A car-free, bus-only street in NYC is a case study in transportation equity

  • Date: 11/09/2020

Just a year ago, New York took the bold step of restricting traffic on 14th Street in Manhattan to buses and a relative handful of local deliveries. The improvement in local travel conditions was immediate and sustained. Crosstown buses on 14th Street, which had been the city’s slowest, are now blowing past their schedules. According to the latest evaluation report from Sam Schwartz Engineering (completed just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) bus travel times between 3rd Avenue and 8th Avenue have been cut by 15 to 25%, benefitting thousands of cross-town travelers.

Because the buses are moving so much faster, more people are riding them. The street itself is a livelier, people-oriented place because there are fewer cars. The buses themselves are more efficient and productive (each driver carriers more passengers per hour because their buses are both faster and fuller, which ultimately benefits taxpayers). And contrary to the folk wisdom about traffic displacement, there’s been no detectable increase in car traffic or significant slowdown on the side-streets paralleling 14th Street.

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