Downtown Digest

Downtown Connection to get new fleet

In anticipation of a brand new fleet of buses, the Downtown Alliance’s Downtown Connection Free Bus Service will replace the B.I.D.’s current buses with an interim fleet. Riders can still expect the same level of service and the same schedule, but the interim buses will feature new additions, such as onboard screens displaying information about Lower Manhattan and more seats than are in the current model. Downtown Connection ridership has grown every year since the service began, and it is now just shy of 900,000 annual riders.

The interim buses will hit the road on Saturday, February 12 and will run for about three months until the brand new fleet arrives. The interim fleet of buses will not be wheelchair accessible. However, if such access is required, riders can schedule pickups and drop-offs at current bus stops by calling 212-232-0141 or 917-939-1037.

Jon Stewart joins 9/11 committee

“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart joined the Board of Directors of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum last week.

The organization raises money and oversees the development of the memorial that will stand at the World Trade Center site in honor of the lives lost on that fateful day.

Stewart has long been vocal about 9/11 issues, and has used his position as a medium to advocate legislation that, like the 9/11 bill for first responders, helps rebuild the nation after the tragedy, according to a press release.

“Jon Stewart is an incredibly important figure in today’s news media, but he’s also a New Yorker who felt—as we all did—the world change in a matter of minutes on September 11. Since then, he has taken a definitive stance on so many issues that relate directly to our organization’s mission of commemoration and education. We’re honored to welcome him to our Board of Directors,” said 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels, in a statement.

The comedian joins fellow celebrities Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal and Jane Rosenthal on the board of the organization.

Gillibrand to join Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand announced that she will serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which deals with matters relating to the United States’ defense policy.

“One of the reasons I came to Congress was to strengthen our national security and serve as a voice for our troops and military families,” said Gillibrand, in a statement.

“From helping to create more good-paying jobs for veterans so they can succeed in the economy after serving our nation, to improving access to quality health care, to providing affordable loans to buy a home and a chance at a college degree, we must ensure the opportunities and benefits we offer our military families always live up to their service.”

MTA Cuts

Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver is urging the MTA to reconsider proposed service cuts to the M22 bus line that runs through Lower Manhattan.

The speaker sent a letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder last week arguing against the cuts, which he said put residents of the community at a disadvantage.

“Many of our residents live more than half-a-mile from the nearest subway stop and bus service. The M22 serves as a lifeline, enabling them to get to school, work, doctors’ appointments and other necessary travel,” wrote Silver.

The M22 is one of 40 bus lines that could face reductions in service, which would “more closely align service with customer demand,” while “improv[ing] reliability through running time modifications where needed,” according to the MTA proposal.

New education reform organization

Parents Across America, a new organization that advocates for national public education reform, will host a launch event on Monday, February 7, in conjunction with Community Board 1.

P.A.A. members include parents and activists from across the United States who support “positive change” in national public education.

“Up to now, the parent perspective has been almost entirely missing in the policy proposals put forward by the U.S. Department of Education and those running many school districts across the nation,” according to P.A.A.’s website. “In contrast, [P.A.A.] advocates for proven, progressive measures such as reducing class size and increasing parent involvement, and opposes corporate-style efforts to privatize our schools.”

The free event will feature keynote speaker Diane Ravitch, an education historian and professor of education at New York University, as well as panelists from numerous education advocacy organizations. It will be held at P.S. 89, located at 201 Warren Street in Lower Manhattan.

To reserve a seat, visit the website at parentsacrossamerica.org.