Upper West Side residents want to reverse M-104 bus cuts

The MTA has cut service in buses all around the city, but in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the residents are fighting back. Pauline Bock reports.

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If you lived in the Upper West Side and wanted to visit your family in Connecticut, until recently, you could start that trip on the M-104 bus. That’s what Tom Siracuse used to do that all the time.

(sound from the bus in background)

SIRACUSE: I would just get the bus here at the corner, and one of the stops was right in front of grand central station. (00:06)

Siracuse is 76, and walks with a cane, so that trip became more difficult when the MTA cut service in 2010. Now, the M-104 ends near Times Square, so he has to walk around the block, and wait for another bus.

SIRACUSE: The bus stop on 42nd and 7th has no bench. It’s very difficult particularly when the weather gets bad! (00:10)

He says he cannot always afford a taxi, and the subway is not an option.

SIRACUSE: It’s a tremendous amount of walking and there’s also steps involved. The bus was the best way! (00:06)

Last September, the MTA made more cuts. The M-104 comes less frequently. Aaron Biller is president of the advocacy group Neighborhood in the Nineties.

BILLER: For senior citizens, and people with young children, and people with handicap, it has become a major inconvenience because they are waiting very long periods of time for buses. (00:10)

And sometimes, Biller says, when buses finally arrive, they do not stop. Their signs say, “Next Bus Please”. Because they’re running late.

BILLER: On the Upper East side, they get select bus service, over here, we get next bus please service!
Those are three words that are fighting words on the upper west side. (00:10)

Community board 7 has received dozens of complaints. So it had asked the MTA to restore service on the M-104.
The Upper West Side is not the only neighborhood dealing with cuts, says Gene Russianoff, from transit advocacy group StrapHangers Campaign. The issue is city-wide.

RUSSIANOFF: 19 millions dollars of buses being cut that’s a lot of bus service that’s going, in the five boroughs. (00:11)

Some neighborhoods have been successful with complaints. But to get the MTA to change its mind, it takes a lot of organization in the neighborhood.

RUSSIANOFF: The only way that people have gotten service restored, is be more than united, and they can point to the past history of other lines, like the M16, getting restorations. (00:10)

The MTA says it does not plan to restore cuts to the M-104. But Community board 7 isn’t giving up: it has asked three other boards and state legislators to join its effort.
Pauline Bock, Columbia Radio News.

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