STUYVESANT TOWN — The MTA is planning to remove a Stuyvesant Town bus stop to make way for select bus service on the M23 route, according to a proposal by the agency.
The MTA announced plans last year to turn the M23 crosstown bus into a select bus service route, but it recently revealed that it would be getting rid of the bus stop on 20th Street between Avenue C and First Avenue in the process — a move that locals fear will make life harder for its senior citizens and further isolate a transit-starved community.
Representatives of the MTA presented the plan to Community Board 5 on March 28, involving installation of dedicated lanes and fare payment systems along the bus route.
But locals learned that it would also mean removing three stops, including one on Lexington Avenue, on Fifth Avenue and the mid-block stop on 20th Street.
While the Fifth Avenue stop is a stone’s throw from a stop at 23rd Street and Broadway, and the Lexington Ave stop is about half the normal distance on either side from Park Avenue South and Third Avenue, the removal of the 20th Street stop would leave a two-avenue distance between stops.
That would be a hardship for the growing number of senior citizens living in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village, according to Jack Donahue, a Stuy Town resident of more than 50 years.
“Without this stop there’s nothing between the river and First Ave,” he said. “That would be tough for a lot of people, and there are a lot more senior citizens here now.”
Politicians and local officials have lent their support toward keeping the bus stop.
Councilman Dan Garodnick — a Stuy Town resident — sent a letter to the MTA on May 2 asking for the bus stop to remain and Community Board 6 passed a resolution on May 11 supporting select bus service but reiterating Garodnick’s request.
According to Garodnick, the removal of the stop would leave 1,848 feet, or more than a quarter of a mile, between the remaining stops.
“The surrounding community of 30,000 people is already significantly isolated from mass transit, and with the potential closure of the L train stop at First Avenue looming on the horizon, we should be extremely careful about limiting alternative connection points in the area,” Garodnick writes.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz declined to comment on calls from the community to save the 20th Street stop but said the agency will meet this week with Garodnick to go over the MTA's proposal.
The M23 currently serves about 15,000 riders daily, according to the MTA. And despite being a lifeline for isolated areas like Stuy Town, it is a frequent victim of Manhattan traffic, spending more than half its route time either stopped in traffic or stopped to pick up passengers, according to the agency.
Select bus service would allow the M23 to pick up passengers more quickly and the dedicated lane would cut down on traffic time thanks to a reduced amount of lane changing, according to MTA representatives.
The agency is currently working out the kinks in the plan and will present its vision to Community Board 6 in June, with implementation of select bus service set to begin in July.