Some Bus & Ferry Improvements Planned for NYC While Proposed 14th Street Busway May Not be Implemented

Last month in his State of the City Address, Mayor Bill De Blasio revealed his plan for improvements to New York City’s public transportation system, which included steps towards making the City’s buses run faster and expanding the NYC ferry service. By 2020, de Blasio aims to increase bus speeds by 25% and to connect the NYC ferry to all five boroughs.

As part of the ferry service expansion, the administration plans to connect all 5 boroughs through the NYC Ferry. Between 2020 and 2021, new ferry routes will be implemented between Staten Island, Battery Park City and the west side of Manhattan, and Coney Island to Lower Manhattan. There will also be modifications to existing routes to improve accessibility and the City will invest $100 million into new boats, landings, and existing buildings.

In order to increase bus speeds, the de Blasio administration plans to construct 10 to 15 miles of bus lanes a year, an increase from seven, and reinforcing rules against parking and idling in bus lanes. The administration will also work with the NYPD to form a patrol team, mobilize tow trucks, and install cameras to better enforce bus lane rules. The Department of Transportation will also take steps to implement Traffic Signal Priority, a technology that would move buses more quickly by synching bus movement with traffic lights, into 300 intersections per year. This measure would double the frequency of green lights for buses. He also committed to working with the MTA to expand the Select Bus Service (SBS) Program, which last added a new route on October 2017. They will also improve 5 miles of existing SBS routes per year.

These public transportation improvements would also have the benefit of mitigating NYC’s carbon footprint. Providing dependable public transportation options will decrease reliance on cars, reduce traffic, improve air quality, and reduce emissions. That’s why NYLCV has been advocating for these types of improvements. We called for the expansion of protected bike lanes and advances in signal and sensor technology as part of our 2018 NYC Policy Agenda.

Unfortunately, the MTA this month announced that the busway on 14th Street in Manhattan would not continue as originally planned. The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) had been planning to implement the busway as part of the L-train shutdown, which Governor Cuomo recently said would no longer be necessary. The busway would consist of restricting car traffic and implementing a Select Bus Service route on 14th Street. While the L-train may no longer be fully suspended this year, there will still be night and weekend closures on the line beginning in April. NYLCV urges DOT to continue with the L-Train mitigation plans as originally proposed to accommodate riders facing significant service reductions. Especially given the Mayor’s State of the City announcement to increase bus speeds, it is essential the City follow through with solutions that will make our streets more livable and pedestrian-friendly.  

NYLCV will continue to advocate for public transportation improvements like the 14th Street busway.