PORT MORRIS — Free shuttle bus service from the South Bronx to the Randall's Island Connector is set to kick off in less than two weeks.
The long-awaited connector from The Bronx to Randall's Island finally opened in November after almost a decade of work, and the New York Restoration Project—a non-profit founded by Bette Midler—and the health care company Healthfirst have now teamed up to make it easier for Bronxites to get to the connector itself.
The free shuttle will officially launch on May 14 at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mary's Park and will run on Saturdays and Sundays going forward from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
It will run hourly, starting at Walnut Avenue and E. 136th Street and ending at the connector. The shuttle will make the following stops:
►E. 138th Street and Cypress Avenue (hourly on the :05)
►E. 138th Street and 3rd Avenue (hourly on the :10)
►E. 144th Street and 3rd Avenue (hourly on the :15)
►Bergen Avenue and Westchester Avenue (hourly on the :23)
►E. 146th Street and St. Ann's Avenue (hourly on the :28)
►E. 141st Street and St. Ann's Avenue (hourly on the :33)
►E. 138th Street and Cypress Avenue (hourly on the :39)
Organizers initially planned to launch the service on the first weekend in April but decided to wait so they could time the launch with other events taking place on May 14 in the area.
These include an art and music festival in Port Morris from 12 to 7 p.m. and a Cherry Blossom Festival on Randall's Island from 12 to 4 p.m.
"We want people to know about the shuttle," said NYRP Executive Director Deborah Marton, "so we knew there would be a lot of folks out looking to enjoy the beginning of spring then."
The shuttle will run at least until the end of August, and officials are hopeful that they will find enough funding to keep it running for even longer, according to Marton.
The idea in the long term is for the shuttle to become obsolete as the NYRP improves street connectivity for pedestrians and bikers as part of the group's Haven Project, which aims to better connect South Bronx residents with their waterfront, but Marton stressed that this would be five to 10 years down the line.
She is hopeful that the shuttle service will help remind South Bronx residents that Randall's Island is not very far from their neighborhoods and a great outdoor space for them to take advantage of.
"I think people have gotten out of the habit of thinking of Randall’s Island as part of a resource for them," Marton said. "This shuttle is stage one of reorienting the South Bronx to its waterfront and Randall’s Island."