Local leaders pressed MTA officials and the agency’s contractor for proposals and promises from the authority this morning, but the biggest payoff appears to be for residents of Gerritsen Beach and communities east of Sheepshead Bay.

“Did a magic bullet appear? No,” said Councilman Lew Fidler of the meeting. “The thing that probably will come out of it – and we’re optimistic will come out of it – and it doesn’t affect a whole lot of people, but it does affect Weinstein’s constituents and mine – there was some willingness to consider reversing some of the service cuts on the BM3 and BM4 buses. That’s the thing we’re most optimistic will happen, but obviously it doesn’t help the vast majority of people affected by the construction.”

It appears the MTA came unaware of the demands and complaints awaiting them.

“They were there to tell their side of the story, and I think that’s all they thought they were there for,” said George Broadhead, president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association. Broadhead said they came to discuss the construction plans, not alter them. However, the meeting changed direction when Broadhead brought up the recent service changes to the BM3 and BM4 buses, which provide alternative Manhattan-bound service to Gerritsen Beach and the eastern portion of Sheepshead Bay. Those bus routes now leave many riders with only the handicapped B/Q line.

The MTA officials present only represented the subway service, and according to sources at the meeting, they were unaware of the bus division’s actions and dismissed it as the other branch’s responsibility.

“[State Senator Carl] Kruger blew his top,” said one source who asked not to be named. “[The MTA was] there to really apologize for all the bullcrap. But I think they got a taste of it from Kruger.”

Kruger scolded the MTA for its dismissive attitude towards bus alternatives, reportedly saying, “We bailed you out with billions of tax-payer dollars, and now you’re telling me the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing?”

Other elected officials, including Fidler, Assemblywoman Weinstein, and Assemblyman Maisel chimed in to represent their constituents who have had their options wiped off the table in recent months. The MTA representatives got the message: they committed to get the ball rolling on restoration of Manhattan-bound bus service.

Subway commuters in Sheepshead Bay didn’t fare so well. A partial restoration of express service isn’t being considered.

However, Fidler proposed that construction work continue later into the evening. Presently, the contractor works from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Fidler was joined by Kruger and Chairperson Theresa Scavo in asking to extend it an extra two hours, hoping that it will decrease the planned two year duration for the project.

“Would it decrease the length of time of the job by 10 percent? That’s what I want to know,” said Fidler.

The MTA has promised to collect data on the proposal. They’re comparing evening ridership numbers and cost estimates to see if the benefits outweigh the inconvenience. To complicate matters, the project has already been hampered by a court order received by 36 property owners along the B/Q tracks that bars the MTA from doing work past 5 p.m. The agency will have to approach those homeowners and ask them for permission to do work later in the evening, and may have to offer a compensation incentive, raising the price of the project.

Still, the promise to study the issue has inspired confidence in the local officials. Theresa Scavo, who last night said she expected the MTA to ignore the group’s pleas altogether, seemed somewhat optimistic about the ground gained.

“The meeting went very well,” she said. “At this point I don’t think there’s any other way to proceed except trying to find the best deal. People don’t need to be inconvenienced until the next year.”

Another alternative proposed to decrease the overall time of the project was to increase the number of total weekend shutdowns, meaning no train service at all between Kings Highway and Prospect Park. The MTA has committed to collecting data on weekend ridership, but officials also suggested that they’d like to check back with their constituents to see if that is preferable.

MTA officials, meanwhile, insisted that service was getting better and commute times were shortening since the project began. The agency blamed rider confusion and initial work during the “transition period” for increased train delays, but insists that things are getting better all the time. According to sources, Scavo – who rides the train frequently – and others, balked at the assertion.

“They’re going to gather some statistics – granted it’s their statistics – to see how much it takes with the express service, how long it took during the transition period, and how long it takes now, so that we can see if their claim that it’s getting better has any basis in reality,” said Fidler. “I’m not going to be that idiot that’s screaming all is well and things are getting better if they can’t prove it.”

