RYE, N.Y. – Rye residents came out Tuesday in droves to speak in opposition against the December elimination of Bus Route 76, which provided service between downtown Port Chester and Milton Point in Rye.
The defunct route, having serviced more than 50,000 riders in 2009, 2010 and 2011, was eliminated by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Dec. 31 without a public hearing with five days notice – an act county Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) called a violation of the county charter. Astorino said the route was eliminated due to lack of ridership.
The public hearing was conducted Tuesday by Myers and fellow Legislators Catherine Borgias (D-Ossining), Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) and MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings).
Weeks after eliminating the route, which had been allocated for in the county budget, Myers held a press conference and public protest at a former Route 76 bus stop in front of Milton Harbor House on Milton Point.
In response to the public outcry, the county has proposed expanding Bus Route 13 – that runs from Ossining to Rye – to include 74 percent of the abandoned Route 76. Many members of the public disapproved of the expansion and requested for reinstatement of Route 76.
White Plains commuter and Milton Harbor House resident Peter To said extending the limited service of Bus Route 13 would not be an adequate solution for commuters like him.
"The bus 13 Route only runs (to Milton Point) after 9 a.m. and drops off before 5 p.m.," he said. "I wish I could find a job that lets me do that."
Joe Murphy, a five-decade resident of Rye, said the elimination of the route was an affront to the city.
"This is really an affront to all the people in Rye dependent on this," Murphy said. "What I find most offensive is the county is going to collect this money and put it in its pockets. Why are we paying for something that’s not happening? That’s stealing in my opinion."
In addition to hearing from members of the public, Rye Council members Laura Brett and Catherine Parker spoke along with Rye Mayor Doug French.
"Bus service is essential to Milton Point," Brett, a Milton Road resident, said. "What's most compelling for me is the impact it has on senior citizens. When we discontinue that bus service we may force senior citizens out of our community and seniors are tremendously important to our community."
David Kucera, president of Port Chester-Rye Transit Inc., said his company has serviced the bus line for more than 46 years and is willing to work with Westchester officials to restore the service.
"We are ready, willing and able to resume our contract at a moment's notice," Kucera said. "We are also willing to sit down with the executive branch and the legislature to come up with some cost savings to continue this route."