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Council Speaker Corey Johnson Says He Supports Banning Cars From Busy Crosstown Streets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says he supports banning cars from more busy crosstown streets in Manhattan.

Johnson told WNYC the city should consider making 34th and 42nd streets open to only buses and trucks, like the 14th Street busway that took effect earlier this month.

"I think the future of New York City is how we move people around," he said in an interview Monday. "Also, when we talk about the climate change emergency that we're in, of transportation emissions, 83% of them are from private automobile use."

The latest numbers show crosstown buses are moving 30% faster on 14th Street. Weekday ridership is up 17% and more than a third on weekends.

"We're super encouraged by what's happened on 14th Street. Already journey times are down, speeds are up, ridership's up," Transit Authority President Andy Byford said Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, 14th Street looked more like a runway, practically free of vehicles, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

"In my opinion, I think it's faster," one bus rider told Sanchez.

"It was 45 minutes, now it's 30. So it's a 15-minute difference," another rider added. "I love it."

Some people who live along the route, however, said the city is celebrating prematurely.

"We're barely scratching the surface and we'll see what's going to happen once the traffic cops are gone off the streets and it's no longer holidays in the city and it's back to traffic as usual,"  said Lower East Side resident Elissa Stein.

One man who drives from the Bronx said closing more of the crosstown streets would be a disaster.

"What are you thinking? How stupid can that be?" he said. "I'm letting you know right now: If you do it, I'll break that law every day and take the ticket."

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the hope is that 14th Street can be a template for other parts of the city.

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