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MTA may extend Bx24

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The MTA’s Bx24 bus, which provides the only mass transit link between Country Club and Pelham Bay, will now be extended to Westchester Square when a new MTA plan is approved.

The MTA was petitioned by straphangers who had been used to the now discontinued Bx14 bus, which made stops at the Buhre and Crosby avenues shopping district, as well as to Westchester Square and Parkchester, until the MTA’s service reduction package went into effect on Sunday, June 27, 2010. A hearing on a MTA plan to expand Bx24 service will take place at the agency’s Manhattan headquarters on Monday, January 23.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, the City Council’s Transportation chairman, worked on getting the service restored, as did Senator Jeff Klein, who held a town hall meeting at Providence Rest on the subject.

Prendergast wrote to Vacca on Friday, January 13 informing him of the hearing and the plan to extend the Bx24 to Westchester Square.

“This is a very big win for the residents of the Country Club area who once again have access to the Crosby and Buhre avenues shopping area and Westchester Square,” Vacca said. “This is something that as chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee I have never given up on. I have never accepted how residents, especially those in Country Club, were left stranded. I want to thank the MTA for reassessing the situation.”

The news should come as a relief to many senior citizens who had relied on the Bx14 bus service to take them further than the Bx24 now runs, Vacca said. Senator Klein was also pleased.

“For more than a year, I’ve been working with community leaders to push the MTA to properly serve residents and provide comprehensive service to Westchester Square,” Klein said. “I demanded that the MTA hold an open public forum in my district, so they could hear directly from those Country Club and Spencer Estate residents who were ill-served by the current system. We stuck together, spoke in one voice and, because of that, we were able to achieve this very important victory.”

The change will likely be made in part because the rerouting of the Bx5 has proved less cost-effective than originally anticipated due to traffic congestion on its current route along Crosby and Westchester avenues, Prendergast said in his letter to Vacca.

“These riders are also inconvenienced by the lack of reliability in addition to the increased travel time along Crosby and Westchester avenues,” Prendergast stated in his letter to Vacca.

Prendergast continued: “Moreover, customers in the Country Club and Spencer Estate neighborhoods are still required to make a two-fare trip to access many destinations to which they could previously travel with a single fare, including hospitals along Eastchester Road. These concerns have resulted in continued complaints from customers and requests for further bus route revisions.”

In order to achieve the cost-savings necessary for extending the Bx24 along Westchester Avenue to Westchester Square, the MTA is proposing to reroute the Bx 5 along its route prior to June 27, 2010, including along Bruckner Boulevard, Prendergast stated.

“I think that it is marvelous that the Bx24 bus will continue onto the Square because a lot of people in Country Club have been asking for this,” Pavlica said. “I think the positive here is that so much effort has been expended to revitalize Westchester Square and I think it will be uplifting to the soon-to-be-created Westchester Square Business Improvement District.”

The extension of the Bx24 will be the icing on the cake for so many efforts of the Westchester Square merchants, who have worked very hard to make the shopping district a more inviting place, more easily accessible and better ready meets the needs of shoppers in the area, Pavlica said.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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