The 34th Street Crosstown Bus Blues
We are ever so grateful to Josiah Webster for choosing our remarkable location on West 34th Street, with Macy’s just down the block and the Empire State Building in clear view from our doorstep. But with every amazing location in New York comes crowds and traffic. And we have both.
There is no subway train that runs east/west along 34th Street. Oh, how we wish there was! But there is a “crosstown” bus, the M34, that runs all of the way from the Hudson River to the East River and stops just steps away from Webster. But we live in a crazy busy neighborhood where traffic often comes to a standstill. Just a few years ago, the M34 was a tortoise. With over 100 tran
sit buses per hour travelling across 34th Street, the M34 averaged just 4.5 miles per hour, only slightly faster than walking! Ugh.
And so the City began Select Bus Service on 34th Street. This changed the way we pay for crosstown buses and speeded up our commute. Customers pay their fare by MetroCard prior to boarding at machines at Select Bus Service stops. They are issued a receipt which they must hold during their trip to show to an inspector who may be riding the bus or at a bus stop. Customers may board the bus through any door (these buses are twice as long as others). There is no need to show anything to the bus driver. Nice!
Lately, I’ve noticed a flurry of construction at nearby bus stops. Turns out, the City is installing “bus bulbs” on 34th Street. A bus bulb (I had to google it!) is an extension of the sidewalk that replaces a part of the parking lane. This allows buses to stay in the traffic lane to discharge and pick up passengers, instead of having to pull over to the curb. So we need to put up with more construction for an even speedier crosstown ride.
These changes will make a world of difference in the daily commute for our residents who work on the East Side of Manhattan, at the United Nations, for example. Thanks, New York, for shortening our guests’ commute and giving them more time to enjoy the many special dinners and evening events that Webster has to offer!