Press Releases

Press Release #17-031
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Contact: Scott Gastel/Gloria Chin (212) 839-4850

With Diverse Array of New Transit Options, Dot and Advocates Hail Upper East Side's Transformation Into a "Transit Garden"

Rendition of the Upper East Side Transit Garden

Upper East Side Transit Garden

New Second Avenue Subway is complemented this spring by new bike and bus choices, along with major safety improvements; NYC Ferry, which began service yesterday, sets sail from the Upper East Side in 2018

DOT progress report shows travel time on M86 Select Bus Service has improved by more than 10%, while taxi traffic has declined by more than 30% since Q train opening

New York, NY— New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and transportation advocates today announced that an array of transit improvements over the last year have transformed the Upper East Side from a so-called “transit desert” into a “Transit Garden.”   They stood together at a new Q station stop at 2nd Avenue and 86th Street, celebrating the numerous transit, traffic, and safety improvements that now complement the new Second Avenue Subway -- including faster MTA Select Bus Service (SBS), a new Second Avenue protected bike lane and Citi Bike.   The Commissioner also released a progress report on the success of the M86 SBS route, while noting TLC data showing a 32 percent decrease in taxi trips from the Upper East Side to Midtown since Q train service began.  She also noted that starting next year, the Upper East Side would be serviced by the new NYC Ferry.

“On a beautiful spring day, Upper East Siders should savor their new ‘Transit Garden,’ which was a long time coming,” said DOT Commissioner Trottenberg.   “With a new subway, commutes are of course faster -- but combined with the return of dedicated bus lanes for Select Bus Service, a new protected bike lane and Citi Bike’s arrival uptown, it is difficult to overstate the transformation.  Yesterday, we kicked off NYC Ferry service that, starting next year, will provide Upper East Siders yet another quick and affordable option to get downtown.  We want to make sure everyone living in and visiting East Harlem and the Upper East Side knows their dizzying array of new choices -- and that New Yorkers everywhere else appreciate the amazing results of serious transit investment.”

Today’s event highlighted the following transit, traffic, and safety improvements on the Upper East Side:
Select Bus Service: Select Bus Service is a joint effort of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit (MTA NYCT) and DOT, using a variety of innovations to improve bus speeds and reduce travel times, including curbside fare collection, all-door boarding, sidewalk extensions, traffic-signal priority and dedicated red bus lanes.   In December, equipment from subway construction was cleared, including along both Second Avenue and East 86th Street, which allowed dedicated lanes to once again open solely to bus traffic along Second Avenue, expanding hours of operation with midday truck loading allowed on most of Second Avenue.   Enforcement cameras over the red bus lane will be also added, enforcing travel restrictions in those lanes.    

Today’s event was held outside the 86th Street subway station, where passengers on two separate Select Bus Service lines can now make seamless transfers to and from the Q train.  Begun in 2008, SBS has been shown to increase reliability of buses and decrease travel times by as much as 30%.  Among the twelve total Select Bus Service corridors Citywide, the M15 and M86 SBS routes serving the Upper East Side were established in 2010 and 2015, respectively.  DOT today also released its progress report on the M86 SBS route, illustrating the success of the new route.  In addition to a 96% customer satisfaction rating, the report notes that since the M86 SBS was established in July of 2015, ridership on the M86 route has grown by 7% and travel times have decreased by as much as 11%. 

Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane:  Today’s event included a group ride along the new Second Avenue protected bike lane.  Working closely with each other, MTA and DOT planned, designed and constructed the bike lane on the east side of Second Avenue. This spring, construction of the lane will be complete as construction crews make finishing touches to the lanes, including the addition of green paint and new pedestrian islands.

Starting in 2010, DOT had constructed other segments of the parking-protected bike lane on Second Avenue, which now runs uninterrupted from East 125th Street in East Harlem south to East 68th Street, with an enhanced shared lane from East 68th to East 64th Street. DOT’s data shows that daily bike ridership along Second Avenue has soared: from 700 cyclists in 2007 to 2,239 in 2016, an increase greater than 200%.

Citi Bike: As part of its 2016 expansion, Citi Bike expanded uptown in Manhattan, adding more than 25 docking stations on the Upper East Side and in East Harlem up to 110th Street.  In 2017, Citi Bike is expected to expand farther north in Manhattan to 130th Street, as well as deeper into Brooklyn and Queens.

Safety improvements: Since the completion of the Second Avenue subway, DOT has completely repaved the avenue, updated parking regulations, as well as added new bus shelters and WalkNYC map-signs.   Safety improvements along the corridor include new pedestrian islands, pedestrian and bicycle head starts at traffic signals, dedicated left-turn signals/lanes, and new brighter overhead LED City Lights. The East 86th Street Streetscape Project, currently under DDC construction, will extend curbs and add bus bulbs along the M86 SBS corridor.

Decline in taxi traffic: According to TLC data, since the introduction of Q train service on the Upper East Side, taxi trips along its route between the Upper East Side and Midtown have decreased by 32%, compared to a citywide decrease of 11% during the same period.

NYC Ferry:  As announced by Mayor de Blasio, NYC Ferry service to the Rockaways and South Brooklyn began yesterday.  Starting in 2018, NYC Ferry will include a new route to Soundview in the Bronx, creating another new transit option for Upper East Siders.

