Thursday, September 16, 2010

On First Avenue, the machines are taking over!

EV Grieve reader Creature notes this sight this morning on First Avenue between Second and Third Street...

Will one of these things microwave breakfast burritos?


Bowery Boogie said...

cyberdyne systems...where's john connor when you need him?

Anonymous said...

I have visions of a 70's/80's era street phone.

How long until all the slots are filled with gum ?

Red said...

For those who don't know, this is part of the package of bus changes on 1st and 2nd Ave. When this starts (some time in October I think) you will stick your Metrocard in one of these machines and get a receipt. Then you walk on the bus without paying (so you get on at any of the 3 doors).

During rush hour one of the major causes of delays is a long line of people waiting to pay at the front of the bus, so the point is to make buses faster.

They have been doing this on one bus route in the Bronx for 2 years and it seems to be working fairly well. They have teams of inspectors who supposedly do random fare checks.

Basically, this is the same system they now use on London buses.

What looks like a MetroCard vending machine is (I think?) actually where you "swipe" your card and get the receipt. No idea what that third one is - maybe if you want to buy a ticket with coins?

EV Grieve said...

Thanks, Red. Somehow I missed all this news.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused--was really easy before.

Anonymous said...

It's called "Select Bus Service," and it's currently running on the Bx12 bus on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

The Select Bus on 1st and 2nd Ave will replace the M15 Limited. The M15 local bus will still be the same old bus.

They also put in a bunch of new bus-only lanes along 1st and 2nd Ave for this project... we'll see how much faster the buses are.

Anonymous said...

It's supposed to speed up the wait time for people getting on/off. you pay/swipe ahead of time then can enter either door. their goal is to eventually make the buses faster than subways.

Anonymous said...

The bus lane would be fine if the fucking piece of shit gay bike lane didn't ruin the street and cause traffic. Now there's no room on 1st ave it was planned horribly.

esquared™ said...

will they dispense cupcakes, fro-yos, or a hopsicle?

EV Grieve said...

The addition of these three machines just caused the MTA budget gap to increase by $200K. The machines themselves cost $169. The rest is for executive overhead.

Anonymous said...

The things that look like MetroCard machines are, in fact, MetroCard machines. The third machine is where you swipe to get a receipt.

Lisa said...

I've heard there's a lot of fare-beating up in the Bronx, and news reports have quoted riders on that line as saying they never see an inspector.

Chris said...

Anon @ 10:51: The first two machines are for people with Metrocards (notice that there's no place to insert money, just a slot for your Metrocard and another to receive your receipt). The third one is for people to pay with coins, cash, or a credit card.

Knowing the MTA, there will be no instructions - or poorly worded instructions - on the day that this starts, and it'll be the blind leading the blind.

Anonymous said...

How many times have you waited for a 1st or 2nd avenue bus, and waited, and waited... and waited, only to say "fuck it, I'm taking the train, or a cab, or walking". So do you think people will really buy those receipts if they're not sure when the bus is coming, and when it does come, will there be a mad rush to buy a receipt ?

And how "express" do you think this bus lane will be when it's constantly clogged with stray bike riders (like it is now) ?

This would be a great idea if the bus system was actually reliable as I suppose it is in London.

blue glass said...

the MTA is passing out an 8 1/2 x 11, four-page, full color pamphlet (and a booklet) with instructions and very confusing explanations on how the lanes will function and charts of the stops (another engineering miracle) - EV you must get a copy and scan it, (i don't have a scanner). there is red for curbside bus lane, orange for offset bus lane, green for offset bike lane, turquoise for protected bike land and purple for curbside bike lane.
i just don't understand why things have to be made so much more complicated as our population (especially commissioners and engineers) gets stupider.

BabyDave said...

Will people still be able to use the front door of the bus and swipe a Metrocard onboard for passage? It would be very frustrating to make that half-block sprint, have to use a machine to obtain a receipt, and then turn to see a bus heading off. Could lead to rampant fare-beating.

blue glass said...

Direct from MTA engineers, and i quote:
M15 SBS replaces M15 limited bus service
M15 local service remains the same
Faster and more reliable service for both SBS and local buses
SBS fare = local bus fair.
"You pay on the sidewalk at a Matrocard or coin machine before boarding the bus
Take your receipt
Board the bus from any of the three doors-no need to show your receipt to the bus operator"
"A roving team of fare inspectors board buses to check receipts. Aassengers without a valid receipt are subject to a $100 fine."
let me get this straight - the fines pay for the inspectors?
and who pays for the whole awful, expensive project with the one aim "to make getting on the bus faster?" is the contractor (or the engineer) the brother of the mayor or something? and while getting on the bus may be faster, moving in traffic certainly isn't with all the traffic lanes being reduced and creation of traffic parks.

nygrump said...

