Select Bus Service (SBS), marked on the buses as +select, is a brand used by MTA Regional Bus Operations for bus rapid transit service in New York City. SBS began service in 2008 in order to improve speed and reliability along multiple long, busy limited-stop corridors. The first route was the Bx12 along Fordham Road and the Pelham Parkway; as of September 2017, fifteen SBS routes run along fourteen corridors. Several more corridors are proposed for Select Bus Service, with two routes planned for implementation in 2017, and one in 2018.
In conjunction with the New York City Department of Transportation, the MTA identified five corridors for implementation of bus rapid transit, one in each of the five boroughs, in late 2004: the Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway corridor in the Bronx, 34th Street in Manhattan, Main Street in Queens, Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, and Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. Four bus priority corridors were also identified for implementation or expansion (three in Manhattan, one in the Bronx): Madison Avenue (expansion), Fifth Avenue, 34th Street, and Webster Avenue. The Select Bus Service program was unveiled to the public on March 25, 2008. At the time of the announcement, the MTA and the mayor had stated that implementation on other corridors was contingent on the passage of congestion pricing, which ultimately did not make it for a vote in the legislature.
The first Select Bus Service corridor, on the Bx12 along 207th Street, Fordham Road, and Pelham Parkway, was placed into service on June 29, 2008. The Next line, the Q44, running on the Cross Bronx Expressway (Service Road) and Main Street, saw Select Service begin on October 10, 2010 after the delivery of new low-floor buses. All local service was replaced by the Q20 in Queens and the Bx54 in The Bronx. The M34 and M34A line was started on November 13, 2011. Initially, a 34th Street busway was planned that would require eliminating 34th Street as a through street, but it was dropped in favor of the standard SBS model. The B44 Rogers/Bedford/Nostrand Avenues bus route, the fifth Select Bus Service corridor in the city, was implemented on November 17, 2013 pending the arrival of new fare machines. The S79 Hylan Boulevard/Richmond Avenue route, initially slated to be converted to SBS in 2013, was moved up to September 2, 2012; the local equivalents of the S79 route are the S78 and S59 buses. A sixth corridor, the second for the Bronx, began service on the Bx52 Webster Avenue - Laguardia route on June 30, 2013; this route was the first " "Phase II" SBS route to begin service (the existing corridors plus the B44 comprise Phase I).
A seventh corridor, and the third for Manhattan, the M60 125th Street–Triborough Bridge–Astoria Boulevard bus route to LaGuardia Airport, was converted to SBS on May 25, 2014; local service was replaced by other routes running alongside the route of the M60 (the M100, M101, Bx15, and Q19). An eighth Select Bus Service route was planned in the 2014–2017 Financial Plan. The eighth Select Bus Service corridor (ninth route overall), and the fourth in Manhattan, was for the M86 running on 86th Street, which was originally scheduled to start running on June 28, 2015, but pushed back to July 13, 2015; it does not include a major change in stops.
The ninth corridor, and the second for Brooklyn, is the B46 on Utica Avenue. When implemented, the local and Select Bus Service route of the B46 changed northern terminals to improve reliability. Originally planned for implementation in fall 2015, it was instituted on July 3, 2016. The tenth corridor, and the second for Queens, is the Q5 limited bus route between Jamaica and Rosedale LIRR Station, which began on November 29, 2015. On September 25, 2016, the eleventh corridor (twelfth route overall) and the third for Queens, the Q70, was rebranded as the "LaGuardia Link" and became a SBS route. As opposed to other SBS routes, the Q70 is wrapped in a light blue scheme with clouds and airplanes in order to encourage more people to use public transportation when using the airport. This marked MTA Bus's first SBS route.
The M23, the twelfth corridor (thirteenth route) and the fifth in Manhattan, became a Select Bus Service route on November 6, 2016 with dedicated bus lanes and countdown clocks at some stops, replacing M23 local service at the cost of $1.7 million. The M79 became an SBS route on May 21, 2017, with the installation of bus lanes along its route. The Bx6, after the completion of bus lanes and widened sidewalks, became an SBS route on September 3, 2017. Local service was replaced by an expansion of the Bx46 route. This is the third route for the Bronx. Select Bus Service along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards will be implemented on the Q52 and Q53 routes in fall 2017. The B82 Limited will be replaced by SBS in 2018. Bus lanes will be installed in conjunction with Vision Zero improvements, such as additional crosswalks and pedestrian islands.