Councilman Michael Nelson was also at the meeting, and his efforts focused on ensuring the work doesn’t become “another MTA debacle where the project lasts forever,” said Steve Zeltser, legislative aide for Nelson.

“Our primary concern is that it has to be done no later than the expected finish date. As of now it’s late 2011 – originally the plans were to last four years. They’ve now pushed that down to two years,” said Zeltser.

The leaders and the MTA will meet again after the agency has collected data on the alternative proposals. Still, it looks unlikely that any express service will be restored within the next two years, and there have been no promises that it won’t extend longer.

“We’ll have to wait and see that the MTA will live up to their word and their promises that they’ll finish when they said,” Zeltser said. “These tracks are old, they need to be worked on. There’s no doubt about that.”

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  • Ray Johnson

    Gone are the days when work gets done in a timely fashion. It’s SAD that things couldn’t have worked out better.

  • Ray Johnson

    Gone are the days when work gets done in a timely fashion. It’s SAD that things couldn’t have worked out better.

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

    It would have been really nice if they would have allowed this to be recorded for YouTube. God forbid politicians ever allow themselves to be recorded saying anything that’s not a soundbyte or campaign propaganda!

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur B

    It would have been really nice if they would have allowed this to be recorded for YouTube. God forbid politicians ever allow themselves to be recorded saying anything that’s not a soundbyte or campaign propaganda!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Study the issue? That’s bureaucratic jargon for “let’s delay a decision so that everybody looks good”.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    Study the issue? That’s bureaucratic jargon for “let’s delay a decision so that everybody looks good”.

  • BMB

    Arthur, while I agree the transparency of things like video recording meetings is great… it also risks making the meetings less honest and thus less productive. The MTA representatives, for instance, might be less forthcoming with answers if they’re aware their every word is being recorded for posterity (and their bosses).

    I love transparency… most of the time. But sometimes there’s unintended downsides.

  • BMB

    Arthur, while I agree the transparency of things like video recording meetings is great… it also risks making the meetings less honest and thus less productive. The MTA representatives, for instance, might be less forthcoming with answers if they’re aware their every word is being recorded for posterity (and their bosses).

    I love transparency… most of the time. But sometimes there’s unintended downsides.

  • Lew from Breooklyn

    Guys, sometimes meetings are for taskoriented discussion and youtubing can be counter productive as BMB correctly indicates.
    A full briefing was given to Ned not just by the elected present, but by the community leaders, heads of a number of civic groups, who wre invited and attended.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Lew from Breooklyn

    Guys, sometimes meetings are for taskoriented discussion and youtubing can be counter productive as BMB correctly indicates.
    A full briefing was given to Ned not just by the elected present, but by the community leaders, heads of a number of civic groups, who wre invited and attended.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    It seems to me that all the MTA has to do to do is to have a meeting with the principals involved with the project (planners, construction personnel, etc) to discuss how the needs of our communities might be somewhat accommodated without compromising the goals of the project. Give the parties two weeks to think of what they might present as solutions at that meeting.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    It seems to me that all the MTA has to do to do is to have a meeting with the principals involved with the project (planners, construction personnel, etc) to discuss how the needs of our communities might be somewhat accommodated without compromising the goals of the project. Give the parties two weeks to think of what they might present as solutions at that meeting.

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

    Ok. Perhaps Youtubing would have been going too far, but at the very least Ned could have been invited to observe.

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur B

    Ok. Perhaps Youtubing would have been going too far, but at the very least Ned could have been invited to observe.

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    Lew: I agree that Youtube and cameras would probably have inhibited the discussion. But I do feel that Sheepshead Bites should have had a place at that meeting.

    You may disagree, but I’ve heard from others who were there that our reporting on the issue – and our work in getting people to contact the MTA and the elected – was what pressured you and your colleagues to sit down with the agency officials. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back on this one – especially since I don’t think anything tremendous has been accomplished – but that meeting never would’ve happened if Sheepshead Bites didn’t exist.

