UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, the Bronx — About 670,000 people ride buses daily in the Bronx, according to the MTA,. But because those buses ride in street traffic, they end up affecting nearly all of the 1.4 million people who live, drive, and walk in the city's northernmost borough. The effect that those buses have on the rest of the community is not a positive one, according to months of surveys of the community by the transit authority. It's why, on Tuesday, the MTA unveiled its final plan to redesign the Bronx bus system.
The plan calls for significant changes to how buses that some passengers have ridden for decades will operate. Despite the possible disruptions to how people get around the Bronx on public transportation, PIX11 News was hard pressed to find people complaining.
"It's never, ever on time," said Matthew Colon about the BX-3 bus, as he waited for ta different bus — the BX-12 — to arrive.
He said that he takes the latter bus intentionally, and avoids the former.
"Even when [the BX-3] is on time, it's packed with a lot of people, or it only comes every 30 minutes," Colon said.
People who have to regularly take the BX-3, which was designated the Bronx's least reliable bus by the transportation advocacy group the Straphangers Campaign, elaborated on its problems.
"Three stops in one block," said a woman who did not want to give her name, but is a regular passenger. The stops are on "this corner," she said at the intersection of University Avenue and 183rd Street, as well as "the middle of the block, then the end of the block."
The block on University Avenue is long, to be sure, but three stops in one block is a frequency that the MTA seeks to reduce. That was one of the main points of its new report, The Bronx Bus Redesign, released on Tuesday.
As part of the plan, 400 bus stops will be removed. Some bus riders said that it sounded like a high number, until PIX11 News explained that the change translates into going from one bus stop on average every three blocks or so to one stop every four blocks.
"That's a good idea," said Kim Macagnone, as she waited for the BX-10 on 231st Street. "We'll try it out, see how it works."
The plan is the result of about three dozen community meetings, hearings, and surveys of Bronx residents.
At a morning news conference, Andy Byford, the head of New York City Transit, said the bus redesign plan should deliver more of what more people in the Bronx need.
"Decreased journey time," said Byford, and "increased bus speed."
That can be achieved, he said, though other changes called for in the plan, including adding two new local bus routes, and a streamlining of about a dozen existing routes.
The changes are on course to be implemented by next summer.