GRASMERE — Staten Island politicians and commuters called on the MTA to restore X18 bus service Thursday after the state pumped $4.35 million into the MTA's budget.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and State Sen. Diane Savino joined former riders in front of a bus stop on Bay Street to ask the MTA to use the extra $85.1 million from the state to bring back the X18 bus line.
"In comparison to the rest of the boroughs, we have less service," Malliotakis said. "We want to start with the X18 here in Rosebank, and we want to see other restorations around the city."
The X18 express bus ran along Bay Street into Stapleton, Grasemere and Rosebank and was one of the few express bus routes that went through the North Shore until the MTA cut it in 2010.
Since then, Malliotakis and Savino have called on the agency several times — including last year — to use funds to bring express service back to the neighborhood.
"There's demand for this bus," Savino said. "It's time for us now to restore the X18 so people that live in Rosebank and Stapleton can get to Manhattan faster and they don't have to walk so far."
It would cost the MTA around $500,000 to restore the line to Staten Island, Malliotakis said.
The MTA said it had no plans to restore the line, which had the fourth-lowest ridership of all express bus routes in the city when it was cut. They said numerous other bus-lines take riders to the ferry and, "The total trip time is competitive with the former X18."
One resident, Brian McCarthy, said he used to take the X18 into Manhattan daily from the stop right near his home, but since the cut he would have to take a bus to the ferry then use the subway, or walk three-quarters of a mile to a different bus stop.
"Losing the X18 was a vital drop because there's no other service in this area," McCarthy said. "Really it's a vital link and it could really be brought back to us."
Savino said public transit deficiencies cause some residents to resort to driving to Manhattan, clogging up the roads.
MTA board member Allen Cappelli introduced an amendment that will put money in the budget for service restorations around the city, and he hopes the MTA will put the X18 into it.
"As the economy gets better, as the MTA gets better, they need to restore these services," Cappelli said. "The X18 needs to be at the top of that list."
The board will vote on Cappelli's plan in June.
"This is the fourth year I've been advocating for this," Malliotakis said. "I think this the best shot we've ever had."