By Wayne Sheppard
About 15,000 daily passengers on the M23 will get faster trips starting in the fall under the plan from NYC and the MTA for Select Bus Service on 23rd Street. The agencies revealed their preliminary plan for M23 SBS, which calls for bus lanes on most of 23rd Street and off-board fare collection, to the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee, which voted for it unanimously.
Most M23 passengers board close to the eastern or western edges of Manhattan. The route provides connections to eight subway lines, the PATH train, and 14 other bus routes — but it is currently one of the City’s slowest buses. M23 buses are typically stopped in traffic or at a bus stop over 50 percent of the time, and are at speeds of less than 3 mph, 7 percent of the time.
To bypass congestion, the bus lanes will run from Ninth Avenue to Second Avenue on the eastbound side and from mid-block between First and Second to Eighth Avenue on the westbound side. DOT expects the lanes to be camera enforced, but buses won’t get priority at traffic signals “due to the complexity of Manhattan’s traffic signal system”.
As on other SBS routes, pre-paid fares will speed up the process of boarding buses. The project would eliminate one stop — at Fifth Avenue — that is barely 400 feet from the Broadway stop. The Broadway stop will remain active.
On most of the street, the bus lanes will be offset from the curb, running between a parking lane and a traffic lane. The bus lanes will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On narrower sections, the bus lane will run curbside. The curbside bus lanes will not be in effect from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow for commercial loading and parking midday.