By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Lower East Side elected officials and residents rallied last Friday for the MTA to reconsider a proposal that would eliminate local bus stops on the M14A and D with the advent of select bus service on the route, while also advocating for the removal of some of the SBS stops in the plan.
Council Member Carlina Rivera, whose district covers areas in the East Village where stops would be removed, and other elected officials also argued that some of the proposed SBS stops should be removed.
The new SBS route proposes to remove a number of stops that provide public transportation near senior centers and NYCHA developments in the Lower East Side, Rivera said, while also not eliminating enough stops to actually speed up service. This, she added, highlights a need for both local buses and an even more pared down SBS route.
“Our M14 bus is the second-busiest bus route in Manhattan and sadly also the second slowest,” Rivera said. “We need solutions for both those who need faster transit options and those will be forced to walk over half a mile between the proposed new bus stops and their homes, with no other affordable options. The current M14 SBS plan not only fails seniors and low-income New Yorkers, but it also diminishes how transformative an SBS route could be for the area.”
Elected officials at the rally also pointed out that a similar model is already in place on Second Avenue with the M15 and M15-SBS, and encouraged the agency to pursue a similar strategy with the M14A/D.
The Lower East Side is one of the most underserved transit areas in Manhattan, with 15 percent of residents in Community District 3, which encompasses the East Village and Lower East Side, living more than half a mile away from the subway.
The M14A and M14D both traverse 14th Street in Manhattan but split off east of First Avenue and heading south for service in the East Village and Lower East Side. The M14A turns down Avenue A and continues on Delancey before terminating at Grand Street and the FDR. The M14D heads down Avenues C and D before terminating at Delancey Street and Columbia Street near the FDR.
Some buses with SBS have also maintained regular service, providing both express and local stops, but the proposal for the routes along 14th Street would be replaced with only SBS.
The MTA responded to the rally with a statement over the weekend, arguing that the agency along with DOT is still gathering community input on the proposal, but also said that the possible redesign is due to declining ridership.
“If our collective goal is to improve bus speeds and ridership, Select Bus Service does just that,” the statement said. “Just ask the just ask the hundreds of thousands of customers who use SBS daily.”