Merchants need parking back

Merchants between Sedgwick and University avenues want the city to reinstate daytime metered parking on W. Fordham Road. There is no parking 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on W. Fordham, thanks to a Select Bus Service lane. Photo by Victor Chu

The city plans to expand Select Bus Service in the Bronx but the Bx12 Select is at the center of yet another controversy. Merchants on E. Fordham road grumbled in 2008 when the Department of Transportation swapped daytime metered parking for a Bx12 Select bus lane. Critics blasted the Bx12 honor-code fare system in May.

Now merchants are asking DOT to reinstate daytime metered parking on W. Fordham Road. The bodegas, laundromats and clothing stores on W. Fordham between Sedgwick and University avenues are struggling to survive without convenient parking, said Danci Tejada, president of the University Heights and Kingsbridge Heights Business Association. At least one store has closed.

“The people are in trouble,” Tejada said.

Tejada went to Community Board 7 for help and district manager Fernando Tirado organized a meeting with DOT. The bus lane is a “no-standing” zone 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the merchants want parking reinstated on W. Fordham when there is no congestion – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bus lane is problematic for a number of reasons, Tejada said. Businesses are unable to load and unload merchandise on W. Fordham. Livery cab drivers who frequent the strip to shop buy breakfast have nowhere to park. High Class Limo and People’s Limo are based on W. Fordham Road.

Merchants on E. Fordham Road had a similar gripe in 2008. DOT refused to reinstate daytime metered parking on E. Fordham but agreed to implement delivery windows – two-hour time slots for merchants to load and unload. DOT will consider a similar solution on W. Fordham, spokesman Scott Gastel said.

“I’m optimistic,” Tejada said.

There are some 15 businesses between University and Sedgwick, all on the south side of W. Fordham. Devoe Park sits on the north side. According to Tirado, DOT allows daytime metered parking in Select Bus Service lanes on 34th Street in Manhattan. In fact, the 34th Street lanes are off-limits from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Gastel said. DOT does allow the Hammerstein Ballroom and a post office to load and unload at midday.

“The [W. Fordham] merchants want whatever is going on in Manhattan to apply here,” Tirado said.

At the meeting, Tirado explained that Bx12 Select buses rarely use the dedicated lanes. The lanes are narrow and hug the curb, he said. W. Fordham Road does back up where it meets the Major Deegan Expressway but the lanes stop at Sedgwick.

DOT has agreed to perform a new study, CB7 transportation committee chair Lowell Green said. There are no guarantees. Select Bus Service has shaved minutes off the Co-op City to Inwood commute; more than 38,000 people ride buses on W. Fordham and E. Fordham every day.

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