“The Upper East Side has gone from near-complete dependence on one overburdened subway line to a transit oasis of sorts, with Select Bus Service, Citi Bike, and the Second Avenue Subway adding important new options and taking pressure off the 4, 5, and 6 trains,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “There’s still a lot more to do, however. We must improve average bus speeds, decrease street congestion, and fight for new revenue streams to improve subway reliability.”

"The Upper East Side has become a model for what communities across our city should become when it comes to improved transit access," said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "From new subway stations, to recently arrived Citi Bike, to the inauguration of NYC Ferry service, to dedicated bus lanes providing improvements to service, this is what should be replicated in communities with few-to-no options today. Through partnerships and investments, we can do this in less affluent communities as well, transforming outcomes for New Yorkers and providing the opportunities so vital to the health of our city."

"I am pleased that the Upper East Side, which was once fairly inaccessible to public transit, is more completely connected through the Second Avenue Subway, Citi Bike, and next year, NYC Ferry,” said State Senator Marisol Alcántara. “By extending the public transit available to our citizens, New York City can cut down on carbon emissions, avoid significant economic costs from lack of transit, improve the overall economy, and give low-income and middle-income New Yorkers access to new job markets. I hope that the Upper East Side proves that ambitious public transit projects are not consigned to New York's past, but can be conceived and completed today."

"East Harlem and the Upper East Side have seen an amazing increase in transit options over the past year and will only continue to grow in the very near future,” said State Senator José M. Serrano.  “These neighborhoods now have an extensive set of options to get around - from the Second Avenue Subway, to the completed 86th Street Select Bus Service, to the soon to be launched uptown Citi Bike service and NYC Ferry. Many thanks to New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for overseeing these tremendous improvements."

“Today we celebrate the long-awaited additions and improvements to the Upper East Side’s transit network,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart. “Our community has transformed with a recent surge of new viable choices to get around the city – from the new Q station stop at 2nd Avenue, to cyclist and pedestrian networks, to public bus improvements, and more. I’m grateful to the city’s Department of Transportation for strengthening our neighborhoods and expanding options for commuters, families and visitors.” 

"After years of dealing with 2nd Avenue Subway construction the Upper East Side is finally reaping the rewards of good access to transportation," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Whether it is Select Bus Service or new ferries and trains, Upper East Side residents have earned the new and improved transportation infrastructure. Thank you to Commissioner Trottenberg and Mayor de Blasio for their commitment to improving transportation in this part of the city."

"Thanks to a variety of investments, Upper East Siders are experiencing faster and safer commutes," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "Select Bus Service has helped cut lines and wait times on the M86, and our bike safety program has led to a 15% decrease in bike/pedestrian collisions.  I look forward to working with the Department of Transportation to continue to deliver improvements to this community."

“Just a few months ago, talking about transit on the Upper East Side meant complaining about the crowded 6 train,” said Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and an MTA Board member. “Now, one of Manhattan’s infamous transit deserts is sprouting with signs of new ways to get around: by feet and on buses, bikes, subways and, next year, ferries. Thanks to Commissioner Trottenberg and NYC DOT for their leadership in helping to seed these changes.”

"It’s exciting to see and experience the transformation of the eastern portion of the Upper East Side from a transit desert to a Transit Garden,” said Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York.  “The most efficient city transportation system is a flexible, customizable, diverse one, and thanks to the DOT's efforts, residents and visitors alike can effectively take a multi-modal approach when traveling to, from, and through many New York City neighborhoods, including the Upper East Side.  However, while more and more New Yorkers are choosing to make riding bicycles a part of their lives, it remains out of reach for many simply because they never had an opportunity to learn or because they lack the skills or confidence to tackle city streets. Bike New York’s education program provides a free chance for kids and adults in all five boroughs to develop the skills and confidence to benefit from New York's full range of transportation options."

"The ability to transfer easily between the new Second Avenue Subway and Select Bus Service, and to ride a Citi Bike down the protected bike lane on 2nd Avenue, provides a perfect example of the kind of transportation choice New Yorkers need in every community," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Commissioner Trottenberg and the DOT staff have moved quickly on the Upper East Side, and we look forward to seeing the City's next steps to bring bike share to more neighborhoods and make connections easier for residents across the five boroughs."

"The evidence is clear: new transit options lead to safer streets, less traffic congestion and a thriving local community,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “The addition of Q train service and Select Bus Service are already making life easier and travel faster in some of New York's most densely inhabited neighborhoods.  Thanks to NYC DOT and Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for helping to add valuable new transportation options and for highlighting the difference that good transit can make to a community's quality of life."

About Citi Bike
The Citi Bike program is New York’s bike share system. It will have 12,000 bikes at over 700 stations by the end of 2017. Stations are currently located in Manhattan as far north as 110th Street and in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint and in Long Island City, Queens. With stations located every few blocks, the program expanded last year into Harlem, Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and Red Hook. Annual members receive an electronic key to undock a bike from any station, allowing unlimited trips up to 45 minutes without incurring any additional costs. Twenty-four-hour passes are available for purchase at any Citi Bike station or through the Citi Bike app and provide unlimited 30-minute trips. Reduced cost memberships are available for NYCHA residents and members of select credit unions throughout the city, and for IDNYC holders in their first year of membership.