Enhanced local bus service coming in April

By MIAWLING LAM

Straphangers who cram onto overcrowded Bx7 buses will soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials last week announced that starting on April 8, buses on the hugely popular route would run every six minutes, up from the current eight-minute headway.

The change, which applies strictly to the evening peak hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., was officially unveiled at last month’s Community Board 8 traffic and transportation committee meeting.

MTA transportation planner and engineer Lewis Thorwaldson said the timetable change means bus commuters should experience shorter waits and less crowded buses.

“During the p.m. peak hour, the Bx7 will be going from an eight-minute to six-minute headway,” he said. “It’s a 20 percent change increase, and it goes from approximately 7.5 buses per hour to 10.”

Documents also reveal the enhanced timetable will bring the route’s “guideline capacity” down from the existing 109 percent to 87 percent.

The rare scheduling improvement afforded to the Bx7 service, which runs between Riverdale and Washington Heights, was won after Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz complained about the lengthy waits his constituents had to endure on weeknights.

The change has been deemed cost-neutral because straphangers riding on the Bx1/Bx2, Bx4/Bx4A and Bx33 during the week will face slightly longer waits, while those traveling on the Bx7, Bx10 and Bx18 will see more frequent service.

For the Bx 10, headway will be reduced from 10 to 9 minutes during evening peak hours and from 12 to 9 minutes during evening travel.

On weekends, there will be fewer Bx1/Bx2, Bx4/Bx4A and Bx31 buses but enhanced service on the Bx7 and Bx10.

In a wide-ranging and brutally frank presentation, MTA representatives told Community Board 8 that budget cuts have been particularly damaging.

Jacqueline Carter of the MTA’s office of Government and Community Relations said spending cuts have put ambitious plans, such as possible extensions to the Bx1 route and service rationalizations with Westchester routes, on the back burner.

“At this point in history, our big problem is money,” she said. “Right now, we’re not looking at it because we don’t have money to extend bus routes.”

Officials also provided an update on the ongoing station repairs along the No. 1 subway line and predicted work would be completed by July.

Since last year, workers have been refurbishing the 225th, 238th and 242nd Street stations and replaced canopies, installed new staircases and repaved platforms.

Carter said work at the 242nd Street subway terminal was 75 percent complete.

Meanwhile, MTA officials announced that between April 2 and May 7, all northbound No. 1 services will bypass the 225th Street station so workers can  put in a new staircase and fix the canopy. Southbound service will remain in operation.

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