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Last month, it came to my attention that Bronx Science Bus Service Inc., one of two yellow bus companies that carry Queens students to the Bronx High School of Science, had reported on its Web site it was unable to continue providing service to Bronx Science students due to a fire that consumed 10 buses.
Knowing the disruptive effect this could have on northeast Queens families and students, I wrote a letter to District Attorney Richard Brown and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director Elliot Sander. I also shared this letter with state Sen. Frank Padavan’s (R−Bellerose) office.
Thankfully, Vallo Transportation was able to pick up the slack left by Bronx Science Bus Service keep disruption to a minimum — although area parents had to lay out additional funds. Other students continue to use the X32 bus to get from Queens to the school.
I contacted Brown’s office to ensure a proper investigation was being conducted, given the suspicious nature of the fire, and the prospects of area parents were being made whole. I apprised Padavan because this incident affected northeast Queens families. I made an appeal to Sander because there had been talk that the MTA’s X32 service might be scaled back or eliminated in the face of budget pressures.
I received an immediate response from Padavan’s office, urging both the DA and MTA to focus on these requests immediately. Shortly thereafter, I received an update from Brown’s office, indicating it was in contact with the city fire marshal’s office and that it would continue monitoring the investigation for any criminal component.
But I have yet to hear from the MTA. I have heard from the Bronx High School of Science Parents’ Association that the MTA will cut the X32 due to budget cuts, despite the increase in ridership, at least in part owing to the service disruptions noted above.
The association noted that the X32 has provided affordable, time−saving service for the last 33 years and urged the MTA to maintain this vital service.
I would add that for many area parents with limited means, the Bronx High School of Science represents a fantastic opportunity for their children to get ahead and advance themselves. For some families, the X32 was the affordable and flexible option that made attending the school attainable. As a society, we routinely talk about the value of education — particularly public education — in developing young minds and providing opportunity for growth and advancement.
Eliminating the X32 would undermine this important public purpose and potentially limit the horizons of many young people in northeast Queens who have looked to Bronx Science as a way to secure a quality education. I urge the MTA, a public authority, to revisit this. I encourage our area elected officials to protest the MTA’s shortsightedness and not eliminate service.
Everyone recognizes the dire budget crunch faced by the MTA and state, but eliminating the X32 would be like stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime. The societal benefit attached to improving young minds and the prospects of a generation of young people should not be shortchanged to fill a budget gap.
Vincent J. Tabone
Community District Education Council 26
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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