The MTA has cut the V and W subway lines, decreased train frequency, eliminated more than 30 bus routes and reduced service on others. The cuts are part of an effort to plug an $800 million budget gap and are expected to save the transit provider $93 million annually.
The MTA backtracked on a plan to withdraw funding for student MetroCards.
Marvin Wasserman, executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID), and Mike Godino, the organization’s director of advocacy, were among the approximately 30 people who attended the rally.
Wasserman discussed the importance of making New York City taxis and livery cabs accessible to people with disabilities. Godino offered his comments after the rally.“We at BCID showed up to support the efforts to slow the cuts and with the hope the cuts would go the way of the student MetroCards,” Godino said about the rally.
Regarding the impact of the changes, Godino said, “People with disabilities who cannot use the subway system will find themselves with much less service and more crowded buses. The major problem is the loss of the B51 as it travels from Brooklyn to Manhattan, offering at least one option.”The B51 traveled between downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, providing nearly 1,000 rides on a typical weekday.
Markowitz spoke out against a reduction in funds for Access-A-Ride and the elimination of the B51 and B39 buses, as well as other routes.“I applaud the MTA for working with Albany to preserve reduced student fares – at least for now – but the same must be done to help our senior riders and those with disabilities,” he said.
“These routes may not be the most heavily used, but they are absolute lifelines for these riders. There is simply no reasonable way for people with mobility and accessibility issues who cannot take the subway – especially considering many stations along these routes are not ADA-compliant – to get over to Manhattan without these vital bus routes,” he added.Speakers also included State Assemblymember Joan Millman, City Councilmember Letitia James and state Sen. Daniel Squadron.
“Cutting our much needed bus lines is unacceptable and cold-hearted,” Millman said. “Contrary to the MTA’s assertion, bus service does not replicate subway service because so many of our city’s subway stations are truly inaccessible to the elderly and people with disabilities. Buses are not only easier to board, but deliver riders closer to their destinations.”James called the B51 a “vital lifeline to residents” because it connects commuters to other bus lines.
“Also, taking the bus is simply a better option for the elderly and the handicapped because of the lack of elevators at most MTA subway stops,” James said. “It is reprehensible that riders, specifically those with special needs who depend solely on bus lines for travel, may now be inconvenienced and without safe transportation.”Squadron also noted the importance of buses for people who commute to jobs and appointments.
“We have to find a comprehensive, long-term approach to funding public transit – cuts to the B51 bus and other important routes on the chopping block without sufficient alternatives are unacceptable,” Squadron said.Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed placing dollar vans on the eliminated bus routes, but those vans are inaccessible to wheelchair users.
Three people with disabilities, including transit advocate Jean Ryan, announced in June that they are suing the MTA over the elimination of 11 routes to southern Brooklyn. A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge will hold a hearing on the case on July 22.
This article was published in the August issue of Able News.