Transportation

Hunts Point gets its first Select bus

Photo courtesy of MTA. The new Select BX6.

The BX6 is added to city’s growing fleet of faster bus routes

Nancy Lenberg rides the BX6 bus to commute to school every day. And with the new select bus service on the line, her commute to Bronx Community College has been cut from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. It’s a difference that has made her commute from home to school a lot more pleasant.

“First off, the BX6 is always too crowded!” said Lenberg. “I’ve ridden the select bus for a few weeks now and the buses are much roomier. Its not as congested and it’s a shorter ride.”

The Select BX6 line was recently added to the list of New York City’s Bus Rapid Transit system, an improved bus service offering fast and frequent services for bus routes with a high ridership. Other routes include the B44 and B46 in Brooklyn, added in late 2013.

The BX6 is an interborough route serving close to 25,000 riders daily, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. With the Select BX6 service, the goal is to decrease the number of late buses and delayed schedules, and cut down the estimated 56-minute travel time from Riverside Drive in Washington Heights to Food Center Drive in Hunts Point. The Select BX6 makes fewer stops along the original BX6 route, which travels down East 161st Street and East 163rd Street rather than stopping at every stop, in order to make the trip faster. Riders can get off in the neighborhood at the stops below:
163rd and Intervale Avenue
Hunts Point Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard
Hunts Point Avenue and Garrison
Hunts Point Avenue and Coster
Halleck and Spofford
Halleck and Hunts Point Avenue
Halleck and Viele
Ryawa and Halleck
Food Center Drive and Farragut
Food Center Drive and Hunts Point Market

But the bus only picks up at
163rd and Intervale Avenue
Halleck and Spofford
Food Center Drive and Hunts Point Market

The Select buses require off-boarding fare payment, which means passengers get on the bus more quickly, cutting down travel time. Riders pay their regular $2.75 fare at Select Bus Service kiosks, provided at all select stops. By inserting a MetroCard into the slot, the machine reads the card and processes the payment. The kiosk then dispenses a receipt showing payment for a ride. Riders can board the bus through any door.

Some riders are still adjusting to the off-boarding fare process. Robert Abul, 41, said he went on the bus thinking he was going to insert his MetroCard as usual. The bus driver notified him otherwise.

“It was a bit confusing at first,” said Abul. “I’m used to putting my card in the slot on the bus so when the driver told me different I was surprised.” Abul said he finds it will be more convenient in helping speed up the bus’ travel time.

The Select bus also features new station amenities such as seating, real-time passenger information to track the buses, and improvements for pedestrian safety. For accurate time updates, each station provides a GPS tracker that allows passengers to track the bus based on their estimated arrival time. In addition, benches are provided for more comfortable wait time.

Although riders seem to be adjusting to the changes of the new bus route, there are still issues that are being adjusted through trial and error.

Select buses have signal priority and dedicated bus lanes, where cars and trucks are prohibited, to help insure a faster ride and more reliable service, as well as reduce time spent at red lights and in traffic jams, according to the MTA.

But some drivers say the designated lane for the Select Bus is only adding to traffic problems. Plus, drivers caught in the lane can be penalized with a $105 ticket. Paul Tucker, 35, a Hunts Points resident, called the restricted lane “burdensome” because of the effect it has on drivers in the adjacent lane.

“I know they’re trying to cut the time in half of the bus route but I don’t feel as though a special lane is necessary,” said Tucker. “There are limited bus lines that stop at specific stops and still ride in the street with the rest of the vehicles.”

Kendall Caro, 42, a former bus driver, said he understood the purpose for the bus lane and felt it was a good investment.

“Here in Hunts Point, you don’t need a car to get around,” said Caro. “We have access to buses and trains that help us get around. I respect the fact that they’re working on trying to expedite the bus situations, because it’s needed.”

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