Community activism and the tragic death of woman on her way home from work may bring about more comprehensive bus service.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has confirmed that it is studying additional early morning service to the Bx29 bus line between Pelham Bay’s Amendola Plaza and City Island.
“We are considering the possibility in light of the request from members of the community and elected officials,” said MTA spokeswoman Amanda Kwan of service beyond the current Bx29 schedule.
Currently, service to and from the plaza, through Pelham Bay Park, ends at midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.
Community activists at the City Island Civic Association have said this strands many people, including islanders returning home late at night and restaurant workers who sometimes don’t have regular hours and may have to bicycle to their jobs or arrange for private vans to pick them up.
The City Island Civic Association started a petition in 2015 for improved Bx29 bus service that collected about 430 signatures, said John Doyle, CICA board member.
The civic group is advocating for not only late night service, but also more timely service, having submitted about 70 specific complaints about riders experiencing untimely buses, he said.
“The fact that they are looking to expand the route is a very positive step,” said Doyle. “At least the MTA is being compelled to review the situation.”
The CICA’s effort intensified after the death of Gabriela Aguilar-Vallinos, who commuted to work at an island restaurant by bicycle.
She was killed in an accident near the City Island Bridge in September when a motorist struck her bicycle.
Councilman James Vacca’s chief of staff, Michael Rivadeneyra, said that the councilman has reached out to MTA.
“Jimmy has communicated with the MTA about the need for more bus service to City Island; no part of the city should be isolated,” said Rivadeneyra, adding “It is an extremely unfortunate thing that someone had to lose their life for the MTA to really take a strong consideration here.”
The CICA has been working with Senator Jeff Klein on improving and expanding Bx29 service, said Doyle.
In a statement, the senator said that the tragic passing of Aguilar-Vallinos illustrates the need to enhance public transportation for visitors, residents and workers.