A new half mile of busway in Washington Heights is expected to begin hastening commutes for up to 66,000 New Yorkers on Monday morning, the city Department of Transportation announced.
Despite being one of the shorter busways in the city, DOT said it forms a priority as being one of the most congested corridor’s in the borough with average bus speeds ranging at about four miles per housing, placing it as a project under the Better Buses Restart initiative announced in June.
“Washington Heights deserves faster, safer, more reliable bus transit. The 181st Street busway will help this iconic neighborhood come back stronger than ever,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the project in March. “Busways have transformed transportation across the city – most recently in Flushing, where the new busway has dramatically increased speeds in just two months – and I look forward to bringing these changes to even more neighborhoods citywide.”
While many busways and bus lanes at this point are being enforced by cameras mounted on buses and poles, DOT said NYPD will be keeping the way clear for buses at first with similar measures promised to come in the next few weeks. Cars, taxis, and other passenger vehicles traveling westbound between Amsterdam and Wadsworth or eastbound between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue will be issued warnings 60 days following the installation of cameras before fines are incurred.
The bus lane in this location is expected to bring similar success as the busways of Flushing-Main Street in Queens, the 14th Street busway or a similar project on Jay Street in Brooklyn.
Commuters at 181st Street will see increased speeds between the A and 1 trains, connections to six MTA bus routes traveling the avenues as well as the Port Authority’s George Washington Bridge bus terminal.
DOT says they have set up a community advisory board and the project comes with support from elected officials such as Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the chair of the transportation committee.
But while up to 16.3 miles of bus lane were launched in 2020, beating the record of 13 miles in one year, according to the de Blasio administration, some advocates believe the city can do better. In front of Gracie Mansion on April 14, transit advocates from Riders Alliance and members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 asked 30 miles of bus lanes to be built out in the near future.
A spokesman for the city told amNewYork Metro that launching 30 miles would be an unprecedented undertaking.