New York City

M14 Bus Beats Pedestrians by Mere 5 Seconds in Morning Commute Race

What to Know

  • Transit advocates embarked on a footrace early Wednesday morning against the M14 bus and lost by 5 seconds
  • The M14 is the ninth-busiest bus route in New York City and the third-slowest
  • The race was hosted by advocate group Transportation Alternatives, which says transit riders need more efficient buses

Transit advocates embarked on a footrace early Wednesday against the M14 bus — the third-slowest in New York City — and lost by 5 seconds, they say.

More than a dozen enthusiastic advocates gathered on the corner of 14th Street and Avenue A shortly after 8:30 a.m. and followed the same path as the M14 to Union Square. 

“It was essentially a tie,” Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Joe Cutrufo said. “There’s no school in session today, so that may have reduced traffic. The conditions were right for buses to be able to go slightly faster than they typically do.”

The M14, which is the ninth-busiest bus route in the city, travels at an average speed of about 3.9 miles per hour, according to Cutrufo. Currently, there is no dedicated right-of-way for buses along 14th Street.

Because the M14, along with many other New York City buses, travels at essentially walking speed, Transportation Alternatives say they found a footrace against the bus fitting.

“The city is basically saying, ‘You can take the bus and sit in traffic, or you can walk,’” Cutrufo said.

The race was led by the group Transportation Alternatives and co-sponsored by the New York League of Conservation Voters with the intent to demonstrate that transit riders need a more efficient bus system. The race was also in response to the anticipated increase in bus ridership with the partial shutdown of the L train.

“With no L train underground in Manhattan, I think it’s safe to assume we will see a lot of people hailing taxis and calling Ubers and Lyfts,” Cutrufo said. “The bus just doesn’t get them to where they need to go very quickly.”

Transit advocates say they will continue to call on the city to maximize the number of people, not just cars, that 14th Street can move.

“We need better transit,” Cutrufo said. “Not just when the L is closed.”

An MTA spokesman said the agency agrees buses need to move faster, and is working with NYPD and the city Department of Transportation to manage traffic congestion hotspots and bus lane obstacles, expanding GPS and other technology to prioritize buses, and upgrading to a digital communications and dispatch network. It's also advocating for more camera enforcement on bus lanes. 

On 14th Street, the MTA is working with NYCDOT to install a dedicated bus lane and implement permanent SBS on that route, spokesman Shams Tarek said. 

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