BY CHRISS WILLIAMS
A Midtown community board is sending a letter to the Department of Transportation on the behalf of residents calling on the agency to make changes to the 14th Street Busway including to post better signs with traffic rules given the high number of drivers only making pick-ups and drop-offs on the roadway’s cross-streets.
At a recent Community Board 5 full-board meeting, residents expressed worries about increased pollution on the side streets because of the increased traffic. Residents added drivers stayed on side streets out of fear of violating busway traffic rules.
Last October, the city launched the 14th Street Transit and Truck Priority Pilot Project which only allows the M14 A/D bus trucks and emergency vehicles to travel along the traffic artery between 3rd and 9th Avenues between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The project has since been dubbed the 14th Street Busway. Personal and for-hire vehicles are allowed on the street to make pick-ups and drop-offs only but must right turn on the nearest cross-street.
Some residents, including 14th Street Coalition member Gail Fox, asked for the city to “bring back the bus stops’’ and to “find a compromise to allow cars.” To speed up travel time on the M14 A/D bus route, the DOT removed 16 local stops when the 18-month-pilot project launched.
According to preliminary data collected by Sam Schwartz Engineering, the travel times on the M14 A/D bus are 5.3 minutes faster during weekdays. There has been a 24 percent increase in bus ridership from November 2018 to November of last year, data also shows. November 2019 data also showed an increase in bike ridership by 26 percent on 12th and 50 percent on 13th Streets compared to numbers from November 2018.
Others complained that the restrictive hours made it difficult for car-owners to do necessary tasks like loading and unloading groceries from their vehicles.
Elected officials present at the meeting stating that they were eager to hear resident concerns.
“If there is a specific location that you feel is problematic please let us know, ” said Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “We want this busway to work for everyone.” Councilmember Keith Powers supported the busway calling it “one of the best things the city did last year.”
A DOT spokesperson said that the agency was looking forward to reviewing the letter.