Brewer to DOT: Start Looking Into a Bus-Only 14th Street

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants bus-only lanes on 14th Street. Photo: David Meyer
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants the city to study making 14th Street car-free so buses can carry the load while the L train is shut down for repairs. Photo: David Meyer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is calling on DOT to study making 14th Street a bus-only thoroughfare while L train service is disrupted during Sandy-related repairs.

To allow for urgently-needed fixes to the L train tunnel, the MTA is considering either a full shutdown of service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue for 18 months, or a three-year variation that preserves about 20 percent of current service. At a press event this morning, the Riders Alliance revealed that most L train riders who responded to an online survey prefer to get it over with in 18 months — a position the MTA seems to share.

In either case, said Riders Alliance Deputy Director Nick Sifuentes, the city and the MTA need to take steps to keep people moving: “No matter what the MTA does, a shutdown will profoundly change transportation options for commuters on both sides of the East River.” Sifuentes said survey respondents “called broadly for robust, supplementary bus service in Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

In the survey, respondents suggested bus lanes in both Brooklyn and Manhattan and along the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as a number of other measures, including Citi Bike expansion, more capacity for bicycling on the Williamsburg Bridge, increased service on nearby subway lines, and increased ferry service.

“The shutdown will not be easy, but a robust set of alternatives would reduce the pain,” said Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Association. “For example, 14th Street could become reserved for buses, pedestrians and bikes, and the Williamsburg Bridge could offer dedicated bike and bus routes. The MTA and DOT need to be bold.”

rpa_busways
The RPA’s transit plan for the L train shutdown calls for busways on 14th Street, the Williamsburg Bridge, and the approaches to the bridge. Click to enlarge. Source: RPA

Brewer said the city and MTA need to put all options on the table for the sake of people and businesses on both sides of the East River. “Most importantly, we need a bus-only lane in each direction from the length of the Manhattan L train corridor,” she said.

Brewer did not explicitly endorse further steps but said the city has to consider every possibility. “What they need to do is a study quickly because whether it’s bus lanes, whether it’s a shutdown, obviously the current situation will not work because it’s jammed up, particularly [during] rush hour,” she said.

Officials have said that L train repairs will begin in 2019, which leaves enough time to implement car-free rights of way for buses and bikes in Manhattan and Brooklyn — if DOT and the MTA start making preparations soon.

Making 14th Street car-free to allow for robust surface transit has the support State Senator Brad Hoylman. Last week, the Daily News reported, Council Member Corey Johnson asked DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg about the concept, which he called “a good thing to look at.”

Trottenberg didn’t rule it out. “Everything is going to be on the table,” she said.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Gale Brewer Endorses TA’s 14th Street PeopleWay Campaign

|
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wants to prioritize buses, bikes, and pedestrians on Manhattan’s 14th Street when the L train shuts down for 18 months beginning in January 2019. Brewer signed onto Transportation Alternatives’ “PeopleWay” campaign yesterday after meeting with campaign organizers. “To get through 18 months without the L train, we’ll need to move people along 14th […]

Mayor de Blasio Needs to Step Up to Keep L Train Passengers Moving

|
This morning the MTA announced that starting in 2019, it will close the L train between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg for 18 months to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy — surprising no one who’s been paying attention. For several months now, it’s been obvious that the MTA and the de Blasio administration will […]

TA Calls for Grand Street to Serve People, Not Cars, During L Shutdown

|
Volunteers from Transportation Alternatives rallied on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge last night to call on the city to prioritize Grand Street for buses, bicycling, and walking when the MTA shuts down the western portion of the L train for 18 months to make Sandy-related repairs. Every day, New Yorkers make hundreds of thousands of trips on the […]

Maloney: Use L Train Shutdown to “Upgrade Our Bus Service”

|
New York City should use the impending L train shutdown to make long-term improvements to bus service, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney said at a public forum last night. To repair the Sandy-damaged L train tunnel under the East River, the MTA will either close the subway line west of Williamsburg entirely for 18 months or run it at 20 percent […]