The Downtown Connection shuttle, which ferries passengers free of charge between more than 30 local stops that link residential areas with business and shopping districts, is operated by the Downtown Alliance, in partnership with the Battery Park City Authority.
At its Wednesday board meeting, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) allocated more than $1.2 million to continue support for the free Connection shuttle bus service, operated by the Downtown Alliance, through 2022.
BPCA vice president Eric Munson explained, “for the past 17 years we have partnered with the Downtown Alliance on this free shuttle bus service, known as the Downtown Connection. And just by way of background, particularly during Lower Manhattan’s rebuilding after September 11, 2001, the service has proven to be a really vital resource for commuters, seniors, and other community members to get around the neighborhood. He also noted that, based on feedback from the Authority’s board, “we have been working proactively with the Downtown Alliance to prioritize finding fully electric buses for the Downtown Connection shuttle.”
“The service currently emits significant carbon into Lower Manhattan each day that it runs,” he acknowledged, “and this transition is an important component of the Authority’s sustainability agenda.”
“As such,” Mr. Munson noted, “over the past year, we conducted outreach to partners in City and State government, to the electric bus manufacturing industry, and to not-for-profit environmental groups. We also did a ride-along in an electric bus on the Downtown Connection route, to identify any operational issues.”
Mr. Munson said, “we want to thank [BPCA board member] Catherine McVay Hughes for her support and guidance as we have pursued this core strategic initiative.”
He continued, “the Downtown Alliance issued a request for proposals for electric bus service, to succeed their existing operator, but did not receive any responses. We suspect that the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant contributor to this anemic response. The RFP hit the streets in February of this year, at just about the worst time for vendors of this rapidly growing—but still emerging—industry to respond.”
To avoid an abrupt interruption of service, the Alliance quickly issued a solicitation for conventional bus service, secured multiple bids, and entered into an agreement with US Coachways to provide Downtown Connection bus service over the coming two years.
“At the Alliance’s urging,” Mr. Munson noted, “the new vendor outfitted their buses to accommodate passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including ultraviolet lights and front-facing seats. We remain hopeful that these measures will yield a rally in ridership, which is down by over 80 percent since before the pandemic began.”
“The Alliance has expressed their intention to issue a new solicitation for electric bus service toward the end of calendar year 2021,” he concluded. “To which we expect and hope for a more robust response.”
At that point, Mr. Munson asked the BPCA board for approval to sign an agreement with the Downtown Alliance, “to cover our historic share of support of bus operations in calendar year 2021. I’m also requesting approval for an option to renew that support for a second year, into 2022, provided that we determine that sufficient progress has been made toward our transition to electric bus service.”
The total cost for this two-year contract will be $1,264,000, which is in line with the BPCA’s annual contribution (of $632,000) for the past ten years.
BPCA board vice chair Martha Gallo noted that, “I’m concerned about removing the service in this year, because I do think seniors and parents with small kids are making use of the service. And I don’t want to remove something in the middle of an already-stressful period.” The BPCA’s board then voted to approve funding for the service for two years.
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.
Eyes to the Sky
Jupiter and Saturn closest meeting in centuries on the 21st: get ready!
Artist’s concept of Jupiter and Saturn in December of 2020, as viewed from a space-based perspective. Their conjunction will be December 21. See the moon in this drawing? It’ll be along our line of sight to the planets around December 16, 2020. Chart via Jay Ryan at ClassicalAstronomy.com. Image courtesy of EarthSky.org
The show is on and thrilling to observe!
Everyday this week, within one hour of sunset, in the colorful sky to the southwest, brilliant planet Jupiter and fainter Saturn appear aligned just above skyline. See the two shining, star-like points of light incrementally closer to one another each successive evening. We are witnessing the overture to a phenomenal astronomical moment known as a Great Conjunction of the largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn.
For the first time in nearly eight centuries, yes, not since 1226, this “greatest of great conjunctions” will be observable on Monday, December 21, 2020, coinciding, by chance, with the winter solstice. To our eyes, there will be a separation of one-tenth of a degree between the planets, the thickness of a toothpick.
Planetary conjunctions are frequent occurrences, but only Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions bear the name “great conjunction”, because they are infrequent. The two planets arrive at conjunction every 20 years this century, but their orbits have not brought them precisely this close since 1623. That event occurred hidden from view in the sun’s glare, referring us back to 1226 for the most recent great conjunction visible with the naked eye. The two planets will not appear this close again until 2080. (NASA)
Sunset is at 4:29pm today. With an unobstructed view to the southwest horizon, Jupiter will be visible within minutes of 5pm; then, as twilight deepens, find dimmer Saturn above and left of Jupiter. With binoculars, Saturn can be spotted sooner. The pair sets into the horizon by 7pm this evening and 6:50pm on the 21st. See diagram, below, to be guided to the added presence of the crescent moon.
Scout out the best location for viewing, approximately above where the Sun sets.
Wishing you clear skies!
