Editorial: Don’t just say ‘no’ to all Manhattan transit proposals. Let’s work together to keep moving.

Buses clog 14th St. near Fifth Ave. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

For all the attention given to the myriad problems in the city’s subway system, not enough attention is paid to the equally woeful bus network citywide.

Notoriously slow and off schedule, the buses nonetheless serve as a vital transit link for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each day. The MTA and city Transportation Department realize the problems facing the bus network and are doing things to try and speed them up.

Unfortunately, in certain instances, these efforts are facing backlash from community merchants and residents who say the prescribed cures for slow buses and street congestion are worse than the ailments.

With the MTA attempting to close 14th Street in Manhattan to all vehicular traffic except buses, and creating a bus lane along Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, local groups have even taken the extreme measure of going to court to try and stop such plans.

A judge dismissed the case against the Ridgewood bus lane on Sept. 23, which was based by the litigants on the perception that removing parking and traffic lanes from Fresh Pond Road to better accommodate buses would harm business. It’s the same argument made for opponents of the 14th Street busway in Manhattan, whose case is currently pending.

Arthur Schwartz, who represents the 14th Street busway opponents, similarly represented the bus lane opponents in Queens. Knowing he and other opponents won’t back down, they might want to heed the words of Judge Joseph Esposito’s decision in the Queens case, in which he said that the detractors’ motive was primarily a fear of change.

With the L train undergoing serious reconstruction, and the streets of Manhattan filled with more cars and people than ever, more must be done to protect the street. In our view, during weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 14th Street should be limited to bus traffic, emergency vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

Business deliveries ought to be encouraged during late night and early morning hours when the street is least active.

The transportation situation in the city, especially with regard to buses, is untenable. To their credit, the de Blasio Administration is working with the MTA to figure out ways to speed the buses up to serve more people, and reverse the troubling downward trend in ridership as frustrated commuters turn to ride-sharing as a faster alternative.

Whether it’s the creation of restricted bus lanes, rerouting entire bus lines or expanding limited and Select Bus services, change needs to happen. 

We’re choking on our own traffic, and if we can’t get to where we need to go, we will harm way more businesses and families than those living on a single street in any given neighborhood.

The city and MTA should always work with communities when implementing bus changes to make the transition process smooth. However, the time to just say “no” to every proposal needs to come to an end. 

The city is at a transit breaking point. We need to work together to keep moving.

9 Responses to Editorial: Don’t just say ‘no’ to all Manhattan transit proposals. Let’s work together to keep moving.

  1. Maybe also city should think about building permits. It’s ridiculous right now at 14th and 6th Avenue with two constructions sites across from each other. Often there is only 1 or 2 passable lanes during the day with double parking and deliveries.

    • Agree with you. Development should have to take into consideration transit as a daily routine!

      Also, generally, nice to see the villager reflecting the views of those of us who live in the village and don’t have cars, aka the majority of us. By far.

  2. “Often there is only 1 or 2 passable lanes during the day with double parking and deliveries.”

    **stares at the last four words**

  3. I appreciate the concern of The Village editorial writers in their proposal to keep bus only traffic on 14th Street during the day. It is a fair opinion. However, the editorial does not address the impact of car traffic on the side streets.

    As someone who lives on 12th St/University Place, my concern is about the car traffic that will be forced onto 12th Street. When the street was reconfigured (bike lance, buffer lane, traffic lane, parking lane) a while ago, traffic increased dramatically. It will only get worse with a bus only 14th Street.

    On 12th, between University and Broadway, the buffer lane is parked up with non-marked police cars, courtesy of the “PAL Headquarters” building at 34 1/2 E. 12th Street. (The building, once a beautiful school, now desperately in need of facade work, has been covered with scaffolding for many years, without any work ever being done. But that’s another story).

    To add to the misery, it seems to me that the ambulance traffic (complete with deafening sirens) has increased. I think this is due to the Mt. Sinai Hospital on 7th Ave. 12th Street is now the go-to crosstown route for the ambulances to get to 1st Avenue and the uptown hospitals!. And boy, when those ambulances get stuck on my corner in traffic, you don’t want to be here.

    • If cars are banned on 14th Street, it will become the quickest route across town for emergency vehicles. I can’t imagine why any emergency vehicle would use 12th or 13th streets. You should support the busway if you want to eliminate the ambulance noise on your block.

      • How about emergencies on 12th and 13th Street? I now see emergency vehicles trapped trying to get to situations on those blocks, which puts residents and businesses in danger. Some people shouldn’t be more important than others.

  4. Ban cars on the side streets.

    • We shouldn’t be banning cars on side streets. What we need to do is charge very high amounts in the congestion zone (everywhere below 60th) when congestion pricing is implemented. They’re talking about somewhere around $10. Screw that. Make it $40 dollars. Don’t like it? Don’t drive in here then. Residents of the congestion zone should not be exempt either. If you don’t want to pay each time you drive into your neighborhood then get a spot in a parking garage in Hoboken or Queens. If you live in Manhattan, you don’t need a car.

      We should be pedestrianizing streets though. We should pedestrianize the entirety of broadway as well as one or two of the avenues.

  5. Governor Cuomo: HELP!!!
    After investigating, and researching the situation, you successfully solved the ill-conceived “L” train problem with a common sense, out-of-the-box solution with technology. That project is now ahead-of-schedule and under-budget. Congratulations. Now, we need your common sense approach again. A born and raised Manhattan residents, my wife and I are now disabled and need our automobile to get around, mainly for medical issues. One of our doctors is located directly on 14th Street. The length of 14th Street, from Ave c to 9th avenue, I would guess, is 2 miles, at most. Estimate is that the SB14 will increase by 2 miles per hour. Presume there are very few, is any,every bus riders who ride the entire route. Again, let’s presume average length of ride is (generously) 8 blocks (4/10 of a mile). Do the math: the average trip will save only 2-3 minutes. Is that worth fouling up all surrounding streets, including 23rd street, which will get a majority of the long crosstown traffic? God only knows the mess if congestion pricing goes into effect. Governor, you as most of us NY’ers feel our current mayor is an ineffective administrator..please step in with some common sense. And, personally, I also put the onus on our previous mayor, who began this nonsense.

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