Today’s news:

Victory: Bx14 is back, in a sense

After a flood of complaints, meetings, calls, and letters, the MTA has made it clear that they have heard the complaints and are making the necessary changes.

Beginning on January 1, the Bx8 bus will return to its original route, and the Bx14 bus will be replaced by a route called the Bx24.

Residents should be pleased by the changes, most of which directly address complaints made by Country Club and Spencer Estate residents, stop by stop.

The Bx8 bus will be re-diverted out of Country Club and onto Layton, Logan, Otis and Crosby avenues, as it originally operated. Buses will run every 15 minutes midday on weekdays, every nine minutes during rush hour, and every 30 minutes on the weekend, similar to the original Bx8 schedule.

This should restore travel time back to normal between Throggs Neck, Edgewater Park, and Locust Point and the IRT #6 train station in Pelham Bay.

Meanwhile, what the MTA is instituting a “shuttle bus,” the new Bx24, to run between Pelham Bay Station and Country Club through Bruckner Boulevard. The Bx24 runs on essentially the same exact route as the original Bx14, except that it will not travel on Westchester Avenue.

Therefore, the bus will not access Parkchester, whose residentsare also unhappy with the Bx14 being cut.

All of the new bus stops on Stadium Avenue and Kennellworth Place will be removed, and all previous stops restored. This, above all other changes, should leave vocal Stadium Avenue residents pleased, many of whom have written letters to the editor or made calls to local elected officials in their frustration with the new route.

In addition, the number of buses running through Country Club per hour will be significantly reduced, and because the route is a loop, no street will have two-way service..

The changes are a direct response, at least in part, to efforts by local elected officials, who met with the MTA continually.

“I worked like a dog on this one,” admits Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “This is a very significant step forward that addresses many of the consequences of the mess created by the elimination of the Bx14. There is no perfect solution, but the restoration of the Bx8 to its original route is a big victory that gives Throggs Neck, Locust Point, and Edgewater residents access once again to St. Benedict’s, the Northeast Bronx Senior Center, and FoodTown.”

Assemblyman Mike Benedetto concurs that the changes are a victory for residents and the officials that represent them. “We did a lot of pushing with the MTA,” says Benedetto. “It’s a great accomplishment.”

Benedetto did point out one small drawback: the old Bx14 went into Westchester Square. and the new Bx24 will not. “But for the most part there are more pluses to this than minuses,” he said.

Resident Victor DiPierro, who had been one of many to voice concerns over the past five months in the wake of the Bx14 cut, is impressed with the MTA, and applauds the changes.

“It’s the logical answer to the ridiculous route they created,” DiPierro says. “I was like the contact person for all the complaints, and the neighborhood is going to be so happy and feel so grateful. In the long run, this makes sense. It’s an early Christmas gift.”

Senator Jeff Klein, who worked closely with Vacca, Benedetto, and Congressman Joseph Crowley to get service restored, says he is “cautiously optimistic” that the new changes will resolve all complaints.

“I think this is going to be an ever-evolving process,” he says. “But I’m hopeful that before January we can get even more changes, once we see the impact and how the community responds to this new plan. We’ve come a long way from the original plan the MTA had, which was to eliminate this route entirely.”

Residents say that the return to the original Bx8 route, as well as the new Bx24, brings pretty much everyone what they wanted.

The changes give access to Tremont Avenue, Layton Avenue, and other areas that people were missing. Residents of Country Club and Spencer Estate will also have easier access to train subway.service.

“I think the MTA listened to us,” concluded Vacca. “They realized the current situation was unacceptable and could not continue.”

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