The de Blasio administration’s bus-boosting experiment on 14th Street could be a model for other streets, the city’s top transportation official said Thursday morning.
Speaking at a conference in Manhattan, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the traffic impact of banning almost all car traffic from 14th Street between Ninth and Third avenues has been far less bad than predicted — opening the door for similar restrictions elsewhere in the city.
“The traffic on the side [streets] hasn’t turned into the apocalyptic hellscape that critics predicted,” Trottenberg said, according to Streetsblog. “People’s worst fears did not come to pass and I hope it’ll be a template for other parts of the city.”
Bus riders take 27,000 trips on 14th Street buses each day. Since the car ban started Oct. 3, bus speeds have increased by 30 percent at some times, according to city officials.
Despite its novelty, 14th Street is not the city’s first bus-priority street — that distinction belongs to Brooklyn’s Fulton Street Mall, which has been limited to buses and local deliveries since the 1970s.
Initially set for July 1, the launch of the 18-month pilot program was delayed for three months because of a lawsuit from West Village and Chelsea block associations concerned that residential streets would overflow with congestion.
That hasn’t happened, according to Trottenberg.
“We felt pretty confident that the traffic would not be so bad on the side streets,” she said. “The results have been even more exciting than we thought, and it’s lifted our spirits to see the positive response, not just that the buses are moving faster, but the street feels calmer.”