By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Department of Transportation announced last week that transit and truck priority (TTP) and Select Bus Service on the M14 A/D will begin on 14th Street on July 1. The 18-month pilot project was designed specifically to help commuters traverse 14th Street while the work on the L train is being done and one of the main goals is to improve safety on the corridor.
The new regulations will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., during which time only buses and trucks, defined as any vehicle with more than two axles or six or more wheels, can make through trips between Ninth and Third Avenues. All vehicles except MTA buses at signed locations will be restricted from making left turns off 14th Street at all times.
Unlike the previously proposed “busway” plan for the now-canceled L shutdown, under the new plan, other vehicles will be allowed on the street during the restricted times. However, this is only to access the curb and garages and they must turn at the next available right. Commercial vehicles will be allowed to load and unload in short-term metered loading zones and passenger vehicles can drop off and pick up along the whole corridor.
Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when the regulations are not in effect, all vehicles can make through trips along the corridor. “No Parking” regulations will allow expeditious loading and unloading along 14th Street.
The new restrictions prioritize public transit vehicles, primarily buses and especially the new Select Bus Service for the M14A/D, and trucks that need to make local deliveries along 14th Street. The DOT said that 14th Street is a designated truck route and allowing trucks on 14th Street will help limit truck traffic on side streets.
Local politicians, seniors and disability advocates also rallied in April for the MTA to reconsider some of the changes for the M14A and D when it became an SBS route, eliminating a number of local stops in the East Village and Lower East Side. After the outcry, Curbed noted that instead of removing 22 stops, the route would remove 16 and add one, retaining five stops that were originally supposed to be eliminated.
The mayor’s office said in April that the design for the treatment builds on proposals for the original busway, but the new plan incorporates feedback from residents to keep curb access available and to prevent truck traffic from being diverted to local streets.
The prior busway plan more severely limited traffic on 14th Street than the current plan by prohibiting vehicles other buses from using the roadway during the restricted hours, and also prevented traffic from crossing 14th Street to head north and south except at specific intersections. The TTP plan that will be implemented next month will allow private vehicles to turn onto 14th Street although vehicles will still not be able to drive directly across the street and will be required to make the next possible turn off of 14th during the restricted hours. The launch of the pilot project also includes expanding pedestrian space at Union Square and shortening pedestrian crossing distances at intersections with painted curb extensions.
The DOT said that the restrictions will be enforced through automated cameras along 14th Street and NYPD traffic agents may also issue summonses. Curb regulations will be enforced by NYPD traffic agents because automated cameras can only be used for bus enforcement. The DOT will also be collecting data on bus performance, safety, parking, traffic and trucks and the information will be reported regularly.