Today’s news:

Bx24 service begins January 2

Riders of the Bx8 in Country Club and Spencer Estate will have a new mass transit link to Pelham Bay station.

Starting on Sunday, January 2, the newly added Bx24 bus will provide direct service to the communities along the same route as the discontinued Bx14 route, which was taken out of service in June. A MTA spokeswoman confirmed that the line will follow the old route, creating a loop through the community and replacing Bx8 service in Country Club. That service created a great deal of controversy because of a large number of buses running through Country Club, especially on Stadium Avenue.

The change was inaugurated as one of the MTA’s cost-saving measures necessitated by the agency’s looming budget shortfall.

The new route will run in a loop from Pelham Bay Station south on Bruckner Boulevard and cross over into Country Club at Country Club Road. It will then run the same route that the Bx14 used to, according to MTA spokeswoman Deidre Parker. From Spencer Estate, it will follow the route up the Bruckner Expressway service road, next to Pelham Bay Park, to Pelham Bay Station. While the route restores the type of bus service that residents in Spencer Estate and Country Club have been familiar with for years, it will not satisfy everyone, said Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

“I think there will be some happy and some unhappy people because the Bx24 bus does not go past Pelham Bay Station,” Vacca said. “I understand that riders will be able transfer to the Bx5 once they get to Pelham Bay station, and that should be able to get them to Key Food and Crosby Avenue. However, some people will object because the Bx5 will not run directly to Westchester Square or Parkchester. I think the MTA made a partial restoration of the Bx14 cut, but I don’t think it is adequate because they have not fully addressed the riders’ needs.”

The MTA has posted laminated signs on poles alerting MTA bus users of the change in the route. They have also replaced bus stop poles along the route so that they bear the new Bx24 route sign.

Buses will run approximately once every 30 minutes, Parker said. The first trip will leave Pelham Bay Station at 5:49 a.m. and the last trip will leave at 10:21 p.m.

Victor DePierro, a resident of Stadium Avenue, said he was pleased that the MTA came to its senses and changed the route. DePierro and his neighbors said the Bx8 ran too frequently and saw no real cost savings for the MTA.

“What was the reasoning behind taking away a bus route with less frequent stops to save money and then have it replaced with a bus that came at least every 15 minutes, and was 90% empty?” DePierro said.

“We don’t want to make it sound like we are better than other blocks, but when we bought these houses, there was no bus stops in front. We are happy to see the bus being taken away from Stadium Avenue. Councilman Vacca and the MTA took a good look at it, and realized that something needed to be changed, and we are grateful to both.”

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