WHITE PLAINS, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators (WCBoL) plans to protest the application of Liberty Lines Transit, Inc., for service modifications of the Route 13 bus line in a special resolution, which will be discussed and voted on tomorrow morning at the meeting of the WCBoL’s Government Operations Committee.
The protest and resolution come in the aftermath of County Executive Rob Astorino’s abrupt cancellation of the Route 76 bus line service between Port Chester and Milton Point in Rye on December 27, 2011, with service officially stopping on December 31, 2011. Regular passengers of the 76 bus—and WCBoL members—learned that the service was being discontinued on Wednesday, December 27, during a week when many were taking a winter vacation between Christmas and New Year’s.
There were no public hearings held on the subject.
On December 22, just days before Astorino summarily axed the bus line service, the WCBoL had voted to override the County Executive’s veto of $243,436 of spending in the 2012 County Budget for the Route 76 line.
The spending on the bus route did not increase the County tax levy one cent.
“This resolution we’ll be voting on tomorrow confirms that the Board of Legislators has supported the development and operation of a mass transit system for passenger bus service within Westchester County since its inception in 1969, in order to promote efficient, affordable, and safe transportation through the County,” said WCBoL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers.) “When the Board of Legislators authorizes the appropriation of funds for mass transportation services it’s in recognition of basic requirements of Westchester residents, who need to go to work, shop and travel to doctor appointments.”
Last month, a number of concerned residents joined Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) to call for immediate restoration of the Route 76 bus line service. The modifications to the existing bus Route 13 proposed by Liberty Lines and supported by County Executive Astorino will not meet the needs of many residents, businesses, employees, and senior citizens in Rye, Port Chester, and elsewhere that depend on the bus service on a daily basis.
The new Route 13 bus line, with its modifications, is already being operated, contrary to laws in the County Charter that require bus route franchise modifications to be approved by the WCBoL.
The resolution being taken up by the WCBoL tomorrow stands as a formal protest to Liberty Lines’ application to the New York State Department of Transportation for new service and deviation of the Route 13 bus line and seeks the WCBoL’s participation in the case. Once passed by the full WCBoL, copies will be distributed to state and local officials.
“Because other bus routes in Westchester carry fewer riders and yet maintain their service levels, many feel the County Executive owes the residents along the 76 Route a good explanation about why he is willing to disobey the laws of the County and eliminate this service,” said Myers.
Added Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), who serves as chair of the WCBoL Government Operations Committee: “We need to continue our investment in mass transportation, and many are hoping that the County Executive will reverse an unpopular decision that undermines this vital commitment to the well-being and safety of Westchester residents.”
At the recent Speak-Out and Breakfast in White Plains, co-sponsored by the WCBoL’s Community Services Committee and the County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services, many seniors voiced their concerns about transportation issues, and transportation topped a Priority Pulse poll that identified the five major needs seniors have in Westchester.