Today’s news:

MTA to axe Bx14, reroute Bx5, Bx8

In order to keep isolated Spencer Estate and Country linked to the transit grid, the MTA has proposed a reroute of the Bx8 from Crosby Avenue to Stadium Avenue. The Bx5 would jump from Bruckner Boulevard to Crosby Avenue to replace the Bx8.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, the new chair of the City Council’s transportation committee, criticized the plan. It wouldn’t provide Spencer Estate and Country Club residents direct access to the Pelham Bay IRT Station, Vacca said. Riders would need to take the Bx8 to Middletown Road and transfer to a bus headed for Westchester Avenue. The money the MTA expects to save doesn’t justify the change, Vacca argued.

“This latest MTA proposal is nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Vacca said. “Some lines that were originally in jeopardy have been spared, but others that we assumed were safe are now in danger. We have lines that are being rerouted to make up for the cuts, but we now have less service in the communities those lines served before.”

Vacca blasted the plan altogether.

“None of this is necessary,” he said. “The council has put forth a fully funded plan to balance the MTA’s budget without impacting any existing bus or train service. I am again calling on the MTA to consider all alternative plans before resorting to cutting services at a time when cash-strapped New Yorkers can afford it least.”

Vacca’s plan, endorsed by transit advocates and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, calls for the reallocation of a small fraction of the MTA’s capital budget towards operating expenses. The $141 million scheme consists of $91 million in federal stimulus funds and $50 million in operating funds that currently belong to the MTA’s capital budget.

Spencer Estate Civic Association president Al Carena can’t imagine a scenario where eliminating the Bx14 wouldn’t result in serious transportation disruptions, he said.

“This is a band-aid type of solution that will not satisfy the community,” Carena said. “I wish that the MTA would tell us why the Bx14 keeps coming up every time there’s talk of service cuts.”

Carena thinks the MTA should keep the Bx14 and decrease the frequency of buses or stops if need be.

Also, the revised MTA plan would eliminate the BxM7B express bus: the only direct transit link between City Island and Manhattan.

The MTA will host a public hearing in the Bronx in early March and will decide by April whether to implement its plan.

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or procchio@cnglocal.com

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