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DOT: Bus speeds, ridership up on 14th Street after private vehicle ban

A bus travels along a crosstown route on

A bus travels along a crosstown route on the 14th Street busway in Manhattan on Wednesday. Credit: Charles Eckert

Bus speeds and ridership have “increased dramatically” on 14th Street — with minimal disruption to adjacent-street traffic — since October, when the de Blasio administration banned most private vehicles from going crosstown on the street between 3rd and 9th avenues, his Department of Transportation said Wednesday. 

The commute on the M14 bus is up to nine minutes faster, and trips on the adjacent streets are less than a minute slower, the department said in a news release. 

“It’s a new day on 14th Street. We are getting New Yorkers moving and saving them time for the things that matter,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a written statement.

The plan, known as the Busway, is a pilot program that went into effect Oct. 3: private vehicles can make drop-offs, but must take the next available right turn. Deliveries, taxicabs and Ubers are also allowed. The idea is to clear the way for public transportation, which the majority of people use to commute in Manhattan.

Ridership on the M14A and M14D is up 24 percent, with 30 percent on weekends -- a reversal of a five-year trend along the route. The outlier was 17th Street, which saw about a 3 1/2-minute increase in travel time between 3rd and 9th avenues. Most of the surrounding streets saw very little change in volume.  

The analysis was done by Sam Schwartz Engineering, and compares data from May-October 2018 to October 2019.

Rico Sanati, 60, said he’s thrilled with the Busway. He said it speeds up his commutes from the 14th Street area to his home on the Lower East Side, where he cares for his mom. 

“It’s now very convenient.  Before it was hectic,” he said, next to the bus stop for the M14A and M14D. He added, pointing from Eighth Avenue towards Union Square: “You could walk from here and beat the bus over there. It was a foot  race. It was crawling like a turtle.”

Freddy Diab, who runs  E & L Sportswear with his brother, said that since the busway went into effect his revenue was down 50% on an average day before Christmas. The store used to bring in an average of $1,500 and some days $2,000 or higher. Now, he said, the average was half those figures. 

“Less traffic. Less money,” he said.

Asked by a reporter to show the store’s books, Diab produced a spiral notebook tallying every sale from the store, which sells luggage, cellphone cases, earbuds other items: on Dec. 17, the store brought in about $612, compared with a little more than $740 on Dec. 17, 2018. 

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