Peds race against M14 to show busway needed

Feb. 20 Race – From Twitter_NYLCV
Transit activists cheered the pedestrian racers on as they raced against the M14.

BY GABE HERMAN | Local transit activists held a race on Wed., Feb. 21, pitting pedestrians against the M14 bus, to highlight the buses’ slow speed and call for better service.

The event, which was held by Transportation Alternatives and included other local residents, began at Avenue A just after 8:30 a.m. and finished at Union Square. Some participants rode the M14D bus, while others walked the four-avenue stretch. The bus ended up winning the race, but only by a matter of seconds.

In a post on its Web site, Transportation Alternatives noted that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans increases in bus service this spring when the L-train partial shutdown occurs.

“But Mayor de Blasio has not yet committed to preserving a right of way for buses along 14th St.,” the transit-advocacy group said.

According to the Bus Turnaround Coalition, a group of city transit advocates, the M14 buses travel at an average speed of 4 miles per hour on weekdays. That’s only slightly better than the average human walking speed of 3 miles per hour. Both the M14D and M14A bus lines received “F” grades from the group, based on speed and reliability.

After the race, Joe Cutrufo, communications director at Transportation Alternatives, tweeted, “The M14 bus beat pedestrians by only 5 seconds on a day when the L train is running normally. Imagine what’ll happen when there’s no L train service in Manhattan.”

The group of pedestrians who raced the 14th St. crosstown bus from Avenue A to Union Square lost by only 5 seconds.

Staff of the New York League of Conservation Voters also participated, with some walking and others riding the M14. Tweets that morning from the group’s official account read, “City must keep originally planned busway on 14th St. to improve commutes,” and “The ride is going slow because there’s no dedicated bus lane. We need a busway!”

However, at the M.T.A. board meeting last week, officials said the plan for the busway is off.

M.T.A. managing director Ronnie Hakim told reporters during a briefing, “We don’t anticipate closing 14th St. to vehicles,” the New York Post reported.

Under the busway plan, which was tied to the full L-train shutdown scheme, cars would have been banned from 14th St. daily between 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. In early January, though, Governor Cuomo announced that the L-train tunnel repairs would be done on weeknights and weekends, with one of the two tubes kept open at all times.