NEW YORK -- Advocacy groups gathered near Union Square on Thursday morning to demonstrate the benefits of the highly-successful 14th Street busway and to call on New York City officials to prioritize buses across the five boroughs.
Organizers from an array of transportation, environmental and labor groups including Transportation Alternatives, Riders Alliance, the New York League of Conservation Voters, Transit Workers Union Local 100 and the DSA Ecosocialist Working Group spoke with passers-by and asked them to support similar bus-priority streets in their neighborhoods.
New York City’s 2.4 million bus riders depend on some of the slowest buses of any large city in the United States. But there are proven methods to speed up bus service -- and win back riders who have grown frustrated with deteriorating service on our most congested corridors. The 14th Street busway transformed the M14 from the slowest bus route in the city to the fastest overnight. Bus speeds are up over 30 percent, weekday ridership is up 17 percent, and weekday ridership is up 30 percent.
Advocates and elected officials believe the 14th Street busway is proof that the concept works, and ought to be expanded to bus routes throughout the city.
“We need to engage New Yorkers on the benefits of busways, and take the lessons we have learned on 14th Street and start applying them broadly. And we must do so boldly and without fear, because all New Yorkers who ride the bus deserve a faster ride,” said Transportation Alternatives Senior Director of Advocacy Thomas DeVito.
“There's a simple idea in transit: run more frequent service, and riders will show up. The 14th Street busway has already been a wild success, and I can't wait to see just how much better it can get with more frequent service. We should embrace this approach in communities across our city,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“14th Street is a great pilot project. Let’s continue what we’ve started, continue working with the Department of Transportation and start thinking about other areas -- 42nd Street, 86th Street, 125th Street, or the South Bronx where commuters sometimes wait an hour for the bus,” said City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “I have seen how we as a city have failed, and how big important projects don’t often happen in working class, immigrant communities. So let’s take this energy to the communities where people often have to walk 15 blocks to get to the train or the bus. We have a big responsibility to push the City and the MTA to make this a city-wide model.”
"New York City’s bus network is finally seeing real improvements in Manhattan," said City Council Member Ben Kallos. "Transportation Alternatives' Busway Teach-In will bring attention to the positive impact of the new M14 busway and help New York City learn lessons from 14th Street that we can use to speed up our entire bus network."
“We want to make sure a sane, rational, efficient, forward-looking, environmentally-friendly, people-friendly transportation service is brought to every borough in New York City,” said TWU Local 100 Vice President John Patafio.
“The City made a bold move with 14th Street, and what an incredible success it is. Now it's time to leverage that political will and implement similar changes beyond Manhattan,” said Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Let's be creative, think big, and expand this vision for a city that isn't designed first and foremost for cars. With the MTA now working on the redesign of Brooklyn's bus network, the time is right to bring 14th Street to Brooklyn--starting with Downtown Brooklyn!"