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

It’s merchants versus riders in a plan to bring a special express bus route to Webster Avenue.

The project, still in the planning stages, could knock out parking along the bustling 5.3 mile stretch of road, home to businesses and residential buildings.

It’s also home to the Bx41, dubbed the most unreliable bus in the Bronx, by the Straphangers Campaign.

The parking space-cutting design, one of three, could hurt businesses’ bottom line, charged Wilma Alonso, executive director of the Fordham Business Improvement District.

“The question is, what’s more important, moving buses faster or cars faster?” she asked.

“The actual project is good, but I don’t know if implementing it should go at the expense of businesses.”

Those pro and con sentiments were heard during an open house meeting at the Icahn Charter Middle School on May 16.

Many attendees were supportive of a faster Bx41 bus route, according to Nick Mosquera, spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation.

Representatives from the DOT and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority presented a number of route designs to several dozen community members in attendance.

Among the presentations were “offset” bus lanes set up closest to parking spaces. Another plan could place buses on the center portion of the road.

Either way, Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado thinks the trick behind the project is pleasing both those for and against the project.

“Any SBS plan for Webster Avenue must take into consideration future residential and commercial developments,” said Tirado.

The project has been in the works since 2009.

The DOT moved forward with the plan after the success of Bx12 SBS that runs through Fordham Road and along Pelham Parkway. That route, running curbside, eliminated customer parking during the weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Up to this point, the DOT has been collecting feedback to finally decide the best design.

Mosquera said the project is likely to improve the travel times for the nearly 19,000 daily commuters on weekdays.

The DOT will adapt the special bus service according to the existing Bx41 bus, although the DOT said its looking into modifying the existing route.

But their exploratory phase is not over yet. Another open house meeting is set for fall.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or email dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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