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Supporters Rally To Make 14th Street Open To Buses Only

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – City transit advocates are up in arms Monday after a judge put a stop to a big part of the 14th Street busway plan.

New York City's Department of Transportation wanted to restrict traffic on 14th Street - only allowing buses - while repairs continue on the L train's Canarsie Tunnel.

Watch: Rally To Support 14th Street Busway Plan

A court ruling temporarily halted the plan after neighbors sued, claiming the move would make traffic a nightmare in the area. As a result, drivers are still using the street between Third and Ninth Avenues.

The ruling does not affect the MTA's M-14 select bus service, which began today as planned.

Riders and advocates gathered at 14th Street and First Avenue to protest the judge's ruling. They called it an 11th hour move.

"Today you could have been hopping on a bus that would have gotten you to work a lot quicker, and instead you're stuck with the same M14 traffic," said New York City Council Member Keith Powers.

The busway overhaul is meant to speed up bus service across busy 14th street. Under the initial plan, private through traffic would've been restricted for 18 months. But Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rackower halted the implementation of that part of the plan three days go pending an environmental study.

"They'll make the study last six months. They'll sit and have coffee and next thing you know, it's a quarter of a billion dollars," said commuter Lenny Williams. He rides the 14th Street buses daily and is all for the plan to eliminate cars.

"I take this 14 bus straight down and ride. The traffic, you've got to be at work at 8, you leave at 6:30 so you can be on time," he said.

Transit officials say select bus service should make the buses 30 percent faster, and it did start this morning. That's the part of the DOT's plan that includes all door boarding, better bus stop pacing and off-board ticketing. That was news to some commuters, CBS2's Tara Jakeway reported.

"We got on and he told us to get off and get a ticket from the machine," said commuter Ron Hwang. Hwang supports the busway overhaul but says it would've been helpful if he heard about it. "I had no idea and its pretty frustrating because we're late for summer camp."

Many at the rally placed the blame for the stalled busway on outspoken residents of Greenwich Village.

"They may live there, but the streets and the transits of the city belong to all of us," Mary Garvey said.

Elizabeth Winters and Judy Pesin say they are thinking of all New Yorkers as they fight against the busway.

"This is a one-lane street ... If an emergency vehicle has to get through, there's no way to get around it," Winters said.

"We've had water main breaks and steam pipe breaks on the side streets because of a lot of the pounding on these streets," Pesin said.

Driver Omar Javier says the Big Apple is covered in bike and bus lanes. For him, this vehicle ban is the last straw.

"It makes me feel like I want to move out of the city because there's so much traffic," he said.

An MTA official was at a bus stop briefly to help confused riders, Jakeway reported. Some said it was too little, too late.

"We had no way of knowing and I'm running late for work as it is," said commuter Kirsten Rossotti. "And now I'm even later."

Also running late? About half of the transit advocates who never even made it to the rally because of today's L train delays.

We all remember the looming L train shut down that was cancelled and has become instead an L train slow down. That was evident today. The busway is supposed to be a better option for those riders, Jakeway reported.

The temporary restraining order that has kept 14th street open to cars for now will be discussed at the next court date Aug. 6.

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