Shuttle Bus Riders Protest Sudden Lack Of Free Service

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Last Saturday The Uptown Current spotted a group of local bus riders mounting a protest on Broadway and 168th street. The group was angered by the sudden lack of free bus service in the area.

For over a year many weekends had consistently seen free service offered by the MTA, taking riders to their destinations on Fort Washington Avenue and Broadway. Despite the service being quietly pulled by the MTA, many of the riders have noticed and are upset.

Dr. Ted Daniels, an Inwood resident and emergency room physician at the New York Presbyterian Hospital on 168th street was leading the pack of protesters. "I'm on call for emergencies every weekend" said Dr. Daniels. "Two years ago I was forced to pay for a subway ride down to work whenever I got paged for an emergency. If I was lucky I would use the transfer swipe to take the bus back uptown after I had dealt with the patient... as long as the patient died or got moved to surgery within 2 hours." Then, to Dr. Daniels's delight, the MTA began offering free weekend bus service for Washington Heights and Inwood residents. "It was a dream come true. I was saving money on MetroCards and simply hopping on and off the free shuttle bus as I pleased. I was in heaven."

A source within the MTA, wishing to remain anonymous, gave The Uptown Current some insight as to why they began offering free weekend bus service. "When we set up the free shuttle bus line uptown we thought it would be a great way to showcase our bus system and encourage people to pay for bus rides once our 'subway repairs' [the source chuckled, while using air quotes] ended... we felt too many people were using the subway, and we weren't seeing enough revenue coming in from our bus services."

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Unfortunately for the MTA, the plan backfired. Many riders are now refusing to pay for bus, and even subway fares, in many cases choosing to walk to their north-of-168th-street destinations. Our source at the MTA added "We never saw it coming, we assumed people would be so upset over the lack of consistent weekend 'A' train service that they would slowly fall in love with the buses, and continue to spend money on buses once the subway service... 'resumed' [again using air quotes]."

What's next for the angry shuttle bus riders? "Straight to the mayor!" says Dr. Daniels. "He's forced to shell out hard earned cash every day to get to work [Mayor Bloomberg is known for riding the subway to City Hall]. He will sympathize with our effort to make weekend bus service uptown completely free of charge again." While the MTA had no official comment, it is clear through their sudden "completion of repairs" to the uptown 'A' line that they are backing away from their policy of offering free transport as a way of advertising their bus system.

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