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NYC Bus Route Number Duplications As of 1972 (Manhattan)

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W.B. Fishbowl

Age: 52
Joined: 02 Oct 2014
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Location: New York, New York, USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:50 pm    Post subject: NYC Bus Route Number Duplications As of 1972 (Manhattan) Reply with quote

In the years prior to 1972, several bus routes during Manhattan had already had duplications of other numbers, all amongst routes of the old Fifth Avenue Coach Company (FACCo), New York City Omnibus Corporation (NYCO) and affiliates as administered, after 1962, by the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA); as well as of NYCTA routes that they'd operated since the East Side Omnibus and Comprehensive Omnibus went under in 1948. Some routes used borough prefices (namely, on and off prior to c.1960, NYCTA and Surface Transit ex Surface Transportation System) while the combined Fifth Avenue Coach Lines (FACL, as after the 1956 consolidation of FACCo, NYCO et al.) routes did not. Then in 1972, two things happened: the delivery of the first GM T6H-5309 (regular passenger) and T6H-5310 (express) buses, plus a change in policy affixing borough initial prefices to all routes, exemplified by new rollsigns in blue background, set in Standard Medium (a.k.a. AG Old Face Bold in today's parlance - check the MyFonts site to see). This exposed not only the old route duplications (and in the case of at least one route number, triplications) as had been in place up to then, but also in some cases added new ones on top of them. For purposes of brevity, I will concentrate only on the Manhattan and environs routes as run by MaBSTOA and NYCTA (this has been confirmed by an eBay seller putting up an old 1972 side rollsign from one of those GM's). In a nutshell, they were as follows:
- M1 - the MaBSTOA Fifth and Madison Avenues (via 135th Street) line, and NYCTA's Madison and Chambers Streets crosstown
- M3 - MaBSTOA's Fifth, Madison, St. Nicholas and Convent Avenues line, and NYCTA's 49th and 50th Streets (colloquially, and hereafter known as, 50th Street) crosstown
- M6 - two MaBSTOA routes: the ex-NYCO Broadway and Sixth Avenue route, and the ex-FACCo 72nd Street crosstown
- M7 - the MaBSTOA Broadway/Columbus/Lenox route, and NYCTA's 65th, 66th, 67th and 68th Streets (hereafter known as 66th Street) crosstown (not counting a third M7, an express route operated by Avenue B and East Broadway that ran from Wall Street to 110th Street)
- M11 - MaBSTOA's 10th/Amsterdam and Columbus/9th Avenues line, and NYCTA's York Avenue line
Because the next two sequential numbers ran through Queens, I will deal with them last. This leaves:
- M20 - both MaBSTOA, the ex-FACCO 57th Street crosstown and ex-NYCO 116th Street crosstown
Now, to the others:
- Over the years, three route #15's sprung in operation. Two of them were simple enough - the NYCTA's First and Second Avenues line, and MaBSTOA's (ex NYCO) 23rd Street crosstown were both designated M15. But in the case of the ex-FACCo route #15, the Fifth and Madison Avenues/Jackson Heights line, the fact it traveled through both Queens and Manhattan led to its being designated QM15 - which in and of itself was also duplicative of the route number for the then-Green Bus Lines' Lindenwood/Midtown express bus route now operated by MTA Bus.
- There were also two route #16's, both operated by MaBSTOA: the ex-NYCO 34th Street crosstown designated M16 - and the ex-FACCo Elmhurst crosstown that, despite it not going through Manhattan except it being stationed out of the 54th Street depot, was designated - believe it or not - QM16. That route number was yet another duplication on top of a duplication - as QM16, then under Green Bus Lines' aegis and now run by MTA Bus, was and still is the Neponsit/Midtown express line. (One would think, as I had, that it'd have been called Q16 - which was and is the nomenclature of NYCTA's Fort Totten route - but this proved not to be the case.)
As a result of these and other duplications, triplications and such, it was decided in June 1974 to change several of the route designations, effective July 1. Of the five routes operated by NYCTA's Manhattan bus division, only the First and Second Avenues M15 retained its old name/number; the rest weren't so lucky:
- The Madison/Chambers M1 became M22
- The 50th Street crosstown M3 became M27 (it is today M50)
- The 66th Street crosstown M7 became M29 (it is today M66)
- The York Avenue M11 became M31
On the MaBSTOA side, while most retained their old names, a few Manhattan and area routes did not exactly get out of this unscathed:
- The 72nd Street crosstown M6 became M30 (an apparent forerunner of today's M72)
- The 23rd Street crosstown M15 became M26 (it is today M23)
- The Fifth and Madison Avenues/Jackson Heights QM15 became M32 (it changed to the current Q32 in 1989 after its Manhattan terminus was truncated from Fifth Avenue and 25th Street to Penn Station)
- The Elmhurst crosstown QM16 became Q89 (it was discontinued in the 1980's due to low ridership)
- The 57th Street crosstown M20 became M28 (it is today M57, while the 116th Street crosstown M20 that got to keep its nomenclature back then, is today M116)
Not brought up are the six Bronx lines (all with A, B or C suffices in their designations) that got changed to either different numbers, or the same numbers without the ending letters. But honorable mention goes to these that also got changed that 1974 summer day:
- The Fifth, Madison and Seventh Avenues M2A (a designation meant to distinguish from the Fifth/Madison/Lenox route #2 that disappeared before 1972) became M2 (the same year Seventh Avenue north of 110th Street/Cathedral Parkway/Central Park North became Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard)
- Back in 1960, after Third Avenue was made one way northbound north of 24th Street, and Lexington Avenue one way southbound, the old NYCO-era Lexington routes then run by Fifth Avenue Coach Lines (FACL), 3 and 4, were discontinued; the latter route which went to Lenox Avenue was basically retained, its uptown route shifted to Third, and its nomenclature rebranded (M)101A (to distinguish it from the Third and Amsterdam Avenues [M]101 whose downtown route was switched to Lexington north of 24th). In the 1974 switchover M101A was changed to M102.
- From the opening of the Triboro Bridge, NYCO had operated a "TB" route that went to Astoria, Randalls Island and Wards Island from Manhattan and the Bronx. In part because of this new system - and whether or not there were some misgivings because 'TB', besides being shorthand for the bridge, had some connotations to the dread disease tuberculosis - it was split off into three different lines: M34 (not to be confused with today's 34th Street +SBS crosstown, ex M16), M35, and Bx21 (the last discontinued in 1984 due to low ridership).
Any picture "show and tells" of 1972-74 pics of any of these MaBSTOA routes would be most appreciated. I hope to dig out some meself . . . and anyone with corrections or amendments or additions, please advise . . .
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And in July, 1974, I wrote a letter which was printed in the New York Times accusing the MTA of a lack of imagination by simply using unused route numbers to get rid of these duplications. I recommended they use the street name instead as the route number. e.g instead of renumbering the M3 as the M27, they call it the M50 for 50 Street.

