Express bus changes are thoughtless for older riders


On Sept. 11, my friend and I were waiting for the northbound BxM2 bus at Madison Avenue and 99th Street. We waited at least 35 minutes before the bus showed up. The bus arrived at 7:30 p.m., and the driver said he was the 7 p.m. bus.

Others had been waiting at the stop much longer, and said the two previous buses had never shown up. They were supposed to leave the first stop at 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. It is outrageous that buses just do not show up, especially considering that it was rush hour.

One evening in September, I took the 10:30 p.m., BxM2 northbound bus. The driver mentioned that he was scheduled to drive the 11:15 p.m. southbound BxM1. I knew that he would be late because he only got to West 230th Street and Broadway at 11:10 p.m.

When I asked why he was scheduled to do this, he replied that he was the only one available and was also doing overtime. I asked why this was, and he said many drivers were out sick.

These two recent examples show that there is no system in place to replace drivers when they are unavailable on scheduled runs. We Riverdale residents depend on these buses. The subway and local bus are not a viable option since the 1 train is often under repair — especially on weekends — and has been so for years, and seems to be for the foreseeable future.

The Rail Link for the Metro-North does not run on weekends. The Bx20, which goes to the A train, runs during the week at rush hours only, and not on the weekends. Why this bus schedule was ever cut back is beyond my comprehension, since it is the only bus connection from Riverdale to the A train without paying an additional fare.

Secondly, the schedules for the express buses have been disappearing from the poles. The same has been happening with the six-digit numbers for each bus stop. Now I rely on the numbers and use them to get text messages about bus arrival times. A 2015 report from the city’s consumer affairs department found that 40 percent of people over the age of 60, and 15 percent of people with incomes under $31,200, do not have smartphones.

I am a 71-year-old retired social worker. I do not have a smartphone, and I do not plan to get one, and removing the only way I can get bus information is wrong. In a letter response to me about bus tracking from acting MTA president Craig Cipriano on Aug. 19, I was told that the lack of bus time tracking had been investigated and that appropriate corrective action was taken.

Removing the tracking number completely does not seem to be appropriate corrective action to me.

Finally, I hear there are plans to remove the bus stops on Fifth and Madison avenues for the BxM2. Those of us who rely on the express bus have no other option that does not involve transferring to another bus. The subway does not go near those stops. Moving the stops to the west side just replicates what the 1 train provides.

Many people — including myself — use these stops to get to the museums and to Mount Sinai Hospital. There are people who have chosen their doctors because they can easily get to the hospital by express bus. This change could make those destinations inaccessible to the elderly and the handicapped.

It is hard enough to be an express bus user and try to get to Midtown on the weekends. The Sunday buses only run once per hour, and sometimes it is almost impossible to get to Midtown with this unreliable service.

In the face of a push by the mayor and other elected officials to reduce car traffic in Midtown, you are practically forcing people to use cars to get into the city.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A version of this Point of View was sent as a letter to acting Metropolitan Transportation Authority president Craig Cipriano.


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Evy Mayer,