CB1 to Consider Cutbacks in Number of Stops on Free Bus Service
Tonight (Tuesday, December 3) the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) will hear a presentation from the Downtown Alliance about planned cutbacks to the number of stops on its free Downtown Connection shuttle bus.
The plans include the elimination of six stops within Battery Park City: both directions on West Thames Street, both directions on Vesey Street, the northbound stop on Battery Place near First Place (in front of P.S./I.S. 276), and the northbound stop on North End Avenue, near Murray Street. There will also be two stops taken away in the Financial District (northbound on Water Street, near Wall Street, and southbound on Water Street, near Gouverneur Lane), and one in the South Street Seaport neighborhood (on South Street, near Peck Slip).
These changes may be prove to be a disappointment for residents of Lower Manhattan, many of whom rely on the Connection Shuttle to get to and from shopping destinations, and local transit hubs.
The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is a significant source of funding for the Connection bus, contributing 42 percent of its direct operating expenses. Last August, the Authority allocated more than $1.2 million to continue support for the service, covering allocations for 2019 and 2020.
During the BPCA board meeting at which this was discussed, Authority vice president Eric Munson explained, “for the past 16 years, this free shuttle service has proven to be a vital resource for commuters, seniors, and residents. A ridership survey last year estimated that 44 percent of rides originate or terminate at one of 17 stops in Battery Park City.” The same poll found that 38 percent of respondents lived in the community, while 22 percent worked here.
“An estimated 640,000 workers, residents, and visitors use it,” Mr. Munson continued, noting that the Alliance has a contract with Golden Touch Transportation to provide vehicles and drivers through November, 2020. “Next year,” he added, “they will solicit bids for a new provider. Based on the board’s feedback last year, the Authority has been proactively working with the Alliance to find energy-efficient buses — ideally electric buses — and that remains our goal.”
The September meeting at which renewed funding was authorized did not include any discussion to a reduction of the number of stops serving Battery Park City.
The Downtown Connection shuttle, which was launched by the Alliance in 2003 (and expanded to 37 stops in 2009), operates a fleet of seven buses from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, on weekdays, with five buses on weekends. The service connects residential areas of Lower Manhattan with business and shopping districts. In 2016, the Alliance added of a new stop at 119 South Street (near the corner of Peck Slip), which brought the total of pick-up and drop-off points on the route to 38.
The mission of the Downtown Alliance is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. In addition to the Downtown Connection shuttle, the Alliance also provides local security and trash pickup, as well as operating the business improvement district, or BID, that covers the area south of Chambers Street.) The Alliance and its sister organization, the Downtown Lower Manhattan Association, also produce research, information, and advocacy designed to brand Lower Manhattan as a global model of a 21st century central business district.
The meeting at which these proposed changes are to be discussed will take place at the David Dinkins Municipal Building (One Centre Street, near the corner of Chambers Street), in CB1’s conference room (2202A-North), starting at 6:00 pm. The public is welcome to attend and participate.
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