All current SBS corridors are enforced by cameras restricting non-buses in these lanes on weekdays where the bus lane is curbside, with the bus lanes marked by red paint. Where the bus lane is an offset lane (that is, one lane away from the curb), non-bus traffic is restricted at all times except for emergencies.
The Bx12 Limited was the first route to be converted into a Select Bus Service line, the Bx12 SBS. It was placed into service on June 29, 2008 replacing limited stop service with SBS on this line. Both Bx12 Select Bus Service and Bx12 local are based out of the Gun Hill Bus Depot. During late nights, the corridor is served by the Bx12 local service, which operates 24/7.
The Q44 Limited became the Q44 SBS on October 10, 2010, which replaced limited stop service with SBS on this line.
Due to community opposition, bus lanes were only installed on a small portion of the route between Roosevelt Avenue and the Long Island Expressway in Downtown Flushing and Queensboro Hill, and on Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica; portions of the Archer Avenue lanes were installed before the implementation of SBS. Local bus service in Queens is provided by the Q20A/B in Queens, while the Bx54 serves local stops in the Bronx. The Q20A/B and the Q44 SBS are based out of the Casey Stengel Depot while the Bx54 is based out of Kingsbridge Depot.
The M34 SBS and M34A SBS routes began on November 13, 2011. These are considered by the MTA as two SBS services, the M34 34th Street Crosstown and the former M16 route, which was renamed the M34A; the routes share a single corridor. Originally, a provision of this corridor was planned to create a special "Busway" which would have seen both the M34 and M34A SBS lines run along 34th Street in a special two-lane corridor with vehicular traffic travelling in only one direction (westbound after 6th Avenue/Broadway; eastbound after 5th Avenue), this was eventually scrapped and replaced with curbside and offset bus lanes along 34th Street with bus bulbs at selected bus stops. Alternate weekday M34 SBS trips began originating/terminating at Waterside Plaza with the M34A SBS on September 3, 2017.
This service used non-articulated Orion 7 hybrid-electric buses between November 2011 and early April 2013, when they were replaced by the LFSA articulated buses found on the majority of the other SBS routes. The M34 and M34A are both based in the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot.
The S79 SBS route began on September 2, 2012. While the routing was left mostly intact, the S79 had all local service eliminated and replaced by local service on the S59 route along Richmond Avenue and the S78 route along Hylan Boulevard. The route was also straightened through New Springville to bypass the Yukon Bus Depot. This route uses rigid 40-foot Orion VII hybrid-electric diesel buses, and is the only SBS line that does not utilize off-board fare collection. Additionally, it was the only SBS line in the 5 boroughs that did not use 60-foot articulated buses before the B46 SBS was introduced as well as the only SBS line to not have blue destination signs until July 2017. Riders must pay the fare on board, as they do on local, limited-stop, and express buses. The S79 Select Bus Service is based out of the Yukon Bus Depot.
The B44 SBS route began on November 17, 2013, replacing the B44 Limited service with Select Bus Service. Initially planned for the end of 2011, then later the summer of 2012, the start date was pushed to November 2013 as the buses for the service did not arrive until early 2013. Unlike other SBS routes, this service involved a significant change in route, and approximately 20 limited stops were eliminated. The elimination of the Avenue L stop, located adjacent to a school, from the SBS route, was controversial, with local elected representatives and community members starting a petition and calling for its restoration. On February 11, 2014, just under three months since its launch, the MTA conceded to community pressure and added Avenue L and Gates Avenue to the SBS route. This bus is based out of the Flatbush Bus Depot.
The Bx52 Limited, running along Webster Avenue and Melrose Avenue in the Bronx as well as Astoria Blvd in Queens, was the first route to be converted into a Phase II Select Bus Service line. The Bx52 SBS began service on June 30, 2013, with local service supplemented by the Bx41, Q19, and M60 (beginning January 8 2017 with elimination of stops between Astoria Blvd Station and LaGuardia Airport). The stops were nearly identical to the limited service it replaced at the time. Both Bx41 and Bx52 were originally based out of the Kingsbridge Bus Depot. However, on January 8, 2017, the lines were moved to Gun Hill Depot from Kingsbridge with the Bx12 local and SBS, to ease the pressure, and relieve the severe overcrowding at the Kingsbridge Bus Depot.
