Riders of the notoriously slow M60 bus route will find their trips a little bit faster next year, whether they’re headed to LaGuardia Airport or into West Harlem.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to implement Select Bus Service on the route, which includes dedicated bus lanes, fewer stops, off-board fare payment for quicker boarding times, and stoplight timing that would prioritize the buses.
M60 buses, which at times move at 2.7 miles per hour down the highly congested 125th Street, would be 12 percent faster after the upgrade, saving “at least five minutes per trip across town, and more to the airport,” according to an MTA statement.
While bus ridership has fallen citywide, the M60 has been an exception to the rule, with ridership increasing by 5.5 percent between April 2011 and April 2012, according to the latest available data. Select Bus Service is only the latest upgrade for the M60 route, which is also getting larger buses between now and January. In addition, the city’s Department of Transportation plans to renovate curbs to increase pedestrian safety along the route.
Straphangers on the M60 said that they welcome the changes. Suzanne Mir, 64, was on her way home from the local green market on Sunday.
“These changes need to happen yesterday,” said Mir, who rides the M60 daily. “Years ago when I waited for the bus, it seemed like they came every few minutes. Now, it isn’t inconceivable for the bus to come every 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes.”
“I live on 125th Street, so I could walk from here ... but I’m not lugging these apples,” she added.
School of International and Public Affairs student Stefana Bosse said that many buses in London, her hometown, have similar features to those of the new Select Bus Service.
“The bus lanes help the traffic flow in other parts, but it also frustrates a lot of the drivers because it takes up so much space,” Bosse said. Still, she added, many Londoners don’t know that they have to buy a ticket before boarding the bus, which “creates a lot of confusion and stress.”
“The London bus system is a mess as well,” she said. “They’re both messes.”