OMBUDSMAN ALERT: “EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, ALL AROUND THE TOWN”

BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT
OMBUDSMAN

ob2 obIn the spirit of this holiday season, this Ombudsman has borrowed the first line of the song “Sidewalks Of New York” written way back in 1894 by James W. Blake and Charles E. Lawlor to address the more serious matter of the Rockland rail commuter who may travel on either the east or west side of the Hudson when traveling to New York City.

The Ombudsman Alert in a previous sequence of three articles addressed the critical needs for improvement and replacement of the Hudson River Tunnels in the vital link from New Jersey to New York City to help ensure a “one-seat ride” from Rockland into Penn station on the WEST side of the Hudson The project needed to accomplish this improvement is known as “The Gateway Tunnel Project” In the Ombudsman’s last article on this subject with the title: “A Request from Rockland’s ‘President’ Ed Day to President-elect Donald Trump,” we explained how our County Executive, Ed Day, graciously honored our request to write a letter to the President-Elect urging him to make the “Gateway Tunnel Project” a reality.

So that is all this Ombudsman can do at this time to address the needs of the Rockland commuter using rail services on the west side of the Hudson.

This now brings us to the issue of the Rockland rail commuter who must cross the Tappan Zee bridge to use the Metro North Road in order to travel to Grand Central Station A very large percentage of these commuters have gotten used to parking their cars in one of the county’s Park and Ride Lots (such as Lot J across from the Palisades Center Mall) and then taking a Tappan Zee Express Bus into the Tarrytown Railroad Station to meet their Metro-North train in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, however, the New York State Department of Transportation has just come out with proposed new routes for the Lower Hudson Transit Link Bus System which would eliminate the vital Tappan Zee Express Bus Service from the Park and Ride Lots , including the critical Lot J ride from the Palisades Center Mall to the Tarrytown Railroad Station!

The New York State Department of Transportation wants to limit the Tappan Zee Express Buses to providing services only to White Plains from the Park and Ride Lots. This would add on a considerable number of minutes to a round-trip commute for many Rocklanders! To try to combat this impending threat to our rail commuters who must travel on the east side of the Hudson, I joined with Orrin Getz, an avid proponent of improved rail service for Rockland commuters, and we approached the Office of Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski with our complaint.

The result was a letter written on December 13 by the Assemblyman to the New York State Department of Transportation which states in part:

“As you know, we have extremely limited mass transit options here in Rockland County;creating a challenge for residents commuting to New York City. I am concerned with the lack of express routes from the Palisades Mall to the Tarrytown Rail Station in the proposed bus routing plan. These express lines ar critical to the County’s commuters and their ability to travel quickly to the train.”

“I request that the Department examine expanding service to Tarrytown by adding an express route from the Palisades Mall to the Tarrytown train station. We are on the precipice of creating a modern and efficient system that will benefit the region but failing to recognize the express service preferred by Rocklanders will threaten that.”

Kudos to Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski for taking such quick action on our request. This Ombudsman will be sure to follow up on this critical matter for Rockland rail commuters who choose to travel on the east side of the Hudson. Adding to the growing momentum in support of the infrastructure project, shortly after Zebrowski sent his letter to the NYS Dept. of Transportation, highly influential US Senator Chuck Schumer (Senate Minority Leader, D-NY) warned President-elect Trump through the national media that failure to fund the Gateway Tunnel Project could lead to a NY-area recession!

Please direct all questions and concerns on this issue to editor@rocklandcountytimes.com.