This is not London, this won't work. If they want to speed up bus times, stop the #$%!!^#% taxis from their drop and pick up in the bus lane. So if the machine is broken you can't board the bus. Like when it runs out of paper. or maybe the buses accept dollar bills.

Chris said...

nygrump: The Bronx isn't London, either, and the Bx12 saw 20% decrease in running time in the first year of operation with the exact same setup.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

What. The. Hell. Wow - interesting idea. I hope it works.

Anonymous said...

@Chris The Bronx isn't Manhattan, and listening to the way our commissioners spin statistics, I'd take any of those numbers with a hefty grain of salt.

Let's see how the buses do trying to get through all the bottlenecks that currently exist on both avenues.

I used to hold a lot of faith in the workings of this city's government, but after living with a mayor who dictates rather than govern with any sort of consensus, that faith is now gone.

Red said...


I work in the transportation field. I'm not surprised you haven't heard anything.

Here is some information about the route, including open houses:

One of the open houses is on Union Square East so your readers may be interested in attending.

I'm sure things will be a mess in October but hopefully once people figure this out this configuration works better than what is here now.

Also, the city got permission from the state to use cameras to ticket drivers stopping in the bus lane. That will begin in November and should do a lot to keep folks out.

Anonymous said...

It's about time! We love to call NYC a world-class city...or even the 'greatest' on earth, and yet other cities are light years ahead of us when it comes to public transportation. Riding buses in this city is extremely painful due to the slow process of having to allow passengers to board one-by-one through the front door, pass their card through the machine etc., and then this is repeated at every single stop along the way. And if your card happened to expire the night before, you are screwed! So hopefully we'll soon have these machines at EVERY single bus stop. Though I doubt that'll happen anytime of the many common problems I see in the MTA. Everything is done with a certain 'randomness'. Some parts of the system are totally new, other parts have been in decay for decades. There never seems to be any systematic approach to anything the MTA does.

blue glass said...

the union square hearing for this messy bus/traffic lanes system is the same night as the cb#3 what do you want from the sla meeting. and these are two topics on this blog that get a tremendous amount of comments.
and in any case, why should citizens have to go to all these meetings when bloomberg has made up his mind and does what he wants anyhow, citizens be damned. term limits were voted on TWO TIMES! for it or against it in a democracy (that he touts all the time) term limits were voted in. he managed to buy his third term.
i think all this traffic crap is his revenge because he did not get his - what was it called? midtown parking pricing, or whatever. think rent guidelines board.
think of the public meetings you have attended in your life, and what your presence contributed.
this is not the 60's.

Chris said...

blue glass: The Union Square meeting is an informational meeting for riders on how the system works.

This wasn't rammed down anyone's throat. I attended a public workshop on this project two years ago. The entire project was reviewed by a Community Action Committee, and every single Community Board on the East Side was involved in the project as well, making recommendations on stops, potential hazards, and other problems. You had your chance to speak then. It appeared on the CB3 Transportation Committee agenda three times or more.

Just because you don't like something - or were oblivious to the community involvement that took place - doesn't mean it was shoved down anyone's throat.

Anonymous said...

It was shoved down out throats in exactly the same manner as term limits. It was a done deal, the CB's get the chance to pay lipservice by tweaking the bus stops... big whoop.

Let's call a spade a spade now, shall we ? Great that you can cheer lead behind a facade of fairness tho.

Chris said...

Anon @ 12:33: What you call "the facade of fairness" is how things get done. If your approach is to stall and moan and criticize without offering any real solutions, there would be a mob of angry M15 riders (and 4/5/6 riders who are sick of overcrowding) who would be after you.

In case you forgot, we live in a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. You don't get to vote on every decision government makes. And if the people of this city were really in favor of term limits, they wouldn't have re-elected Bloomberg... or every Assembly on Congressional incumbent.

Anonymous said...

It's disappointing to see all the grumpy, ignorant commenters here who seem to reflexively oppose every new idea. If this blog had been around in the 19th century, these commenters would be whining about the new subway system and protesting the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you actually get out and ride the M15 bus, you'll notice that most of the time, the bus isn't even moving. It's sitting still, waiting for people to board through the front door and pay the fare.

The Select Bus program is intended to speed bus service by making boarding much faster. You pay the fare while waiting at the bus stop, then you can board the bus through any door. It's worked in the Bronx, and it's worked in transit systems in Europe in Asia for years. It's time we tried it here.

Anonymous said...

They've just plunked these machines down at the bus stop on Allen and Houston. I don't think they're operating yet (still had the tape around them yesterday when I walked past).

They take up such valuable sidewalk space on an already busy and frustrating corner. Grrr!

Chris said...

Anon @ 9:28am: The machines won't be in operation until October 10th, the day Select Bus Service is scheduled to launch.