Dissent of the Week II: New York’s Select Bus Service

From Alon Levy on my post re: New York’s Bus Rapid Transit product, the Select Bus Service (SBS), which references this story in New York Magazine.

I’m going to say here what I said on the Urbanophile: it’s an uncritical fluff piece. The reality of SBS is that it’s a substandard product by European standards. The smoking gun is that during fare inspections on SBS, the bus has to stand still. The inspectors drive in and have to drive back, so the bus has to stay in one place until they get out.

If that’s true, it certainly isn’t consistent with the stated objectives of SBS, and must cause some serious disruptions.  On the other hand, if refused to praise transit products because some aspect of them was compromised or at odds with the rest, I wouldn’t have much to talk about.  (Note, for example, Strasbourg‘s reputation for broken
ticket machines
, now codified by Lonely Planet’s French guide to the city.)

But I do try to note the compromise or failing when it’s apparent, and thank Alon for pointing this out.

2 Responses to Dissent of the Week II: New York’s Select Bus Service

  1. Brandon July 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    I thought they were going to have something tantamount to a “paid area”, so couldnt they check people at the “bus platform”, and not get on the bus (or slow it down) at all?

  2. Alon Levy July 22, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    Jarrett: you really shouldn’t credit me – I found this out through Cap’n Transit and confirmed this with a friend who’s a railfan and lives in the Bronx.
    Brandon: no, the SBS in New York was never intended to have paid areas. It’s proof of payment, as is standard on BRT systems in the first world (but in Latin America, paid areas predominate).