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MTA rejiggers new M14 SBS route after local outcry

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Seniors and those with disabilities railed against the MTA’s original plan to cut 22 stops

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

The MTA will cut more than a dozen stops from the M14 bus route as part of a contested plan to roll out a Select Bus Service line on 14th street—but will keep a handful of stops it aimed to slash after outcry from locals.

Transit officials are striping certain stops on the M14 A/D routes for speedier service on the beleaguered bus line to help riders during the L train “slowdown,” and after weeks of debate on which stops should be included, the MTA unveiled its finalized plan this week.

The route, which is set to roll out in June, will nix 16 stops and add one instead of slashing the originally planned 22 stops. After fierce advocacy from riders, the M14 will retain five stops that were originally on the chopping block, including two M14A stops on Grand Street and a stop at Columbia and Rivington streets on the M14D, the MTA said.

“We arrived at this final compromise plan through close consultation with residents, community groups, advocates and elected officials,” said MTA spokesman Maxwell Young. “Once the new route is implemented we will actively monitor it to ensure it is providing the best possible service for our customers, seeking to balance convenience and increased speed, which is desperately needed along this line.”

Elderly riders and those with mobility issues fiercely plugged for the changes at marches, meetings, and news conferences. Politicians argued that the preserved stops were a “lifeline” for area seniors.

“We rallied, petitioned and organized and we won!” tweeted City Council member Margaret Chin, who marched along Grand Street with neighbors urging the MTA to keep the stops. “I want to thank everyone—especially the seniors—who marched, went to meetings and raised their voices to show MTA the importance of an accessible bus system for all NYers.”

The M14 runs crosstown on 14th Street, and through the East Village and Lower East Side along Avenue A and Avenue D. With the tweaks, there will be bus stops every 675 feet in the east side neighborhoods.

But transit advocates say those stops are too closely packed together, and are not on par with international best practices for bus stop spacing between 1,000-1,200 feet—contributing to the crawl of bus speeds across the city.

“Some bus stop consolidation is better than none, but the final plan leaves several bus stop pairs that are just a few hundred feet apart,” said Ben Fried, a spokesperson for Transit Center. “And that’s going to leave riders with slower, more unreliable trips than the original plan.”

The M14 Select Bus Service comes as travelers grapple with the L train slowdown that, while still a challenge for commuters, has so far gone better than riders anticipated. Select Bus Service—with all-door boarding and pre-boarding payment—is expected to speed things up for L train refugees looking to avoid the line altogether until the up to 18 months of repairs are complete.