The MTA’s board voted to eliminate the Bx14 bus and many other bus lines on Wednesday, March 24, but put in place a plan to reroute the Bx8 bus to pick up the slack for the shuttered route — the only mass transit link for the Country Club and Spencer Estate communities. The cuts made no one happy, with reactions ranging from displeasure about longer commuting times to downright indignation about being “forgotten” by MTA officials.
Under last minute changes in a Citywide Service Reduction Plan expected to help close the MTA’s $200 million budget gap, the newly routed Bx8 bus would now swing through Country Club and Spencer Estate and then pick up where the Bx14 bus left off by linking the two communities to the Pelham Bay IRT train station — an important mass transit hub where riders can reach subway and bus routes stretching out all over the borough.
The original service reduction plan also called for the elimination of the Bx14, but the proposed route for the Bx8 would have linked the two communities to the I.R.T. line at the Middletown Road station, which is not a mass transit hub and where there is no access for the handicapped or disabled. “I think it is pretty outrageous that they cut out a bus line in a community with senior citizens and students,” said Al Carena, president of the Spencer Estate Civic Association. “To disenfranchise a community is wrong. If they couldn’t find a better way to close their budget gap, then shame on them.” Carena is not sure what the impact will be on the community that has been using the Bx14 bus line for at least 40 years.
Councilman James Vacca, chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, shared the indignation of the community over the cut, but also pointed out that the original plan called for no service at all for Country Club and Spencer Estate.
“Our neighborhood fared better than most, but I am not a happy camper,” Vacca said. “I think that the MTA has been mismanaged and bloated for years and I think that the people are tired of paying for it.”
The BxM7B City Island express bus service was saved as a result of the MTA’s vote. In a previous service reduction plan, it too was slated to be eliminated. The MTA has not yet taken action on the issue whether or not to keep student MetroCards.