    Since this is an issue that I think would’ve been ignored by you and most of your colleagues – as it is in other neighborhoods along the B-line – I really think someone ought to have been there to work for the residents of Sheepshead Bay (the parts not covered by you, and that run along the train). From what I heard, Theresa Scavo did a great job. But from our neighborhood, that was it. Cymbrowitz was absent, and Nelson may well have been. I’m an activist on this issue and not just a reporter, and I really did feel I deserved a voice at that meeting.

  • http://www.NedBerke.com Ned Berke

    Lew: I agree that Youtube and cameras would probably have inhibited the discussion. But I do feel that Sheepshead Bites should have had a place at that meeting.

    You may disagree, but I’ve heard from others who were there that our reporting on the issue – and our work in getting people to contact the MTA and the elected – was what pressured you and your colleagues to sit down with the agency officials. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back on this one – especially since I don’t think anything tremendous has been accomplished – but that meeting never would’ve happened if Sheepshead Bites didn’t exist.

    Since this is an issue that I think would’ve been ignored by you and most of your colleagues – as it is in other neighborhoods along the B-line – I really think someone ought to have been there to work for the residents of Sheepshead Bay (the parts not covered by you, and that run along the train). From what I heard, Theresa Scavo did a great job. But from our neighborhood, that was it. Cymbrowitz was absent, and Nelson may well have been. I’m an activist on this issue and not just a reporter, and I really did feel I deserved a voice at that meeting.

  • George Broadhead

    To clarify my comments at the MTA meeting, my rationale for bringing up the Express bus system was based on a logical means for alleviating some of the inconvenience to those who use mass transportation. As is well known by now, the BM3 from Sheepshead Bay to Manhattan, had 3 (three) successive bus stops eliminated a few months ago. Ave. X/Allen Avenue on Knapp Street, Avenue W and Knapp St. and Ave. X and Batchelder St. (This also required the removal of a newly constructed bus shelter located at Avenue W and Knapp Street).
    My suggestion was to replace at least one of those stops, to close the gap that has sorely affected many riders. At the same time, an MTA management representative acknowledged excessive crowding in subway cars, she also stated at one point, that a study was made indicating not that many people took the BM3 from those 3 stops. WOULDN’T THIS BE THE TIME THAT RIDERSHIP ON THE BUS WOULD INCREASE. Since we learned only last night at the GBPOA meeting, that DOT did a traffic study on Gerritsen Avenue on the day of a major Jewish holiday–when traffic in most of the New York Boroughs is at a trickle–one cannot but wonder when the study of the BM3 bus ridership was taken!
    As for the BM4, it has always had limited hours. Ending at 9 pm. My suggestion was that the hours be increased–at least during the year or two it will take to complete the subway construction. While one may suggest the benefits are to riders in Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay, it should not be forgotten that many passengers get on and off along the Nostrand and Ocean Avenue routes from other neighborhoods. However our representatives go about effecting these much needed changes is up to their creativity. I know for fact that Senator Marty Golden, Assemblwoman, Helene Weinstein, and Councilman Lew Fidler, have written to the President of MTA Bus Company. As each has pointed out, the elderly and physically disabled BM3 riders have been penalized. Why do we have “kneeling buses” if not for them. HAS ANY OF OUR REPRESENTATIVES CONSIDERED APPLYING THE FEDERAL DISABILITIES ACT to get action instead of an exchange of letters.

