THE COMMUTE: Weekend subway service delays are now as common as not getting a seat in the rush hour.

This past weekend alone, 11 subway lines were disrupted by such delays. Yes, they are annoying but necessary. Even more annoying are those long-term projects depriving access to riders at their home stations, such as the ongoing temporary closing of local stations along the Brighton Line that suspended express service, adding minutes to everyone’s commute.

Last week F and G riders in Park Slope joined B and Q riders in this frustration with the closing of Ft. Hamilton Parkway, 15th Street and Smith-Ninth Streets in one direction. But why should you care? After all, unlike Sheepshead Bay, Park Slope with its political power gets everything it wants from the City or the MTA .

Well, not exactly.

Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander recently asked the MTA to extend the B68 Coney Island Avenue bus several blocks past its 15th Street Windsor Terrace terminus, so that riders who currently use the 15th Street or Fort Hamilton Parkway subway stations will not have the inconvenience of double-backing to Church Avenue to get an F or G train for the next five months.

The MTA declined. This was their reason: “MTA officials say they do not provide shuttles for the eight to 10 projects around the city where one side of a subway platform is closed.” Some Park Slope residents may believe that response, but Sheepshead Bay commuters know otherwise. Wasn’t there a temporary B3K bus operating between Kings Highway and Avenue U during rush hours precisely for that reason, so those from Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay would not have to travel to Sheepshead Bay then reverse direction to access the Avenue U Station?

So has the MTA already forgotten about this route in the few months it has ceased operation, or is there a more sinister reason behind this deception? My belief is that the person responding either did not have all the facts or the MTA is just reluctant to extend the B68 for fears that they will have trouble trying to discontinue the extension when the rehabilitation work is complete after residents find that the connection from the B67 to the B68, a side benefit, is so popular that they want to have it maintained permanently. The B3K was much easier to discontinue since there would have been no reason to have it remain after the construction at Avenue U was completed and because it only operated during rush hours anyway.

A B68 extension is another story, however. The B68 is not the only route that would benefit from a minor extension or rerouting.

Dozens of other bus routes also fit that category, but the MTA is reluctant to make any bus improvements that would result in increased operating expenses even when there are new land uses, such as the recent opening of Canarsie Plaza, which generate additional automobile trips. So rather than revealing the true reason for denial, they fabricate one as they have been doing even before the MTA was created, when they were just the New York City Transit Authority.

Today, however, there is one big difference. In the age of information technology, we are out of the Dark Ages. You can no longer successfully tell one community one story while giving another community a different one without the truth becoming known. Apparently, the MTA still has not learned this.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CIXKMWVRUVBKQ4CT75NB5BAEBU Death

    MTA – Multi Theft Auto………Yea that sounds about right.

    • http://twitter.com/nicktherat Nick the Rat

      welcome to america! where we sit around, do nothing, horde money, outsource work, shit on anyone with a question, lie through our teeth, point our fingers at others, and never get thrown out of our position because there arent enough people to organize and do something about it. Sadly our government has used the educational system to dumb us down and not empower us. if only we KNEW there was power in numbers and KNEW what was happening to us was wrong. I guess its life as usual.

  • Cs

    mothereffers! BAH!

  • winson

    it is probably because it is only for four to five months whereas the Neck Road and Avenue project lasted almost two years

    • Allan Rosen

      I’m not sure but I think the 5 months is for one direction only, and another 5 months when the southbound stations are closed. I also don’t think that the length of the repair is a factor.

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

    Couldn’t they take the B81, which goes past the 15th Street station and then goes down 9th Street?

    Having the B68 terminal where it is suits my purposes rather well, I must confess. I have a friend who lives a short walk from there.

    • Allan Rosen

      It’s the B61 and yes they could take the B61 if they live near 15th Street, but if you are south of 11th Avenue, it’s at least two long blocks to the B61 and then a bus to a train, or the B68 to the B61 and then the train, which means about a half hour or more just to get to the train. Not really an option, because walking to the train and doubling-back would be quicker.

      The issue really is shouldn’t the MTA make the skipping of stations as painless as possible like they did on the Brighton Line by building a temporary overpass at Sheepshead Bay,and running the B3K for example? And they should also be honest with the public.

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

        But would those near 11th normally take the 68 to PPW? If they didn’t it would be a longer walk than going to 9th.

        Of course, we might consider people who live just south of the park as well. Doing so would make a better argument for the extension.

        • Allan Rosen

          They would probably walk unless they see a B68 coming and do not need a bus transfer for later use in the trip. If they have an unlimited MetroCard, it wouldn’t matter. If they decide to wait, it would be no longer than 5 minutes.

          For people south of the park, I think it would be quicker just to take the train to Church Avenue and double back than wait and take the bus. They also would be shielded from the elements.

  • lalaland

    Nice work!

  • Larry Littlefield

    The MTA is bankrupt, the result of the decisions, non-decisions and deals in Albany and City Hall over 15 years. Since the subway covers a large share of its costs, the result will be ongoing cuts in bus service. The called the cutbacks last summer “doomsday.” You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • Allan Rosen

      If that’s true, why did Walder publicly declare that there will be no more service cuts because he was affected by the way people were testifying at the hearings how the cuts affected them? Telling people one thing and doing the opposite does nothing the build the MTA’s credibility which is sorely needed, not more lies.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And may I say further, folks down in Sheepshead Bay might have heard about the brouhaha over the Prospect Park West bike lane. It is the perfect symbol.

    Once there was a trolley along that street, in its own right of way. They took it away to make room for autos, and substituted a bus that ran on two separate avenues. Last summer they took away the bus, along with the other bus that ran from Windsor Terrace to downtown.

    But the city installed a bike lane, so the next generation can peddle itself while carrying the debts and retirement obligations of those who went before. Except that some of those who went before want to take away the bike lane, too.

    If you live beyond walking distance from the subway, I suggest that you get a bike and learn to ride over there rather than depend on the bus.

    • Allan Rosen

      Maybe it was wrong to remove the trolley lanes in exchange for more auto lanes, but that happened almost a hundred years ago. The bike lane on PPW is another story, just plain ridiculous, when you already have one a few feet away in the park which could certainly be made into a two-way bike lane if needed.

      Regarding your last suggestion, what about the people who are not fit to ride a bike? Riding a bike in the extreme cold, rain and snow is also something that bike enthusiasts never talk of. For those reasons, bicycles will never be a substitute for mass transit, just an option available to some, and not practical all the time. They are also dangerous, with the number of accidents increasing with the number of bicycle trips being made.

      • Brooklyn Born

         I’m a bike rider (and car owner) and only an insane bicyclist or a dizzy Park Slope liberal would go out in the snow or rain. Our nycdot commissioner is obsessed with bike lanes whether neighborhoods want them or not.

    • Jimmy R.

       If Slope residents are angry now wait till the DOT converts 5th, 6th and 7th Avenues later this year to one-way streets to accommodate Barclays Center. I know this was proposed and shot down by local groups but the DOT is under no legal obligation to listen to these groups. DOT can change traffic patterns at it’s sole discretion.

      • Jimmyx

         The DOT will say that traffic conditions require the conversions and we can’t stop them at that point.

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