The city has promised to make bus bulbs work, but so far much of the Pelham Bay community is unenthusiastic about the proposal.
Community Board 10 held a contentious Municipal Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 25, with Department of Transportation officials presenting a plan to install bus bulbs at stops along Westchester Avenue at the intersections of Buhre, Zerega and Castle Hill avenues and Middletown Road.
The bulbs, concrete pedestrian islands that extend out from the sidewalk, would be installed as part of the DOT’s Safe Corridors for Public Transit, a program backed by a federal grant that is designed to provide a safer way for bus riders to get on the bus without having to stand out in the street.
Merchants, drivers, and citizens gave DOT an earful, expressing concerns about the loss of parking spots and a lane of traffic at the busy intersections. The bulbs would extend out to the pillars under the el. “I am all for pedestrian safety,” said attendee and Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square program director Joe Regina, “but there are questions that need to be answered like, what studies were done and what data we have from other areas where bus bulbs were installed in terms of how they affect traffic flow at peak hours.”
For merchants, the extended sidewalk is a cause for concern because they are required to handle snow removal and to sweep 18-feet from the curb in front of their businesses, and a greatly extended sidewalk area could mean that there would be more work, Regina said.
The city would be providing snow removal as they do at all bus stops, if the bulbs were installed, but there would be no daily sweeping service, Moran stated.
According to the most current estimates presented to the board, the build-outs into the street would cost customers at least four parking spaces on both sides of Castle Hill Avenue, about seven parking spaces at Middletown Road, and approximately nine spaces at Buhre Avenue.
DOT estimates that the installation of muni-meters and the removal of nine meters from spaces just north of Middletown Road would make up for most, if not all, the lost parking, according to the presentation.
“There is no way that they have the man power to clean the bus stops, and now they are telling us that they are going to handle snow removal for an extra 20 feet of sidewalk,” said board member and merchant leader Bob Bieder. “I got the impression that the DOT was saying that they got this grant from Washington and are going to make this work, rather than coming to us and asking if we wanted this done in the first place.”
Another presentation on bus bulbs will be made at CB 10’s November Muncipal Services Committee meeting.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393