  • George Broadhead

    To clarify my comments at the MTA meeting, my rationale for bringing up the Express bus system was based on a logical means for alleviating some of the inconvenience to those who use mass transportation. As is well known by now, the BM3 from Sheepshead Bay to Manhattan, had 3 (three) successive bus stops eliminated a few months ago. Ave. X/Allen Avenue on Knapp Street, Avenue W and Knapp St. and Ave. X and Batchelder St. (This also required the removal of a newly constructed bus shelter located at Avenue W and Knapp Street).
    My suggestion was to replace at least one of those stops, to close the gap that has sorely affected many riders. At the same time, an MTA management representative acknowledged excessive crowding in subway cars, she also stated at one point, that a study was made indicating not that many people took the BM3 from those 3 stops. WOULDN’T THIS BE THE TIME THAT RIDERSHIP ON THE BUS WOULD INCREASE. Since we learned only last night at the GBPOA meeting, that DOT did a traffic study on Gerritsen Avenue on the day of a major Jewish holiday–when traffic in most of the New York Boroughs is at a trickle–one cannot but wonder when the study of the BM3 bus ridership was taken!
    As for the BM4, it has always had limited hours. Ending at 9 pm. My suggestion was that the hours be increased–at least during the year or two it will take to complete the subway construction. While one may suggest the benefits are to riders in Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay, it should not be forgotten that many passengers get on and off along the Nostrand and Ocean Avenue routes from other neighborhoods. However our representatives go about effecting these much needed changes is up to their creativity. I know for fact that Senator Marty Golden, Assemblwoman, Helene Weinstein, and Councilman Lew Fidler, have written to the President of MTA Bus Company. As each has pointed out, the elderly and physically disabled BM3 riders have been penalized. Why do we have “kneeling buses” if not for them. HAS ANY OF OUR REPRESENTATIVES CONSIDERED APPLYING THE FEDERAL DISABILITIES ACT to get action instead of an exchange of letters.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I think more importantly, it has to be stressed that Gerritisen Beach is a peninsula. And at it’s southernmost point it’s more than a mile from where it connects with the rest of the borough. Why make things even more difficult for residents than they are already.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    I think more importantly, it has to be stressed that Gerritisen Beach is a peninsula. And at it’s southernmost point it’s more than a mile from where it connects with the rest of the borough. Why make things even more difficult for residents than they are already.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Ned, feel free to pat away. However, I first wrote to the MTA bus company on the BM3/4 issue on June 3rd. I have to credit Assemblyman Maisel with the idea of asking the MTA brass to come to a meeting on the B train. Alas, my friend and colleague Alan admits to being less than computer savvy and does not read any blogs. It took about a month to get this meeting organized.

    This meeting came about because we have heard from constituents complaining, CB 15 Chairperson Scavo complaining etc. So your coverage on this issue has been excellent and your coverage of the meeting itself was complete and balanced…so I would just say to you that like chicken soup, it surely did not hurt.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Ned, feel free to pat away. However, I first wrote to the MTA bus company on the BM3/4 issue on June 3rd. I have to credit Assemblyman Maisel with the idea of asking the MTA brass to come to a meeting on the B train. Alas, my friend and colleague Alan admits to being less than computer savvy and does not read any blogs. It took about a month to get this meeting organized.

    This meeting came about because we have heard from constituents complaining, CB 15 Chairperson Scavo complaining etc. So your coverage on this issue has been excellent and your coverage of the meeting itself was complete and balanced…so I would just say to you that like chicken soup, it surely did not hurt.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • http://www.gene-2009.com/ Gene B.

    Lisanne, you’re absolutely right.

    It’s good to see a united front from all point on this matter. As a regularly commuter on the B into downtown Manhattan, I can personally say that my travel time hasn’t been so adversely effected – at the most, it’s additional travel time of 5-10 minutes. I’m fortunate to have a flexible schedule, while most do not, so 5 to 10 minutes could mean the difference between gainful employment and a pink slip.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com Gene B.

    Lisanne, you’re absolutely right.

    It’s good to see a united front from all point on this matter. As a regularly commuter on the B into downtown Manhattan, I can personally say that my travel time hasn’t been so adversely effected – at the most, it’s additional travel time of 5-10 minutes. I’m fortunate to have a flexible schedule, while most do not, so 5 to 10 minutes could mean the difference between gainful employment and a pink slip.

