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.

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The Soapbox: The bicycle purge of 2018

ebikeBy Andrew Paul Grell

Mayor De Blasio announced on October 20th that commencing on January 1, 2018, there would be a crack-down on bicycles with electric booster motors, or “e-bikes,” including targeted enforcement, confiscations, and fines. The policy as described is:

  1. Counter to post-Giuliani New York City transportation policy;
  2. Counter to the mayor’s stated climate change emissions reduction policy of April 2016;
  3. A roadblock on the way to reducing deaths and costly hospitalizations from ozone and fine particulates;
  4. Likely to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
  5. A hindrance to mechanical, thermodynamic, and economic efficiency.

No pedestrians enjoy being cut off by cyclists, electric or not. No cyclists enjoy having to detour around pedestrians in bicycle priority reservation lanes. No one – driver, cyclist, or pedestrian – quite knows what a mixing zone or a bike box are or how they’re supposed to work. And surprisingly, not many drivers know what “Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles” signs mean, even though the sign has pictures on it. Everyone, on or off a bike, wants their take-out food to arrive while it’s still hot. Everyone on this list can be satisfied, and in so doing, can initiate tremendous savings in lives, health, money and time.

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Straphangers weigh in on ways to deal with L train shutdown

Paul Steely-White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Paul Steely-White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A transit-focused nonprofit has enlisted the public to come up with ideas to help make the looming L train shutdown less painful, and the first of three workshops on the subject took place on Monday night at Town and Village Synagogue.

There didn’t seem to be any new ideas but rather people stressing options brought up previously, such as the street being shut down to car traffic and beefing up the supply of buses.

Paul Steely-White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said that regardless of the overall plan, the public feedback process could be a good opportunity to improve bus transit in the city.

Meanwhile, he added that the imminent shutdown will be a serious problem if it’s not met with proactive solutions beforehand.

“We’re trying to get our heads around the thought of what happens if there’s no contingency,” he said. “I don’t think anyone thinks it’ll just be ok if we do nothing.”

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MTA will conduct study on a traffic-free 14th Street during L train shutdown

hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The MTA will be conducting a study on a plan to close 14th Street to traffic for the duration of the planned 18-month L train shutdown.

The feasibility study was announced by State Senator Brad Hoylman on Wednesday, who, along with quite a few other elected officials, had requested the study.

“More than 50,000 people cross Manhattan daily on the L train below 14th Street,” Hoylman said. “It’s crucial that we have a plan in place to accommodate these riders given the L train will be closed for 18 months starting in January, 2019.”

He added that the study includes a proposal for a dedicated bus lane and expanded cyclist and pedestrian access.

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M15 voted city’s most unreliable bus

Three M15 buses line up alongside a bus stop in front of Stuyvesant Town on First Avenue. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Three M15 buses line up alongside a bus stop in front of Stuyvesant Town on First Avenue. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives bestowed their annual dubious award of “Schleppie” for the most unreliable bus line in the city to the M15, including its Select Bus Service (SBS) option.

The Schleppie, which is represented by two lumbering elephants on a pedestal, was given to the First and Second Avenue Manhattan line because of its tendency towards bus bunching as well as major gaps in service.

The award, which has been given since 2006, goes to any route with an average “wait assessment” greater than 20 percent. This determination is based on official “wait assessments” for “42 high-volume routes,” chosen by Transit. Wait assessment measures how closely a line sticks to scheduled intervals for arrival. Wait assessment becomes poorer the more buses arrive in bunches or with major gaps in service.

Still, the NYPIRG had some words of encouragement for the route, acknowledging that in 2013, the M15 was the most utilized route out of nearly 200 local routes in the entire city. The local and SBS together move 54,310 riders on an average weekday. The report also said Transportation Alternatives was optimistic things would improve once the city implements SBS routes.

“New Yorkers know from bitter daily experience that bus service is slow and unreliable,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “But there is real hope for dramatic improvement in Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build a rapid network of 20 ‘Select Bus Service/Bus Rapid Transit’ routes.”

The report also went on to say that based on its findings, SBS routes were living up to the expectation of being speedier than locals, while also performing “modestly” better in terms of reliability.

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