14TH STREET CORRIDOR, NYC — The 14th Street busway — a ban on most private cars on the corridor to speed up bus routes — will be made permanent, months before its stint as a pilot project comes to an end, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
Making the bus-centric corridor permanent is among several public transportation changes the mayor announced this week to help New Yorkers get around as the city enters its first phase of reopening from the coronavirus crisis.
The 14th Street route, which stretches from Third to Eighth avenues, was put in place in October as an 18-month pilot program.
"This has been a success by every measure," de Blasio said about the corridor Monday. "I said we’re going to do it and see if it works, see if people ride the bus more, if the bus goes faster — the answer is it is a clear success."
The busway — put in after months of supportive rallies from advocates and a heated legal battle from some nearby residents opposed to the plan — has, as anticipated, sped up bus times on the busy Manhattan corridor.
Travel times on the corridor have decreased by 36 percent, or 5.3 minutes less, eastbound and 22 percent westbound during peak hours, officials told Community Board 2 members in January.
Ridership on the buses has increased during the weekdays by 24 percent and there has also been a "significant" increase in use of the route by cyclists and a 2 percent decrease in double parking since the shift, the officials said.
The route hasn't been without its critics, though.
Residents who attended the January meeting where the Department of Transportation shared the results said the design of the busway has caused bottlenecking on side streets like University Place, more noise and congestion on West 12th and 13th streets and problems with taxis and for-hire-vehicles not knowing that they can pick up and drop off on the corridor, minutes show.
The complaints led Community Board 2 to ask for more detailed data about the busway and suggest that officials look into side street congestion, University Place's design and taxi use of 14th Street.
De Blasio said Monday that five new "busways" similar to 14th Street will be added in the next few months, along with new bus lanes across the city. In total, there will be 20 new miles of busways and bus lanes put in place by the fall.
The mayor said it is the first step in reaching the MTA's request for 60 miles of new bus lanes and busways.