Country Club residents have found bus service in their neighborhood unacceptable for months and finally had a chance to directly tell the MTA about it.
Over 100 Country Club residents convened at Providence Rest on 3304 Waterbury Avenue on Thursday, April 7 to meet with Senator Jeff Klein and three representatives of the MTA.
The purpose of the meeting, organized by Senator Klein’s office, was to give neighborhood residents a chance to explain exactly why they found local bus service to be unacceptable.
Country Club has been served by the Bx24 bus since January and although residents had several issues with the route, the main concern was that it did not provide easy access to Westchester Square, which is where many Country Club residents shop and visit doctors. Bus service in Country Club was altered drastically in June 2010, when government budget cuts forced the MTA to retract service. Prior to those cuts, Country Club was served by the Bx14 route. The Bx8 was rerouted to replace the Bx14, and residents quickly objected, which led to the birth of the Bx24 in January.
“Residents strongly objected to the new bus stops on Stadium Avenue and the more frequent headway of the Bx8,” MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said in an e-mail. “Bx8 customers on Layton Avenue also complained that they could no longer access their destinations on Crosby Avenue.”
For many residents, the Bx24 did not make matters any better.
“There is not one bus going to Westchester Square,” Rose Mosher, a Country Club resident for 28 years, said at the meeting.
The Bx24 runs from Westchester Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, alongside Pelham Bay Park, does two loops in Country Club, and returns to its origin.
Aside from connecting with other bus routes, the Bx24 does little to get people out of Country Club.
“Now it takes an hour to get to Westchester Square,” Country Club resident Jean Macek said. “It used to take 25 minutes.”
Residents also expressed concern about a lack of viable public transportation driving down property values, bus stops being grouped too close together and bus stops directly in front of their homes.
Despite Klein’s efforts in organizing the meeting, the Country Club residents’ passion in getting their points across and the MTA representatives’ patience in hearing them out, it is unlikely that anything will immediately come out the meeting.
The best-case scenario for Country Club residents, and all New Yorkers who have expressed dissatisfaction with public transportation since June 2010, is that the MTA will prioritize them when, and if, funding is restored.
“Sometimes we get very good feedback,” Buckley Yung manager of bus service planning for the MTA said. “We bring it back. It’s not our decision, it’s a higher level decision.”
“Bringing a bus to Westchester Square would cost us a significant amount of money,” MTA deputy director of government and community relations Dan Marino told the audience. “Money that we don’t have.”
“We want to be able to have the people who are here, and miss their bus service relate their experiences to the MTA,” Klein said.