The 14th Street busway may be stymied for now, but its supporters are not going down without a fight. The New York Post reports that the MTA filed testimony in opposition to a lawsuit against the bus- and truck-prioritizing plan, spearheaded by a group of Manhattan residents, which resulted in a judge blocking the throughway just days before it was due to be put in place.
“The injunction handed down on the last business day before our launch has undoubtedly hindered NYCT and NYCDOT’s shared goal of speeding up buses on one of the busiest and most congested arteries, making traveling around the city harder for our customers,” Judith McClain, acting chief of operations planning at New York City Transit (NYCT), said in the testimony.
In order to implement the M14 Select Bus Service (SBS), which is due to roll out as part of the mitigation plans around the L train slowdown, NYCT had to install “bus priority treatments” on 14th Street, as well as tools to “improve service reliability and increase bus speeds along these high ridership corridors,” McClain said.
Even though a Supreme Court judge issued the injunction to temporarily block the busway three days before the plan was supposed to roll out, the M14 SBS launched as planned on July 1 to avoid “public confusion,” McClain said.
But there has been confusion anyway. “We are encountering members of the public who were not aware of the injunction, and who were relying upon the [Truck Priority Pilot Plan] to be in place on July 1st,” McClain added. “The injunction has greatly impacted NYCT’s service.”
There are 16 SBS routes across the five boroughs, and the newly launched M14 is the only one that has moved forward without the curb and turn restrictions and dedicated bus lanes.
Residents of the West Village, Chelsea, and the Flatiron District who filed the lawsuit argue that the busway between Third and Ninth Avenues did not go through a comprehensive review, which would violate state environmental law. They also argue that blocking private cars from 14th Street would bring traffic jams as well as air and noise pollution.
Transportation advocates have fiercely opposed the lawsuit against the busway.
“The 14th Street hypocrisy has got to stop.There’s no way neighbors can claim they care about their fellow New Yorkers while also throwing up endless barriers to faster, more reliable commutes,” said Danny Pearlstein, the policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance, following the injunction. “New York’s working people can’t afford to litigate their right to decent bus service.”