Buses, not L train, the top concern at MTA town hall

Bus protesters

Protesters slam the elimination of bus stops at the L train open house at the 14th Street Y. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Side straphangers voiced concerns about changes to the M14 route at the latest L train town hall held at the 14th Street Y this past Monday.

The MTA and NYC Transit held the town hall to accept feedback on the L train plan, and while M14 bus service is not directly related to the project, the MTA is planning to make the route SBS to help commuters when L train service is limited during the construction.

The Department of Transportation is also still considering implementing a “busway” along 14th Street that would limit private traffic on the roadway, and DOT Director of Transit Policy Aaron Sugiura said that a decision on the busway will likely be made by early summer around the time that SBS is launched on the M14. The DOT is requesting feedback on the busway and will make a decision after receiving input from the community.

“The volume of people on 14th Street was going to be staggering (with a full shutdown) so it’s slightly less of an issue now,” Sugiura said. “But (a busway is) still a possibility and we’re still working on what exactly it would look like.”

One resident who lives in a building on 14th Street between Union Square West and Fifth Avenue said that she has concerns about the possibility of a busway because deliveries to her building would likely be affected, in addition to the numerous grocery stores on the block that wouldn’t be able to get deliveries. She also noted that while exceptions would probably be made for emergency vehicles, there could be other emergency situations on the street that wouldn’t be included.

“Sometimes a plumbing problem is an emergency, but how would they get through?” she said.

Others at the town hall protested the removal of local bus stops with the implementation of select bus service on the M14A/D routes, arguing that removing the stops would disadvantage many residents in the neighborhood who are seniors or disabled.

“It’s disrespectful of them to take away bus stops,” Peter Cooper Village resident Anne Greenberg said. “They’re hung up on the idea that they need to take away bus stops and build out the sidewalks (to make service faster) but they just need to put the payment outside.”

Fourteenth Street resident Gail Fox, who doesn’t support a busway, said that SBS lanes make turning too narrow, especially for larger vehicles.

“Vehicular traffic, especially trucks, will be driven to side streets if bus-only lanes and turning options are overly restrictive,” she said.

The L train tunnel repair project is expected to begin on Saturday, April 27 when crews will work on one tunnel at a time during the overnight hours and on the weekends. Overnight work is expected to begin around 8 p.m. with service reductions and contractors will be monitoring the plan so that regular weekday service is restored by 5 a.m. While the work is being done, only one tunnel will be open at a time and service will run every 20 minutes from Bedford Avenue to Manhattan. Service is expected to run in Brooklyn between Lorimer Street and Rockaway Parkway every 10 minutes.

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