De Blasio says 14th Street busway on Chelsea/East Village border starts next week after court rules in city’s favor

Buses along 14th Street in Manhattan (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

BY ROBERT POZARYCKI | After winning the latest court battle over the proposed 14th Street Busway plan in Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday afternoon that the new system would take effect next week.

A New York Appellate Court Judge ruled against a coalition of local businesses led by advocate Arthur Schwartz seeking to block a proposed partial vehicle ban along 14th Street between 3rd and 9th Avenues.

Soon after the Sept. 27 ruling, de Blasio and city Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the pilot busway program would likely start on Thursday morning, Oct. 3. It will be in effect at least 18 months.

“Thanks to this latest court ruling, the new 14th Street busway has gotten the green light and starting next week, bus riders will finally get moving,” de Blasio said. “This is a smart project that speeds up buses and leaves room for the drop-offs and deliveries the neighborhood needs. These are the changes we have to make as a city to fight congestion and give people transit options they can rely on.”

Trottenberg said the busway aims to speed things up along the M14 Select Bus Service, a route that makes 27,000 trips each day and is regarded as one of the slowest lines in the entire borough.

“With over 27,000 trips taken on the M14 Select Bus Service each day, the new busway will help create more reliable commutes with shorter travel times,” Trottenberg said. “DOT and New York City Transit will continue to work with the NYPD, elected officials, local merchants, neighborhood residents, drivers and bus riders along 14th Street to monitor and evaluate the new service and make adjustments as needed.”

Once the pilot program takes effect, traffic will be restricted to buses, emergency vehicles and trucks making local deliveries (no more than 3 axles) between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

The busway idea was conceived as the city developed contingency plans for a planned full shutdown of the Canarsie Tube on the L Train. The full shutdown was scrapped, however, but the city and DOT kept the busway proposal alive.

Schwartz and his coalition then sued the MTA and DOT over the busway, believing it would be detrimental to local businesses. In June, a New York State Appellate Court judge stopped the plan, which was to have started in July.