The Earth Is Flat and 14th Street Doesn’t Need a Busway During the L Shutdown

Arguing with people who oppose a crosstown busway and bike lane to compensate for the loss of the L train is like trying to reason with people who think the moon landing was staged.

Large numbers of L train riders are bound for 14th Street. Image: MTA
Large numbers of L train riders are bound for 14th Street. Image: MTA

At a forum last week about plans to keep people moving during the L train shutdown, West Village NIMBYs fighting a crosstown busway and bike lanes let slip a core belief underpinning their opposition: They don’t think the L train carries hundreds of thousands of people under 14th Street every day.

“We don’t believe the numbers,” 13th Street resident Judy Pesin told me last week. “We think a lot of people that are coming to 14th Street are coming here because of the L train, don’t want to be on 14th Street, that’s not their final destination.”

Just like a Flat Earther will always scream about the moon landing being faked, a 14th Street busway NIMBY will always claim that the MTA’s ridership stats can’t be trusted.

“They’re counting the 50,000 they said by swipes, so when you swipe in at Union Square, how do they know what train you’re getting on? They don’t,” Pesin added. “If they’re using swipes at the subway stations, they’re clearly overstating it.”

“I don’t really believe the study they did that says 50,000 people would be affected,” attorney Arthur Schwartz, who’s threatened to sue the city over its busway and bikeway plans, told the Villager.

It’s hard to argue with someone who refuses to accept what is plainly true. We can point to the 30,000 passengers who already ride the M14 bus each weekday, or the crowded L train platforms where people have to wait for multiple trains to come before there’s space to board — it’s not going to win over Pesin, Schwartz, and other busway opponents any more than photos of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon will sway the Flat Earth true believers.

For the sake of everyone else — people open to facts, reason, and the observable movement of hundreds of thousands of people on the L train in Manhattan each day — we contacted the MTA to see what goes into their travel estimates and forecasts.

It’s a combination of data from turnstiles and trains. “Anonymized MetroCard usage over the course of the day, used as inputs to industry standard software models and compared against actual observed customer loads, give us reliable estimates of ridership by route,” said MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek.

“It’s not just the 50,000 people who ride the L solely within Manhattan who are traveling underneath 14th Street,” he added. “So are the 225,000 people who ride between Brooklyn and Manhattan, even if many transfer to an uptown or downtown line from 14th Street.”

In fact, the MTA model assumes that only a small fraction of those 225,000 interborough trips will still be on 14th Street without the L train. Overall, including M14 riders, the MTA estimates 84,000 people will be using the 14th Street bus services during the L shutdown, Tarek said.

That’s still a very large number of people for one crosstown bus route to handle. If there’s no busway to get people across Manhattan on 14th Street efficiently, many of those people will opt for for-hire vehicles instead — creating exactly the traffic overload that people like Judy Pesin and Arthur Schwartz think they’re trying to avoid.

  • Syd Chan

    The thing with trying to get self-centered partisans to admit they are wrong by reflecting their partisanship back on them is that it’s too easy to reflect partisanship onto other people too, and it’s too easy to reflect the attitudes that do not let other people voice opinions on things that also affect their lives.

  • Walt_Gekko

    Plan would be this:

    Only one track would be in use at all times between 1st Avenue and Union Square. The other track would be storage for cars not in use.

  • Walt_Gekko

    Do need to know while that was true, I was unaware when I said that the Mahattan Borough President now supports People Way (this was not the case at the time we had a major discussion on this a year-plus ago and many of us who had a discussion on this had moved on to other, more relevant issues).

    Doesn’t change the fact that originally some wanted the (L) to run between 1st-8th Avenues, which shows how important this busway is.

  • 50-year Village resident

    Where’d you get that insult from, Gabby Hayes?
    Gee, you cornballs from Crapsville, PA sure know how to insult us Big City folk.
    What a humdinger that was, by Golly.

  • 50-year Village resident

    A brownstone in the Village for $500K 15 years ago?
    Who’s your dope dealer?

  • 50 year Village resident

    Your arrogance is only exceeded by your ignorance.

    Read some books on NYC history before you put your head further up your butt.

    Meanwhile, do tell us how many working class people you and your yuppie newbies displaced from northern Brooklyn? Tell us,

    “Don’t try to pin greed on the landlords”
    Spoken like a true Republican.

  • 50 year village resident

    Gee, Betty, can’t differentiate between the function of a comma and the function of a period?

    Why am I not surprised you punked out tonight? Like most of the slacktivists here: lots of talk, no action.

  • 50 year village resident

    Still waiting for a look at your c.v.:

    What have you done for the Village?

    What have you done for Brooklyn?

    What have you done for our city?

  • The meeting started at 6:30. How exactly were you back here by 7? Color me skeptical.

    Anyway, if you can figure out that I live in Park Slope, you can figure out my CV (and why I’m still at work after 7:30). You seem at least functionally able to use a computer so have at it, anonymous troll.

  • mikecherepko

    I’ve been trying to remember where I got “Wrong-o, buzzard breath” all day. I didn’t make it up. Maybe someone else knows.

    Letting you run your ignorant selfish mouth provides all the insults of you and your ilk anyone needs. I don’t need to add a word, other than giving you more rope to hang yourself with.

  • 50 year village resident

    ‘How exactly were you back here by 7? Color me skeptical.”
    Color yourself ignorant of the wonders of the internet.

