MTA restored most of the cancelled services back on the X12 Bus

For Staten Islanders depending on the X12 bus, your morning commute will be a little bit better starting Monday.

Starting September 26th, three morning buses have been added back to X12, the express bus leading to Manhattan. When the MTA cut down rush hour service on the X12/X42 after Labor Day, roughly 400 seats were taken away from this heavily utilized bus line. There are 2248 daily riders, resulting in over-crowdedness and longer commuting time.

It’s 6:50 in the morning. As two packed buses passed by, anxieties among morning commuters are piling at the intersection of Victory Blvd and Slosson Ave. The line keeps building up as 16 people come from nowhere in 5 minutes. Mr. Williams tried to squeeze into the third one but was pushed back to the ground. He keeps checking his phone, and knows he’ll be late for work today.

“It’s even tough to get a standing spot. That’s how bad it is,” said Mike Williams, a local resident working at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan.

Peter Spencer, spokesman for City Council’s district office said a small drop in ridership of X12/42 was the main reason MTA claimed for the service change.

The district office has been inundated with complaints, including photos of packed buses taken by furious passengers. In a letter to New York City Transit, Councilman Steven Matteo described the change as “baffling” and “unacceptable,” leading to MTA’s final decision to restore the service.

“I have been driving buses for 22 years, and I’ve been hearing people complain for 22 years, but I’ve never seen MTA withdrew their decision before,” said Tom Donato, a bus driver of X12.

According to City Council’s district office, MTA sends out traffic checkers to bus stops in summer and adjusts bus schedules based on the ridership, usually after Labor Day when people are back from vocations and kids go back to school. Their methodology is simply to do head counts of people waiting in line or on buses.

“It looks they are doing diligence, but they are not,” said Donato. “A lot of service change works that way. They set it up to get the outcome they want and make it appear we don’t need service here,” he added.

Elected officials are conducting a Comprehensive Bus Study to overhaul the bus system on Staten Island, and MTA has been encouraging local residents to give inputs at community forums.

“Cutting express bus services in the midst of doing this is at very least a questionable move. It undermines people’s faith in those studies,” said Spencer. “The MTA clearly made a mistake, and they pretty much admitted it after re-inspecting the ridership,” he added.

Despite the rare victory of public voices, two afternoon buses of X42 still remain cancelled. “Even though we haven’t heard many specific complaints on that, we are still asking MTA to re-monitor the situation,” said Spencer.

“We want the whole thing back,” he added.

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