14th Street to Become a Busway

In response to several months of advocacy by NYLCV and its partners, NYC Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Department of Transportation recently announced that they will implement a busway pilot program on 14th Street starting in June. The aim of this program is to prioritize transit traffic making travel on this busy thoroughfare quicker for straphangers during the L-train tunnel repair.

The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) had initially planned to implement the busway on 14th Street as a response to the L-train shutdown. This initial plan consisted of restricting car traffic, protected bus lanes, and implementing Select Bus Service. However, when earlier this year Governor Cuomo said that full shutdown of the L-train would not be necessary and that there would be only partial closures on this line, it looked like the City had opted to cancel its plans for a busway.

NYLCV believed that the busway would have been a significant step forward in improving NYC’s public transportation system, making our streets more pedestrian-friendly, and help deal with the L-train service changes. So, together with other groups like Transportation Alternatives and Riders Alliance, we continued advocating in the ensuing months for moving forward with the city’s initial L-train mitigation plan, including converting this street into a busway.  

In February, in collaboration with Transportation Alternatives, we participated in a race on 14th Street between walkers and bus riders to demonstrate that buses in this street are practically traveling at walking speed, and reiterate that New Yorkers definitively need a more efficient bus system. The two groups reached their destination at almost exactly the same time.

As we stated in our 2018 City Policy Agenda, in order to meet our future transportation needs, the city will have to adopt a more diversified mobility strategy to create a more sustainable and livable city. Giving people more alternative transportation options and making streets more pedestrian-friendly have been among NYLCV’s top-priorities.

Restricting car traffic on 14th Street would improve bus speeds, make it a more pedestrian-friendly area, and decrease congestion which will result in better air quality for New Yorkers. Better bus service also means riders are more likely to opt for public transportation over a private vehicle. Policies like this will help New York become a greener city and fight against climate change.

After months of advocacy, the City announced that they will implement a Transit/Truck Priority treatment pilot program on 14th Street.

In order to enable faster transit and maximize the number of people that this street can move, the city plans to restrict private traffic on 14th Street between Third and Ninth avenues throughout most of the day. Private vehicles will not be allowed to enter this area from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The 14th Street area will consist of four lanes: the center lanes will be dedicated to bus and truck traffic, and curbside lanes which will be reserved for truck loading and local traffic looking to make pickups, drop-offs or to access garages.  Vehicles in outer curbside lanes will be required to turn right at the next possible location, and left turns will not be allowed at all.

These changes are expected to occur simultaneously with the launch of the M14 SBS service that is scheduled for June this year.

The city announced that it will also conduct significant outreach to stakeholders, including five different community boards that serve 14th Street, and that it will promote public education campaigns for people whose commute includes this area.

NYLCV will continue to advocate for street improvement projects that make the city more pedestrian-friendly and reduce pollution.