14th St. SBS route planned ahead of L shutdown

The MTA and the city are working on plans to enhance bus and ferry service, including Select Bus Service for 14th Street. Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the Avenue A entrance of the First Avenue subway station just west of Avenue A. (Corner pictured here opposite Stuyvesant Town) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA has announced that preliminary street work on the new entrance for the L train at Avenue A and East 14th Street will begin this month. The new entrance is planned for the north and south sides of East 14th Street, just west of Avenue A.

Additionally, the MTA recently discussed plans for a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 14th Street to help make the looming L train shutdown less of a nightmare.

The plans for mitigation were discussed at the last Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting.

The shutdown, which is expected to begin in April 2019, will affect about 225,000 riders and cuts off train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan so the MTA can make repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The MTA is working on plans with the Department of Transportation for a series of buses, road improvements and ferries.

The MTA said at the meeting that some of the most frequent comments and suggestions at the public workshops on the closure were about dedicated bus and bike lanes, direct inter-borough bus routing that connects to subways and providing multiple options, including a ferry. Manhattan residents were also worried about traffic spillover on the narrow and mostly residential side streets.

Of the suggestions mentioned at the workshops, more than one idea ultimately made it into the draft concept plan released by the MTA and DOT, including the implementation of an SBS route. The MTA said that the route would overlay in addition to the existing M14A and M14D service, with off-board fare collection and potential bus lanes. The route would start at the planned ferry landing for Stuyvesant Cove at East 20th Street and Avenue C and would stop at First Avenue, Third Avenue, Union Square, Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue.

Shuttle buses between Manhattan and Brooklyn will be one available connection for neighborhoods affected by the closure, but the MTA noted that if changes weren’t made, buses would get stuck in traffic on local streets and the Williamsburg Bridge, some residents might add to street congestion by shifting to for-hire vehicles and the added street congestion would slow traffic for emergency vehicles. The MTA and DOT are currently working on traffic mitigation plans.

Riders in Brooklyn will be encouraged to connect to other train lines within Brooklyn and residents living near the waterfront in Brooklyn can take a ferry from North Williamsburg that will dock at East 20th Street and Avenue C. The SBS routes for 14th Street and 23rd Street will link to the dock at East 20th Street and a free transfer to the bus would be included in the ferry ride.

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