BY GABE HERMAN | As the city declares the 14th Street Transit and Truck Priority program for faster bus service a success thus far, the MTA and Department of Transportation are starting the next phase of the program by installing bus boarding platforms along the M14 line.
The platforms, which will be put in place at seven M14 A/D Select Bus Service lines, would free up more sidewalk space for pedestrians and speed up bus service since buses wouldn’t need to pull into a stop at the curb, officials said. The MTA said pulling in can take between 20 seconds and over a minute during peak times at each stop.
The platforms, which are part of DOT’s 14th Street Transit and Truck Priority (TTP), have been previously installed at other Manhattan locations, including for the M23 SBS, M15 SBS, and for routes along Seventh Avenue in Midtown.
Construction at each bus stop will take about six days and be done in phases along the route. Buses will skip the stop where construction is being done. Work already began on Thursday at the westbound Seventh Avenue stop, and the overall project is expected to be finished in December.
“DOT has installed bus boarding platforms, where bus riders have found that a wider sidewalk makes hopping on a bus even faster and more convenient,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Especially along 14th Street, where our busway has helped spur dramatic increases in M14 ridership, this should be another step that should help our month-old pilot work even better.”
The city previously announced that the priority bus lanes on 14th Street have led to increased ridership and faster travel times. As a result, the buses have seen 37 percent more riders on weekends and 17 more on weekdays compared to last year, according to city figures.
The plan to install bus boarding platforms was lauded by several local elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Council Member Keith Powers, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“The initial success of the 14th Street Transit & Truck Priority has been one of the most exciting transit developments in the city in the last few years, and these new bus boarders should continue to improve the experience,” said Johnson when the announcement was made. “These platforms will make waiting for and boarding the bus easier and safer in addition to creating more badly needed space for pedestrians. I look forward to their debut on 14th and hopefully to continued good news and positive data about the busway.”
The DOT also announced that work is being completed this week on adding permanent pedestrian space at 14th Street, just south of Union Square at a former westbound traffic lane. It will be a painted pedestrian space with new bollards and security barriers. DOT noted the new permanent space is being installed just ahead of the opening of the Holiday Market nearby at Union Square, which often creates more pedestrian traffic.