The twice-stalled plan to bring a busway to 14th Street may now move forward, after a court ruled on Friday against a group of Manhattan homeowners who sued to block the transit project.
In a 3-2 decision, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court lifted the stay against the busway imposed by a judge in August—the second time that the bus priority was halted just as it was set to take effect.
The proposed pilot program will last for 18 months, restricting private through traffic on the corridor between 3rd and 9th Avenues in order to speed up the notoriously slow 14th Street buses. Paired with the recent arrival of Select Bus Service in the area, the city estimates that bus speeds will improve by as much as 30 percent for 27,000 daily riders.
The ruling represents the latest turn in a protracted legal battle waged by a group of local block associations against the transit project. Led by attorney Arthur Schwartz, the residents have argued that the new busway would create “horrific traffic jams" on residential side streets, and was not sufficiently analyzed by the city for its environmental impact. (The group has also called for the city to rip out new bike lanes installed on 12th and 13th Streets.) Schwartz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Transit advocates, meanwhile, believe that the coalition has weaponized the environmental review process against much-needed efforts aimed at curbing congestion and speeding up buses.
"New Yorkers who ride the M14 are about to see their bus line transformed from one of the city's slowest, into one of the fastest, practically overnight," said Tom DeVito of Transportation Alternatives. "This should bring an end to the legal shenanigans that have been holding up these improvements for months on end."
Paint for the busway has already been installed on 14th Street, and the city has previously said that they are ready to implement the project as soon as legally permitted. A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to Gothamist's inquiries—we'll update once we hear back.