‘Busway’ is only way to be fair on 14th St.

The call for better bus service on 14th St. is still high even though the L-train shutdown has now been downgraded to a slowdown. (File photo)

BY DAISY PAEZ AND JOSE ANTONIO ORTIZ-RIVERA | The section of the Lower East Side to the south and east of Delancey St. is among the least subway-accessible in all of Manhattan. That’s why local residents, especially seniors, rely on buses to get around.

The M14A bus is particularly important to the community since it connects the Lower East Side to several subway lines and serves more than 30,000 passengers weekly. It’s unacceptable that the M14 (including the M14A and M14D combined) is among the slowest in all of New York City, moving at an appalling 3.9 mph.

The urgency of improving the M14 line cannot be overstated. The Lower East Side is undergoing significant transformations, with major construction projects in the area forecasting a greater need for adequate bus service. Plus, the impending L-train “slowdown” will have vast implications.

We know that services like Uber and Lyft are chomping at the bit to flood our neighborhoods in anticipation of the L slowdown, ready to ferry those fortunate few who have disposable income to their destinations. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of the rest of us will be crawling along at slower speeds than ever before as the M14 battles car and truck traffic.

How is that fair?

There are solutions to slow buses but they just take courage to implement. Comptroller Scott Stringer said as much in his November 2017 report “The Other Transit Crisis: How to Improve the NYC Bus System”: “[Slow speeds are] not the result of unavoidable circumstances, but rather a

product of age-old institutional failures by the city and the M.T.A. to maximize the system’s potential. While bus riders demand fast, reliable, frequent, connective, accessible and legible public transit, that basic level of service is too rarely on offer.”

Such failures are not acceptable, and the first thing the city could do to improve our lives is implement the plan it already has to improve M14 service: It needs to stick to the original plan to create a busway on 14th St.

Yes, the L train is no longer completely shutting down, but the slowdown will itself be extremely painful, especially for residents like us who need to get across town: Major slowdowns starting at 8 p.m.; uncertainty whether or not nighttime repairs will be complete by morning rush hour; years of disrupted weekend service; potentially dangerous dust. The list goes on. These things matter! Unless something bold is done on 14th St., bus riders (who are more likely to be lower-income or senior citizens) will suffer the most.

The bus system and bus riders are too often forgotten. But we can’t allow that to happen this time. The stakes are just too high for too many people.

The message from Lower East Side seniors is this: Be bold, think of New York’s bus riders. We need leadership from our elected officials, now more than ever.


Paez is Democratic district leader, 65th Assembly District, Part B; Ortiz-Rivera is a member, Senior Advocacy Leadership Team (SALT), Manny Cantor Center

2 Responses to ‘Busway’ is only way to be fair on 14th St.

  1. L Train vs. 14th Street Bus. They both serve different people who have different destinations for the most part. SBS
    Bus services should be faster than the present Service on 14th Street. Total Shutdown of the L train would have been a disaster.

  2. What do the writers actually mean by the "busway"? SBS buses (with off-bus ticketing) are a much needed improvement. But, the "busway", as initially proposed by the DOT included a 17 hr/7 day a week vehicle ban which is destructive to those of us living on and around 14th St. Talk about being fair – what about the resulting congestion from diverting all vehicles to narrow residential side streets and preventing access to vehicles to those who live on 14th St (including seniors, disabled, etc.). Let's come up with solutions that work for all – not just those passing through our neighborhoods.

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