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Stalled 14th Street busway hit with another lawsuit

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The saga continues

A NYC busway painted in red and reads “Only Bus.” Shutterstock

Yet another lawsuit has been filed against the 14th Street busway.

The saga of the dedicated busway that the Department of Transportation originally intended to roll out on July 1 has been particularly eventful recently: On August 6, a Supreme Court judge lifted a temporary order that had blocked the city from beginning the pilot program, and three days later, on August 9, a judge granted a last-minute appeal and blocked the plan again.

Now, a new lawsuit against the MTA, filed by Arthur Schwartz (the lawyer behind the other lawsuit against the busway) on Wednesday in the New York State Supreme Court, argues that the elimination of 12 bus stops along the M14 for the new Select Bus Service route creates a burden for disabled individuals who relied on those stops.

“We will defend against this lawsuit vigorously on behalf of bus riders, who deserve a modern and reliable service that moves people efficiently,” MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek told Curbed in a statement. “Rider advocates observe that it can be faster to walk than take the bus—we’re fixing that. The bus system is fully accessible and far better for the environment than driving in private cars and taxis.”

The initial lawsuit that has stalled the plan, filed by a coalition of Manhattan block associations represented by Schwartz, argues that the proposed busway between Third and Ninth avenues did not go through a comprehensive review, which would violate state environmental law, and that blocking private cars from 14th Street would bring traffic jams as well as pollution to nearby roadways.

Though the MTA began M14 Select Bus Service on July 1, the stalled dedicated bus lane (usually created in tandem with SBS routes) has not allowed the route to speed-up commutes and mitigate the effects of the L train slowdown. Last month, an advocacy group’s analysis showed that the M14A is the slowest bus route in the city.

“Responding to years of rider organizing, the MTA and city made historic commitments to speed up buses and get riders moving,” Riders Alliance policy and communications director Danny Pearlstein said in a statement. “And to make bus service faster, they need every tool in their toolkit, including removing stops when they are so close together that the bus can hardly get anywhere.”