When L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn shuts down for 15 months next April, the daily commutes of some 275,000 straphangers will be affected. A key part of the MTA's plan to mitigate the impact of the service change is to turn a stretch of 14th Street into a busway with limited car access for 17 hours a day.
On Monday, the authority released more details as to exactly how the street's redesign will work. On January 6, 2019—a full three months before the L shutdown goes into effect—officials plan to implement the traffic restriction on the busy crosstown thoroughfare, as well as implement a select bus lane along the stretch.
Last month, the MTA announced that it would limit car access on two segments of 14th Street from 5am until 10pm during the course of the shutdown: eastbound lanes from Third to Ninth Avenue and westbound lanes from Third to Eighth Avenue. Now, we have a clearer picture as to how they plan to accommodate an estimated 50,000 additional daily riders who are moving above ground along 14th Street.
The new select bus, dubbed the M14 SBS, will make five stops in each direction between First and Tenth Avenues, and will be extended to the planned Stuyvesant Cove ferry terminal shortly before the L train reconstruction project kicks off. Select buses make fewer stops than their conventional counterparts, and allow riders to swipe their MetroCards before hopping on. Riders are able to board from all of the bus's doors, giving way for shorter wait times at each stop.
“By implementing the M14 SBS months before we start the L train tunnel repairs, we hope that customers will take the opportunity to try our buses and see how the 14th Street busway can factor into their commutes once we start work fixing the L train tunnel,” New York City Transit president Andy Byford said in a statement.
The MTA anticipates that roughly 70 buses will travel across the Williamsburg Bridge every hour during the course of the construction, and restricting car access on 14th Street is viewed as a necessary step to keep it from turning into an overly congested nightmare. The Department of Transportation is also constructing a pair of one-way bike lanes along 12th and 13th Streets.