By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Electric buses for the new M14 SBS route for the L train shutdown won’t be in the fleet until the end of 2019, at least five months after the shutdown begins, NYC Transit officials said at a Community Board 5 meeting last week.
Fifteen of the 40 vehicles on this route will be electric articulated buses. There will be five electric and 10 hybrid diesel-electric buses for the inter-borough routes in use by April 2019, but this fleet is twice that of the M14 at 80 buses.
“Less than half of the M14 buses will be electric but these have a very long lead time to get,” said Rob Thompson of NYC Transit. “We’re throwing them out as fast as we can get them.”
New York City Transit will also be making changes to bus stops around 14th Street prior to the shutdown and Thompson noted that two stops near Union Square would be relocated within the next month to accommodate the work that DOT is doing for the shutdown.
Thompson said that two eastbound bus stops, at Fifth Avenue and University Place, will move to the middle of the block between Fifth and University so that the areas where the stops are currently located can be converted into pedestrian space. Thompson said that this change will take place within the next month.
Thompson also noted that the stop at Union Square West and East 14th Street will have to be closed temporarily throughout the shutdown, but this closure won’t happen until next April.
“We’ve heard that people in the area would like us to keep that (stop) as long as possible so that’s what we’d like to do,” he said.
Officials at the meeting also noted that in addition to the weekend work on the L train that will limit service significantly leading up to the full-time shutdown in April, there is other preparatory work that transit authorities and the Department of Transportation need to complete well ahead of when the shutdown begins.
“The 15-month closure is for the serious construction but we’re doing a lot of major work in preparation so that once the L actually shuts down, everything can go on full steam ahead,” Thompson said.
Thompson noted that one of the street-level preparations that residents might notice is officials from the DOT painting the streets for the busway. That work needs to be completed before the weather gets too cold because the paint won’t stick to the road and the amount of work is too significant in volume to wait until the weather starts getting warm again in March and hoping that it cooperates.
Signage, changing signal timing and putting in the SBS fare machines will be implemented closer to the actual shutdown.