The M60 operates between the Upper West Side of Manhattan and LaGuardia Airport, providing crosstown service along 125th Street in Harlem. Select Bus Service was originally scheduled to begin in mid or late 2013, but was pushed to May 25, 2014 due to community opposition, citing loss of available parking spaces along 125th Street in Manhattan.Due to its status as an airport connector, buses on the route are equipped with luggage racks.
The M60 was based out of 126th Street Depot upon implementation as a Select Bus Service route. In November 2014, the route was moved to Mother Clara Hale after a soft reopening for the depot, then in January 2015 the M60 moved to the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot (where most Manhattan crosstown routes are based out of) due to the closing of the 126th Street Depot.
The M86 bus, running crosstown along 86th Street in Manhattan, was identified as a potential bus rapid transit corridor in 2009. The M86 SBS route debuted on July 13, 2015. It was the third corridor in Manhattan and the fourth Manhattan bus line to have Select Bus Service. The M86 SBS is based out of the Tuskegee Airmen Depot.
In late 2004, the MTA identified five corridors for implementation of bus rapid transit, one in each of the five boroughs: the Fordham Road/Pelham Parkway corridor in the Bronx, 34th Street in Manhattan, Merrick Boulevard in Queens, Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, and Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. The Merrick Boulevard corridor was eventually scrapped because of community opposition related to loss of parking.
The Q5 SBS was approved in June 2015, with original plans altered to fit community demands. The route began service on November 29, 2015. The Q5 local and SBS are based out of Jamaica Depot.
The B46 line is the busiest bus route in Brooklyn and 3rd busiest in the entire city. Select Bus Service began July 3, 2016, after being originally scheduled for a fall 2015 implementation. The B46 SBS replaced the B46 Limited, making similar stops along Utica Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard. Unlike the former Limited, the B46 SBS makes limited stops south of Avenue H, and only runs between Kings Plaza and Myrtle Avenue. The B46 local was extended along Broadway to replace limited-stop service to the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza Bus Terminal at all times. Both the B46 local and Select Bus Service are based out of the Flatbush Bus Depot, as is the B44 SBS. The B46 is the second Select Bus Service in Brooklyn.
In Queens, the Q70 limited-stop bus ran between Penn Station and LaGuardia Airport via the Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street station and Woodside LIRR station; some downtown trips also ended at the LIRR station. The Q70 SBS was implemented on September 25, 2016, when it was rebranded as the "LaGuardia Link" with the implementation of off-board payment of fares. As opposed to other SBS routes, the Q70 is wrapped in a light blue scheme with clouds and airplanes on the top half of the bus imposed with the standard SBS livery on the lower half. The Q70 is based out of LaGuardia Depot, it is the third Queens bus line to have Select Bus Service and the first one for MTA Bus.
The M23 route has been traditionally crowded, with 4,862,343 riders in 2010 and 3,831,755 riders in 2015, or 15,000 riders a day. In 2003, it was given the "Pokey Award" by the Straphangers Campaign, the least prestigious award given to other New York City Bus routes that also runs at a speed of 4mph; it also got that distinction in 2007 when it also ran at an average of 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/h), slightly faster than the average walking speed of 3 miles per hour (4.8 km/h). In 2009, the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) identified the M14A/D, on parallel 14th Street, as a potential corridor for Phase II of SBS, the city's bus rapid transit system, as well as finalized plans to implement SBS on the M16/M34 along the also-parallel 34th Street. The crosstown bus corridors were noted for slow travel speeds.The M23 was originally not planned to be an SBS route, but in 2008, it had been part of a pilot program in which 30 articulated, redesigned SBS buses were rolled out on the M23 for some time.
After lengthy consultation, the M23 was converted to SBS on November 6, 2016, replacing the identical local counterpart bus line; the westbound stop on 5th Avenue and two bi-directional stops on Lexington Avenue were no longer served by this line. The M23 is based out of the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot, as is the M34 and M34A SBS. The M23 is the fourth corridor in Manhattan and the fifth Manhattan bus line to have Select Bus Service.
