A month in to the city’s 14th Street busway, and the doomsday predictions of clogged side streets have yet to materialize. Preliminary data shows that car speeds on neighboring streets are essentially unchanged while buses are whizzing along the thoroughfare with travel times down by some 30 percent.
Now, transportation officials are moving the pilot program into its next phase, intended to make the thoroughfare even more pedestrian-friendly, with the installation of new bus boarding platforms at seven M14 Select Bus Service stops.
As the MTA puts it, “don’t be misled by their understated gray-plastic-y vibes”; these platforms give riders a dedicated space to board buses, making access from the sidewalk easier and safer. The quick-build platforms are often made with recycled plastic panels that snap together like puzzle pieces and bolt into the ground. Cities like Los Angeles and Pittsburgh are also experimenting with the low-tech improvement.
Some appear in the form of islands, which can leave room for cyclists to bike around, while others jut out from sidewalks and allow buses to stop without departing their lanes. The latter may not sound like a big deal, but the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) says buses can on average take 20 seconds to more than one minute during peak travel hours to re-enter a lane, and that time can add up to substantial delays for riders.
On Brooklyn’s Utica Avenue, after temporary bus boarding platforms successfully weathered the winter, the city decided to keep them in place beyond the trial period. The platforms were removed in early 2018 to be replaced with a permanent concrete bus stop.
Back on 14th Street, each of the seven new bus boarding platforms will take six days to install. Crews will work on two platforms at a time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Buses will bypass those stops, but work will not be conducted on two consecutive stops so rider can use the next closet one while work is underway. The MTA’s NYC Transit will install the bus boarding platforms, and DOT will inspect and maintain them.
Construction will begin at the westbound M14 SBS bus stop at Seventh Avenue in the next week, with the westbound stop at Fifth Avenue planned next. Other platforms will be installed along the route over the coming months, says DOT.