Today’s news:

Boro to get upgraded bus service

New, faster MTA buses made their debut this week, touting such innovations as pre-boarding fare payment and technology that prolongs green traffic lights until a bus passes an intersection.

The new service, also coming to Queens, began Sunday on a seven-mile route connecting upper Manhattan and the northeast Bronx.

The buses, described generally as Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, are known by New York City Transit as Select Service.

The idea is to shave as much time as 20 percent off the runs. Transit officials say the amount of time conventional buses spend taking on passengers sometimes reaches 15 percent to 20 percent of the full trip.

The new buses feature dedicated lanes in which other vehicles are banned, payment by straphangers before they board and transponders that hold traffic lights green long enough that the bus does not waste times stopping for a traffic light.

The interiors of the articulated double length buses that bend in the middle have seats with dark blue trim that surround dark blue and light blue polka-dot fabric.

"This new service in upper Manhattan and the Bronx is the first of its kind in New York City," said James Anyansi, a New York City Transit spokesman. "We have plans next for Select Service on 34th Street in Manhattan by the end of the Summer. Queens is coming up, but we don't yet have a date."

Transit officials have designated Hillside Avenue for the first Select Service in Queens.

As another way of getting passengers aboard faster, passengers may enter not only at the front of the bus, but at the rear as well.

Riders must purchase a ticket from bus stop vending machines either with a MetroCard or coins, but tickets do not have to be shown to a driver. MTA inspectors, however, will perform spot checks. Failure to produce a ticket could mean a $100 fine for fare evasion.

Although passengers were advised by transit authority personnel that they were welcome to board at the back door, few did so in a check of several Bronx bus stops.

At Pelham Bay, one man who was advised he could hop aboard at the back door, grinned and exclaimed, "This is ridiculous."

The start-up of the Select Service took place between 207th Street and Broadway and the Bay Plaza Mall in Co-op City. The new runs replaced the Bx12 limited-stop bus. The new route also provides summer-only service to Orchard Beach.

Los Angeles began what it calls Metro Rapid bus routes in 2000 with routes on Wilshire and Ventura boulevards. It started six new routes Monday, bringing its total of such routes to 26, said Rick Jagger of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

BRT service has long been running in several other American cities and in a number of cities throughout South America.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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