OPINION: Save our bus loop!

BY BARBARA RUETHER | I have lived in the West Village on Bank St. since 1958. I worked in the Department of Community Medicine at St. Vincent’s Medical and Trauma Center until it closed in 2010.

I left work in corporate America to work serving people in our then-community, very idealistically taking a $20,000 pay cut in 1975. H.R. insisted on interviewing me twice to ensure that I knew I was taking a big risk to work on a grant program called the Chelsea Village Homebound Elderly Program. But I was determined.

This little program based on teamwork (doctor, nurse, social worker collaborating closely together) was founded to help keep the frail elderly in their homes, where they wanted to be, as long as safely possible. The C.V.P., as it was known, served well and later became the New York State model for the Nursing Home Without Walls Program, technically known as L.T.H.H.C.P. (Long-term Home Health Care Program) that can provide all the services in a patient’s home, including aides, physician care, nursing care and social worker support, as well as occupational and physical therapy. The patient can remain at home as long as the cost of needed care does not exceed the cost of the local nursing home.

The city recently backed off — at least, temporarily — cutting the Abingdon loop from the M14 route. But the threat of losing the bus stops has thrown a real fear into West Village mobility-challenged seniors who view the bus as a lifeline.

State Senator Lombardi helped us find the resources and economies to use Medicaid and it worked. Now, New York State residents can find an array of services for seniors who wish to remain living at home safely by checking out NY CONNECTS. I am proud to have been a founding part of these services in my community and to know how it grew to serve many more.

Now the community I served is determined to make me a prisoner in my little Bank St. studio apartment by taking away my Abingdon Square 14A bus. It’s the public, affordable vehicle that provides me my critical access to my doctor’s office on the East Side. At age 83, I am unable to climb the subway stairs to get Uptown. Most everyday things I need begin on the 14th St. corridor. The senior center I prefer is on Washington Square North off Fifth Ave.

Basically, the Village has become a barren desert because all the stores are gone, as are the little shops that my neighbors and friends enjoyed visiting. I cannot afford to eat out, most of the affordable little eateries are gone. You know the story, just walk around.

At least the Abingdon bus gets me to the great 14th St. corridor. Walking up to 14th and standing around waiting for another bus is exhausting. Even if I do walk up to 14th, there is not a seating shelter to rest at Eighth Ave. and 14th St. The Abingdon bus stop on Eighth Ave. in front of the drugstore at least provides some shelter in case of bad weather. In stormy weather and heat, one can take the bus to reach 14th St. and east from there.

Are you aware that it costs about $8 just to step into a yellow cab before it travels an inch? I need the bus. We need this bus. You are taking away my lifeline and that of many others who have made the Village a wonderful place to be. Now “the Village” is gone and taken over primarily by pied-a-terre nontaxpayers who make decisions ignoring the we — the people who still do live here. Seems you want us gone, too?

Now the M.T.A. says it’s going to slow down and take a little time — up to nine months — to “study” whether the Abingdon loop is indeed needed so badly. But to even have thought of eliminating it, this longtime Village activist says shame on you.

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