THE COMMUTE: Last month, I wrote that some neighborhood residents want assurances from the MTA that this Memorial Day will not be a repeat of last year’s holiday, when thousands attempted to leave the beach at the same time, severely overloading the bus system. This week’s Bay News reported that a pow-wow was held about this matter on April 29 between the MBNA, Community Board 15’s chairperson Theresa Scavo, and unnamed MTA officials.

The MBNA is asking for extra buses on summer weekends from the “new” stop at Hastings Street directly to the Brighton subway because, according to resident Stan Kaplan, “Everyone leaves the beach at the same time and just wants to get to the train… We really need just to take hundreds of people from the beach quickly and efficiently.” MBNA spokesman Edmond Dweck stated, “Buses were so full that they couldn’t stop for everyone,” referring to Memorial Day of last year.

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here is the rest of the story.”

On more than one occasion I have written about B1 and B49 buses bypassing intending riders because they are too full with college students boarding at Kingsborough Community College, forcing waits of up to an hour for those trying to board after the first stop and before the subway. This occurs every school day, Monday through Thursday, and affects the residents of Manhattan Beach who rely on the buses. It’s not something that happens only during a few weekends in the summer. Yet the MBNA as well as the other community group has remained silent about this. So why is the MBNA so concerned about the beachgoers? Well, they are not. What they are concerned about is getting the beachgoers out of Manhattan Beach as quickly as possible so they do not linger and do G-d knows what.

To correct some inaccuracies, first of all, not everyone “just wants to get to the train.” Only about half the people want the subway. The rest make their way home entirely by bus.

Second, the “new” stop is not new. It has been there since the 1930s. It was removed in 2005 but restored in 2008. Now, here is the best part. Who was responsible for having the bus stop removed? Rumors have it that it was at the request of an MBNA executive board member that didn’t want people congregating near his house. It was restored due to the efforts of myself, the Manhattan Beach Community Group, and Scavo because of the severe overcrowding its removal caused at the neighboring Falmouth Street stop, the only other stop near a beach exit. The MTA claimed it was given no notice by DOT, the agency responsible for placing and removing bus stops, prior to the bus stop’s removal, so it requested DOT to return the bus stop after three years and DOT obliged.

However, the MTA did have prior knowledge of the bus stop’s removal. On April 22, 2008, two months before it returned, NYCT President (who at that time was Howard Roberts) wrote to Theresa Scavo, “Similarly the B1/B49 bus stop at Oriental Boulevard and Hastings Street was removed because it was only two blocks from the bus stops on Falmouth Street and Jaffrey Street on Oriental Boulevard… When and if there is an occasion for a mass exodus from the beach due to a storm or some other event, the current bus stop at Falmouth Street can accommodate the customers boarding the two bus routes.”

Two years later on Memorial Day, that statement proved grossly inaccurate because even after the Hastings Street stop was restored, both stops could not adequately handle the crowds after a thunderstorm last year. Yet the MTA makes inaccurate statements all the time and gets away with it, like their arguments for also removing the bus stop at Ocean Avenue and Oriental Boulevard two months before the removal of the Hastings Street stop. That stop still has not been returned. They first tried to blame Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, then Councilman Nelson, and finally the Community Board for requesting the stop to be removed. All stories proved false. (Again, rumors say that it was also removed because the homeowner whose house the bus stop was in front of pulled some strings and had DOT remove it, similar to what occurred at Hastings Street.)

Bus riders should not be inconvenienced because of the selfish needs of a few and the MTA and DOT need to recognize this. The MTA needs to be more customer-oriented. But as Courier-Life reported, Scavo is “optimistic that improvements are imminent.”

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

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  • Al D

    To your earlier article, it seems that it would make sense to move some of the Friday afternoon KCC bus service to accommodate weekend beach goers. And it also seems that many MBNIMBY’ers are trying their best to remove bus service from their neighborhood. But to plan for an event that occurs rarely (i.e. the combination of events that led to this Memorial Day abberation) is not really that sensible. 

    • Allan Rosen

      I agree that planning for an event that rarely occurs does not make sense.

      Actually, beach service today is pretty adequate. I don’t believe you need any additional buses except on extraordinary days.  Even then, it would be extremely difficult to serve everyone on short notice.  The MTA needs to have a dispatcher stationed at the beach on those days and play the situtation by ear. Having a dedicated work force when it is not necessary is only a wastle of resources.  A few years ago, July 4th was a washout, and the NYPD had about 30 to 50 police officers assigned to the beach.  There were more cops than beachgoers. 

      More service is needed Monday through Thursday, and MTA Bus Operations agrees.  They’ve put in a request for more service from Operations Planning who needs approval from Budget.  Doubt they will approve or move some Friday service  to other days.  Incidentally, the MTA is trying to demote the person who requested more service. Coincidence?

  • Al D

    To your earlier article, it seems that it would make sense to move some of the Friday afternoon KCC bus service to accommodate weekend beach goers. And it also seems that many MBNIMBY’ers are trying their best to remove bus service from their neighborhood. But to plan for an event that occurs rarely (i.e. the combination of events that led to this Memorial Day abberation) is not really that sensible. 

  • ajedrez

    It’s a shame that they removed that stop at Oriental Blvd/Ocean Avenue. Back when I lived in Brighton Beach, we would sometimes use that stop to come home from the church or the playground in that area.

    • Allan Rosen

      I must have at least 15 letters from the MTA explaining why the stop was removed, none of them being the truth.  I disproved every one of their reasons and all they do is come up with another lie, and eventually start recycling their reasons. I even had the Borough President write a letter.  Nothing does any good. They only listen if a large number of people complain.

      Most people think since there is another stop a block away, it doesn’t matter, but it does.  Last month, I got a bus driver to stop there probably because he didn’t realize it was no longer a stop. A result, I got to my destination at Coney Island and Avenue Z in 15 minutes, just a as quick as driving.  Would have taken me at least 30 minutes, if he would not have stopped.  After all shouldn’t mass transit be as convenient as possible?

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

        Can any of those lies and your evidence be used to sue them? 

        • Anonymous

          Don’t believe lying is against the law if it is not under oath. 

        • Anonymous

          Don’t believe lying is against the law if it is not under oath. 

        • Anonymous

          You would also have to prove how their actions caused you monetary damages. They would just say that DOT removed the bus stop so they are not responsible.  It’s obvious that someone high up in DOT made the decision because the person who actually had it removed was trying to help us get it back! Someone may have been paid off to do it but how do you prove that?