Plans call for addition of bus lanes, subtraction of some stops, signals set to speed buses and parking restrictions to be altered
SOME BUS stops could be eliminated along 125th St. in Harlem. Dedicated bus lanes could be added, commercial loading could be restricted and signals could be set to help buses spend less time idling at red lights.
Those are just some of the changes being proposed by the city Department of Transportation to ease congestion along Harlem’s busiest corridor as the strip braces for the large scale redevelopment that’s in the works from river to river.
Residents and business owners are being asked to attend an “emergency town hall meeting” next Thursday, where they will be briefed on the proposed changes by DOT Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione.
“We are having this meeting to make sure the community fully knows what’s at stake,” said state Sen. Bill Perkins, whose office is holding the meeting along with Community Boards 9, 10, 11 and 12 and the 125th St. Business Improvement District.
“We want to make sure this is properly vetted by the constituents,” Perkins added. “ . . . decisions are being made, and your input is needed. Your daily life will be better or worse.”
Among the proposed changes are modifications to the M60 line, the area’s busiest route.
The M60 bus line would be “upgraded” to Select Bus Service, which would add off-board fare payment and dedicated bus lanes, limit the number of stops and introduce transit signal priority to reduce the time buses stop at a red light.
More than 9,700 of the 32,000 daily riders along 125th St. use the M60, making it the busiest route along Harlem’s main east-west thoroughfare.
Ridership statistics provided by the city also show the M60 buses are stopped more than 60% of the time; at times, the bus crawls along as slowly as 2.7 mph. That’s slower than the average pedestrian.
The changes would be make the route 10-15% faster from end-to-end, and 15-20% faster from 125th St. and Lexington Ave. to LaGuardia Airport.
Residents queried by the Daily News said they’d more than welcome any change that improved the speed of their commute.
Ruth Rayford, 82, who was waiting for a bus Thursday on W. 125th St. near Lenox Ave., agreed that Harlem’s most traveled strip can be a headache.
“It is congested,” said the Washington Heights resident. “I remember years ago, it wasn’t congested like this. There could be some improvements made.”
Shawnette Scott, 39, who was also waiting for the bus, questioned whether the proposed changes to the bus service would completely alleviate the congestion.
“That’s not going to stop the traffic,” the Harlem resident said. “I don’t think the bus stops are the problem. . . The buses stop where they are supposed to, and keep it moving.”
She said the congestion is just the result of 125th St. being heavily traveled and booming with businesses, comparing it to 34th and 42nd Sts. in midtown Manhattan.
Other proposed changes include cameras to capture vehicles illegally traveling or standing in a bus lane; changes to parking in the area; and limits on commercial loading.
The meeting will be held at the United House of Prayer for All People, located at 2320 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (between 124th and 125th Sts.) at 6:30 p.m. People are asked to RSVP by calling (212) 222-7315.