By Maggie Berkvist
So, dear readers, despite posters that started to appear around the neighborhood in May, and my Open Letter to Corey Johnson in our June issue, the fate/future of our vital 14A is still in jeopardy.
On June 10th a Daily News story, headed Cars To Be Banned From Most of 14th Street In Manhattan Starting July 1, went on to add “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will also launch its new M14 select bus service on July 1, hoping to speed up buses by eliminating 16 existing stops and requiring riders to swipe their MetroCards at curbside machines before they board. The new service will replace the M14A and M14D routes currently operating along 14th St.”
So, knowing he was already bringing a suit against the MTA because of the large elimination of stops on the east side, I wrote Attorney Arthur Schwartz, saying “Anything we can do?” (see Arthur’s recap above). Despite numerous news stories of late about the ever larger percentage of Senior Citizens in the population (certainly true in this neighborhood!), the MTA—obsessed with speed—seems not to have gotten the message…that as well as Express buses for those in a hurry (not taking the subway!?) they need to run local buses with frequent stops for seniors and the handicapped.
In the meantime, because I had cc-d City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and his assistant, Erik Bottcher, on my note to Arthur, I got a call from Erik, saying he felt all was not lost, forwarding a letter he had received from Leah Flax of MTA New York City Transit, in which she said:
“We are excited to launch M14 Select Bus Service (SBS) service on Monday July 1st.
This email is to update you about our plan to now retain service to the Abingdon Square loop with better bus stop spacing.
The final route is available on our website (https://new.mta.info/
Meanwhile,, the creative Westbeth community has clearly been ahead of the curve all along in the fight for the 14A, as the impressive report from Roger Braimon (see box below), demonstrates.
So, dear readers and residents of the neighborhood—time to get on the bus.
“Use It—Or Lose It!”
Westbeth Takes Up the Cause
As soon as the MTA announced the cuts, George Cominskie, former President of the Westbeth Artists’ Residents’ Council, and I, the current President, started a campaign.Here’s a brief timeline of our efforts:
APRIL 26. We organized over 160 (mostly senior) tenants to write letters to CB2 urging the M14A loop be kept at Abingdon Square.
MAY 5. We contacted our elected officials requesting they get involved (Johnson, Brewer, Hoylman, Nadler, Glick, Williams). All returned our requests, except Williams. For some reason, Jumaane Williams didn’t respond to ANY request for assistance.
MAY 17. Elected officials (Johnson, Brewer, Hoylman, Nadler) wrote letter to Andy Byford on our behalf.
MAY 29. Westbeth held public meeting in Commnunity Room, gave a PowerPoint presentation, and organized letter-writing campaign as well as online campaign to daily contact MTA Byford and Mayor DeBlasio.
MAY 29 – JUNE 12. Westbeth tenants posted personal videos, created songs, memes, posters….putting a face to the issue
JUNE 11. Nine month decision announced by MTA, following Corey Johnson meeting with Byford.
JUNE 11. Poster made showing new stops and new actionable items.
Roger Braimon, President, Westbeth Artists Residents Council | 917.701.3679