News | Morningside Heights

122nd Street bus stop closures bring winter struggles to Morningside residents

  • Ayelet Pearl / Senior Staff Photographer
    NO SERVICE | Two bus stops on Broadway and 122nd Street were closed by the MTA last fall for construction on the nearby 1 train viaduct. Locals are unhappy about the agency's lack of alternatives in the winter cold.

For those living on 122nd Street, coping with snowstorms and polar vortices this winter was a lot more difficult after two bus stops on Broadway closed to facilitate construction on the nearby subway viaduct. 

As part of its One Train Portal Project, the MTA shut down the bus stops on Broadway between 122nd and LaSalle streets in September.

This means people who want to take the M4 or M104, which usually stop at 122nd Street, must walk to the 120th Street or 125th Street stops. It’s a minor inconvenience for some, but for the many elderly residents and young children who take the bus, the closures have become a major concern.

“I don’t think the MTA has been very sensitive to the community on this project,” local resident Liz Davis said. “For me it means walking several blocks uphill in the freezing cold, which is annoying but certainly viable. It isn’t this simple for everyone though. There is an elderly woman in my building who uses a cane.”

“I either have to walk uphill through this freezing wind to the stop at 120th or walk all the way down to 125th,” Ruth Johnson said. “And believe me, I’m no spring chicken like you. My knees aren’t what they used to be. I can’t be climbing over snow banks.”

Though residents can also take the M11 on Amsterdam Avenue, locals say this is an unreliable option.

“I take my 3-year-old son to Bankstreet every morning and the worst part is waiting in the cold for the M11 to come,” Glenn McAnanama, who lives on 123rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, said. “We used to get a bus on Broadway very quickly and then when we got off we would be right near our destination.”

McAnanama said a sign that was put up when construction started said the project would be done by mid-October, but this was later replaced by another one that said the stops would be closed indefinitely.

An MTA spokesperson said the stops will be open by March 2015 when construction finishes. She said the bus stops were closed “to allow construction to occur safely.”

Local resident David Young, however, has doubts that substantial work is even taking place. 

“I see some construction occasionally on Broadway between 123rd and LaSalle, but nothing in the 122nd and Broadway intersection,” he said. “The closures don’t really seem necessary since it doesn’t appear to be an active construction zone.”

McAnanama said he hoped the MTA would help mitigate some of the difficulties caused by the closure and proposed moving the stops slightly out of the construction zone, restoring local service on the M60 from 125th to 120th streets to relieve overcrowding on the M11, and increasing service on the M11 to accommodate the displaced riders. But the MTA rejected all the proposals, he said.

The spokesperson said that no changes or supplements were made because the stop closures were temporary and service will be restored when construction finishes. 

But for Davis and other local residents, this project means two winters of trudging down Broadway.

“While I support any improvements to our neighborhood, the current situation is not meeting our basic civic needs,” Davis said.

channing.prend@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ChanningPrend

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