14th St. no-cars bus plan to start July 1

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The city’s “experiment” on 14th St. is set to kick off Mon., July 1, as through traffic will be banned between Third and Ninth Aves. and buses and trucks will rule the road.

On the same day, the M14A and M14D routes will be converted entirely to Select Bus Service, with a total of 16 bus stops eliminated and curbside payment instituted to speed up bus times.

It’s all part of what’s being called a pilot project — albeit one slated to last a full year and a half.

And in a huge relief to West Village seniors, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to wait for nine months to decide on whether to ax the Abingdon Square loop at the western end of the M14.

The Department of Transportation announced the changes on Mon., June 9, the Daily News reported.

Under the proposed Transit/Truck Priority lanes plan, to launch July 1, through traffic — including cars and cabs — would be banned from 14th St. between Third and Ninth Aves. daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Buses and trucks would be allowed. (Courtesy D.O.T.)

Under the first-of-its-kind plan in New York City, cars and cabs would be able to come onto 14th St., but only for one block for pickups and drop-offs, and would then have to leave the crosstown boulevard at the first available right-hand turn. Cars would also be allowed onto 14th St. to access garages. Left turns along this stretch of the crosstown street would not be allowed.

The prohibitions on cars would be in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Moving traffic would be reduced to one lane in each direction. Midblock next to the curb, there would be extra-wide space for loading, pickups and drop-offs. At intersections, there would also be a third, separate lane for a bus stop, and the curbside space in this area would be reduced.

The scheme was previously called a “busway” when it was pitched as part of the transit mitigation plan for the L-train full shutdown plan. But this past January, Governor Andrew Cuomo nixed the full L-train shutdown and said the L line’s Sandy-damaged East River tubes could be repaired on nights and weekends, with one tube always left open allowing for partial service.

At that point, the busway appeared kaput. But, in April, the idea was resuscitated, in a slightly different form, and redubbed “Transit/Truck Priority” lanes.

Meanwhile, repairs on the L-train tunnel started in late April.

D.O.T. will enforce the new T.T.P. lanes with cameras along 14th St. But enforcement measures won’t kick in until at least 60 days after the traffic changes go into effect. There will reportedly also be new traffic signals, known as Transit Signal Priorities, with technology to detect when a bus is nearby and adjust the length of red or green lights, so that buses spend less time waiting at lights.

The Daily News reported that the intention is to have seven new Police Department tow trucks patrolling 14th St. — targeting double-parking, for one — as part of the effort to enforce the new regulations.

The T.T.P. scheme on 14th St. would be the first of its kind in the city.

Just as they feared with the busway, many local residents living nearby in the Village and Chelsea continue to worry that displaced car traffic and ride-hail app cars will flood their small side streets if the through-traffic ban on 14th St. goes into effect.

A D.O.T. spokesperson explained to this paper the reasoning behind implementing the daily ban on cars and cabs from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.:

Bus ridership “rises significantly” starting at 6 a.m., he said, while evening ridership decreases more gradually. Also, during the L-tunnel repairs, the M.T.A. has operated the M14A at “increased frequencies” after 8 p.m., which the T.T.P. plan — which ends at 10 p.m. — “would support.” In addition, the spokesperson pointed out, bus speeds drop in the early morning and remain slow throughout the day and evening — another justification for implementing the T.T.P. plan. Finally, overall traffic speeds remain “consistently low” on 14th St. throughout the day, “particularly at midday” — with this having been true before and also now during the L-train repairs.

The Riders Alliance, one of the city’s leading transportation advocacy groups, hailed the launch of what it termed a “busway.” Although the plan hasn’t even been implemented or tested yet, the Alliance is already eagerly calling for it to be replicated citywide.

“The 14th St. busway is great news for transit riders and neighborhood residents,” declared Danny Pearlstein, the group’s communications director.
“By ensuring fast, reliable transit starting July 1, the busway will provide an excellent alternative to jam-packed L trains and expensive, inefficient car trips.

“New Yorkers across the city should be grateful to Mayor de Blasio and New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford for putting this innovative service in place. We look forward to working with our elected leaders to ensure that buses are prioritized on more streets across the city, so riders everywhere get where they need to go.”

With a nine-month reprieve for the M14’s Abingdon Square loop, Westbeth Artists Housing residents are being urged by tenant leaders to “get on the bus” to emphasize how much the stops are used and how important they are to the community.

West Village seniors — including many living in Westbeth Artists Housing — had been in a panic after the M.T.A. recently announced it would be cutting out the Abingdon Square loop at the western end of the M14 route. However, at the urging of local politicians, the agency has now reportedly granted a reprieve, saying it will keep the loop for at least nine months after the new 14th St. scheme goes into effect and “study” the situation.

4 Responses to 14th St. no-cars bus plan to start July 1

  1. This plan is ridiculous, and the groups and people "hailing" the greatness of the project are cheering prematurely.

    When the MTA/DOT answered questions in a public meeting in May, they stated that this particular SBS route will NOT use signal priority as "…… that would back up the avenues, northbound and southbound." How is that going to speed up buses? Similarly, if the stops are not being dropped in the West Village, doesn't that also slow down service? The MTA's desire to speed up bus service by denying it to the vulnerable and less-abled shouldn't be a goal, yet it is, by making bus stops farther apart. Does anyone at MTA or DOT understand who takes the bus and why?

    Yet again, the details of this "experiment" are not very clear and the public is left with lots of promises – about better "service," faster bus speeds, the "cars won't come so we won't have congestion" mentality, and the lack of clear plans for enforcement, which rely on some cameras and traffic agents, but not a full, understandable plan with the police.

    The entire community outreach process was a sham, and it was only direct contact with our elected officials that got any attention and some change to the planned elimination of stops. Who believes that will stay in effect?

    The MTA/DOT has consistently lied to the public about this project. How much does this "experiment" cost? How much do all the street treatments, lights, labor and paint, as well as the utilities and other cost for the busway and the bike lanes and street redesign for other streets in this plan?

    We have a funding crisis at the MTA. Why are we spending any money at ALL on a plan that is not responding to the needs of the public, but the desires of the lobbyists? The DOT could also prioritize to spend money on the roads, especially things like filling potholes, you know, the basics.

    Let's stop pretending that this is anything good.

  2. A giant thank-you those that worked to delay (for 9 months) the closure of an important bus route, especially those at Westbeth who made their own stories ours. It took a village, and Westbeth's dedicated tenants and activists (over 188 in the first few days) stepped up for the West Village community. Let's do what the sign says, keep ridership up and apply pressure to the MTA. Outrage is understandable, but actions get results.

  3. Cory Johnson is Done

    Transportation Alternatives are basically Trump-like folks who wear green and managed to buy Cory Johnson, who sold his own district down the river: see here https://www.transalt.org/news/releases/11242

  4. Robert N. Sellar

    What is the effect on the bus stops at 14th Street and Avenues C, B, A, and First Avenue, which is the southern end of Stuyvesant Towm/Peter Cooper Village, where over 30,000 people live?

    Going west on 14th Street, the stops at Avenues D, C and B are covered by the Avenue D bus, and the stops at Avenue A and First Avenue are covered by the Avenue A and D buses. These are very long blocks and even one change would make it very difficult for our older and infirm seniors and persons with disabilities!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *