Late night bus service to City Island sought on Bx29

MTA officials met with Bx29 riders at the City Island Nautical Museum at a meeting in July. The CICA is requesting that the agency make continued improvements.
Photo courtesy of the City Island Civic Association

City Island straphangers are still waiting for late night service on the Bx29 line.

The City Island Civic Association once again wrote to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday, November 12 after holding a public meeting with agency officials and riders in July.

The letter calls attention to many of the same issues discussed in the summer, including buses running off schedule and leaving commuters stranded, particularly at Pelham Bay Station.

It also drew attention to the fact that the bus service ends at midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends and often leaves people without reliable transportation home.

The Bx29 is the only non-express bus line to the remote island community.

“Since late May, the civic association has transmitted 66 different complaints about bus service from riders, and 424 residents have signed our Change.org petition for better service,” stated the CICA letter, which also asked that MTA officials to return to the island as they pledged, and provide specific data on bus timeliness along the route.

The association’s corresponding secretary, John Doyle, said that while progress had been made, including the transfer of a rude bus dispatcher at Pelham Bay Station, issues with timeliness on buses from Pelham Bay Station to City Island on the evening commute was especially troublesome.

“We would just like to keep them to their word, he said. “They promised to come back and give us an update, and thus far, we do not seem to have made tangible progress at the issues at hand.”

Also touched on in the letter was a fatal accident near the City Island Bridge just before midnight on Friday, September 11 that claimed the life of a 27-year old employee at an island restaurant, Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos.

Some on the island believe that if buses ran all night, as opposed to stopping in the early morning for several hours, that few if any of the staff members of the island’s more than 30 restaurants would be forced to bike to work.

“Having bus service throughout the night, even if it is just once an hour, (the MTA) has not responded to that at all apparently,” said Barbara Dolensek, CICA second vice president.

Dolensek said she believes that Aguilar-Vallinos would not have been bicycling to and from work on the island had there been bus service on the Bx29 after midnight.

“Even though she was hit before midnight, leaving the island at that hour, she probably did not always know exactly when she was leaving work,” she said. “The only way off the island, unless you have a friend to drive you or a bicycle, would be to take a taxi, which for a lot of people making not so much money is not a viable alternative.”

The second vice-president said some Bx29 complaints have been remedied.

A frequent rider for about 16 years, Florence Ann Nielson, said that the issue she had with missed stops had been addressed.

An MTA spokeswoman stated that as of press time the agency had not yet received the civic association’s letter, and would respond directly to the CICA when it did.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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