How to Avoid ‘Traffic Armageddon’


New York City’s commuters are being driven bonkers by overcrowded subways and gridlock on streets. And some fixes, like modern technology that allows trains to be run more reliably and closer together, are years away from being adopted systemwide. But there are things that can be done to make our commutes better, and as RPA’s Kate Slevin and Richard Barone write in an op-ed in Crain’s today, the coming shutdown of the L train for major repairs offers a chance to put some strategies to the test.

It starts with creating bus-only lanes on East River bridges and on 14th Street in Manhattan. We also should have buses that can be boarded through all doors, a dedicated bike way and a shift of freight deliveries to less busy times of day. Part of 14th Street likely should be closed to cars, not to penalize drivers, but to avoid creating “traffic Armageddon” during the outage.

The L train carries 40,000 riders per hour at rush hour, or the equivalent of 18 articulated buses, so coming up with ways to manage the shutdown needs to be the top priority. But if there is a silver lining to the disruption – and this isn’t to minimize the strains that the outage will cause – it’s that we’re likely to learn how to make transportation work better in the long run.

Photo Credit: Andreas Ollson

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