BY ROBERT POZARYCKI | After months of protests and lawsuits, the 14th Street Busway on the Chelsea/East Village border has arrived.
The plan converting six blocks of 14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues into a buses-only thoroughfare — every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. — took effect this rainy Thursday morning.
For now, the busway plan is classified as a Department of Transportation Transit and Truck Priority (TTP) pilot project. It will be in effect a minimum of 18 months; the future of the busway beyond that period largely depends on how it performs.
The city sees the 14th Street Busway as the solution toward speeding things up on the M14 Select Bus Service (SBS) route. Opponents of the busway, however, believe the busway will cause greater congestion and a loss of parking spots on other neighborhood streets.
The Villager has sent a reporter to 14th Street to monitor the busway’s first day and speak with those impacted by the plan. We’ll have a full report on it later today.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the 14th Street Busway, according to the mayor’s office:
What vehicles are permitted on 14th Street?
Only buses and trucks making through trips are now permitted to make trips along 14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues during the appointed hours.
Passenger cars and other vehicles can only make local trips along 14th Street, such as to reach garages or make drop-offs or pick-ups at the curb. These vehicles, however, must turn off 14th Street at the next available right (no left turns are permitted).
Commercial vehicles are still permitted to access 14th Street, but they can only load or unload in short-term metered zones.
Enforcement of the busway
The NYPD’s Traffic Bureau, along with automated cameras set up along 14th Street, will enforce the 14th Street Busway plan to ensure all regulations are followed.
However, starting today (Oct. 3), the DOT has launched a 60-day warning period in which drivers who are caught on automated cameras violating the busway rules will receive a written warning, rather than a violation and fine.
Once the 60-day grace period expires, however, any driver caught on camera violating the busway rules will be subject to fines starting at $50 for the first violation. Fines increase by $50 for each violation over a 12-month period, up to $250.
In the near future, the MTA will also help enforce the busway rules by adding Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras on buses running along the M14 SBS route. These cameras are similar to those that the MTA added to buses on the M15 route along First and Second Avenues.
Violations issued from the ABLE cameras are governed under the same bus lane law, but will have a separate 60-day warning period once camera-equipped buses run along the M14 route.