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New York’s getting 20 new miles of bus lanes

The plan will create five new car-free routes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Written by
Howard Halle

We're in day two of NYC's Phase 1 re-opening, and along with substantial changes in subway service, Mayor Bill De Blasio has just announced a major expansion of the city's busway program. The plan would create 20 more miles of car-free corridors in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, and though it falls far short of the MTA's call to add 60 more miles, the mayor told Streetsblog that it was "a major step."

You may recall that back in July of 2018, when anger over the L train shutdown reached fever pitch, the mayor announced plans for an express busway along 14th Street as a way of accommodating some of the 275,000 straphangers that were being affected by the suspension of L train service. From 6am to 10pm daily, cars (though not trucks, emergency vehicles or for-hire vehicles picking up or dropping off passengers provided they took the next right turn) were banned from traveling along 14th Street between Third and Ninth Avenues.

Lawsuits by nearby residents and block associations delayed implementation of the program, but when it was finally cleared the courts, an 18-month pilot program began in October of 2019. It proved to be an instance success: What had once been one of the city's slowest bus routes became one of its fastest.

The mayor also said that he was making the 14th Street busway permanent and extending it to Avenue C. “As New Yorkers head back to work, they’ll be relying on the bus more than ever, and I’m proud to offer them faster and more reliable options,” he said.

The first of the new routes is expected to be introduced this month along Main Street in Flushing. Here’s the complete list of the new busways:

- Main Street before Sanford and Northern Boulevard in Queens

- Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to 168th Street in Queens

- Fifth Avenue in Manhattan from 57th to 34th Streets in Manhattan

- Jay Street in Brooklyn from Fulton to Tillary Streets in Brooklyn

- E. 181st St. in Manhattan from Amsterdam Avenue to Broadway in Manhattan

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