East Bronx residents were elated to learn that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bus route initiative will have little to no impact on their present bus travel configurations.
The Bx8, Bx24 and Bx40 routes, which service Throggs Neck and several communities to its north, appeared to be facing major rerouting and inconvenient tranfers. They will be left as is.
In Co-op City the Bx23, Bx26, Bx26, Bx30 and QBx50 will continue to service the Mitchell-Lamas’ 45,000 residents.
The Bx8 route, which would have had its terminus at Layton Avenue and Dean Avenue under the MTA plan, will continue to snake through Locust Point, across a piece of Throggs Neck that lies between the Throgs Neck Expressway and Eastchester Bay, as it heads north to Williamsbridge Road via Crosby Avenue. The MTA plan had envisioned the Bx24 stating in Locust Point, picking up the former Bx8 stops, then proceeding to Country Club and Spencer Estate and out to Hutch Metro center via Westchester Avenue.
In addition the MTA planned to replace the Bx24’s current looping route through Country Club and Spencer Estate with a two-way route that had fewer stops.
Residents from the shoreline communities in Throggs Neck loudly opposed the MTA plan that requirred a transfer to access Crosby Avenue and other non-residential areas of the east Bronx, according to Throggs Neck Homeowners Association president Lynn Gerbino.
“Between people going food shopping, to seniors in our community, and bad weather, having to transfer (at Layton Avenue) to get to Crosby Avenue shouldn’t be necessary,” she said, mentioning that Assemblyman Michael Benedetto was instrumental in pressing the MTA to keep the routes intact
Assemblyman Benedetto and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie worked quietly behind the scene to mitigate the impact of the bus route changes.
“Andy Byford, president of NYC Transit told the people of Co-op City that he would consider their needs after he presented the first draft of the bus plan several months ago. I want to thank Mr. Byford and his team for listening to its riders, Benedetto said, adding the MTA was just as responsive to his constituents in Throggs Neck, Country Club and Spencer Estate.
Spencer Estate Civic Association vice president, George Havranek opposed the Bx24’s two-way bus traffic proposal because he felt the community’s narrow streets could not support such a plan.
The bus route redesign had the Bx24 travelling on the area’s main thoroughfare, Stadium Avenue, between Throggs Neck and Country Club. Havranek explained that the street’s narrowest point between Fairmount and Layton avenues would not support the route’s proposed realignment.
“Even if you daylighted the entire block, two buses wouldn’t be able to pass (at the same time),” he said mentioning that one of the only options would be to remove all street parking in the area.
Havranek pointed out that a similar logistical problem would occur at Ampere Avenue and Kennellworth Place as well.
“Those streets are critically to the redesign,” he said.
According to the redesign plan, the current Bx40 coverage area would have become a two-fare zone, which was also opposed by many in the area.
The Bx40 currently terminates at Maritime College. The proposed change would terminated the Bx40 route at Harding Avenue and East Tremont Avenue and would have extended the Bx42 bus to Maritime College. Bx40 riders would need to make a transfer to reach the Pennyfield area.
The Bx40 route along Harding was dramatically shortened under the MTA plan, cutting out service to residents between Graff and Emerson avenues. The proposed plan had the northbound Bx40 making a right turn from Harding Avenue onto Balcolm Avenue and then a right at Randall Avenue, and then returning to East Tremont, on its way to Westchester Square. To accomplish this route the MTA would remove a guard rail located on Balcom Avenue that deliberately prevents through traffic on the residential block.
That plan was opposed by Balcom Avenue residents that fear opening the street would lead to an influx of speeding vehicles.
Activist Egidio Sementelli held a rally on Balcom Avenue to keep the Bx40 bus route as it currently is on Friday, September 6.
Other east Bronx bus routes that won’t be effected by the MTA redesign are the: Bx23, Bx26, Bx28 and Bx30. Co-op City had formed an ad-hoc committee to present its needs to the MTA in response to the bus proposal. All of the committee’s recommendations were fully accepted with the exception of one. In a compromise, the group ceded an expansion of the BxM7 to Wall Street in exchange for peak period QBx50 service to Co-op City. Also, City Island’s Bx29 will no longer service Co-op City. It will now terminate at Pelham Bay Station. The MTA plan wii be released next week.