Opinion: Drop the busway lawsuit

By Sophie Maerowitz

With the planned implementation of the 14th Street Busway on July 1, residents of the East Village were preparing for a major uptick in our quality of life. However, a frivolous last-minute court order has delayed much-needed bus improvements for tens of thousands of our neighbors yet again.

As a resident of East 14th Street and an advocate of the 14th Street busway since 2015, I was incredibly disheartened to see this snap decision. I have spent  years working with my neighbors doing grassroots activism, building widespread community support for a car-free bus corridor on 14th Street, and it is quite frankly perverse to argue that transit improvements are an environmental threat, as the suit alleges.

The truth is, this delay will only serve to keep the M14A and M14D buses moving at an appalling sub-4 mile per hour speed. It’s no surprise that the #BusTurnaround coalition has given these lines an “F” rating.

Whatever else contributed to the decision, I don’t think it helped that the judge in this case, Eileen Rakower, never heard the perspective of those of us in the community that care about quick and reliable bus service on 14th Street, which we know won’t work if buses are caught in car traffic. If only she was there when we raced the M14D on foot; it only beat us by two seconds.

The loudest (and perhaps only) voices she has heard were those of the wealthy homeowners on the West side of the 14th Street corridor that sued the city. This small group of people is so concerned with preserving street parking and preserving “neighborhood character” (a loaded phrase if I ever I saw one) that they are blind to the fact that, like it or not, they live in Manhattan, at the heart of a complex and overcrowded public transit ecosystem. Sometimes small changes that have major benefits for tens of thousands of New Yorkers need to happen, even if they may cause them small inconveniences.

As East Villagers who are coping with the L train slowdown, we see the need for fast street-level transit a bit more clearly. Either way, I’m embarrassed by my West Side neighbors for their selfish NIMBY behavior in filing this frivolous and obstructive lawsuit.

Hopefully this decision is reversed or overruled quickly with the understanding that favoring cars over efficient public transit is a backwards, wasteful and thoughtless move in a city facing an unprecedented confluence of transit and climate-related challenges. A vast majority of my neighbors agree with me on this, even if it’s not what we’re hearing from a few West 12th and 13th Street residents who can afford an army of lawyers and publicists.

7 thoughts on “Opinion: Drop the busway lawsuit

  1. If only she was there when we raced the M14D on foot

    We? Who is this “we”? I know that the registered lobbyists at Trans Alt pulled some sort of media stunt “race” earlier this year. Is that what you speak of?

    In that case you should state that you’re broadcasting lobbyist’s talking points, not speaking out as a local resident.

    • Trans Alt gets a lot of contributions from residents of the East Village who are paying it to advocate for these causes. Are you saying the author is biased because she participates in organizing activities?

      Surely Arthur Schwartz did the exact same thing from the other angle and considers himself a “local activist”.

      • TA is principally funded by one billionaire sugar daddy, Mark Gorton, who, by no coincidence, also funds and publishes Streetsblog.

        It’s a deep pocketed lobby, with a couple thousand (at best) paying members. In a city of 8.5 million.

        • And how many people own cars near 14th Street and specifically need to drive a lot on 14th Street, inside of bus lanes, during the daytime? I guess hundreds of thousands? Totally outnumbered, damn.

          TA has something like 50,000 members and I have to guess you got all of your other facts wrong, too.

      • TA’s financial statements are available on the web. According to the last statement, Membership Support income totaled $404,693. So, I guess all those 50,000 paid about $8 each? Thought $50 was the baseline.

        So, no, there are not 50,000 dues paying members. They may claim as many “supporters”, but who knows how they define that…

        • Registered lobbyist? What a joke! I’m a volunteer activist, and an East Village resident. I make less than 40k a year. I donate my time toward building a safer, greener city because I don’t think private car owners should dictate how New Yorkers live (I have lived in NYC for 25 years).

          -Sophie

  2. I was crossing Avenue C on 12th street a few days ago and along comes the M14sbs bus speeding down Ave C trying to over take a car before realizing he did not have enough room or else he would have missed the bus stop. The bus number is 5511 and the driver did not care for anyones safety. These bus drivers do not care. Just look how they drive. They always run red and yellow lights and the buses are always in a group, they are never spread out.

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