June 8, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The Department of Transportation (DOT) will create four new bus lanes and five new busways throughout the city in the next few months — with the first to begin construction this month in Queens, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.
A .3-mile northbound stretch of Main Street in Flushing will be converted to a bus-and-truck-only road or “busway” from Sanford Ave to Northern Boulevard this month.
It will be similar to the 14th Street busway in Manhattan — where buses, trucks and emergency vehicles have almost exclusive use of the stretch each day.
Cars are almost entirely prohibited from driving along the 14th Street busway from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Drivers are allowed to travel a block or two to make deliveries and pick up or drop off passengers and then must make the next available right turn off the busway.
The 14th Street busway has increased bus speeds by as much as 24 percent and ridership by as much as 30 percent, according to the DOT.
De Blasio announced today that the 14th Street busway is now permanent. He also revealed 20 miles of new busways and bus lanes that will be launching between this month and October.
The Main Street busway will launch this month. Jamaica Avenue between Sutphin Boulevard and 168th Street will also be converted into a nearly mile-long busway at a later date.
The announcement came as New York City begins reopening today and an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people are returning to work.
“As New York City emerges from the difficult days of COVID-19, our commitment to faster and more reliable bus service has never been more important, as buses serve a critical role — both in communities hit hard from the pandemic and by essential front-line workers,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement.
Each busway will run as a trial for one year. When the year is up, the city will decide whether to make the busways permanent depending on the success of each.
The DOT will also create a 6.4 mile bus lane along Merrick Boulevard, from Hillside Avenue to Springfield Boulevard, in August.
“These 20 new miles of busways and lanes ways are going to help over three quarters of a million New Yorkers to get around more easily,” de Blasio said. “750,000 New Yorkers will have a faster way to work, more frequent service, less crowding.”
The bus lanes and busways will speed up service and create more frequent buses to prevent overcrowding on buses — which could spread COVID-19.
“More service equals less crowding equals more health and safety — that’s what we want to achieve,” the mayor added.