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).