In December, just as Jupiter and Saturn are nearly at their closest, the young moon will sweep past them. From December 16-25, 2020, the planets will be separated by less than a full-moon diameter, just as the moon is passing close. Jupiter is brighter, outshining Saturn by 12 times. Saturn is respectably bright, though, shining as brilliantly as a 1st-magnitude star.
Lower Manhattan’s First House of Worship Gets a Facelift
The ongoing evolution of Lower Manhattan’s preeminent landmark, Trinity Church, is proceeding with new signage on the fence surrounding the property, and a new stained glass window within its facade, facing Broadway.
Most recently, following a December 8 hearing, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved requests to add two pairs of new signs (one set of traditional display frames and one pair of digital screens) to Trinity’s exterior fence, which dates from 1827. To read more…
A Different Kind of Test Scores
COVID Report Card for Lower Manhattan Schools
A review of data from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) indicate that the spread of the pandemic coronavirus among Lower Manhattan public schools is well contained, with a total of 14 cases at five schools. To read more…
The story in Monday’s BroadsheetDAILY relied on New York State Department of Health data to quantify the number of students, teachers, and school staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 at Lower Manhattan schools. Because the Department of Health does not separate data between teachers and non-teacher staff, the Broadsheet also combined these categories. P.S./I.S. 276 principal Terri Ruyter points out that the three positive tests at her school were confined to non-teacher staff (who had no contact with students), and that these results were from October.
Build Your Dream House
The Church Street School for Music and Art will continue a decades-long Downtown tradition (albeit, in virtual form, as a concession to COVID-19) by offeringGingerbread House Decorating Kits (priced at $85), now through Christmas week.
Each take home kit includes one homemade gingerbread house, a variety of candy, freshly made icing, and one foiled round to set your house up on. In addition to offering great holiday fun, this program is one of the most important fundraisers for the highly regarded non-profit institution that has brought enrichment to the lives of generations of Lower Manhattan kids.
The Downtown Alliance is donating $10,000 each to 11 local arts and cultural groups, as part of its ongoing effort to spearhead the recovery of Lower Manhattan from the pandemic coronavirus, and the economic downtown that it unleashed.
The recipients of these grants include the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the 9/11 Tribute Museum, the Battery Dance Company, the China Institute, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Gibney Dance, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Poets House, the Skyscraper Museum, the South Street Seaport Museum, and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The funding for these grants comes from Brookfield Properties, Silverstein Properties and the Howard Hughes Corporation. To read more…
The Not-So-Okay Corral
DOT Overrules Community Concerns about Delivery Bike Facility in Tribeca
The City’s Department of Transportation has ignored calls from Community Board 1 to address concerns of Tribeca residents before installing a cargo bike corral on Warren Street (between West and Greenwich Streets), to facilitate the use of powered bicycles when making grocery deliveries. To read more…
The American story has been profoundly shaped by Native Americans, yet the stories told about Native people are often false and almost always incomplete. Join us in a conversation with Native youth to learn how Native people are actively reshaping these narratives today. Free
Community Board 1 Quality of Life & Service Delivery Committee
1) Open Discussion on Affordable Housing in Lower Manhattan with Victor Bach, Senior Housing Policy Analyst, Community Service Society and Sam Stein, Housing Policy Analyst, Community Service Society, Community Service Society – Discussion
2) Renovation of 105 Washington Street for a Safe Haven Shelter- Presentation by Leilani Irvin, Borough Director, Department of Homeless Services; Joseph DeGenova, President and CEO, Center for Urban Community Services; Douglas James, Chief Operating Officer, Center for Urban Community Services; and Abbey Nyamekye, Chief Administrative Officer, Center for Urban Community Services
3) Resolution Writing Clinic – Presentation by CB 1 Members and Staff
Based on a true story of love and resilience, Cilka’s Journey presents the riveting tale of a sixteen year-old girl in Auschwitz who ends up in a Siberian prison camp as a result of the choices she makes to survive. Written by Heather Morris, bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the novel raises profound questions about morality and survival. Join Morris and Lois Lowry, bestselling author of The Giver and Number the Stars, for a conversation about one of the most important new works of Holocaust fiction. $10
Santa’s Secret Helpers
Imagine what it’s like to be a kid who, for some reason, isn’t on Santa’s list. Now, just imagine what a huge impact you can make in the life of a child and their parents by being their secret Santa.
Stockings with Care, a charity based in Lower Manhattan, steps in to help when parents cannot provide Christmas gifts for their children, so no child is left out. But the organization, which has benefited over 40,000 children since 1992, needs your help. The parents give the gifts that donors (such as you) provide to the child, preserving their dignity and connection, while ensuring the gifts received are the ones the child wished for. Stockings with Care has created five easy ways to contribute.
Two separate residential towers planned for the Financial District are suffering from the local real estate slowdown. In developments first reported by the online real estate journal, YIMBY, the building now under construction at 161 Maiden Lane has undergone removal of pieces of its facade in recent weeks (the only recent activity on the otherwise-stalled project), while construction equipment has been removed from 45 Broad Street, which is the site of a planned 1,115 foot residential tower.