The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's budget slashing would eliminate my beloved M8 bus route, the only crosstown mass transit in Greenwich Village. This is an outrageously bad idea.
As a resident of the far West Village, I ride the M8 a lot. In fact, I've been riding it for more than 30 years. I can't imagine my life without it. I know the friendly drivers by name and the sullen ones by sight. I take this bus to my teaching job, to the Jefferson Market Library, to my church on Second Ave. and to the copy shop on E. Ninth St. I socialize, shop and dine in the East Village.
I'm not the only person who will be hurt. The absence of this major channel will hurt businesses, especially stores and restaurants in the vicinity of Eighth St. On weekends, the stop by Kmart is jammed with shoppers heading toward Alphabet City with their many packages. Owners of the small boutiques and vintage shops on E. Ninth and E. Seventh Sts. have been struggling for years. Killing the M8 could put them out of business for good.
Then there are the kids and parents and nannies who travel mornings and afternoons. The M8 is their version of the yellow school bus. It serves children attending both public and private schools. I also see many senior citizens and people in wheelchairs using this line to travel a few blocks. They can't walk and need the M8 to get around.
And the tourists, whose euros the city is relying on. They love to come to SoHo or the East Village to buy shoes, clothing and food.
I know I'm not alone. There are many other people in this great city who will see their bus and subway service cut back or eliminated. It's unfair to everyone. Even with the proposed rate hike, public transportation is still cheaper and safer than cabbing across town. I've had several near accidents riding taxis across Eighth St., like that time my cabbie swerved to avoid being hit by a truck and landed on the sidewalk. I'd like to think the M8 is a lifesaver.
My elected officials and the local community board have been voicing their outrage over the proposed cut and there's even a Web site – savethem8.org – where citizens can sign a petition against the MTA's decision. I'll do my part and write letters and speak out, all while hoping this is a trick by the MTA. Maybe MTA officials are thinking that if they threaten to cut important routes and then save them, riders will gladly pay another big fare increase.
I know I will.
Without the essential M8 route, crabby commuters and tired schoolchildren will have to get up earlier and walk longer distances. Businesses will suffer. Seniors and the disabled may be forced to stay home entirely, and that's downright cruel. If the purpose of the MTA is to service the citizens of this city, eliminating the M8 bus is unacceptable.