  • George Broadhead

    It was an unintentional oversight on my part, to have left out Assemblyman Alan Maisel. I did not include dates, but confirming what Lew Fidler wrote, GBPOA was copied on his correspondence and June 3rd is among the earliest letters to Joseph J. Smith, President, MTA Bus Company. Also, in our file, is a letter from Assemblywoman, Helene E. Weinstein, dated, June 5, 2009. It is pleasing to read that Gene is only 5 to 10 minutes late getting to his office, but that may be because he walks fast. How about the person (including young women) who work irregular hours and must walk dark deserted streets because they have been robbed of a few bus stops; not to mention, ‘double-back’ on lonely station platforms.

  • George Broadhead

    It was an unintentional oversight on my part, to have left out Assemblyman Alan Maisel. I did not include dates, but confirming what Lew Fidler wrote, GBPOA was copied on his correspondence and June 3rd is among the earliest letters to Joseph J. Smith, President, MTA Bus Company. Also, in our file, is a letter from Assemblywoman, Helene E. Weinstein, dated, June 5, 2009. It is pleasing to read that Gene is only 5 to 10 minutes late getting to his office, but that may be because he walks fast. How about the person (including young women) who work irregular hours and must walk dark deserted streets because they have been robbed of a few bus stops; not to mention, ‘double-back’ on lonely station platforms.

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

    For those of us who are less informed, Mr Broadhead, what agent do you represent? Your input is welcome but I don’t recognize your name so I’m curious.

  • http://Www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur B

    For those of us who are less informed, Mr Broadhead, what agent do you represent? Your input is welcome but I don’t recognize your name so I’m curious.

  • http://www.gene-2009.com/ Gene B.

    You’re absolutely right, George. My sister works nights for Nielsen (the TV ratings people) in the city and she is majorly inconvenienced by everything. The family worries every night about her commute.

    Gerritsen Beach needs services restored, there’s no doubt about it.

    And as you know from my poor showing in the 5K, I am most definitely NOT a fast walker!

  • http://www.gene-2009.com Gene B.

    You’re absolutely right, George. My sister works nights for Nielsen (the TV ratings people) in the city and she is majorly inconvenienced by everything. The family worries every night about her commute.

    Gerritsen Beach needs services restored, there’s no doubt about it.

    And as you know from my poor showing in the 5K, I am most definitely NOT a fast walker!

  • George Broadhead

    Arthur B. The agent I represent ‘are’ the people who live in Gerritsen Beach, where I spent my childhood, until I served in the U.S. Marine Corps, attended college, and in time returned to the beach upon retirement from a long career in publishing. I am the current President of the Gerrittsen Beach Property Owners Association (Estbl. in 1922). I am Past Post Commander of Argonne Marine Park VFW Post 107 (3 terms–2005-2008) and Past Kings County Commander VFW, Brooklyn, (2 terms–2006-2008). I am also agent to my 4 grown children (a daughter who is an MD in GA., a daughter who is a Child Psychologist in Seattle; a daughter who works with run-aways in Olympia, where she is also a Director on the staff of Evergreen State University; a son who is on a Fellowship, completing his PhD in Europe. 4 grandchildren, 1 great grand child and another expected by a granddaughter who is pre-med. (Both mothers of my children are deceased). I have about several million friends, a few enemies, and several political ‘acquaintances’… and I believe in term limits in one form or another. Hope that answers your question.

  • George Broadhead

    Arthur B. The agent I represent ‘are’ the people who live in Gerritsen Beach, where I spent my childhood, until I served in the U.S. Marine Corps, attended college, and in time returned to the beach upon retirement from a long career in publishing. I am the current President of the Gerrittsen Beach Property Owners Association (Estbl. in 1922). I am Past Post Commander of Argonne Marine Park VFW Post 107 (3 terms–2005-2008) and Past Kings County Commander VFW, Brooklyn, (2 terms–2006-2008). I am also agent to my 4 grown children (a daughter who is an MD in GA., a daughter who is a Child Psychologist in Seattle; a daughter who works with run-aways in Olympia, where she is also a Director on the staff of Evergreen State University; a son who is on a Fellowship, completing his PhD in Europe. 4 grandchildren, 1 great grand child and another expected by a granddaughter who is pre-med. (Both mothers of my children are deceased). I have about several million friends, a few enemies, and several political ‘acquaintances’… and I believe in term limits in one form or another. Hope that answers your question.

