Sirio Guerino speaks at the MTA public hearing for the final plan of the Bronx bus network redesign.

Sirio Guerino speaks at the MTA public hearing for the final plan of the Bronx bus network redesign.

Not so fast, MTA: Bronx demands better for bus network overhaul

Representatives from the MTA got an earful at the public hearing on Thursday over the final plan for the Bronx bus network redesign.

Bronx residents and elected officials shared time at the podium to voice their opposition to the plan’s proposals in bus rerouting and elimination of stops. Many of the night’s speakers emphasized the inconvenience to the elderly that the removal of bus stops would produce.

“The Bronx deserves better,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi after knocking the plan for lacking consideration of the elderly by eliminating bus stops, and not addressing the overcrowding that exists during peak hours on buses in her district.

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi at a public hearing for the MTA's Bronx bus network redesign plan.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi at a public hearing for the MTA’s Bronx bus network redesign plan. Photos: Kent Wilhelm.

Mary Pearson of Co-Op City referenced a video the MTA released that described the impact of a bus stop removal as adding two minutes to a rider’s commute time. Pearson questioned who the MTA was speaking of in its use of that number.

“Who is walking two minutes, if they’re 80 with a walker?”

Pearson added that she was shocked to hear that people are only now hearing of the redesign.

The Bronx bus network redesign plan is an overhaul to the borough’s bus system, meant to increase speed and reliability. The plan proposes to accomplish this by rerouting several bus lines and rebalancing stops by eliminating those that are “closely-spaced and underutilized.”

In his opening remarks, Craig Cipriano, senior VP of New York City Transit, Department of Buses, outlined the MTA’s efforts to involve the community in the redesign plan. Cipriano said the MTA had worked with community members, transit advocates and elected officials through open houses, workshops, community board meetings and public events.

Despite the MTA’s outreach, elected officials joined the chorus of their constituents in expressing their concerns. State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and City Council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Andrew Cohen all echoed unease over stop removals negatively impacting the elderly, bus rerouting making neighborhoods inaccessible, and overcrowding.

Pending MTA board approval, the redesign plan is targeted for implementation this fall and would affect local, limited and SBS bus service. A number of the public comments at the meeting praised the MTA’s postponement of changes to the express bus service until 2021.

Councilman Rodriguez said the plan is a good start, though he and City Council Speaker Cory Johnson agree that it should be discussed at a City Council hearing before it goes to the MTA board.

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