amNY: L train shutdown plan needs 24-hour 14th Street busway, politicians say

The politicians fear commuters will turn to cars if the buses aren’t a reliable option.

A dozen Brooklyn and Manhattan politicians are calling on the mayor to implement a 24-hour busway along 14th Street during the looming L train shutdown.

The city plans to operate the busway, which would reserve 14th Street for buses, pedestrians and local deliveries, during “peak hours,” but some commuters and advocates say that won’t be enough. The MTA and Department of Transportation also have not yet defined what the peak hours will be during the shutdown, which begins in April 2019.

Representing “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who ride the L train and live in neighborhoods” along the line, borough presidents Eric Adams and Gale Brewer and a handful of state senators, assembly members and city council members, penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to change the plan. The letter was first reported by the New York Daily News.

Without a 24-hour 14th Street busway, the elected officials say they fear other subway lines will get “dangerously” crowded and commuters will turn to private cars and for-hire vehicles, “which would exacerbate traffic problems.”

“Our communities are 24/7 neighborhoods, and the L train is busy all day and all night,” the letter says. “If we hope to persuade New Yorkers to continue to rely on public transit while the L train tunnel is closed, we must provide shuttle bus service that is seamless, efficient and reliable — whenever our constituents need to ride.”

The plan put forward by the MTA and DOT also includes increased service on nearby train lines, a two-way protected bike lane on 13th Street and additional ferries between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

De Blasio has previously said a 24-hour busway doesn’t make sense.

“It’s a common sense matter that the level of people traveling at rush hour, morning and evening is different than other times of the day,” he said earlier this month. “We would like to minimize the disruption on 14th Street to the maximum extent possible so this is where we think we hit the balance point.”

Some Manhattan residents agree that the city should not operate a 24-hour busway and have sued the agencies involved to try to halt the project until environmental reviews on the impacts of the work are carried out.

The letter to de Blasio also says the city needs to finalize its plan to allow residents and commuters to prepare.

“With only 11 months before the planned tunnel closure, our communities are suffering from uncertainty and an inability to prepare fully for the impending construction,” the letter says.

In addition to Adams and Brewer, the letter was signed by state senators Martin Malave Dilan and Brian Kavanagh; Assembly members Maritza Davila, Harvey Epstein, Yuh-Line Niou and Joseph Lentol; and Council members Rafael Espinal, Stephen Levin, Keith Powers and Antonio Reynoso.