The Future of 14th Street: Traffic Sewer, or the Best Way to Get Across Town?

Joseph Cutrufo -
(646) 873-6027

Statement of Transportation Alternatives Interim Director Ellen McDermott in response to reports (12) that the planned (and partially-implemented) 14th Street busway will not be preserved now that the Canarsie Tunnel rehabilitation project will not require a full 15-month L Train shutdown:

"Although the plan for a bus-only 14th Street was conceived in coordination with a full 15-month L Train shutdown, the need for better transit on this corridor is not limited to periods of reduced subway service. New York City is in the midst of an ongoing transportation crisis, with chronic gridlock and buses that move at walking speeds. To turn 14th Street's future over to space-hogging drivers is an attack not only on bus riders, but also on common sense. Of the city's 183 bus routes, the M14D and M14A are the second- and third-slowest overall, and combine for the ninth-highest ridership of any route in the city with 28,000 riders each weekday. Dedicated bus lanes, along with off-board fare payment and more frequent service on 14th Street would improve service for existing riders, while providing a more attractive crosstown route for those who might otherwise choose less space-efficient modes like private cars, taxis and for-hire vehicles.

New York City's congestion is a product of street designs which give cars the bulk of the space while bus riders, pedestrians and people on bikes fight for the scraps. Our leaders must ask themselves, should 14th Street remain a clogged-up traffic sewer, or can we make it the best way to get across town for the city's car-free majority? More than three-quarters of Manhattan households are car free, and in neighborhoods along the 14th Street corridor, only 10 percent of commuters drive to work.   

New Yorkers aren't about to accept a future rooted in ideas of the past. In order to absorb spurned L Train riders, mitigate ever-worsening congestion and accommodate future population growth, city leaders must prioritize space-efficient modes -- not cars. Along with life-saving protected bike lanes on 12th and 13th streets, the 14th Street busway will keep people moving during the Canarsie Tunnel overhaul and beyond."