By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The MTA will not be removing the M23 bus stop at the 20th Street Loop when Select Bus Service is implemented on the route, following the plan being blasted as being a hardship to elderly and disabled riders.
The agency’s decision was announced on Monday by City Councilmember Dan Garodnick at a Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting.
MTA President Veronique Hakim had informed Garodnick of the agency’s decision earlier that day, noting in a letter that the MTA had decided to keep the stop based on his input and input from Community Board 6.
Hakim noted in the letter that the agency had also taken a suggestion of the councilmember into consideration and as a result, will be moving the 20th Street Loop stop slightly east to “improve access and spacing for our customers, and to improve overall operational performance.” This change means that the westbound stop, which is between First Avenue and Avenue C, will be moved about 150 feet to the east.
The letter added that the MTA is also moving forward on the plan to relocate the current westbound stop at First Avenue and East 20th Street about 100 feet to the east to allow better access to the stop for the M23. The change will allow the bus to make an immediate right turn onto First Avenue.
Hakim said that the decision to keep the stop was influenced by a visit to the area on May 19 by Garodnick, his staff and personnel from NYC Transit’s Division of Government Relations and Operations Planning where they discussed the potential impacts of the stop’s removal, and Garodnick walked the 1,848 feet between Avenue C and First Avenue to demonstrate what the stops would be like under the original proposal.
The MTA and the Department of Transportation had originally presented the proposal for Select Bus Service along the M23 at the community board’s transportation committee meeting in April, and the plan was to consolidate the westbound stops on East 20th Street between Avenue C and First Avenue. The reason cited was that the 20th Street stops were only 450 feet apart, which the agency said is short, even for local bus spacing.
Residents at that and later meetings argued that the removal of the stop would not only be detrimental to many Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents, many of whom are elderly, mobility-impaired or with young children, but would also not speed up service enough to justify its removal.
Community Board 6 had conditionally supported the plan for SBS service along the route at the May full board meeting, with the stipulation that the agency reconsider removing the 20th Street Loop stop.
“The Stuyvesant Town Loop stop on 20th Street is a life-line, providing crucial a link to transit options for the seniors and families in our community,” Garodnick said. “We got a good outcome here, and I want to thank the MTA for their responsiveness on this issue.”