Around 1985, I made the same recommendation again and in effect was told it was a dumb recommendation and shortly thereafter, they renamed all the crosstown routes as I suggested.
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W.B. Fishbowl

Age: 52
Joined: 02 Oct 2014
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Location: New York, New York, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

F.T.R., the Bronx routes changed on that same 1974 summer day were:
- Bx4A - to Bx16
- Bx5A - to Bx54
- Bx12A&B - to Bx12
- Bx15A - to Bx6
- Bx15B - to Bx19
- Bx15C - to Bx17
I was remiss in not mentioning, when all route numbers had borough initial prefices assigned in 1972 (after on-and-off pre-1960), that Staten Island routes were designated by an 'R' prefix (for Richmond County) before 1975 when the 'S' prefix finally took hold. (The route designation changes from that were a whole production number in and of themselves.)
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent posts, gentlemen!!! Thanks for the memories of these different route numbers.
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W.B. Fishbowl

Age: 52
Joined: 02 Oct 2014
Posts: 349
Location: New York, New York, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is an amendment I wish to add: The M2A (via 110th Street and 7th Avenue) route designation dated to the 1966 one-way conversions of Fifth and Madison Avenues. This was the ex-FACCO #2, with an A suffix added because the ex-NYCO route #2 (via 116th Street and Lenox Avenue) was rerouted south to Fifth between 116th and 8th Streets at the time. The ex-NYCO #2 was then shifted further east on March 2, 1969, rerouted up Third Avenue and down Lexington Avenue (in a de facto revival of the old NYCO #4 route), and rechristened #101A. It was that route, in fact, that is today's M102; for the prior nine years between NYCO #3 and #4's elimination (at the one-way conversions of Third Avenue to NB and Lexington Avenue to SB in 1960) and the rerouting of ex-NYCO #2 to Third and Lex and renumbering as #101A, the only buses that went through those two avenues were all of the ex-Surface Transit #101, whether its southern terminus was 6th Street or City Hall, or its northern terminus 125th Street or Fort George.
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GBL Rebel

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Manhattan 1969 Bus Map showing some of the duplicate route numbers (pdf) -


This was posted by Dan in another thread. I believe it belongs here, not in the capital plan thread. I can not figure out how to move this from one thread to another. The original post is listed under the same topic. When I do figure out how to move it or get help, I will delete this and Dan's post will be here, until then sorry Dan.
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W.B. Fishbowl

Age: 52
Joined: 02 Oct 2014
Posts: 349
Location: New York, New York, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No doubt, that map was made after the rerouting of the ex-NYCO #2 (Fifth, Madison and Lenox Avenues) south of 116th Street onto Third Avenue northbound and Lexington Avenue southbound, and rebranding it the M101A. Doubtless maps between 1966 and 1969 would have had 2 and 2A. Also, what was it about NYCTA and ex-Surface Transit routes having M prefices whilst ex-FACCo and NYCO lines didn't?
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