The city’s newest indoor mall is now open to any Bronxite that can reach the #6 IRT train.
The BX5 bus is being extended on weekends to Co-op City’s Bay Plaza retail hub from Pelham Bay.
Officials at the company that manages Bay Plaza Shopping Center, Prestige Properties, lauded the move.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority stated that the new weekend schedule would be providing a ‘one-seat’ ride from southern Bronx communities to the mall beginning on Sunday, September 6.
The extension starts at Pelham Bay Station for local riders.
Meanwhile, some merchants in Pelham Bay are irked over the fact that it took almost two years and a huge fight to get a new bus line to replace the old BX14 bus, and other improvements, while this new extension to the Mall at Bay Plaza seemingly came with relative ease.
According to the MTA, the additional BX5 buses address a new transit need, with the expanded Mall at Bay Plaza opening in August 2014 bringing new jobs and more shoppers to the area.
The change on the BX5 was announced in June, less than a year after the opening of the new Mall at Bay Plaza.
“As a result of keeping close watch on changing ridership trends and listening to our customers, this service enhancement will improve weekend service and provide south Bronx residents with a direct link to a major business and retail destination,” said Carmen Bianco, New York City Transit president, in a statement.
Easier access to the mall, whether it is for shopping, dinning or entertainment benefits all involved, including people who work at the mall, said Maranda Ashkar, director of mall management for Prestige.
“We could not be more pleased that New York City Transit will be extending the BX5 bus route from Pelham Bay Park to The Mall at Bay Plaza on weekends,” she stated, adding “We applaud NYC Transit president Carmen Bianco for making it easier and more convenient for our neighbors in the south Bronx to reach the mall.”
The MTA’s fast response to the mall’s transportation concerns could impact the Pelham Bay business area, some believe.
“Shoppers who don’t drive need buses to access local shopping areas,” said Jordan Treibert, former board member at the Pelham Bay Merchants Association, who said Pelham Bay merchants had to wait two years for the MTA to address their needs.
“Meanwhile, you have a shopping center with plenty of parking and the MTA provides access there almost immediately,” he concluded.
Another local businessperson and PBMA member, Lucia Mariani of Lucca Restaurant in Pelham Bay, said that lack of foot traffic on commercial corridors is causing business to suffer.
“I feel like when it suits (the MTA’s) purposes then they move, but when it is for members of the community, they really don’t care,” she said, adding “The MTA is more responsive to big corporations and not smaller businesses.”
Mariani predicted certain shoppers will now bypass local restaurants and businesses because they can shop and dine more easily at Bay Plaza.
Taking still another view was the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, a consortium of local civic groups studying the effects of increasing vehicular traffic.
Robert Barbarelli, EBTC member, stated that the group was pleased to hear about the BX5 extension because Co-op City has been under-served in terms of public transportation for many years.
“The extension will not only better serve the residents of Co-op City, but it will also reduce traffic and individual vehicle use in the area,” he stated.