I have always thought that some of Manhattan’s bus routes are simply too long and too unreliable for their own good. Yet, most of these routes are lifeline routes being that they link areas with inadequate accessible subway stations for wheelchairs, seniors, and disabled persons.
With that said, here are a few changes I would make to some of these routes to increase their reliability and potentially reduce operating costs:
Let’s start with the M1/2/3/4 via 5th and Madison Avenues.
Instead of the often confusing service pattern and the familiar sight of buses in bunches showing up until your bus finally appears, I would simplify the service pattern by running the M1 and M2 as locals at all times and the M3 and M4 as Limiteds all day and during the evening hours. At night, the M1 and M4 would run their full routes as locals while the M2 and M3 would not run south of 110th St. I feel that the longer routes should run as Limiteds and the shorter routes as locals. I do realize that M1 riders might get the short end of the stick, but overall the simplified service should make it easier for riders to choose the right bus for their ride and make buses flow better.
Let’s go on to the M98/101/102/103 via 3rd and Lexington Avenues.
My plan mainly centers around making the M101 more reliable, since it is way too long (even though a shadow of its former self) and hits too many choke points to be anything near reliable. I would run the M101 local from 193rd St to 96th St (as some buses do now) and run the M103 from 125th St to City Hall making all local stops. The M102 would run as normal, and the M98 would run all day 7 days a week from Fort Tryon Park to 34th St, making Limited Stops the entire route. Another option would be to run the M98 to 24th St and running the M103 as a Limited, with Limited-stop service from Cooper Sq to 116th St.
How about we try to simplify or change other routes.
The M5 should return to its pre-2010 route, only going as far south as Houston St. The M6 should return and operate from 59th St to South Ferry.
The M14 should have a third service pattern, bringing back the M14C but running down Avenue C from 14th St to Houston St before re-joining the M14D serving Houston St. Alternatively, the M14C can rejoin the M14A to serve Grand St.
The M60 should be converted to Select Bus Service and operate 24 hours a day with frequencies no greater than every 20 minutes.
The M100 should be rerouted down Convent from 125th St to 163rd St to make it a faster, more reliable line. The shortened M101 should be able to handle Amsterdam Av.
More coming soon.