While MTA ridership is down and the organization is in a deep financial hole, some bus lines are still overcrowded causing a health hazard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Aug. 19, Councilman Fernando Cabrera called for more frequent service and larger buses on the Bx3, which runs through the Kingsbridge and Fordham neighborhoods in his district. He said that the MTA should examine which buses have low ridership and add them to the BX3 line.
“We’re in a pandemic, in one of the most seriously COVID-19 impacted communities in the city,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to control community spread but our transit is working against us. This is unacceptable. I’m demanding increased bus service and larger buses to be put onto the Bx3 line.”
The Bx3, which runs through the west Bronx into upper Manhattan, also serves Bronx Community College, with more than 10,000 students, many of whom depend on it to travel between home, jobs and classes.
The councilman told the Bronx Times that this is the essential borough, where many people require public transportation to get to work. While he understands the need to be on a bus, the city must recognize that too many commuters on one bus cannot properly socially distance.
“The buses on the Bx3 line are too small and too infrequent to handle the ridership that depends on it and in a pandemic, we cannot allow this situation to continue,” Cabrera said. “The data is in and the numbers don’t lie. Increase the service, put bigger buses on the line. This community has suffered enough.”
The councilman sent a letter to the MTA addressing these concerns and has heard from many constituents regarding this issue.
“We need liquid leadership,” he explained. “They need to adapt to the current situation. They don’t want to establish a culture here that it’s not safe to ride the buses. The buses, the trains and subways, those are the arteries and veins of the city. At the end of the day, how does the MTA want to brand themselves?”
The MTA said more seats will be available to riders starting Aug. 31, as it resumes front-door boarding.
“The MTA is operating nearly 100 percent of pre-pandemic bus service across the city and on the Bx3, despite ridership on the line being down approximately 28 percent,” an MTA spokesman said. “The MTA’s highest priority is the health and safety of its customers and employees and we will continue to do everything possible to protect that.”