A Busway for 125th Street?

Borough President Gale Brewer pushes DOT for better service for uptown riders

02 Dec 2019 | 10:14

After seeing the success of the 14th St. Busway, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is advocating for more bus lanes along 125th St. to improve public transportation uptown.

The 14th St. Transit and Truck Priority went into effect on Oct. 3. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, only buses and trucks are allowed on 14th St. between Third and Ninth Aves. All other vehicles may make local trips, but must leave 14th at the next available right turn. (From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., all cars may make through trips along the corridor.) The plan has increased weekday ridership on the M14 A and D routes 20 percent, and travel times are down 30 percent.

On Nov. 21, Brewer sent a letter to Commissioner New York City Department of Transportation Polly Trottenberg asking that the agency look into the potential for a busway — or other initiatives, such as center-running bus lanes along 125thStreet.

“I am proud to have been the first elected official to publicly support this innovative idea and believe the successes realized for the M14 routes should be viewed as a model going forward as we look to further improve bus service,” Brewer said in the letter. “The nine main bus routes that traverse the 125th Street and 181st Street corridors are perfect places to provide similar aid.”

Room for Improvement

Brewer told Trottenberg that 125th St. received a poor rating by the Bus Turnaround Coalition – made up of the Riders Alliance, TransitCenter, the Straphanger’s Campaign and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign – for slow bus speeds and poor reliability. She pointed out that about 75,000 riders use 125th St. daily, which is much higher than ridership on 14th St., which totals around 30,000 commuters.

“As your agency embarks on both the Bronx Bus Network Redesign and the Better Buses Action Plan, it should give the 125th Street and 181st Street corridors a hard look for strong bus priority measures,” Brewer wrote. “It is vital that we not only apply proven methods for bus service at a time when ridership continues to fall, but that we ensure equity as we do so. Northern Manhattan bus riders deserve to reap the same potential benefits that riders in Lower Manhattan have seen.”

Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter supports the borough president’s plan to improve bus lanes on 125th St. He said that people park and drive in the bus lanes, which creates a problem for traffic and buses.

“The bus lanes aren’t respected by drivers,” Fried said. “A lot of people ride buses on those streets, so the more the city can do to really clear a path for buses, the more it’s going to help tens of thousands of people every day. The bus lane isn’t as clear as it needs to be in order for buses to travel unobstructed.”