Large portions of First and Second avenues are about to get a makeover, complete with protected bike lanes and an express bus line aimed at speeding the commute along the congested corridor.
The project will bring "European-style rapid-transit" to the avenues -- among the most highly used and heavily congested bus routes in the nation. According to the city's transportation department, over 57,000 commuters use the M15 bus for weekday travel.
The plan, which was formally announced Thursday, will transform a lane on both First and Second avenues into an exclusive bus route, running from Houston Avenue to 125th Street.
The dedicated express bus lane will shave about 18 minutes off that ride, proponents said.
Instead of using a Metrocard, tickets will be sold at sidewalk kiosks -- a practice common in cities like Bogota, Colombia, which has been lauded by urban planners for its efficient bus system.
Riders will be on the honor system: passengers will not have to produce a ticket unless asked. The fine for fare skippers is tough --$100.
The plan represents the latest move by the Bloomberg administration to strip away public space taken up by automobiles, making it easier to bike, walk, or take mass transit.
Other plans are in the works for roads like 34th Street and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.
Work on the new bus lanes between Houston and 34th Street will start next week. Landscaped pedestrian islands will be installed in September, the mayor announced today.
The project will come in around $60 million -- with some $55 million going to the MTA for new buses.
Bloomberg said he expects bus ridership to increase by 10 percent.