The pay-before-boarding bus system is already in use on Manhattan’s East Side and elsewhere, and the MTA wants to expand it citywide. Except there’s one glaring problem: The ticket machines are often broken, riders say.
In a survey by Upper East Side Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, SBS M15 riders reported that what should be speedy service is marred by ticket machines that are often broken.
"While more East Siders are on board with Select Bus Service, my office constantly receives complaints about broken ticket machines,” Lappin said. “The MTA needs to tell fare inspectors when machines are out, so riders aren't unfairly issued a $100 summons."
Twenty percent of the 1,300 riders surveyed rated the ease of paying tickets as “poor” or “very poor.” Nearly 26 percent of riders even said that SBS service has gotten worse since it was first implemented last year. Lappin’s office even said that 20 respondents said they were issued $100 summonses by MTA police while the ticket machines were broken.
The MTA claims that its data shows that the ticket machines work 98% of the time.
Riders say otherwise.
“Half the time the machines don’t work,” said Staten Island mom Megan Izzo, 23, who rides the bus every day. “Often, only one will be working and there will be a long line and you’ll miss the bus.”
Izzo said sometimes, a bus driver will let her get on if the machine is broken and tell her to get a receipt at the next stop.
“Sometimes they’ll tell you to get off at the next stop, but I got off and the cops were waiting,” she said of a bad trip she took two months ago. “Instead of letting me pay, they gave me a ticket.”
M15 bus driver Kwabena Amponsah said that he often makes riders get off the bus to get tickets at a working machine. “They run and they rush, but we wait for them,” he said.