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Westchester Residents Protest Bus Cancelation

RYE, N.Y. – Several Westchester County residents united with County Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) on Wednesday to protest the cancellation of the Route 76 bus line service. The press conference took place at the former bus stop on Milton Road in front of the Milton Harbor House.

The service, which runs between Port Chester and Milton Point in Rye, was annulled by County Executive Rob Astorino on Dec. 26, 2011 and the route officially ended on Dec. 31, 2011. Many regular passengers of the 76 bus and members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) found out about the service cancellations during the busy holiday week of Christmas and New Year’s.

“Because thousands of riders, both residents and hard-working individuals employed in the area, depend on the Route 76 bus line, we are calling on the county executive to follow the law and ensure this important service is restored,” said Myers.

No public hearing was held on the matter, which Myers stated is against the law.

“Removing the bus route without a public hearing and the required consent of the BOL is irresponsible and violates Section 188 of the County Charter,” the legislator said.

Myers stated that Astorino “acted in complete disregard of both the governing process and the County Charter.”

In the middle of 2011, service on the bus line was decreased because of “very low ridership” without a public hearing. Astorino’s chief of staff, George Oros, told Myers that a public hearing on the issue was not necessary “unless a substantial number of passengers are affected or are proposed to be eliminated.”

The BOL voted on Dec. 22 to override Astorino’s veto of the funds required to maintain the bus service, which made most bus riders assume that the service was reinstated. Arthur Stampleman, a Milton Harbor House resident, was not pleased with Astorino.

“On Tuesday morning, when people returned to work around here after the holiday weekend some stood waiting for a bus that never came,” said Stampleman. “How mean-spirited! Cutting this bus service is especially hard on senior citizens who can't drive, caregivers who depend on the bus to get to where their clients and loved ones reside, and other workers who depend on the bus to get to their jobs.”

Another local resident was concerned about the increasing number of senior citizens in Westchester in the coming years.

“I’m surprised and disappointed by the county executive's actions,” said Tom Saunders, a Rye resident and president of a local advocacy organization, Staying Put in Rye and Environs (SPRYE). “We fully expected the bus line to be reinstated after the Board of Legislators voted to restore the funding in the budget. With the county’s senior population expecting to increase in numbers in the years ahead, the county executive should be focusing on public transportation as a way for seniors to get around Westchester.”

Myers was hopeful that the Astorino would reinstate the service.

“Our continuing investment in mass transportation is the right thing to do for so many reasons, and I hope the county executive will support the seniors who live in this area and uphold the laws of Westchester County by restoring Route 76,” Myers said.

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