Busway halted—again

Select Bus Service launched on the M14A/D at the beginning of July but it is the only SBS route in the city that doesn’t have a dedicated bus lane due to the current litigation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Within days of a judge giving the 14th Street busway the go-ahead after a lawsuit prevented it from going into effect at the beginning of July, West Village, Union Square and Flatiron residents and community groups have once again held up the pilot program through an appeal.

Gothamist reported that shortly after the Department of Transportation, the city agency implementing the busway, had previewed the changes last Friday following the temporary restraining order being lifted on Tuesday, a judge granted an appeal to the community groups and stopped the busway from going into effect this past Monday.

Tensions have been high between transit advocates and the residents working to prevent the busway, particularly Arthur Schwartz, an attorney who filed the initial lawsuit and who also lives on West 12th Street, and have only increased since the end of last week.

Transit group Transportation Alternatives announced a press conference in front of Schwartz’s own West Village apartment to pressure Schwartz into dropping the lawsuit, planned for this past Wednesday after T&V’s deadline. Schwartz condemned the move as an intimidation tactic.

Continue reading

Restraining order on 14th Street busway lifted

The DOT is planning to launch the pilot program on 14th Street by next Monday, August 12. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A judge has lifted the temporary restraining order and denied the petition filed that put a halt to the busway on 14th Street this week. The judge felt the city had thoroughly examined the impact that the busway would have on traffic and they have the authority to implement the project, amNewYork reporter Vincent Barone noted on Twitter this past Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told Town & Village on Tuesday that the agency has started work to implement the busway on Monday, August 12.

Attorney and West Village resident Arthur Schwartz, who originally filed the lawsuit, said that he felt the judge made a number of errors when deciding the case.

Continue reading

Department of Transportation fighting busway lawsuit

Select Bus Service launched for the M14A/D at the beginning of this month, despite the lack of a busway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation was once again unsuccessful last week in convincing a judge to lift a court order preventing the start of a new busway on 14th Street. West Village resident and attorney Arthur Schwartz filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the plan to prioritize trucks and transit on the corridor, arguing that banning private traffic would cause overwhelming congestion on the nearby side streets, and a judge blocked implementation of the plan just three days before it was supposed to go into effect.

The DOT was scheduled to appear in court on August 6 but the agency instead went back before a judge on July 2, asking that the court vacate the TRO. Schwartz said that the judge reviewing the application last week wouldn’t take the argument because approving the plan “opened up the possibility of a ping pong effect at great expense to the city and confusion to the public” in the event that the TRO was reinstated and vacated repeatedly, or if the injunction was reinstated at the August 6 appearance.

Schwartz said that Judge Gishe, the Appellate Division judge who wouldn’t vacate the TRO last week, read the papers over but argued that since DOT had identified 14th Street as a street needing SBS in 2011, the situation wasn’t an emergency.

Continue reading

Hoylman wants audit of MTA over ‘dismal’ bus service in district

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a report that showed the buses in his district were the slowest in the city, State Senator Brad Hoylman has called for an audit into the MTA’s bus service and wait times.

Hoylman made the request via a letter to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Monday, calling the local bus service “dismal.” His district, the 27th, includes Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, the East Village, midtown, East Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Columbus Circle and the Upper West Side.

“Here in my own district, we’ve nicknamed some of the buses across town: The Turtle, The Sloth and The Slug,” said Hoylman, of the M42, the M50 and the M23, respectively.

One of those buses, the M23, is a two-time recipient of the Straphangers Campaign’s infamous Pokey award, which is given to the slowest route in the city.

Continue reading

L train will close for 18 months in Manhattan in 2019, MTA says

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced this morning that the L train will be completely shut down between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 18 months beginning in January, 2019.

According to social media, email surveys and testimony from public meetings, 77 percent of respondents were in favor of the 18-month full shutdown, the MTA said.

The 11 community boards in the affected areas along the L, which hosted meetings about the two options prior to the decision, were also more in favor of a full closure than of a partial shutdown. In the joint meeting hosted by Community Boards 3 and 6 at the end of last month, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney expressed her strong support of the full closure, basing her decision on a number of meetings with the community that she had attended previously.

“During this process, it quickly became clear to many in affected communities that a shorter, full closure will be less painful than a longer period with minimal service, as long as there are broad and varied alternative ways to get to work while the line is closed,” Maloney said following the announcement. “I’ve argued that most people will accept full closure, as long as it takes them no more than 20 extra minutes to reach their destinations, and I look forward to working with the MTA to make sure this happens.”

The New York Times first reported the news on Monday morning, noting that officials hope to finish the repairs, made necessary because of damage from Hurricane Sandy, as quickly as possible to limit the impact on riders.

Continue reading

How straphangers can save hundreds of dollars a year, starting in January

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at an event in Union Square to promote the Community Benefits Law, which will save commuters an average of $443 a year in monthly MetroCards. (Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance)

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at an event in Union Square to promote the Community Benefits Law, which will save commuters an average of $443 a year in monthly MetroCards. (Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To help commuters estimate how much they could save on transit as a result of the new Commuter Benefits Law, City Council Member Dan Garodnick joined representatives from the Rider’s Alliance, Straphangers Campaign and the Department of Consumer Affairs in the Union Square subway station on Sunday with a giant calculator and an oversized tax chart.

Garodnick had originally proposed the legislation in the spring of 2014 and Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the legislation that October, but the councilmember held the event in Union Square last weekend as a reminder that commuters should take advantage of the benefits because the law officially goes into effect on January 1, 2016.

The new law will require businesses with 20 or more employees to offer workers the opportunity to use pre-tax dollars toward transit. Garodnick said that there was previously no requirement for employers and once the law goes into effect, the Department of Consumer Affairs will have the power to enforce it. But he emphasized that he wants to let both employers and employees know about the program’s advantages rather than worry about consequences of non-compliance.

“At this moment we’re really trying to educate,” he said. “We want people to know it’s a benefit that will be available and encourage employers to set it up.”

Continue reading