Volume 22, Number 03 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 29 - June 4, 2009
M.T.A. backs down from bus cut after Silver letter
By Julie Shapiro
The M6 bus will continue barreling down Broadway and up Church St., thanks to a last-minute intervention by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority planned to cut the M6 starting Memorial Day because of the mayor’s decision to close off sections of Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square for pedestrian malls. To remove buses from Broadway, New York City Transit, a division of the M.T.A., also modified seven other bus routes.
Four days before the M6 cut was to go into effect, Silver sent a letter to M.T.A. chairperson H. Dale Hemmerdinger slamming the decision to eliminate the service. Hemmerdinger responded the next day, giving Silver even more than he had asked for, saying he would look to see if service could be improved Downtown.
“In light of your request, we will not be eliminating the M6 bus route this weekend,” Hemmerdinger wrote on May 22. In addition, he continued, “M.T.A. New York City Transit will be reviewing all the bus routes in your district as well as the operation of the rerouted M6. Our hope is that this review will result in recommendations as to how, within existing resources, we can best serve those who live in, and travel to, Lower Manhattan.”
Silver announced the reprieve later that day.
“I am relieved and gratified that the M.T.A. responded very quickly to my request,” Silver said in a statement. “Particularly at a time when we are trying to encourage people to utilize mass transit, this decision to maintain the M 6 bus line is great news for Lower Manhattan.”
The M6 cut would have left a stretch of Church St. and Sixth Ave. between Worth and Houston Sts. without Uptown bus service. The M6 has an average of 5,200 riders on weekdays.
After Silver’s intervention, the M6’s operation will be unchanged in Lower Manhattan. In Midtown, the M6 will run down Seventh Ave. rather than Broadway, to avoid the pedestrian malls.
In his letter to Hemmerdinger, Silver said he was particularly galled by the M6 cut after leading the efforts to bail out the M.T.A. earlier this year and prevent the so-called doomsday budget from going into effect. The M6 was on the chopping block back then as well and would have been cut if the State Legislature had not passed an M.T.A. rescue plan.
John Brindisi, a Battery Park City resident who frequently takes the M6 to go shopping or to doctors’ appointments, was glad to hear that the M6 cut would not happen.
“It’s absolutely essential, especially on weekends,” Brindisi said of the bus. Had the bus been cut, “We would have been isolated. It would have hurt tourism.”
Brindisi criticized New York City Transit for not sufficiently notifying passengers of the planned cut. The M6 bus stops had no notice, and the notice on some buses included only a small mention, Brindisi said. The M.T.A. also did not list the cut among service changes on its Web site, Brindisi said.
“They tried to slip that through when nobody would notice,” Brindisi said. “Whether by design or by stupidity, they did it in a way so that most people wouldn’t know about it.”
Charles Seaton, N.Y.C.T. spokesperson, said the agency gave plenty of advance notice about the planned M6 cut and other service changes.
“The important thing is that the service was not cut,” Seaton said.