Raised Boarding Platforms Will Make 14th Street Busway Even Better

Bus-boarding platforms like this one are coming soon to 14th Street. Photo: DOT
Bus-boarding platforms like this one are coming soon to 14th Street. Photo: DOT

Busway boarding is about to get even easier.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday that they would install on-street bus-boarding platforms — raised curb extensions — at stops in the 14th Street bus-priority zone, in order to speed bus pick-ups and drop-offs and allow more sidewalk space for pedestrians.

The platforms will enable the M14 Select Bus Service — the express bus with time-saving, off-board payment and all-door boarding — to move even faster because the buses will not have to pull in or out of traffic in order to pick up riders but can stay in their lane, according to the agencies. It can take from 20 seconds to a minute for a bus to pull back into traffic during peak hours.

The platforms are the same kind that the city earlier rolled out along the M23 and M15 SBS routes and bus routes along Seventh Avenue in Midtown. Like the busway itself, such platforms are an example of the city reclaiming space in the roadway from cars for the benefit of transit users — and thus represent a key win for riders.

The agencies said that, starting on Thursday, they would install seven raised platforms along 14th Street: five on the westbound side (at Irving Place, and Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth avenues) and two on the eastbound side (University Place and Eighth Avenue). The work will proceed in phases for the convenience of riders.

“M14 A/D buses will bypass stops for no more than six days,” the MTA said in a statement.

The busway— inaugurated in October after being delayed for months by a frivolous law suit — has already helped the M14 drive down its average travel time across 14th Street by 30 percent, and raised weekday ridership by 17 percent, by the MTA’s count. It also has not led to massive gridlock on surrounding streets, as opponents claimed it would.

DOT also announced another move restricting cars: A westbound traffic lane in the southern part of the Union Square will debut this week as a pedestrian area protected by bollards and security barriers — just in time for the crush expected at the Union Square Holiday Market.