The MTA and the Department of Transportation took a victory lap, of sorts, Thursday, as they crowed over their own statistics, which found the M14A/D’s average running time dropped by 5 minutes since the 14th Street busway went into effect. What was once a 15-minute slog between 3rd and 8th Ave, now only takes 10 minutes.

Weekday ridership between October 2-11 on the M14 also went up 15 percent over September last year—from 27,500 riders to nearly 32,400.

“This is what it’s all about folks,” New York City Transit President Andy Byford said Thursday. “It’s about getting people back on to public transit, but to do that you have to make it attractive and you have to show it’s the best way to go along these key corridors.”

The preliminary data also appears to show on time performance for the M14A increase 16 percent over October last year, while the M14D saw a 25 percent increase.

“So far so good, obviously we’ll refine this thing as is necessary, but this is a forerunner for what I believe this city needs to do,” Byford said. “If we could replicate that on the major crosstown routes across the city you’ll see people flock back to the buses because it’s the quickest way to go.”

Byford said he has a number of routes in mind for what’s coming next, although the MTA is still in the research phase.

MTA Photos

The early success, according to the city and MTA, hasn’t deterred the group that initially sued to block the busway from going into effect, delaying the implementation by months. Attorney Arthur Schwartz is continuing his lawsuit against the city for what he said is a lack of research before the city implemented its busway plan.

“The lawsuit isn't just about ‘oh we have too much traffic on 15th or 16th street.’ The lawsuit is about the process by which the city undertakes to do large scale changes that affect the character and livability of a neighborhood,” Schwartz told WNYC/Gothamist. “That’s why the lawsuit is continuing.”

At Thursday’s press event, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg disputed this, saying her agency studied the busway for over three years. She said the DOT has hired a private traffic consultant to monitor traffic in the area. Both parties are due back in court later this year.

“We’re seeing pretty minimal impact on the side streets, a little more on the avenues, but so far I think on the bus performance side it’s exceeded our expectations, on the traffic issues on the side streets that too has exceeded our expectations,” Trottenberg said. “We’ve heard good things from people on some of those side streets that the traffic has not been bad, even gratitude that trucks which were previously on some of those side streets are, as we had hoped, now migrating to 14th Street, which is where we want them to be.”

The traffic analysis firm INRIX also put out a report this week, finding the busway “had no discernible performance changes to neighboring roads” and “initial congestion fears appear misplaced.”

The MTA and DOT also announced Thursday that it had caught 1,500 vehicles parked illegally in bus lanes since October 7th, when bus-mounted cameras began snapping images along the M15 SBS bus route. Those drivers will get off with a warning for now, during a 60-day grace period. Starting December 6th, fines will start at $50 for a first offense, and climb up to $250 for a fifth violation.

The MTA plans to expand the camera program to the B44 SBS and M14SBS by the end of November.