The MTA’s proposed cuts to the BX 8 and BX 14 buslines, that provide vital links to the outlying areas of Locust Point, Silver Beach, Country Club, and Spencer Estate, have the community bracing for the worst.
Local residents went to the MTA’s Bronx public hearing on the proposed cuts at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theater on Wednesday, February 4 to express their frustration about plans to close a huge budget shortfall by shuttering BX 8 service on Sundays, BX 14 service all of the time, and discontinuing Manhattan express bus service from City Island.
Residents of Spencer Estate and Country Club gathered on the corner of Ampere and Research avenues before the hearing to board a bus provided by Councilman Jimmy Vacca taking them all the way across the Bronx for the only hearing on the MTA cuts taking place in the borough.
Country Club Civic Association president Marcia Pavlica said that the proposed complete elimination of the BX 14 bus would severely impact both workers at, and visitors to, Providence Rest Nursing Home.
“Within the route serviced by the BX 14 bus as it travels our community is the 200-bed nursing home of Providence Rest,” Pavlica said. “
Just standing at the bus stop on Campbell Drive and Stadium Avenue, it is obvious that the majority of workers at this institution arrive using MTA service.”
Pavlica also said that the cuts would affect Country Club’s K-8 school – Villa Maria Academy.
“The morning arrival of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade children at Villa Maria Academy make up 20% of the rider volume, and do so also at dismissal time between 2:30 and 3 p.m.,” Pavlica stated.
In January, residents of Edgewater Park collected more than 600 signatures on a petition requesting that BX 8 bus service continue operating on Sundays so that the elderly residents who do not drive can get to church or shopping in Pelham Bay and Throggs Neck.
“So many people take the BX 8 bus – even if it looks sparse, people get picked up,” said Will Cuevas, president of the Locust Point Civic Association. “People are using mass transit more and more because it’s a cost-effective way to get back and forth to work. A viable city needs mass transit and we need it in our neighborhood. Elderly people ride the BX 8 to church or to visit friends, and younger people use it to go to the beach. The BX 8 bus connects our neighborhood with the outside world.”
Edgewater Park would also loose BX 8 bus service on Sundays.
“The BX 8 bus, the one bus that stops here, is used by people to go to church at St. Benedicts on Sunday mornings,” said Edgewater Park Cooperative president John Walker. “To take that away would affect religious observation for the elderly people if they cannot afford a cab.”
The MTA said that they are willing to listen, but that the cuts are due to fiscal necessity.
“We are here to listen, and we hope to continue to collect information about what impact the fare increases and service reductions will have on our customers,” said Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesman.
With additional reporting by Daniel Beekman