Lazarus, put it, “This is New York”).

Despite the $150 fine for fare jumpers, riders noted that it would be easy not to pay, especially because they can also enter at the back of the bus. “You just show your receipt,” said another rider, Isaac Lankin, as he waited for the local line at a stop on 14th Street and Second Avenue. “You could keep it for a week.”

Regardless of the complaints, some riders saw parallels between the learning curve for the new system and another new process implemented by the MTA not long ago. “It’s exactly like the Metrocard,” said rider David Lukomnik, a neighborhood resident since the 1960s. “At first everybody was still using change and it would take 20 minutes to get on the bus. But, eventually they all learned.”

What do you think of the new M15 bus service?