NYC makes 14th Street busway permanent, adds five more car-free routes

June 8, 2020

14th Street Busway; Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit on Flickr

The busway on 14th Street in Manhattan will be made permanent, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday. The car-free strip of the street, which runs between 3rd and 9th Avenues, launched as part of a pilot program last October. The mayor called the busway, which has proven popular with riders, a “success by every measure.” De Blasio also announced the phased-in addition of five new busways and 16.5 miles of bus lanes, which are meant to alleviate crowding for commuters as the city begins the reopening process.

Since the 14th Street M14 busway pilot launched last year, the city has reported faster crosstown commutes and a dramatic increase in ridership. Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., only buses and trucks have been allowed to make trips between 9th and 3rd Avenues, with all other vehicles limited to local trips.

On Monday, de Blasio said the city’s 20 new miles of bus lanes and busways will serve nearly 750,000 daily riders total. The five new busways, totaling 3.5 miles, will launch on “an urgent basis” between June and October. “We need the help now, given the crisis we’re in. We have to make it easier for people to get around,” the mayor said.

Via Mayor de Blasio’s Office

Starting this month, a busway will open on sections of Main Street in Queens, followed by Jamacia Avenue in Queens and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in July, Jay Street in Brooklyn sometime in August, and 181st Street in Manhattan in October. Each of the new busways will operate as a one-year trial program and will become permanent if successful.

Designated bus lanes will also be rolled out in phases, with East 14th Street in Manhattan and 149th Street in the Bronx getting the first lanes this month. Additional lanes will be added to Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island and Merrick Boulevard in Queens in July and August, respectively.

The 20 miles of bus lanes and busways falls short of the 60 miles requested by the MTA last week for phase one of the city’s reopening plan. It also doesn’t meet the request by four borough presidents, who asked de Blasio to fast-track the creation of 40 miles of new bus lanes across the city.

Transit advocates said the announcement is still a step in the right direction for improved bus service across the city.

“The 14th Street Busway has been a resounding success. We are pleased to see it made permanent, and that more busways will soon be coming online,” Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement.

“New Yorkers deserve a bus commute without being stuck in endless car traffic. Our streets must be a tool toward the city’s recovery, and we look forward to working with the Department of Transportation to bring more bus-only corridors across the five boroughs.”


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