Liberating New Lexington Avenue Bus Lane Not as Easy as It Looks

Kolleen Matthews, an online commuter safety advocate, commutes daily by bus from her home on the Upper West Side to her office in the Financial District. She said the new bus lane on Lexington Avenue is confusing to riders on the east side of the street because the signs that designate “eastbound buses” aren’t actually posted on the street.

“What are the west side streets that they’re using?” Ms. Matthews said. “I was a little stunned the first day.”

“I had a group of people on their way to Kennedy Airport who said the announcement this morning wasn’t in their bus schedule,” she added. “They didn’t see the new signs.”

The city recently announced the addition of two new reserved lanes on Lexington Avenue between 42nd and 57th streets. But the meters, placed at six locations for two days only in mid-May, disappeared last week due to a payment dispute between the city and the company that manages the lanes. (Several staffers at the Department of Transportation confirmed the dispute.)

Pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are all confused by the new restrictions, according to drivers and members of the public who spoke with The Times over the weekend.

“I’m having a hard time navigating that lane,” said Glenn Apraso, a writer who lives in the neighborhood. “It’s a lot more confusing.”

There are small signs in the bus lane directing vehicles to pay to park in the tolling space and to heed signs alerting them to the new lane.

“The time and distance is really high,” said Adam Olson, an attorney. “I feel like it could be tighter in that lane to minimize conflicts.”

The existing bus lanes, which run from 23rd to 58th streets from Manhattan to the Hudson River, are not subject to the new regulations, which have been touted as a boon for safety and reliability in a neighborhood notorious for traffic problems.

The new lane restricts vehicles to a 25 mph speed while restricting bus service to the 5th Avenue turn-out lanes.

Drivers will be able to maneuver their cars around barricades in the bus lane.

“The experience that I’ve had is like the city bus,” said James Butler, an office-worker who commutes by subway from his midtown home to his job in the Financial District. “The bus is very helpful but very confusing to use.”

That said, if commuters are hankering for a smoother ride, one commuter suggested finding a “steer-in” lane to the left.

“There is just so much congestion at the intersection,” said Leo Kaplan, founder of Support NY, a local business support organization. “You actually have to find an area where you can turn in to get on Lexington Avenue.”

The DOT responded to The Times by saying it plans to hold meetings soon with residents to address any concerns about the newly created lane.

“The city is building a safer, more reliable, cost-effective, operationally responsive mass transit system that benefits everyone,” a DOT spokesman told The Times. “We will listen to the needs of the community by holding community meetings throughout the pilot to collect input and provide information to the MTA.”

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