    TransAlt sock puppet’s definition of a troll = someone who dares disagree with his mindset.

    Anyway, let’s make a deal. I don’t move out of GV as you suggest, and you don’t move out of Park Slope. The Park Slope Yuppies and their stroller moms and other gentrifiers can have you all for themselves. Birds of a feather.

  • mikecherepko

    Where’s the lie in what I said? Who do you think was living in the village in 1918? Nevermind, don’t answer. You haven’t added any knowledge to this conversation so far.

    I’ve displaced 0 people. NIMBYs who prevent sufficient housing are the reason there isn’t housing for anyone. I don’t subscribe to your notions of serfdom that would tie everyone to the land they were born on. Furthermore, once I moved to my apartment, I did not try to pull the ladder up behind me like you anti-social retirees did.

    Again, you have nothing except money. You are selfish and immoral. You are also quite dim.

  • mikecherepko

    It makes more sense that you would have signed your inane comment with your name, especially when everyone else is using our own names and asking for yours, than to think you would be so monumentally lame as to change the gender of Ben’s name to Betty as some sly insult.

    Sorry for underestimating how lame you are. It seems like many of us made that mistake.

    Let’s not hear another peep about “punking out” from the pseudonymous. You had more credibility when we thought you were Betty.

  • VLM

    I realize facts and subtance or arguments on their merits aren’t your forte, but you should try something beyond ad hominems. Here’s the story on Schwartz. ACRIS indicates he may have paid even less longer ago than 2003 and still sold for $20 million in 2014. It’s the very definition of some gentrifying yuppie asshole you think you aren’t.

  • 50 year village resident

    “I’ve displaced 0 people.”
    And the Holocaust never happened, right? You believe that too?

    Before you Yuppies began moving into Bklyn in the late 90s, it is well-established that rents were much, much lower. Now rents in Bklyn are approaching Manhattan, a reversal of a hundred year+ condition.

    I know an old widow in Greenpoint who paid $600 a month. She was not rent stabilized. Her lease was not renewed. The newbie Yuppie tenants who moved in paid $2,000 to the landlord.
    Similar examples are countless.
    You just never met the working class families you displaced.
    I witnessed it when you were still living with your parents in PA, sonny boy.

    ” you have nothing except money.”
    I am through with a Randian who has no idea whether I am rich or I am poor or am middle class. Again, your arrogance is exceeded only by your ignorance.

    Ef you, and ef all Republicans. Move back to PA. Maybe there you will impress someone.

  • mikecherepko

    Again, with your pro-serfdom argument. To the extent that moving somewhere is a problem or solution, Ben was right at the start: GTFO out of NYC because you don’t understand how it works and you’re ruining it.

    I’m not a Randian and you are rich, clueless, selfish, and harmful. You Village Idiots pulled up the ladder once you got yours. That is why everyone under the age of 50 has contempt for you wastrels.

  • mikecherepko

    The thing about pretending partisanship is bad is it makes you pretend that the selfish NIMBYs who hate society have redeeming qualities.

  • mikecherepko

    Hahahaha. 50-year-non-Betty steps on a rake yet again.

    These hyper-rich have been so insulated from criticism for so long that they don’t even know when they should stop.

  • Vooch

    ohio you like better

    try it

  • Syd Chan

    It seems my efforts to explain the futility of escalating partisanship is about as effective as your efforts to convince NIMBYs of their selfishness. *shrugs* oh well

  • Vooch

    you must be living off a taxpayer pension in rent controlled apartment.

  • mikecherepko

    Behind your back, everyone laughs at you and scorns you.

    To your face, some people tolerate you because of your money. But no one respects you. You’re a tool.

  • 50 year Village resident

    That block Schwartz’ house is located on was already gentrified in 1836, when the house was built. Gee, you commenters here do not know much about NYC history or NYC real estate.

    And your link supplied no facts, it was just an opinion piece in a law blog. Who would claim a townhouse in GV in 2003 would sell for less than $500,000? Get real.

    He displaced no poor people, unlike the many newbies on this blog who moved from the burbs into blue-collar Bklyn in the last 20 years and displaced hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class and people-of-color there. Case in point: Wburg,Gpt, Bushwick, Prospect Heights, Bed-Stay, Ft,Greene, etc.

    Arthur simply made a profit on a real estate transaction, like millions of other Americans do annually. That is what NYC has been about since at least 1624. Are you envious of Peter Minuet too?

    You simply sound a tad jealous at Arthurs’s business acumen and good fortune.

  • 50 year village resident

    Gee, you say I am living off a pension in a RC apt. and others here call me a wealthy gentrifier.
    Truth is, I am neither.

    What a bunch of presumptuous knuckleheads on this site.

  • Vooch

    You certainly are a selfish entitled road hog; that’s for certain.

    I bet you drive to buy groceries

  • Andrew

    it is also believed

    Not by the people who actually understand the nature of the construction.

  • Andrew

    Fewer people, but more cars, causing worse congestion. The worst of both worlds.

  • Andrew

    Turns out it’s not 50,000 of anything, and nothing’s based on simplistic swipe counting.

    It’s 57% of current L riders within Manhattan, plus 11% of L riders to/from Brooklyn, plus 100% of existing bus riders along 14th Street, for a total of 84,000 projected bus riders along 14th Street.