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L train shutdown: 14th Street busway to roll out in January, MTA says

The new M14 SBS will make five stops between First and Tenth avenues beginning Jan. 6, according to the transit authority.

The 14th Street busway will launch early to

The 14th Street busway will launch early to test the new M14 SBS route and make adjustments before the L train shutdown begins, according to NYC Transit president Andy Byford. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

The 14th Street busway is making an early arrival in Manhattan.

Although the L train shutdown won’t begin until April 2019, the city and the MTA will convert most of 14th Street into a bus-only strip on Jan. 6. The city and transit authority will then launch the temporary M14 Select Bus Service, which is scheduled to run for the duration of the 15-month closure of L service to and through Manhattan.

Andy Byford, who approved the plan on Monday, said the extra three months will be needed to test M14 SBS service and make adjustments before the shutdown begins.

“By implementing the M14 SBS months before we start the L train tunnel repairs, we hope that customers will take the opportunity to try our buses and see how the 14th Street busway can factor into their commutes once we start work fixing the L train tunnel,” said NYC Transit president Andy Byford in a statement.

The route along 14th Street will help mitigate the loss of the vital L line that runs beneath the roadway. Roughly 225,000 commuters rely on the L train to get between Brooklyn and Manhattan each day. To ensure buses are up to the task of absorbing some of that crowd, the city and MTA plan to institute bus-only restrictions on 14th Street between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week. The restrictions will be in place between Ninth and Third avenues eastbound, and Third and Eighth avenues westbound. A DOT spokeswoman said the city is hashing out “specific access points” for local traffic and trucks.

The SBS route will initially make five stops between First Avenue and Tenth Avenue. The SBS route will complement existing M14A and M14D service so that buses will arrive every two minutes during morning and evening rush hours. Combined, the local and SBS service is expected to handle about 84,000 riders per day.

The SBS route will eventually be extended east, “a week or two” before the L closure, to better connect commuters to the planned ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove, according to the MTA. The busway will come with off-board fare machines and enhanced curb and sidewalk space.

Stops for the M14 SBS will for the most part mimic current subway transfer locations. M14A and M14D stops will remain mostly unchanged — with the exception of three stops near Union Square, which are being moved or eliminated to make way for new pedestrian space.

Launching the service early will cost the MTA $1.3 million.

In addition to the M14 SBS, the MTA will also operate four temporary shuttle bus routes:

The four L-Alternative routes, which are expected to carry 17 percent of L train riders, include:

  • L1 SBS route, which will operate between Grand Street in Brooklyn and First Avenue-15th Street in Manhattan.
  • L2 SBS route, which will operate between Grand Street in Brooklyn and SoHo.
  • L3 SBS route, which will operate between Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn and SoHo.
  • L4 SBS route, which will operate between Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn and First Avenue-15th Street in Manhattan.

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