090508selectbus.jpgThe experimental Bx12 Select Bus Service that runs between upper Manhattan and the Bronx has been a big hit according to New York City Transit, with a trip from end to end on the route taking an average 12 minutes less time than before. (One transportation advocate says her average 65 minute commute has been cut to 48 minutes.)

You'll recall that the route now features more buses (up to ten more during peak hours) and faster fare collection, with riders paying in advance at curbside machines instead of on the bus itself. (Inspectors have issued 632 farebeating tickets to riders lacking proof-of-payment receipts since mid-July.) The route also boasts handsomely painted "terracotta" bus lanes, with increased law enforcement to keep other vehicles out of the lane. And instead of waiting to get back on schedule if they start running ahead, drivers are permitted to keep on trucking.

Jesse Rosen, a university professor, tells the Daily News, "You no longer have endless lines to get on the bus. You can get on the front or back. The theory of buses coming more frequently seems to be working." Another rider informs the Times his commute has been cut in half, and drivers seem happy too, with one bus operating noting that “before, we had to worry about people coming in the back door without paying their fare. We had people with four or five MetroCards" who would hold up the bus as they tried each one because they'd forgotten which had money on it.

But plans to expand Select Bus into other parts of the city are stalled while the city waits for more articulated buses. A bigger problem is that the Select Bus plans for a Manhattan route (along the M15) and a Brooklyn route feature sidewalk stops extended into the street in what are called bus bulbs, so buses don't have to pull over to the curb. The Transportation Department hasn't done that work yet, so the M15 will have to wait until 2010 at the earliest. And Brooklyn won't get the faster service until 2012, the Times reports.