Whenever the Metropolitan Transit Authority hefts its axe, the Bx14 bus seems to end up on the chopping block.
The Bx14 links Country Club and Spencer Estate to Pelham Bay and Parkchester. Without the Bx14, Country Club and Spencer Estate would have no access to the mass transit grid.
On Friday, December 11, reports surfaced that the Bx14 was among bus lines that the MTA plans to eliminate when it votes on Wednesday, December 16. The transit authority needs to plug a $343 million dollar shortfall. Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who represents Country Club and Spencer Estate and who fought the proposed elimination of the Bx14 in 2008 and early 2009, has started a petition to oppose the new plan.
“The Bx14 bus services an area that is completely isolated from any other form of mass transit,” Vacca said. “Thousands of residents rely on the Bx14 bus to get to school, to doctor’s appointments and to the local senior center. This isn’t a situation where people can walk a few extra blocks and take another bus – there is no other bus!”
Vacca called the MTA’s new plan an “ambush.” Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Vacca all plan to oppose the elimination of the Bx14. The next nearest bus line to the heart of Country Club and Spencer Estate lies a half mile away. The Pelham Bay train station, a mass transit hub, lies a mile away.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Spencer Estate Civic Association president Al Carena said. “Especially if you live further in, you’re talking about a half mile walk to [the bus at] Bruckner [Boulevard] or a mile to the subway [at Pelham Bay station. I think the MTA needs to explain to the community why this bus route is always targeted. We’re going to collect signatures and work in the interim with Councilman Vacca’s office to do what has to be done to keep the line.”
Children who leave Spencer Estate for school and or home healthcare aids who travel to the neighborhood for work would have no choice but to walk if the Bx14 were eliminated, Carena said. Country Club Civic Association president Marcia Pavlica argued that an elimination of the Bx14 would hurt seniors.
“The number of seniors using who no longer drive and who need the bus line is substantial,” Pavlica said. “Cutting this line is tantamount to saying, ‘Go to hell.’”
“This [proposed] cut – the timing, the lack of input, the impact – is completely unacceptable and this fight [won’t] end with Wednesday’s vote,” he said “I am calling on the mayor, the governor, and the MTA to exercise some common sense and come together with a plan to preserve our mass transit system.”
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org