Woodlawn residents left high and dry for the past two years after losing their local weekend bus service are finally getting some relief.
A private van operator has received a license from the Taxi and Limousine Commissione to fill the gap.
The van operator will be providing a “group ride vehicle service pilot program” along the Bx34 bus route that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stopped in 2010 as part of its budget cutbacks.
The private service will make all the stops on Katonah Avenue on weekends, creating in effect a one-fare zone to the No. 4 IRT train last stop near Jerome Avenue and East 233rd Street.
The cost will be $2 a ride, and plugs a vital gap since Bx34 bus service, discontinued on the weekends in an MTA citywide service reduction 2010.
It should be helpful for seniors who may want to reach the subway to catch a matinee on Broadway, or for people who work on weekends and need to get to work on time, said Senator Jeff Klein, who helped the private DorCal van service get through red tape at the TLC.
“When the MTA cancelled this vital service to Woodlawn, I was just as outraged as my constituents – people needed this bus,” Klein said. “That’s why this pilot program is so important.
“First, it restores part of the service Woodlawn workers and seniors rely on. Second, by utilizing this service, it provides a way for the MTA for us to prove to the MTA that a need to restore the Bx34 bus still exists.”
Klein declared the new service “open for business” at a June 8 press conference at the bus turnaround at Katonah Avenue and Van Cortlandt Park East.
He was joined by TLC Commissioner David Yassky, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association president Christine Sheridan, Msgr. Edward Barry of St. Barnabas Church, and DorCal owner Carl Gomes, along with others supporting the plan.
The public/private partnership creating the new bus line was the culmination of months of work by Klein to find a qualified vendor, and then working with DorCal to bring the project to completion, with help from local Community Board 12.
While Manhattan has very easily reliable cab service, and has plenty of subways and buses, Yassky said outlying communities like Woodlawn have sparser service that often needs to be supplemented by private partners.
“Here we have a provider that is eager to create a new service and a community that wants and needs it,” he said, “and we are pleased to help facilitate it.”
Dinowitz called it “very important that middle class communities like Woodlawn receive the services they deserve.”
“It is a great place to live, and we deserve all the services we can get to keep this a vital community in the Bronx,” added Barry.
Before the new service riders have been forced to pay two fares or walk along East 233rd Street to the train station, Sheridan said.
DorCal has been in business since the 1980s, when it replaced service after a three-year gap on the city’s old Bx14 bus route, which once ran along Edenwald Avenue – a line DorCal still operates, Gomes said.