BRING BACK OUR BUS SERVICE!
That’s the rallying cry from Co-op City, where angry straphangers, among city riders facing yet another fare hike, rallied last week.
They’ve seen service cut back on two local bus lines, and one line chopped entirely, forcing many subway riders there into a two-fare zone.
Electeds, rider groups, unions and local groups were all represented at a rally on a greenway at the sprawling 60,000-resident housing complex on Wednesday, July 5.
Speakers called for restoring service cuts on the Bx26 and Bx28 in 2010 that created longer wait times, and eliminated service in Sections 1 to 4, forcing them to pay two fares to reach the nearest subway.
“It is very unjust for members of our community to pay not $5 to go to work, but $10, and in some cases $15 dollars a day, for the past two years,” said Section 5 resident Sebastian Ulanga, co-chair of the Co-op City Coalition Against MTA Cuts. “When the restorations come to the Bronx, Co-op City should be one of the communities on top of the list.”
There was also a call for restoration of the QBx1 and improvements for Access-A-Ride before a fare hike planned March 2013.
“It is past time for the MTA to restore these routes for the residents of the large part of Co-op City,” Engel said in a statement. “They deserve better than extra bus rides and transfer waiting time, especially in bad weather, meaning the heat and rain of summer as well as the cold of winter.”
The community has collected 5,000 signatures since the cuts to the Bx26 and Bx28 first occurred in 2010.
The MTA did restore some service that was cut on the Bx30, but many residents feel the cuts should have never happened, said Brodie Enoch, campaign manger for the Rider Rebellion. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto told the crowd he blamed the state in large part, severely cutting funding from 18% of the state’s budget 23 years ago to just “a trickle” today.
Benedetto said that in conversations with MTA chairman Joseph Lohta, he seemed open to finding a way to improve service for Co-op City.
“The entire development of Co-op City was promised when this development went up that they would have superb transportation alternatives,” said Benedetto. “And the cuts that were announced years ago were a betrayal of the trust that the people of Co-op City had in the MTA and the municipality of the city of New York.
As a fare increase looms, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said that communities of color and those most in need seem to the be hardest hit by MTA cuts – with further cuts on the way.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz denied – as some Transit Worker Union members have suggested – planned cuts in the number of buses on the Bx26 and Bx28 lines.
He said service will be increased on the Bx26 in the peak hours mornings and afternoons, with a slight cut on weekends, and no change in the number of Bx28 buses.
The MTA recently announced the restoration of weekend service on the Bx34 bus in Woodlawn and Norwood, and extension of the Bx13 south from East 161st Street to the Gateway Mall.
Also among those at the rally were Rev. Robert Smith of the Church of the Savior, representatives from Transportation Alternatives’ Rider Rebellion, the Transport Workers Union, Co-op City Coalition Against MTA Cuts, Retirees of Drieser Loop, and about hundred local transit riders.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393