Rapid bus service pulled for Harlem’s 125th Street

The MTA and the city’s Department of Transportation are shelving a plan to speed up bus service on Harlem’s 125th Street after reaching an impasse with local politicians and community boards.

Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, said there are still “a number of concerns” community leaders had that the MTA and DOT were unable to resolve. The project would have given bus riders in Harlem an alternative to the pokey M60 bus that can be slower than walking across town.

“We do hope to have a continued dialogue with community stakeholders about ways that we can continue to improve bus speed and service, traffic flow, parking, and pedestrian safety along 125th Street,” Ortiz said.

The project would have made the M60 to LaGuardia Airport an express bus with six stops in Manhattan, off-board fare collection, a dedicated bus lane between Lenox and Second avenues, and improved pedestrian safety.

Jake Carlson, the transportation equity coordinator at West Harlem Environmental Action that pushed for the transit improvements, said the crux of the opposition was over “process.”

“Folks want to be engaged in a comprehensive community planning process,” Carlson said.

DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow, however, said in a statement that after holding 50 meetings “producing dramatic revisions to the project but no support from local community boards and elected officials or from most Harlem stakeholders, it simply was not possible to proceed at this time.”

State Sen. Bill Perkins was livid that the project was being pulled because of the concerns about how the community’s opinion was being handled. Perkins said he wanted to see the same attention other neighborhoods received.

“Not only is it premature, it’s a smack in the face of the community,” Perkins said. “We didn’t get the kind of process for input that was genuine and folks were feeling a little anxious about the project moving quickly without taking into consideration some of the concerns they had.”

He added: “We want SBS, not BS.”