Lower Manhattan residents can look forward to 12 months more of free tram service, compliments of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and the Downtown Alliance. At the Tuesday meeting of its board, the Authority allocated $632,000 to support the Downtown Connection, the free shuttle bus that ferries riders between Battery Park City and the South Street Seaport, which has been operated by the Downtown Alliance since 2003.
The Downtown Connection shuttle, which was launched by the Alliance in 2003 (and expanded to its current route of 37 stops in 2009), operates a fleet of seven buses from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, seven days a week. More than 800,000 people per year use the free service, which connects residential areas of Lower Manhattan with business and shopping districts. Roughly half of the stops made by Connection buses (a total of 18) are within the borders of Battery Park City, where 45 percent of all trips on the shuttle begin, and some 49 percent end.
The fleet of seven shuttle buses operated by the Downtown Alliance and funded in part by the Battery Park City Authority serve more than 800,000 riders per year, free of charge.
At the Tuesday meeting, Authority president Shari Hyman explained the BPCA’s rationale for helping to underwrite the operation of the shuttle, saying, “forty eight percent of ridership is in Battery Park City, in terms of stops and people.” She added that the Alliance, “got new buses and a new operator in the last year, and the buses have been getting great reviews. The old vehicles didn’t allow standing room, but the new ones do. Whenever you see one go by, they’re always full.” She also noted that the Authority, “will be getting some ad space on these buses. And we’re developing an ad program now to make sure that it’s visible.
Authority chairman Dennis Mehiel asked, “the new operator of these buses, that’s not our call?” Ms. Hyman replied that the operator was selected by the Alliance. “But we know enough about them that we like them?” Mr. Mehiel asked. Ms. Hyman confirmed this, and added that the new buses (which began service last November) are larger than the old fleet, and that all the vehicles are fully handicapped accessible.
Mr. Mehiel then asked for a vote, and the four BPCA board members present for the meeting unanimously endorsed the allocation. “Hearing no opposition,” Mr. Mehiel said, “the contract for the Alliance is approved for execution.”
The mission of the Downtown Alliance (the BPCA’s partner in funding the Connection shuttle), is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. 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.) Additionally, the Alliance and its sister organization, the Downtown Lower Manhattan Association, produce research, information, and advocacy designed to brand Lower Manhattan as a global model of a 21st century central business district.