Select Bus Service has been rolling on Manhattan's East Side for about 10 weeks now, and while MTA officials says trips have gotten faster, some riders still haven't gotten over the shock of paying curbside. NY1's Transit reporter John Mancini filed the following report.
More than two months into Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenues, buying a ticket is still a novelty for a lot of riders.
"It's very confusing," said one rider.
Select service on the M15 aims to speed up one of the city's slowest routes. The tools are paying at the curb, dedicated lanes, three doors for entry and fewer stops.
"Bus speeds have increased 13 to 17 percent, depending on the time of day, which is good," said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives. "And that's on pace with the 20-percent speed increase that we've seen on Fordham Road in the Bronx."
Now everyone is in favor of faster rides. But change is hard, even in a city full of forward thinkers.
"It's just a pain in the neck and no one really likes it."
Not really true. Ridership's up and a lot of folks like the new setup.
"They come in through any door. They've already paid their fare. So in like 10 seconds, 20 seconds, you can load up 30 people. The old way, they used to put in one at a time. Take two-three minutes just to load up the bus."
"It's great. It makes things more convenient. It's faster," said one rider.
"Aside from a few minor glitches, and the fact that the bus lane is never clear, it's pretty good," said another.
Even with 10 cameras watching for the past month, intruders still risk tickets. Next year, there will be more cameras and more traffic lights that will adjust to clear the way for buses. Some sidewalks will extend into the bus lane for quicker boarding.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reacted early on when too many buses were late.
"We put in a new bus schedule and the bus operators are getting comfortable with it and the customers are getting comfortable with it," said New York City Transit Long Range Bus Planning Director Ted Orosz.
Instructions now wrap ticket machines, and riders can use a "Select" receipt on the local if the express does not show in time.
However, if an inspector finds a rider does not have a ticket, it can cost $100. So far, 1,500 riders have been hit.
"Maybe there's some people who think it's worth taking a chance. It isn't," said Orosz.
New Yorkers take pride in adapting, but dispatchers say out-of-towners have the locals beat.
"You say press a button, they press a button, they get a receipt, they get on the bus. New Yorkers, they balk," said a dispatcher.
At least some New Yorkers are big enough to admit it.
"I'm a New Yorker, lived here all of my life, and I have out-of-towners teaching me," said a local Select Bus rider.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, or live with the shame.