The Metropolitan Transit Authority has declined a request from Bronx elected officials for a dedicated bus run to ensure safe transportation of students of St. Catharine’s Academy.
Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Assemblyman Mike Benedetto penned a letter to the MTA in December 2016 asking for the special bus so the all-girls school’s students would not be harrassed by other riders.
The special bus would have made drop offs only, according to the elected threesome’s request.
The request stemmed from a race-related attack by three African American girls on four, white teenage SCA girls as they were riding home on the Bx8 bus.
On Wednesday, March 8, MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz issued a statement to the Bronx Times on the MTA’s decision to deny the request.
“Under Federal Transportation Administration regulations,” the statement read, “transit agencies cannot alter bus routes to directly serve educational facilities unless it can be shown that ridership generated by the school significantly exceeds the capacity of the bus route.”
The statement continued, “In such cases, supplemental service can be assigned to the route, but must be available and accessible to the public and make all stops along the route.”
According to the statement, the MTA looked at how many St. Catharine’s Academy students ride the bus and determined the amount “does not warrant additional service.”
The girls who were victimiized in the incident are currently taking legal action against the MTA.
The girls’ attorney, Scott Seskin, officially filed a lawsuit against the agency on Monday, February 27.
According to Seskin, the MTA was officially served on Friday, March 3.
The lawsuit names five entities - the MTA, the MTA Bus Company, the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, the New York City Transit Authority and the bus driver Alisha Samuels.
Due to regulations from the New York Supreme Court, the lawsuit does not name the dollar amount the girls are seeking in damages.
However, in December, Seskin filed four notices of claim against the MTA requesting $10 million for each girl and $2 million for each parent.
“Under the system that we currently have,” Seskin previously said. “The only method that we have to compensate anybody is monetarily.”
The girls left the November 22 attack with bruises and cuts.
In addition, a knapsack containing a laptop was also taken.
Although the elected officials - along with some parents from St. Catharine’s - had asked for the special bus route, Seskin said his clients were not a part of the request.
In fact, Seskin did not believe it to be helpful.
“Besides the fact [my clients] don’t want it,” Seskin told the Bronx Times in January, “It’s not going to prevent anything that happened from occurring again.”
Seskin is confident as his clients now await a response from the MTA.
“I’m expecting a successful outcome,” he said. “The evidence shows that this particular bus operator’s actions were both negligent and intentional.”
He added that the negligence showed by Johnson caused his clients “severe personal injuries which will continue throughout their lives.”
The MTA declined comment on the ongoing legal battle.
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