No More Blue Lights for Select Bus Service

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The MTA is searching for an alternative to the lights that turned out to be illegal

The introduction of the Select Bus Service on the Upper East Side was a welcome new transportation option for those looking to get uptown or downtown quickly. But one of the additions to the special buses, the flashing blue lights designed to alert passengers to be ready with their tickets to board the bus, were determined to be illegal, and now riders are left without a way to know when a bus is approaching.

The flashing blue lights of the SBS lines on 1st and 2nd Avenue have been turned off since they were deemed illegal over a month ago for clashing with emergency vehicle lights. The DMV had originally released a statement that said: "the use of blue lights on vehicles shall be restricted for use only by a volunteer firefighter." Since that time, SBS bus riders have been kept in the dark and new colored lights have yet to be installed.

"I stopped waiting for the SBS now that I cannot identify an oncoming one at a distance," wrote Dave Rosenstein, the co-chair of Community Board 8's Communications committee. "It's just too cold to wait, with no ability to make a rational decision as to what's coming, and thus too much of a crapshoot."

SBS riders have to purchase tickets for the bus ahead of time, but without the blue lights, said Rosenstein, it is impossible to distinguish one from another at a distance. He said that the likely color that the MTA will choose will be green, since other colors are already being used for different type of vehicles.

"MTA is reviewing alternatives to the flashing blue lights that were recently removed from our SBS bus fleet. No decision has been made as yet," said MTA representative Deirdre Parker. "We are being deliberate about our choice to ensure that we come up with an appropriate alternative."
However, Assemblyman Micah Kellner is searching for other solutions. He wants to amend the law to allow for blue flashing lights on buses, because as he says, most drivers have common sense and will know the difference between an emergency vehicle and a bus.

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