The buses traveling along the Bx3 line are not big enough and aren’t frequent enough, and Councilman Fernando Cabrera believes it’s time the Metropolitan Transportation Authority does something about it.
“We’re in a pandemic, in one of the most seriously COVID-impacted communities in the city,” Cabrera said, in a release. “We’ve worked hard to control community spread, but our transit is working against us. This is unacceptable.”
The Bx3 begins at West 238th Street and Broadway in Kingsbridge, typically running to the George Washington Bridge. One of its primary institutions along the way is Bronx Community College, Cabrera said, many of whose 10,000 students depend on the Bx3 to travel to classes and jobs.
The Bx3 has an average daily ridership of more than 11,200 passengers in 2019 — a 10 percent drop from 2018, according to the MTA. That ranks it the 16th most-traveled line in the Bronx, and the 51st most-traveled in the city.
Two local lines that use articulated buses — vehicles with two linear sections joined together by a pivoting point — are the Bx1/2 and the Bx9 lines. Both have a combined ridership of more than 49,000 daily passengers, and are typically more than double the passengers on the Bx3.
The Bx13 — which connects the GWB with East 163rd Street and Third Avenue in Morrisiana — is the most heavily used line in the borough with 40,260 passengers every day. It’s second in the city only to the M15 in Manhattan with more than 46,000 daily passengers, and does not typically use an articulated bus.
Still, Cabrera believes the MTA needs to spend more time getting its Bx3 line in order, either by bringing in more buses, or mixing in larger buses into the fleet.
“The data is in and the numbers don’t lie,” Cabrera said. “Increase the service, put bigger buses on the line. This community has suffered enough.”
The MTA might not be expanding the Bx3 lines, but beginning Aug. 31, it will return to collecting fares on both its local and SBS buses. That means passengers will once again load buses from the front, except for those buses with OMNY payment systems at the back door, which allows fares to be paid there.
The MTA has added a number of social distancing measures to buses to protect not only commuters, but drivers as well. That includes completely enclosing drivers in full-length vinyl curtains, blocking the seat directly behind the driver, and moving the white line further back from the front.
The MTA’s buses have lost $431 million throughout the pandemic.