In fact, bus-only corridors have been around for a while. Denver, Minneapolis, and Charlottesville, Va., have run shopping-oriented busways for years. So has New York, incidentally. Brooklyn’s Fulton Street Mall has been off-limits to through traffic since the ‘70s. And last week, San Francisco stole some of New York’s thunder when its transit agency voted to ban personal vehicles on Market Street, the main downtown thoroughfare, by 2025. So, when is Philadelphia going to get on the busway bandwagon?
Philadelphia was actually an early adopter but gave up the amenity prematurely. In 1975, the city opened the Chestnut Street Transitway, which ran from Sixth to 18th Street, following rules similar to New York’s 14th Street Busway. Unfortunately, the Transitway’s life span coincided with the worst years in Philadelphia’s history, when the city was hemorrhaging population and jobs. Somehow, the bus corridor got blamed for exacerbating those problems.