Controversial 14th Street Busway Goes Into Effect

Marla Diamond
October 03, 2019 - 7:12 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Vehicles other than city buses or trucks will no longer be allowed along 14th Street starting Thursday.

The goal of the 18-month pilot program is to speed up the buses that ride on that street, especially the M14 bus which currently averages a speed of five miles per hour. 

“The new 14th Street busway is now in effect – and bus riders will finally get moving,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This smart project will speed up buses while allowing for the car drop-offs and deliveries the neighborhood requires. Under our Better Buses plan, we are making changes citywide to fight congestion and to give people faster and more reliable transit.”

Some neighborhood residents, however, believe it will lead to more side-street traffic.

The rule will be in effect between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week, only allowing buses and trucks to travel along 14th Street, between Third and Ninth avenues.

All other vehicles will be permitted to drive on 14th Street for local access, for pick-ups and drop-offs but must make next available right turn. No left turns will be allowed at all, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. 

On Thursday morning, parking garage managers, like Ari, was unsure what to expect.

"I guess we see the first day, it's going to be less cars maybe no cars, who knows," he said.

The restriction could have the greatest impact on small businesses in the area, which rely on car traffic.

"We got a lot of people that pull up and they want their coffee quick, we just go to the window and give them their coffee," said Ahmad who has a coffee cart at Union Square.

The controversial busway was previously slated to open Monday, Aug. 12, but was blocked when a group of residents living in the surrounding area sued the city, claiming no environmental review was done on how the neighborhood would be affected by banning most car traffic on 14th Street.

After a 60-day warning period, police will begin issuing fines to violators, ranging from $50 to $250.