De Blasio announces 20 miles of new express MTA busways as NYC begins to reopen

MTA bus on 14th Street in Manhattan, New York
MTA bus on 14th Street in Manhattan, New York 

The city will create 20 miles of new express busways throughout the five boroughs as part of a new trial program set to begin this month.
Mayor de Blasio announced the plan Monday as the city begins to reopen after a nearly three-month long coronavirus lockdown and after the success of the 14th Street busway in Manhattan, which will become permanent as part of his plan.
“These 20 new miles of busways and bus lanes are going to help over three-quarters of a million New Yorkers to get around more easily,” the mayor said Monday at a press conference. “More service equals less crowding equals more health and safety. That’s what we want to achieve.”
As the city reopens, the fate of transit in the Big Apple remains uncertain with many riders fearful that they’ll contract coronavirus on crowded subways and buses.
De Blasio hopes more the frequent service on the busways will allay those fears and said he’s planning to ride the subway himself as part of the city’s phase-one reopening.
“Given the crisis we’re in we have to make it easier for people to get around,” he said.
De Blasio also announced that school safety agents, who fall under the umbrella of the NYPD, would be distributing masks in city subways stations and encouraging social distancing — but not enforcing it. That comes weeks after critics slammed him for the NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing rules on city streets.
The 20 miles of new dedicated lanes will consist of five busways with more frequent service. The first new one on Main Street in Queens is expected to open in June. Two more — on Jamaica Ave. in Queens and 5th Ave. in Manhattan — are slated for July. A fourth and fifth lane will open on Jay Street in Brooklyn and 181st Street in Manhattan in August and October, respectively.
New bus lanes will also be coming to E. 14th Street in Manhattan, 149th Street in the Bronx, Hylan Blvd. on Staten Island and Merrick Blvd. in Queens.
The express busways will operate on a one-year trial basis. De Blasio said that if they “go well,” they’ll become permanent.
As part of Monday’s reopening, the mayor also noted that the city would increase rush-hour service of the Staten Island ferry starting Monday afternoon. During rush hour, the ferry will now run at 20-minute intervals
“We’ll have social distance markers in place to show people where they can be on the ferry,” he said.

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