Volume 17 • Issue 8 / July 16 - 22, 2004



Seaport bus stop

For some Southbridge Towers seniors, the elimination of a bus stop at the corner of Frankfort and Pearl Sts. has meant the difference between independence and limited mobility.

About six months ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority removed the Frankfort and Pearl stop from the routes of the M15, M22, M103, and B51 buses. For the M22, the next closest stop is one long block away at Frankfort and Gold Sts.; to access the other three, seniors must walk several blocks up a hill to Park Row, or walk across Pearl to what many call the dangerous entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.

“It’s not a question of it being hard for them—they can’t do it,” said Gail Leventhal, a Southbridge resident who said her mother has been unable to get out by herself since the loss of the stop.

Leventhal joined several other Southbridge residents at a July 13 meeting of Community Board 1’s Seaport Committee, where residents made impassioned pleas for the stop’s restoration.

Theodore Orosz, director of Manhattan and Bronx bus service planning for the M.T.A., said the stop was eliminated for traffic safety reasons, since stopping at that corner would require buses to cross three lanes of traffic. Residents and community board members argued that buses continue to cross lanes, even now, so that’s no reason to shut down the stop.

Southbridge has a large senior population, with estimates of the elderly population ranging from 30 to more than 50 percent of the total. Seniors generally find buses easier to use than the subway and rely on the aboveground option more than other New Yorkers.

Community members demanded that the M.T.A. conduct a study of the area and present concrete evidence to back up its decision.

“Don’t at all treat this casually,” Victor Papa, a C.B. 1 member and the chairperson of the Southbridge Towers Shareholders Committee, told Orosz. Orosz indicated that the stop will not be put back, but that the M.T.A. would evaluate what else might be done to mitigate the impact of its removal.

Southbridge residents put out the word that its seniors should not be dismissed. “Some of them can’t walk that well,” said Frances Lero, vice president of the Southbridge senior center. “They can vote, but they can’t walk.”



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