On October 3, New York City did something very similar to what Toronto did on King Street. It restricted through traffic on 14th Street to only trucks and buses, and turned the street into the city’s first “busway.”
Under the new rules, cars, vans, and taxis are restricted every day of the week from 6am to 10pm, unless they’re dropping off or picking someone up, or entering into a parking garage (i.e. local traffic only). But after this, they need to make the first available right and turn off the street. Again, it’s pretty similar to the way things work here on King.
On the first day of the 18-month pilot program, the buses actually had to slow down in order to keep to their schedule. They were moving too quickly. Previously one of the slowest routes in the city, the M14 bus is now expected to increase its average speed by about 25%.
Not surprisingly, a number of people were concerned that this new busway would hurt businesses along the route. This same concern has been an issue in Toronto. But this is New York. We’re talking about the US city with the highest percentage of households without a vehicle.
The reality is that we need to get better at moving people around our cities without a car. This is one way to do it and we know it works. My prediction is that the 14th Street pilot will prove to be a success. It will then get replicated in other parts of Manhattan. Probably on other crosstown streets.