Parkchester protests bus discontinuance

Residents of Parkchester and the surrounding communities are fed up with commuting headaches stemming from te discontinuance of on the Bx14 bus.

The bus, which alongdown Parkchester’s busy Metropolitan Avenue, was a vital link from Hugh Grant Circle on the housing complex’s southern border to East Tremont Avenue and communities to the east. Some commuters now have to take cabs to catch the IRT #6 train, costing them five dollars or more. Vendors have lost sales along the route. Seniors cannot leave Parkchester for things like physical therapy, shopping, and their favorite senior center.

On Friday, August 20, Assemblyman Peter Rivera joined the community and political leaders, the Transport Workers Union, residents and seniors to call on the MTA to reinstate the Bx14 bus route immediately. The rally was held across the street from Hugh Grant Circle in Parkchester.

“To cut a bus line that is a hub of Parkchester, and will displace thousands of commuters, is unconscionable; particularly when the MTA has exhibited a history of fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement,” Rivera stated. “In this vein, it is a cut that is unconscionable.”

Rivera, who has written to MTA chairman Jay Walder, noted that according to some estimates Parkchester has seen growth of upwards of 50% in the past decade. He said the MTA needs to take this into consideration when making transportation decisions. He also said special needs populations like senior citizens or the disabled are being ignored.

“I used to come to shop at Metropolitan Avenue and Hugh Grant Circle but live on the other side of Parkchester, and the Bx14 was my ride,” said Fernando Alomar, a disabled veteran. “I also used take the bus to Pelham Bay Station to run errands. I now have to take three busses, and my budget is very limited.”

Alomar also said that students, including college students at S.U.N.Y. Maritime, have to deal with longer commutes and more transfers. Merchants are concerned about lost sales.

“Ever since the bus route has been discontinued, I estimate we are loosing between $500 and $700 every day on breakfast alone,” said Ralph Ledesma, general manager of Foodilicious at 1316 Metropolitan Avenue. “I don’t understand why they took the bus away. All of the businesses on the block are losing money.”

TWU secretary and treasurer Israel Rivera, who had worked as a bus driver on routes near Parkchester, said that the MTA was cutting services from a community that could not afford it.

United Coalition Association president and State Committeeman Ronald Savage and 76th Assembly District leader Kenneth Padilla also spoke of Parkchester’s challenges and the need to rise above them, starting with restoration of Bx14 service. Also present was Luis Sepulveda, Rivera’s challenger in the Democratic primary.

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