New Study: Lower Income New Yorkers Disproportionally Rely on the M14 Buses; Advocates and Residents Rally to Demand a Busway for 14th Street

Joseph Cutrufo -
(646) 873-6027

New York City: New York City has the nation’s slowest bus system, and the M14A has the shameful distinction being the slowest bus line in the slowest system. With 27,000 daily riders, and moving at an average of just 4.3 miles per hour, it is quicker to walk across 14th Street than to take the bus. A new study confirms that the appalling performance of the M14 hurts lower income communities and communities of color the most

The study shows that the M14A/D route serves potential riders who will be disproportionately affected by delay in improvements and risk losing accessibility to over 350 key destinations along the route.

The pilot busway is a matter of equity for working New Yorkers who rely on the bus to get around in their day-to-day lives. After years of declining service on the M14A/D - and declining ridership - New Yorkers are clamoring for dramatic improvements.

  • Who: Transportation Alternatives, Transport Workers Union 100, Riders Alliance, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, New York League of Conservation Voters, StreetsPAC, Regional Plan Association, Senior Advocacy Leadership Team of the Manny Cantor Center, local elected officials and their representatives
  • What: Rally to Demand the 14th Street Busway
  • When: Wednesday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: 14th Street and 8th Avenue, northwest corner



“M14 riders currently endure the slowest bus route in all of New York City, leading to frustration and the deterioration of quality-of-life for tens-of-thousands. Those suffering these consequences are also those who have the lowest income. These New Yorkers have waited for too long already for the 14th Street busway to be implemented. It is imperative that the city be allowed to start the busway pilot so tens-of-thousands of riders can immediately experience the benefit of a corridor that truly prioritizes the efficiency and safety of transit users. It is the progressive, equitable, and smart thing to do.” said Thomas DeVito, Senior Director of Advocacy, Transportation Alternatives

“Getting our buses moving again is an economic justice issue as well as a transit issue. When buses sit in traffic, it’s the most vulnerable who pay the price. We need to be trying to speed up our buses, especially on routes like the M14, which is the slowest in the entire city. I am proud to support this pilot to try and find innovative solutions to this problem.” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Council District 3

“Manhattan bus commuters have long been neglected and have long endured excruciatingly slow, unreliable, and infrequent bus service. It’s a crisis and it didn’t happen by mere happenstance – it’s been a conscious choice. And it paints a picture of who this city prioritizes and who they ignore. Over 55 percent of Manhattan bus commuters are people of color, over 35 percent are foreign born, and over 60 percent are women. These riders are entitled to high-quality transit – period. The 14th Street Busway is an important step towards fairer and more equitable streets and a fairer and more equitable city.” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer

“NYCT buses move more than 2 million New Yorkers every day. Making room for buses in busy, congested city streets, and making them safer and faster, requires smarter street design. It’s good for the public and good for bus operators.” said Tony Utano, President, TWU Local 100

“It’s ironic that a busway, which aims to increase bus speeds for 28,000 weary straphangers who crawl along 14 Street at under 4 mph, is being held up by an environmental lawsuit,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The re-allocation of street space on only one of New York City’s countless streets from single-occupancy vehicle drivers to mass-transit users should be a no-brainer. ”

“The Department of Transportation has put forward an innovative solution based on traffic data and modeling that would allow tens of thousands of New Yorkers to take advantage of better bus service. There is no legitimate reason to continue the delay of the busway pilot program, or to prioritize cars over public transit. This pilot program could serve as a blueprint for the future of public transportation in New York City. Instead, we are left to struggle with buses so choked by traffic that they crawl along the corridor at barely more than 4 miles per hour. New Yorkers deserve more speed than this – both in terms of the buses’ movement and in terms of getting this busway open.We will never be able to meet the challenge that comes with such impact as modernizing our streets and our public transportation if we are not willing to accept bold proposals like this busway. I am hopeful my constituents and I will be able to ride faster and more efficient buses across 14th Street soon.” said Councilmember Keith Powers, Council District 4
“For months, we have been directing attention to the abysmal service along the M14 bus route, the second-slowest in the city. Here we are again, calling for implementation of street enhancements and a pilot program that may result in safer and quicker transportation for residents on the East Side, many of them people on fixed income who live devoid of accessible subway service. A city that was built on 24-hour service should not have to put the brakes on innovation that could substantially improve the daily lives of commuters,” said Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Council District 2

"New Yorkers depend on our bus system for quick and reliable service. Instead, with the M14, my constituents are getting the slowest bus in the city. We need a better M14 that will serve all New Yorkers—commuters, business owners, and residents alike—and protect the side streets in this neighborhood from excess traffic while we continue to take bold steps toward a New York centered less on cars, and more on pedestrians and public transit.” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, Senate District 27

“The M14 is a vital bus route that serves many residents but is unfortunately slow. Aside from the typical impacts of traffic, it is one of the longest crosstown routes, and should better serve downtown communities by increasing services and improving performance. As we try to speed the M14 by reducing traffic congestion, we cannot improve speed and efficiency by reducing service on the far east and west sides of the line.” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Assembly District 66

“The TTP busway on 14th Street is key to having our community obtain effective bus service. A faster busway helps ridership and viability of the bus. With proper enforcement, we should not only expect better service, but our neighborhood should also be able to preserve local stops that serve our elderly and disabled residents who rely on the bus.” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, Assembly District 74