The M79 local bus route was identified as a heavily traveled corridor in a 2009 study by the DOT and NYCTA, and in a December 2013 study by the Pratt Center for Community Development of Brooklyn. It was converted to SBS on May 21, 2017. The M79 is based out of the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot.
The Bx6, a critical Bronx crosstown corridor, was converted into SBS on September 3, 2017. The Bx46 was extended to Manhattan and began to make all local stops along the route west of Prospect Avenue. The Bx6 SBS continues to operate a similar route as the former local east of Prospect Avenue. The Bx6 SBS mainly makes stops at select high-ridership locations and all transfers points to Metro-North and subways. The Bx6 SBS is based out of the West Farms Bus Depot, and the Bx46 is out of Amsterdam Depot. It is also the third Bronx Bus line to have Select Bus Service and the first one since the Bx52 on June 30, 2013. The Bx6 is also the MTA's 15th Select Bus Service line to date.
The Bx6 corridor is the first to use bus lanes in the median of the street at the E 161st Street/Sheridan-Sherman Avenues stops, as opposed to curbside or offset bus lanes. The median bus lanes supposedly speeds up traffic by going around double-parked cars. Originally, a similar provision of median bus lanes was planned for the 34th Street Corridor in Manhattan. A planned "Busway" would have seen both the M34 and M34A SBS lines run along 34th Street in a special two-lane corridor with vehicular traffic travelling in only one direction (westbound after 6th Avenue/Broadway; eastbound after 5th Avenue), this was eventually scrapped and replaced with curbside and offset bus lanes along 34th Street with bus bulbs at selected bus stops.
The Q52/Q53 route along the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevards corridor between Central Queens and the Rockaways has received studies for implementation since 2008. The Q53 was first proposed for implementation until the introduction of the Q52 in Summer 2012. The Q52 and Q53 began SBS on November 12, 2017. Local service will be served by with the Q11, Q21, and Q22 routes.
The Q52 is based out of JFK depot while the Q53 is baced out of LaGuardia Depot. All local routes are based out of Far Rockaway Depot.
Select Bus Service is planned for implementation on 14 Street as part of the L shutdown. Three routes would be implemented under this plan: the M14B between the West Side and Waterside to connect to the ferry, the M14L between Union Square and Grand Street, connecting the two sections of the L line, and the B19 between SOHO and N 5 St, connecting to Bedford Avenue. Service is planned to start in April 2019.
Select Bus Service buses are wrapped in a unique blue paint scheme that identifies them as operating in this particular service. All SBS buses display +Select Bus in the destination sign. Bus stops where SBS buses stop are also identifiable with the SBS branding on the glass shelters, and machines for MetroCard and coin payment in or near the shelters (except for the S79 SBS, which does not employ off-board fare collection). In addition, all buses on the SBS services employ all-door boarding operation, in which each set of doors open simultaneously for easier boarding and alighting, with the exception of the S79 which does not employ all-door boarding.
Upon the debut of Select Bus Service, blue flashing lights on both sides of the destination sign were used to help designate SBS buses from local buses (which have orange lights). While some, including bus operators, claimed the flashing blue lights helped improve travel times for buses, they were controversial due to some drivers mistaking them for emergency vehicles. The use of the lights also violated the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (Article 9, Section 375 (41)). NYS Law states "The use of blue lights on vehicles shall be restricted for use only by a volunteer firefighter" and "may be affixed to a police vehicle and fire vehicle, provided that such blue light or lights shall be displayed on a police vehicle and fire vehicle for rear projection only."
To replace the lights, in July 2015 the MTA began overhauling the front destination signs of buses to display the route in a blue background, as well as a completely blue background that flashes twice when it says +Select Bus (formerly it read +Select Bus Service). At night on some routes, the front destination sign is blue text on an unlit black background. Starting with the Q5 in November 2015, the blue background is kept when the front signage transitions to show the terminal of the route and the main streets traveled. As of July 2017, the SBS fleet on all routes have had their front destination signs overhauled, and new routes that launched after that date came with the new destination signs.
The following table lists the buses used on each route.