For those New Yorkers who live in areas with limited subway access--think West Chelsea, Riverside Boulevard and the Williamsburg waterfront--the commute is a bit more daunting (and sweatier) than most. That's why some building owners and developers provide free shuttle buses to whisk residents to nearby train stops, alleviating some of the stress.
Before you start thinking of a shuttle as your own private chauffeur, it's worthwhile to keep in mind that not all of them are created equal. Below, key questions to ask building management to get the smoothest ride possible:
1. What times and days do they run?
Usually, shuttles run only during morning and evening rush hours. Late nights and weekends are often a no-go, so if you're working past a typical 9-to-5 or brunching across town, it's helpful to double check the shuttle's exact hours. And, of course, ask how often they run as well.
2. Where do they pick up and drop off?
In most cases, pick up and drop off are limited between the building and local subway stops. But some shuttles will take you to shopping hubs as well.
At the Brittany building on East 92nd Street and York Avenue, for example, the shuttle takes tenants to East 86th Street and Lexington Avenue, a location packed with chain stores like H&M, Best Buy, Petco, Fairway and a New York Sports Club. And the shuttle for Riverbank West at West 43rd Street and 11th Avenue stops at the Port Authority, Times Square, Bryant Park and Fifth Avenue on weekday mornings.
3. How big are the buses?
While shuttles tend to be smaller than city buses, they still hold an average of 25 to 30 seated passengers. In the event of standing room only, some bus drivers can cram as many as 40 to 50 onto a shuttle at once. Sure, it might not be comfortable, but on a snowy or hot day, it beats hoofing it.
4. Is there an app for that?
There just might be. Building Link, a company that provides technology for property managers, operates shuttle service at buildings across the city, including at Silver Towers on West 42nd Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. Residents who've downloaded their shuttle tracker mobile app can look up the location of shuttles and see how long it will take to arrive at the stops. (The description in the iTunes App Store says it's only for building managers, but a company rep says that residents can download it as well. There's also a website.)
5. How green is my shuttle?
If environmentally friendly living is important, you may want to check the shuttle bus' carbon footprint. Some buildings, like the Helena on West 57th Street between 11th and 12th avenues, operate low-emission vehicles.