“Over 150 schools, 16 senior facilities and 42 community centers is potentially tens of thousands of fellow New Yorkers that lack adequate public transportation. MANY of these people are already disenfranchised in a City that is increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Speedy and reliable public transportation is absolutely ESSENTIAL to maintain the quality of life for all New Yorkers but especially for our most vulnerable.” said Daisy Paez, Female District Leader for Assembly District 65, Part B

"The section of the Lower East Side to the south and east of Delancey St. is among the least subway-accessible in all of Manhattan. That’s why local residents, especially seniors, rely on buses to get around. The M14A bus is particularly important to the community since it connects the Lower East Side to several subway lines and serves more than 30,000 passengers weekly. It’s unacceptable that the M14 (including the M14A and M14D combined) is among the slowest in all of New York City, moving at an appalling 4.3MPH. We need a busway on 14th Street to connect Lowest East Side seniors to the West Side of Manhattan, and we need it now." said Jose Antonio Ortiz-Rivera, member of the Senior Advocacy Leadership Team (SALT), Manny Cantor Center

“The 14th Street Busway pilot project makes sense from an environmental and economic perspective and is designed to allocate scarce Manhattan street space more equitably.  If we want to curb motor vehicle air pollution, we need to make our public transit system more reliable and more attractive to riders — exactly what the 14th Street Busway is designed to do,” said Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environment Director, Natural Resources Defense Council  

"It's clear that 14th Street is in need of better bus service, especially as this new study shows lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by delays in transit improvements. A busway will give New Yorkers quicker and more equitable public transportation options, decrease reliance on cars, improve air quality, and reduce emissions. Policies like this will help New York become a greener city and make our streets more pedestrian-friendly. We join our partners in reiterating that the City's planned 14th Street busway pilot program should be implemented without delay."  said Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters 

"We fought a massive fossil fuel pipeline in the West Village in 2013, and garnered over 5,000 comments against corporate bullying. So, where did the spirit of this neighborhood go? New York City belongs to the people, not wealthy isolationists that believe they are in a gated community. With hyper-development closing out the working people that make this city function, it is mandatory we all unite and fight back and win OUR vision for OUR streets. A 14th Street busway is needed to fight carbon emissions, improve air quality, and increase good transportation options for all New Yorkers." said Kim Fraczek, Director, Sane Energy Project

"We're disgusted that a so-called 'progressive' is manipulating environmental law to block a project that would overwhelmingly benefit the environment and the working class. The future of our planet depends on us getting as many cars off the road as possible, but we can't do that when cycling is made dangerous and public transit is suffocated by the cars clogging our streets. It's a Catch-22 that will require bold plans like the 14th Street busway to solve. To address the climate crisis, we will need a drastic change in the way we design transit. We must move from a car-centric system for the 1% to a public transit system that works for the working class. Allowing this desperately needed busway to be held up by a handful of reactionary millionaires on flimsy legal grounds would set a dangerous precedent." said Amber Ruther,  New York City Ecosocialist Working Group, Democratic Socialists of America

"It's long past time to build a busway so riders on 14th Street can have quick and reliable transit service. With bus speeds barely budging after other Select Bus Service improvements are in place, there's no doubt left that private cars are blocking the way of tens of thousands of New Yorkers' commutes. This busway won't destroy mansion-life on the side streets. And the pedestrian safety arguments against it are completely phony. An incredible amount of planning and community outreach has taken place over more than three years. What's blocking this busway is a stubborn degree of concentrated wealth. In truth, it's rampant inequality that's clogging our streets. Progressive leaders must do better for millions of transit-dependent New Yorkers." said Danny Pearlstein, Policy and Communications Director, Riders Alliance

“Delaying the 14th street busway plan is unacceptable and it is critical that it move forward. New York City is long overdue for street designs that prioritize low carbon transportation, like bus transit and cycling, and 14th street is the perfect corridor to try this out,” said Kate Slevin, Senior Vice President of State Programs and Advocacy, Regional Plan Association

Bus service along 14th Street is some of the worst in New York City. The M14A in particular has the unique distinction of being the slowest bus in the five boroughs, moving at an excruciating pace of 4.3 miles per hour. Barring a busway along 14th Street creates and undue burden for tens of thousands of daily M14A/D riders who depend on these buses to get to work, school, doctors appointments, community centers, and access important resources throughout the city. " said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Director, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign

“The shameful attempts to block better bus service along 14th Street are disproportionately hurting the people who need improved transit access most. It’s outrageous that an able-bodied person can outwalk the bus on 14th Street, but not as outrageous as the obstructionist lawsuit stalling progress in the name of driver privilege." Said Eric McClure, Executive Director, StreetsPAC

“A frivolous lawsuit brought on by a few wealthy elites continues to stand in the way of a 30% increase in bus speeds that would benefit over 27,000 daily riders on 14th Street. This delay in very basic and necessary transit improvements is hurting many low-income New Yorkers who rely on the M14A/D, the two slowest bus routes in New York City. According to a 2015 Harvard study, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. If we are going to be a more equitable city, we need targeted interventions like the 14th Street busway.” said Liam Blank, Advocacy & Policy Manager, Tri-State Transportation Campaign