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

    Quite thoroughly. Hello!

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur B

    Quite thoroughly. Hello!

  • Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

    In response to Ned Berke’s posting, I want to mention that it was due to an oversight by a staff member in my colleague’s office that I was not invited to a meeting that affected my constituents. Had I known, I certainly would have been there.

  • Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

    In response to Ned Berke’s posting, I want to mention that it was due to an oversight by a staff member in my colleague’s office that I was not invited to a meeting that affected my constituents. Had I known, I certainly would have been there.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    OK, that sounds about right to me. Such things do happen.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/ Lisanne!

    OK, that sounds about right to me. Such things do happen.

  • George Broadhead

    One outrageous bureaucratic response to the needs of riders, during a time when the city could do something to alleviate the subway congestion and give the shleppers a fighting chance, was that nothing could be done about rescheduling the BM3/BM4 bus routes until January, 2010. That is a farce. Anything can be changed or rescheduled. Remember that, when you pull the lever in November, because after November, most
    follow-up will slow down to the pace of the Shuttle bus from Prospect Avenue to Kings Highway.

  • George Broadhead

    One outrageous bureaucratic response to the needs of riders, during a time when the city could do something to alleviate the subway congestion and give the shleppers a fighting chance, was that nothing could be done about rescheduling the BM3/BM4 bus routes until January, 2010. That is a farce. Anything can be changed or rescheduled. Remember that, when you pull the lever in November, because after November, most
    follow-up will slow down to the pace of the Shuttle bus from Prospect Avenue to Kings Highway.

  • George Broadhead

    In follow-up, I rode the BM3 from Manhattan, on Saturday, Oct. 10th, and I was able to take the bus as far as Avenue X & Brown St., before it turned towards Sheepshead Bay. While this is helpful for people living in the Sheepshead Bay housing , and within a few blocks of Knapp St. the entrance to Gerritsen Beach, I doubt seriously that any of the MTA officials–or any of our Representatives for that matter–would walk that stretch late at night. In a current advertising campaign, Mayor Bloomberg, refers to “Fixing the MTA:
    Taking on the bureaucracy at the MTA to make our subways and buses faster, safer, cleaner and more affordable”. Come out and visit us at Gerritsen Beach, Mayor. Take a ride on the B or Q train, or take one of the express buses. Let us introduce you to your discouraged constituents. We need a late night bus into Gerritsen Beach, for the middle class working people. You have proposed “free” rides on Crosstown buses in Manhattan. How about paid bus service, for those who need it and are willing to pay for it!

  • George Broadhead

    In follow-up, I rode the BM3 from Manhattan, on Saturday, Oct. 10th, and I was able to take the bus as far as Avenue X & Brown St., before it turned towards Sheepshead Bay. While this is helpful for people living in the Sheepshead Bay housing , and within a few blocks of Knapp St. the entrance to Gerritsen Beach, I doubt seriously that any of the MTA officials–or any of our Representatives for that matter–would walk that stretch late at night. In a current advertising campaign, Mayor Bloomberg, refers to “Fixing the MTA:
    Taking on the bureaucracy at the MTA to make our subways and buses faster, safer, cleaner and more affordable”. Come out and visit us at Gerritsen Beach, Mayor. Take a ride on the B or Q train, or take one of the express buses. Let us introduce you to your discouraged constituents. We need a late night bus into Gerritsen Beach, for the middle class working people. You have proposed “free” rides on Crosstown buses in Manhattan. How about paid bus service, for those who need it and are willing to pay for it!

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