Monday, September 3, 2018

MTA Mystery: Has Anyone Taken the CPW Ghost Bus?

Mystery shuttle bus photographed in the wild
Originally published on August 23, 2018 in West Side Rag

By Joy Bergmann

All summer there's been scuttlebutt about a free MTA shuttle bus roaming Central Park West, presumably to provide alternate transportation for B/C subway riders affected by the temporary closure of stations being upgraded and repaired at 72nd, 86th and 110th Streets. 

But if the MTA has not posted any signs about this bus, does it exist?

"It exists. It's being offered and paid for. But very few people know about it or how to make use of it," insists tipster Juliet.

Juliet, a 92nd Street resident, has been depending on the M10 bus for her commute along Central Park West during the B/C shutdown. But one recent day a bus with "Out of Service" in its route display stopped and Juliet boarded, thinking it an M10. The fare box was disabled – not an unusual occurrence – and so she accepted the free ride, ringing the bell near her 92nd St stop. When the bus whizzed past her destination she spoke up and was told by the driver, "This is the shuttle. And you're the only one who doesn't know that." 
No shuttle bus mentions here

It was the first she'd heard of any free shuttle. Subsequent conversations with bus stop comrades revealed they, too, had had strange encounters with these CPW buses. Sometimes the route display says "To Subway", other times "NYCT", but no one seems to be riding them. And no one knows where the stops are, Juliet says. 

Another tipster wrote to WSR back in June, "Special buses have been running on CPW since the 72 and 86 Street subway stations have closed for renovation.  When and where the buses stop is a mystery to me, and apparently to others since I have never seen any passengers on the bus."

When we first checked with the MTA, a spokesperson responded, "While the 72 St, 86 St, and Cathedral Pkwy (110 St) stations are under repair and renovation, we’re running increased M10 bus service along Central Park West to help customers looking to use another station on the line without extra walking."  

Nothing about a free shuttle bus here either
And yet, these mystery buses – definitely not M10s say our tipsters – are still being spotted, if not taken. So we again asked MTA for clarification. 

"The MTA never announced any shuttle service," an MTA spokesperson said Thursday. "We've added additional service on the M10 bus line to assist passengers in making connections to B/C stations that are operating." The MTA added that the station upgrade projects are on schedule and that re-opening dates will be announced soon.

Great. Now back to a twist on the original question:  If the MTA did not announce a shuttle service, could it still exist?

WSR readers, have you seen these CPW ghost buses? Enjoyed a surprise free ride? Let us know in the comments.

This story was later picked up by the New York Post.