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October 18, 2019  

Why is the “Miracle on 14th Street” Bus Rapid Transit Line Such a Miracle?

October 18, 2019

If you’re even a casual follower of the urbanist blogosphere, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the “Miracle on 14th Street.” That’s what transit advocates have been calling New York’s newest bus rapid transit line, which has fought its way through lawsuits from irate neighbors to become what Citylab calls “the first glimpse of a true bus-centric street in America’s largest city.” But this project is about more than just paint: car traffic is now banned on 14th street for most hours of the day, and with the road all to itself, the M14 Bus is now running at more than twice the speed of the M42.

But here’s what’s really stunning Strong Towns advocates about this story: the fact that it’s considered miraculous at all.

On today’s Upzoned, Chuck and Kea are back to break down why simple policy and paint-driven transportation improvements like the 14th street makeover aren’t more common in American cities, from federal funding structures that make it easier to build a massive light rail project than incrementally improve a bus schedule, to pop culture that makes riding the bus the butt of too many national jokes. And then we dig a little deeper and explore the range of even humbler transportation improvements our communities are leaving on the table—and a few instances where, despite what you think, a transportation fix isn’t what your community needs at all.

Then in the Downzone, Chuck and Kea talk about their favorite recent reads: For Chuck, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest exploration into the nuances of human communication, and for Kea, an audibook by a beloved Tennessee novelist read for 9 blissful hours by Tom Hanks.