With New M12 Bus, Plaza Redesign, We’re on a Roll
BY COREY JOHNSON | I want to thank Chelsea Now for allowing us the space to report on what Community Board 4 continues to advocate for on behalf of residents and business in the Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Clinton neighborhoods.
To start, we applaud the MTA’s proposed new bus route on the Far West Side of Manhattan from West 59th Street to Spring Street, referred to as the M12. Board 4 has long been on record asking for such a route to service the thousands of new residents that have settled in this corridor since the 2005 Hudson Yards and West Chelsea rezoning.
The M12 would run between West 59th and West 24th Streets on 11th and 12th Avenues. From West 24th to West 14th Streets, buses would use West Street (the West Side Highway) for both northbound and southbound services. From West 14th to Spring Street, the buses would use Washington and Greenwich Streets. The buses would run every 30 minutes, from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week. The stops would be spaced and provide easy transfer to other major cross-town buses and subway connections.
However, there are a few issues that should be addressed. First, bus shelters are critical because of the long wait between buses and the windy conditions on 11th and 12th Avenues. Shelters should be installed at all bus stops along the route in CB4.
Second, CB4 is disappointed that the service will be limited to every 30 minutes. We have requested — without changing the overall number of buses — that the service be every 15 minutes in the morning and evening peak hours and less frequent in between. We also recommend that the service be extended to 1am in the morning to accommodate cultural events on the piers.
Most important, we strongly requested that all the M12 buses be hybrid-electric or CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles with a lower floor, for easy access.
On another issue, CB4 was asked to review and respond to the Manhattan borough president’s Good Jobs and Responsible Development Resolution. Board 4 has always required that all developers, property owners, and employers allow all workers the right to seek fair and just compensation for their services — including family-sustaining wages with affordable healthcare and retirement benefits — and allow all workers the right to collectively bargain with employers to seek such compensation, without fear of reprisals.
In connection with these principles, CB.4 will require that developers, among other things, support a community jobs program for their projects and work with the community board to implement the program. CB4 also requests that developers and/or property owners hold periodic job fairs in coordination with the community board, place a link to job openings on our website, and work with current and future commercial tenants to identify and hire employees from within the local community.
Board 4 also supports efforts by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to redesign the Gansevoort Plaza — Chelsea Triangle (aka Chelsea Plaza) to improve access and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists in order to create a more rational traffic pattern.
There are several elements of DOT’s initial proposal we found appealing and hope can be pursued. These include the extension of the Chelsea Triangle along W. 14th Street, and the proposal — which I understand CB2 endorses, too — to ban right turns onto West 14th Street from northbound Ninth Avenue.
There are several other recommendations we asked DOT to integrate into the new design, such as, planting as many trees and greenery on the Chelsea Triangle as feasible. We also support including some fixed, city benches, though maintaining a majority of space for movable chairs and tables. We also called for “No Honking” signs along Ninth Avenue near West 15th Street to encourage increased ticketing and enforcement. Finally, all intersections should include accessible, audible street signals for handicapped accessibility.
Board 4 looks forward to engaging with residents, community groups, small businesses and our local elected officials on these and other important issues in 2013.
Feel free to send us your concerns, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Corey Johnson is chairperson of Community Board 4 (nyc.gov/mcb4).