I live in a transit-rich section of Brooklyn. I’m nearly equidistant from four train stops and have my choice of bus routes that run north-south, east-west. When the MTA’s service cuts come, I may find myself paying a bit more for service and waiting a few minutes longer during those pesky off-peak times, but my life won’t be dramatically altered.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for millions of New Yorkers. The elderly and infirmed who can’t navigate the many flights of stairs in the subway, the bus riders, the late-night commuters — they all stand to find themselves facing a drastically altered commute. Their trains and buses won’t come as often, and sometimes, those buses won’t show up at all.
The worst hit though will be those hard-to-reach areas of the outer boroughs — and one neighborhood in Manhattan — that doesn’t enjoy subway service. For these areas, the 24-hour transit network that most of New York City currently enjoys will fade into the past a distant memory.
Over the weekend, the Daily News tackled four neighborhoods soon to find themselves seriously inconvenienced by the MTA’s Doomsday plan. Pete Donohue tackled the impact of the cuts on the far West Side of Manhattan; Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn; Woodlawn past the 4 in the Bronx, and Oakwood Beach, Staten Island. According to an MTA survey, residents in these four neighborhoods will face walks of up to two miles just to reach the next closest bus stop.
On the chopping block is weekend service on the crosstown M50 route…Its demise would leave some workers and residents west of 11th Ave. a mile from mass transit, according to the study.
Residents in Gerritsen Beach, a corner of Brooklyn near Sheepshead Bay, would fare worse during the wee hours of the morning. Some parts of the neighborhood would be nearly 2 miles from another bus route if the B31 is shut down as planned between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m…
On the city’s northern border, Woodlawn residents may lose the Bx34, which runs along Katonah Ave., the heart of the neighborhood, connecting with the last stop on the No. 4 subway line. Some sections of Woodlawn would be left with “no transit service within a walkable distance” during some overnight hours, the study states…In Staten Island, some residential blocks and beach areas in the Oakwood Beach area would be a mile from mass transit on weekends if the cuts go through.
The news gets worse. The MTA figures that New Yorkers will take nearly 35,000 more car trips daily as they combat the elimination of nearly 30 bus routes and two subway lines. Those trips will exact a very high economic and environmental cost on our already overcrowded and over-polluted city.
I can’t drive home this point enough: Albany has to act to do something. This isn’t about bailing out the MTA or rescuing it. Those terms make it sound as though the MTA has done something wrong when the agency has not. This is about formulating a smart and responsible transit strategy for New York City that provides for the current funding of our transit infrastructure and the future potential for growth. This about correcting past mistakes of paying everything off with future debt. This is about recognizing the economic and environmental impacts a poor transit system would have on New York City.
Each week, real Doomsday ticks closer. Those folks in these isolated neighborhoods may suffer the most, but they won’t be the only ones losing out. All of us will be too.