Now That Cars are Banned on Manhattan’s 14th Street, Will Fordham Road in The Bronx Be Next?

It’s been almost two weeks since the 14th Street car ban went into effect and despite the fear mongering that it would be a disaster, it is being hailed as a success without the resulting traffic nightmares along the side streets that naysayers predicted would happen.

If it worked in Manhattan, one of the most congested places in our city, can it work right here in The Bronx?

At this point it isn’t even a question of will a similar car ban work in The Bronx but more is there the political will to extend it beyond the confines of Manhattan and into communities that need it even more due to heavy reliance on public bus transportation.

Imagine a car-free Fordham Road where only buses are allowed along with vehicles making local deliveries and taxis picking up and dropping off passengers? It would revolutionize cross-borough travel within The Bronx.

Thomas DeVito, senior director of advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, recently wrote an op-ed piece published in The New York Daily News calling for just that: To such car bans across the 5 boroughs.

According to DeVito:

If we’re smart, we’ll learn from the experience, and see this as just the beginning of a much bigger revolution on streets throughout the five boroughs. Most of New York City’s 2.4 million daily bus riders live in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.

It’s in those boroughs and those neighborhoods where commutes are the longest and bus-priority streets are needed the most.

With nearly 50,000 daily riders, the Bx12 route along Fordham Road in the Bronx is New York City’s most heavily used bus corridor.

A bus struggles to get through traffic across Fordham Road, an all too common scene.

The New York Times wrote that already improvements to bus service along the 14th Street corridor are quite drastic as the bus lines along this route had some of the worst performance times in the city but now are considerably faster.

A trip that would take about 30 minutes now takes 21 minutes and is so fast that bus drivers are reportedly now having to slow down just to stay on schedule.

Over at The New York Times, they report:

So how has this all played out? As a phenomenal success.

Initial data indicate that the buses, previously some of the slowest in the city but now, free of so much competition, have become much faster. An M14 bus trip that typically took 30 minutes now is taking about 21 minutes. One morning this week, a bus was so ahead of schedule that it had to stop at an intersection and pass the time so it wouldn’t get too ahead of itself.

The greatest disincentive to getting on a bus in New York is the prospect of waiting so long for it, followed then by the reality, once you are on the bus, that you could have gone to Connecticut in the time it will take to get from the far reaches of the East Side to Lincoln Center. The more reliable buses are, the more popular they should become.

Can you imagine the impact that would have along Fordham Road and how it would easily move tens of thousands of Bronxites a day across our borough?

I mean it’s the best we can do until our dream of a CrossX lightrail across The Bronx becomes a reality which isn’t even on the radar beyond our readership.

What do you think about this proposal?

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.