Three months before the scheduled L train shutdown in April 2019, the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation will launch M14 SBS on 14th Street in Manhattan.
The Select Bus Service route is slated to begin Jan. 6. The date is contingent upon completing the street and vehicular traffic modifications that are planned for the major thoroughfare for it to be ready for the increased pedestrian and bus traffic during the L train shutdown, the agencies said.
“Launching Select Bus Service on 14th Street is a critical part of a multi-faceted service plan to keep thousands of customers moving safely and efficiently as they commute crosstown,” NYC Transit President Andy Byford said. “By implementing the M14 SBS months before we start the L train tunnel repairs, we hope that customers will take the opportunity to try our buses and see how the 14th Street busway can factor into their commutes once we start work fixing the L train tunnel.”
The M14 SBS was in the works “long before” the L train shutdown was announced, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. But with more than 50,000 additional daily riders expected to traverse along 14th Street, “the need for SBS here is even more urgent,” she added. “With the M14 set to become the busiest bus route in the nation next year, with a bus per minute, we plan to work with the MTA to combine those signature SBS innovations with other design changes along 14th Street to provide fast, reliable and safe service.”
SBS buses include off-board fare collection, all-door boarding and dedicated bus lanes to improve MTA bus speed and reliability among other enhancements.
What to know about the L train shutdown
The M14 SBS will supplement the existing M14A and M14D local bus service on 14th Street and will make five stops in both directions between First and Tenth Avenues for transfers to the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, C, E, F, L, M, N, Q, R, W subway stations.
Immediately prior to the L train shutdown, which the MTA and DOT call the L train tunnel reconstruction project, the M14 SBS route will extend east to the forthcoming Stuyvesant Cove NYC Ferry terminal on the East River.
Once the M14 SBS service is combined with the current local MTA bus service and the daily HOV restrictions on much of 14th Street between 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., crosstown buses will run no more than two minutes apart during peak hours, the MTA and DOT said.
Three existing local M14A and M14D stops will change once M14 SBS service begins. A westbound stop at the far side of Union Square West will be suspended temporarily, while two eastbound stops at the far side of Fifth Avenue and University Place will combine into one on the near side of University Place.
The L train shutdown is occurring because the train travels from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the century-old Canarsie Tunnel, which will undergo a complete reconstruction due to damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The L train will only run in Brooklyn between Bedford Avenue and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway. The disruption is expected to last 15 months.