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Union Tpke

Bus Stop Consolidation in the 1980s in the Bronx

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I thought this article would be relevant considering that several bus stops are going to be eliminated as part of the Bronx Bus Redesign. I think that historical context is always important when making decisions.




By ARI L. GOLDMAN JAN. 27, 1983

In an ever-changing city, one thing that New Yorkers hate to lose is their bus stop. Move it a block or simply switch it to another corner and people get disoriented. After all, bus riders don't pay much attention to street signs - they board in front of a familiar supermarket or get off across from the neighborhood library.

And so, when a proposal was advanced three years ago to eliminate more than 100 of the 2,100 bus stops in the Bronx, it was met with a hearty Bronx cheer. The plan encountered so much opposition, in fact, that when a major portion of it goes into effect on Monday, only a dozen stops will be eliminated.

At the 12 places where stops will be lost, however, passions still run high. A Citywide Review

''That's dumb, that's really dumb,'' said Muriel Broder, a teller at the Manufacturers Hanover Trust branch at West 258th Street and Riverdale Avenue, as she looked out the window at a soon-to-beeliminated bus stop. ''I watch all the old people get off the bus right there. Now, they will have to walk up the hill.''

The Bronx changes are part of a citywide review of bus service that is based on the concept that, unlike the subways, the buses make up a flexible system that can be altered when demand and traffic patterns change. A key element of the review involves increasing the distance between bus stops from two to three blocks, where possible, to speed traffic, cut energy costs and reduce pollution.

Three-block spacing has been successfully introduced on a gradual basis in Manhattan since 1980, but it did not go over big in the Bronx. Local legislators and community boards fought against the proposed changes. ''As far as I'm concerned, three-block spacing is dead,'' said Borough President Stanley Simon of the Bronx. ''You don't serve the public that way.''

However, David Gurin, the city's deputy transportation commissioner for planning and research, said the idea had worked well along the Avenue of the Americas and Madison Avenue from 23d to 59th Street. Later this year, he said, three-block spacing will be introduced along Fifth, Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.

''New York's bus stops - every two blocks or approximately every 400 feet - are about the closest in the world,'' Mr. Gurin said. ''In Paris, for example, bus stops are about 1,000 feet apart. This is a case where less can be more. With somewhat fewer stops, you get a lot more reliable service and faster service.'' Reasons for Opposition

Mr. Gurin said the plan had not stirred opposition when it was brought before various community boards in Manhattan. Why, then, did three-block spacing become a major community issue in the Bronx? ''Manhattan streets are shorter,'' Mr. Simon explained. ''If you skipped stops on the Grand Concourse, people will have to walk a half a mile for the bus.''

Other reasons for Bronx opposition, Mr. Simon said, were the borough's hilly terrain, its residential character and the large number of elderly residents.

Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents most of the city's bus drivers, is also opposed to three-block spacing. ''It is a disaster in these times when crime pervades the streets,'' said John E. Lawe, president of the local. ''Two blocks is a reasonable space to have a bus stop. Three blocks is ridiculous.''

The changes in bus service agreed to in the Bronx were the result of long negotiations between the Borough President's office, union officials and the Transit Authority. The overall plan involves numerous additions and deletions of stops, for the net loss of 12.

Many of the bus-stop changes are the result of route changes. These include the elimination of the Bx 32, a little-used line that runs through a desolate section of the South Bronx, and the introduction of a new east-west Bx 10 line. This line will provide Riverdale residents with their first direct link to such places as the Bronx High School of Science and the Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center/ North Central Bronx Hospital complex, Mr. Simon said.

The bus stop in front of the bank at 258th Street, which will disappear on Monday, sits at the crest of a small hill on Riverdale Avenue, just across the street from the Skyview Shopping Center.

Mr. Simon said he had agreed to eliminate the stop, albeit reluctantly, because there was a stop a block to the south and another a block to the north. Both, he said, have stoplights and thus are safer for riders than is the 258th Street stop.

But the Borough President acknowledged that he had no illusions that his reasoning would be accepted by everyone. ''I don't like it,'' said a waitress at the Skyview Delicatessen when told that her bus stop would be eliminated. She looked at the rest of the list of doomed bus stops and spotted the stop at Kappock Street near Independence Avenue.


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In discussions about bus stops, it is often mentioned that many stops have been at the request of an old lady. What's the harm?

I found this amazing story about this exact scenario:



A Bus Stop Named Trouble

West End Avenue in the 60's is a de facto retirement community. The elderly are everywhere: teetering up the steep, tilted sidewalks of the avenue; chatting over trays of soup and tuna fish in the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center; and waiting for their lifeline, the M57 bus, which takes them up and down the avenue, and all the way crosstown along 57th Street, without the need to transfer.

About a year ago, at the request of some residents, Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer asked New York City Transit for a new bus stop at West End and 63rd Street. In response, the agency's president, Lawrence G. Reuter, said that he could not add a new stop, but proposed another solution: relocate the stop between 64th and 65th Streets to the block between 63rd and 64th Streets.

Ms. Brewer accepted, and the stop was moved that spring. But the reaction has been a study in unintended consequences, illustrating how tiny changes can seriously affect the mobility of the elderly.

"It's horrible, everybody's complaining," said Mae Robinson, a woman in her 80's who lives on 65th Street and West End, and who recently showed a visitor the faded yellow paint on the curb where the 64th Street bus stop had been. "It is a must that we have that bus stop back."

With the elimination of the stop at 64th Street, the two stops that are now closest to Ms. Robinson's building are each less than a block and a half away. But each involves walking down a hill, terrain that can be hard for the elderly to negotiate in winter. "With the wind, the snow, the ice, it's going to be impossible," said Ms. Robinson, who this day was bundled up in a long woolen coat. Strong winds have already prevented her from reaching the bus stop once. "I turned back," she said. "It wasn't worth it."

Last Tuesday, a chorus of dismayed voices greeted a question about the bus stop at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, on 65th Street, where a hundred elderly men and women were eating lunch at long, oilcloth-covered tables arranged on the polished floor of a basketball court.

"Most of us are walking with canes," said Grace Barnes, 79. "They took the stop away with no information as to why or how."
Ms. Brewer, for her part, was rueful. "We didn't mean to lose a bus stop," she said. "We wanted to add a bus stop." She has written to New York City Transit, explaining that her constituents need both stops. "The seniors," she pointed out, "are the ones that need the bus more than anyone else." ALEX MINDLIN

Bus stops have also been eliminated to get rid of loitering: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/02/nyregion/neighborhood-report-rockaway-park-loiterers-depart-bus-stop-along-with-them.html?searchResultPosition=1

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