As we await official word from the MTA on the state of the city’s subway system, it seems clear that service will not immediately return to normal. Although buses are set to hit the streets at 5 p.m., we won’t know much about subway service until later in the day. Early indications are, though, that the full system will be out for a few days at least.
So how do we move people throughout the city? I, for instance, live around seven miles from my office in Midtown and have to cross the East River to get there. We can’t all pile over the bridge at once, and the subway, which delivers millions of people each day to destinations throughout the city, isn’t going to be at full strength for days.
To that end, Transportation Alternatives has issued a call for street prioritization. Instead of a traffic free-for-all in which buses stuffed with people compete with private cars, bicyclists, taxis and emergency response vehicles, the city could rearrange traffic as such until the subways return:
- Emergency Bus Lanes to allow swift transit throughout the City until subway service is restored.
- Emergency Street Reservations exclusively for the safe use of walkers, bikers and emergency vehicles.
- Off-Peak Bridge Biking and Walking Lanes to ensure sufficient safe space for people on foot and bicycle and prevent overcrowding on the bridges.
- Emergency Biking Lanes on well-used routes to enable safe mobility, including coned-off Midtown bike lanes.
- Bike Parking Stations and Temporary Bike Storage in major employment centers in Lower Manhattan including Foley Square, Union Square, Herald Square, Times Square, Washington Square Park and Bryant Park.
- High Occupancy Vehicle Requirements on crossings into the most congested areas of the city.
- Carpool Staging Areas offering parking and passenger pick-up locations in support of drivers sharing rides to meet the HOV requirements.
As a few people noted last night, New Yorkers may be in for a shock when they discover just how slow, infrequent and, oftentimes, unreliable the bus system is, but for the next few days, we’re going to have to rely on it. The city should make sure buses get move quickly through neighborhoods, and these street-sharing suggestions deserve a consideration before the roads start to fill up after 5 p.m. today.