An easier connection to a growing commercial area in the Bronx awaits some bus riders in the borough, as the Bx24 will expand to an area near new developments. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
There are plenty of city buses to catch in Westchester Square, but none that link to an ever-expanding section of the north Bronx. It's home to office buildings and medical facilities with nearly 8,000 employees, and will soon include the city's 911 call center and a Marriott Hotel.
"It's really unthinkable to think that people don't have public transportation access to a facility like this," said City Councilman James Vacca of the Bronx.
At least not yet. Starting August 31, Bx24 will begin winding its way from Westchester Square to the area near the 42-acre Hutchinson Metro Center and toward all those new developments.
"It will be very convenient, very nice," said one person in the neighborhood. "Very nice to be able to get a little closer, anyway."
Presently, the Bx21 skirts the area around the office complex that opened a decade ago on the site of a former state mental health facility, and whose developer has lobbied for years for more bus service.
"In order to really achieve the goal of providing great service to the people in this community, public transportation and infrastructure is very important for this model to work," said Joe Kelleher, president of Simone Metro Properties.
The Bx24, which runs from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., served close to 500 riders on weekdays last year, making it one of the smallest lines in the Bronx. But Kelleher said it's vitally important and bound to grow.
"All of the employees and visitors that come to the Hutchinson Metro Center are so pleased that they will be able to get on a city bus and come to this site," he said.
Extending the Bx24 will cost the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $700,000 a year, but officials who've been pushing for the extension said that's money well spent."
"This is a job developer for the Bronx, but it's got to be a place people can get to easily, and bus service will get them there easier than it is now," Vacca said.
An existing option, a free shuttle bus funded by the Hutchinson Metro Center's developer that runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., isn't going anywhere.
"I'm happy with that option, the way they have it now," said one person in the community.
In a few weeks, he'll have another one.