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Pols demand MTA revise its 14th Street select bus plan

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Lawmakers want the city to create separate select bus service and local lines for the sluggish M14

Passengers boarding a M14 bus during rush hour.
Mario Tama/Gett Images

Lawmakers want the MTA to put the brakes on proposed changes to M14A/D Select Bus Service (SBS) in favor of a plan that would pair express service with a supplemental local route.

The proposed changes would strip certain stops on the M14A/D routes on Avenues A and D, as well as Grand Street, to speed up the infamously sluggish bus lines ahead of the L train’s partial shutdown in late April. The plan, which was leaked to Streetsblog earlier this month, would eliminate “every other stop, focusing on higher ridership locations and transfer points.”

But instead of axing stops outright that East Side riders rely on, the transit authority should divert those stops to a separate local route that would free up select bus service for speedier trips, according to City Council member Carlina Rivera. Earlier this month, she and five other legislators sent a letter to New York City Transit and the Department of Transportation requesting the change, and pointed to the neighboring M15 as an example.

“The proposed SBS stop spacing is a clear compromise between a local route and a typical SBS route—meaning that an M14 SBS will not have the ‘express’ travel times that other routes have,” they wrote. “In fact, there is a successful model for this kind of plan just a few avenues away, where the M15 SBS runs parallel to an M15 local route. The MTA must pursue a similar strategy for the M14 route.”

Rivera’s office argues that the “compromise SBS route” would chop local stops and add an extra schlep to some locals’ commutes, but would not nix enough stops to “significantly improve speeds,” according to a press release.

But the MTA says its new configuration would keep customers within some two blocks of a stop while eliminating those that are too close together for faster service.

“If our collective goal is to improve bus speeds and ridership, Select Bus Service does just that—just ask the hundreds of thousands of customers who use SBS daily,” MTA’s chief external affairs officer Maxwell Young said in a statement, noting that the authority and DOT are in the midst of gathering community feedback on the proposed changes.

TransitCenter, a public transit think tank, backs the MTA’s plans, noting that the city has the country’s slowest bus service, and that failing to space stops at a “reasonable distance” will keep it that way.

“New York City’s bus stops are spaced too close together, which is a big drag on bus riders’ time. Some of the current bus stops on the M14 are spaced just one block apart,” noted Ben Fried of TransitCenter. “The MTA’s bus stop consolidation plan for the M14 will improve transit access in the East Village by speeding up buses, and stops would still be no more than two and a half blocks apart.”

New York City Transit is hosting an April 2 open house on changes to the M14A/D at the 7th Precinct (19 Pitt Street) from 6-8 p.m. where locals can offer feedback on the plan.