Riders Comment On Possible Route Eliminations

If you have not been in a cave over the last few days, you have read or heard many details of the proposed 2009 MTA Budget. The proposal calls for massive fare hikes greater than originally anticipated along with service cuts across the board, some which would include the elimination of some bus routes. In a report that will appear in today’s New York Times print edition, Cara Buckley along with contributions from Ann Farmer, Mick Meenan and Nate Schweber get the pulse from riders of some of the potentially eliminated routes:

If ever there were a bus route that perfectly linked highbrow and lowbrow New York, the X28 may well be it. It starts, in Manhattan, in front of the Dior boutique on East 57th Street, and makes express stops to Coney Island’s Sea Gate Beach Club, which is painted with turquoise and white stripes and cartoons of green, grinning — and oddly toothless — sharks wearing sunglasses.

The X28 is also, for many riders, a lifeline .

Mitchell Verley has spent 21 of his 45 years driving New York City buses, and every Sunday he drives the X28. It is a comfortable bus, with soft, high-backed seats, footrests and tinted windows, and costs $5 a ride. Sundays are slow, and in the hour and 15 minutes that it takes Mr. Verley to drive one leg of the route, he might pick up only 10 or so passengers each way.

Among those passengers is Georgia Mitilineos, a Greek immigrant who lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and works as a weekend housekeeper at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown.

“Without this bus, I would have to walk to the local bus, take it to 86th and Fourth, take the local R train to 36th Street, then take the N train to Fifth Avenue, then walk,” she said. Her current weekend commute is 45 minutes each way, she said, and the loss of the X28 would double her travel time, at least. “I’m not going to like it if they stopped this bus.”

The X28 is one of 29 weekend bus lines that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing to cut in 2009, as part of its effort to plug an anticipated $1.2 billion budget shortfall next year. Every borough would be affected by the cuts, and a cursory survey of various routes this past weekend revealed that the hardest-hit passengers are the ones who live in remote neighborhoods and work on weekends, or those whose creaky limbs are ill suited for subway steps.

“This is the only transit line that goes down to Broadway — it’s a shopping area down there,” said Myrtis Williams, 69, who lives in the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn and rides the B57 bus most Saturdays to shops in Queens. Ms. Williams has peripheral artery disease and diabetes; walking to a subway stop was time consuming, she said, and descending the steps hurt. “It’s a physical problem,” she said.

Click here for the complete report.

I am torn as I can see both sides. The MTA’s finances are in bad shape right now & they need to find a way to save money where they can. It does not pay to run bus service along routes that get a limited amount of ridership. However the flip side is how can you put a price on the importance of the small ridership that depends on your service? It is a tough situation that could be avoided if the MTA was properly funded to begin with so they wouldn’t even have to consider service cuts due to finances.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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