Bus Lane Plans Continue Retreat in New York City—This Time it's Fifth Avenue

The de Blasio administration caved to the interests of a Manhattan real estate developer and shelved a plan to prioritize bus transit over private automobiles on one of the most famous corridors in the world.

October 26, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Bus Priority Zones

The 14th Street Busway could be the beginning and the end of the de Blasio's bus priority ambitions. | rblfmr / Shutterstock

In June 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced one of the most ambitious bus priority programs for any U.S. city—much less the most populous city, with the nation's most developed and popular public transit systems. Mayor de Blasio pledged to build 20 miles of car-free busways and dedicated bus lanes based on the model of success created by the 14th Street busway, which opened in October 2019. The 20-mile promise has withered and contracted, but now there's a new twist in this saga of unrealized ambition.

A Fifth Avenue bus lane project "was supposed to have been completed before Mr. de Blasio left office, but the city announced last week that work would be put on hold until after the December holidays," report Dana Rubinstein and Winnie Hu. "That effectively shifts responsibility to the next mayor, who succeeds Mr. de Blasio in January."

According to this bombshell report, Mayor de Blasio capitulated to the lobbying efforts of Steven Roth, "one of New York City’s most powerful real estate developers." A slide show bearing the name of Mr. Roth’s real estate company, Vornado Realty Trust, that circulated in City Hall in October claimed that express buses would travel at unsafe speeds if granted new priority on 5th Avenue.

The article insinuates that de Blasio's capitulation could be connected to his burgeoning gubernatorial ambitions. "The developer, the Vornado Realty Trust chief executive Steven Roth, is one of New York’s most prolific donors, though city records indicate he has not donated to Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaigns."

In addition to the context provided by the de Blasio's retreat from its June 2020 bus priority ambitions, the article also mentions the poor results of de Blasio's Vision Zero promise.

Mr. de Blasio’s ambivalence about the Fifth Avenue plan comes during the deadliest year for traffic fatalities during his eight years in office and as some of his other transportation priorities appear to have fallen by the wayside. The transportation department has been reconsidering plans to put a protected bike lane on a main thoroughfare in Sunset Park, Brooklyn according to one of the two people familiar with the mayor’s decisions.

More details about the retreat of the de Blasio's administration's retreat from its June 2020 ambitions are included in the source article.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in The New York Times

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