MTA: 14th Street Select Bus Service Will Launch January 6, Three Months Ahead of L Train Shutdown

The three-month window gives the agencies time for some trial-and-error on 14th Street before the tsunami of displaced L train passengers hits.

DOT's proposed design for the 14th Street busway. Image: DOT/MTA
DOT's proposed design for the 14th Street busway. Image: DOT/MTA

Select Bus Service will launch on 14th Street on January 6, 2019, three months ahead of the L train shutdown, the MTA and DOT announced today.

The shutdown is expected to send 50,000-plus subway riders to 14th Street buses every day. To keep everyone moving, DOT plans to give buses priority on the busy central blocks of 14th Street between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week.

The January 6 start date is “contingent upon the completion of street and vehicular traffic modifications planned across 14th Street by NYCDOT to support increased bus and pedestrian traffic,” the MTA said today.

At first, M14 SBS will run between Tenth Avenue and First Avenue, making five stops. Then two weeks before the L train shutdown it will extend east to the Stuyvesant Cove ferry dock. Combined with existing M14 local service, buses will be scheduled to arrive at least every two minutes during peak hours.

“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,” said MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford.

The three-month window also gives the agencies time to make adjustments to transit priority rules on 14th Street.

The most recent plan calls for commercial deliveries and passenger pick-ups and drop-offs to be allowed in the 14th Street busway, as long as drivers use only the block of 14th Street where they need curb access. Those limits on private vehicle traffic might be too loose to keep bus riders moving, however. A few Uber pick-ups could jam up the busway for hundreds of people at a time.

DOT said that transitway operations have yet to be finalized.

“NYC DOT and NYCT are continuing to develop plans for the January start to M14-SBS including general traffic restrictions and specific access points for the 14th Street busway,” an agency spokesperson said.