A busway in Brooklyn launched on Monday on Jay Street in an effort to speed up buses during NYC's reopening after the peak of COVID-19 earlier this year.

Between Tillary and Livingston Streets along Jay Street, only buses and trucks will be permitted, except for local access for cars, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday—similar to the 14th Street busway rolled out in Manhattan last summer.

The busway is the first to launch following the peak of the coronavirus health emergency, and is expected to be a part of some 20 miles of busways and bus lanes announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this summer. The Jay Street busway is the third in NYC, including 14th Street and the decades-old Fulton Street Mall corridor.

"The Jay Street busway will make a big difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Brooklyn riders who have long suffered some of the slowest service in the U.S.," senior organizer at the Riders Alliance, Jolyse Race, said in a statement. "We're also eager to see Mayor de Blasio complete the remaining projects in his promised 20 miles of new, COVID-era emergency bus lanes and busways citywide."

Protected bike lanes are also a part of the bike lane plan along Smith Street between State and Fulton Streets, and along Jay Street between Johnson and Tillary Streets. The Tri-State Transportation campaign estimates that the Jay Street busway will help 47,000 riders along seven bus routes.

"We're thrilled about the opening of the Jay Street busway, which will give more than 45,000 daily bus riders on seven routes faster and more reliable commutes, transforming a corridor that for too long has been a bottleneck for buses," a Department of Transportation spokesperson said.

The remainder of street markings for the bus corridor will be complete in the next few days, and enforcement will be done in coordination with the NYPD. "This pilot also provides an excellent opportunity to make a coordinated effort to enforce illegal placard parking, which takes up valuable curb space and results in double parking that has made congestion worse on Jay Street," the spokesperson added.

The new "busway" is .4 miles, or about six blocks—a fraction of the 20 miles of busways and bus lanes the de Blasio administration has committed to this summer. Other stretches of busway corridors on Main Street and Jamaica Avenue in Queens as well as Fifth Avenue and 181st Street in Manhattan are a part of the rollout.

The .3-mile strip of Flushing's Main Street was supposed to be implemented in June, but has since been delayed following a backlash from local councilmember Peter Koo and some retail merchants. Koo and the business owners fear the busway will deter car-driving customers from a heavily trafficked commercial strip in Flushing, a business district in an East Asian community that has faced devastating impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic since before the coronavirus was even confirmed in NYC.

Other local business leaders are supportive of a busway and point to how 83 percent of people travel to the neighborhood by foot, subway, bus, or another mode of transportation besides a car.

The city has about a month to keep its promise on rolling out the bus improvement projects by October.

By then, the clock is ticking on any improvements this year at all—as street change projects with fresh paint are weather-dependent.

"They can't paint all year," Danny Pearlstein of the Riders Alliance told Gothamist. "That can only happen during the summer and early fall when the paint can reliably stick to the streets... If it doesn't, the challenge is that we'll be waiting another six months, and [the administration] promised them this season."

Another challenge is that the city is working from "an old playbook" of community engagement over each and every project in every neighborhood, though the Department of Transportation has experience rolling out bus projects already, Pearlstein added.

"They're doing a lot of going back to the community, so to speak, and listening to the loudest voices and the squeakiest wheels rather than having the courage of their convictions and moving ahead quickly for bus riders," Pearlstein said.

The MTA asked the city for 60 miles of bus lanes and corridors—three times what the city agreed to add. But Pearlstein said it's a good step towards the 30 miles of bus lanes a year the Streets Master Plan requires by law starting in 2022.

The DOT says it is "still planning to complete implementation this summer and fall," but didn't provide a specific timeline.

The bus projects build on the success of the 14th Street busway, which bars private traffic most of the time to improve the M14A/D routes—which run to transit-deprived sections of Alphabet City and the Lower East Side and helped former L train riders get across town quicker while the MTA was fixing the L train tunnel from damage it suffered during Hurricane Sandy. Bus lanes connecting to that busway were extended to Avenue C this summer as a part of the slate of summer 2020 projects.

Bus lanes on parts of 149th Street in the Bronx and Malcolm X Boulevard in Brooklyn have been completed (the latter was on the DOT's project list before the pandemic). Work on Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island bus lanes begins in September.