14th Street busway gets city’s first all-electric bus fleet as its ridership soars

December 16, 2019

Photo by Marc A. Hermann for MTA NYC Transit

The first of the city’s new electric buses hit the streets on Sunday, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority moves to fully electrify their fleet by 2040. Fifteen new electric articulated buses will run on the M14 Select Bus Service route on the 14th Street busway, a car-free strip between Third and Ninth Avenues introduced by the city in October as a way to speed up commutes. The busway has proven popular with riders, with new data showing a significant increase of M14 SBS ridership compared to last year. 

The new buses join the MTA’s current fleet of 10 electric standard buses the agency leases for a three-year pilot program. The 15 buses, all scheduled to be deployed by next March, are expected to serve more than 30,000-weekday customers via the M14 SBS route.

The MTA said it will spend $1.1 billion as part of the 2020-2024 capital plan to buy 500 electric buses and expects to buy electric-only vehicles by 2029. The goal, as set by the agency’s Fast Forward plan, is to have a fully electric fleet of buses by 2040.

According to the MTA, the all-electric fleet reduces the city’s carbon footprint, while the propulsion technology makes them run quieter. Craig Cipriano, the acting president of MTA Bus Company and senior vice president of the agency’s Department of Buses, said the new fleet “represents the future of MTA bus service.”

“This is a historic day for MTA buses and the start of our journey to a zero-emissions fleet that will set the standard for the rest of the nation as its largest public bus system.”

Chart via MTA

The new fleet comes as commuters continue to choose the bus over the subway, even during times of day when the L train is running at its peak frequency, according to the agency. Data released on Sunday shows an increase of bus riders between 2018 and 2019 during weekday peak hours and on the weekends.

As Streetsblog reported on Sunday, ridership increased by 24 percent in November, the first month of the busway, compared to the same month in 2018. Morning rush hour ridership has also increased by about 20 percent following the introduction of the busway this year.

“We are committed to a state-of-the-art bus fleet across the entire city that is green and sustainable, and that means moving toward all-electric technology,” NYC Transit President Andy Byford said in a press release. “We’re also thrilled about the popularity of the M14 and the busway that’s helping to enable its success.”


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