The B2 bus. Source: Robert McConnell for The Bergen Network

THE COMMUTE: Last week, I wrote about the MTA’s sinister plot to destroy the B64, which they already have partially accomplished. They are also most likely planning to eliminate the B2, once one of the most profitable and successful bus routes in Brooklyn, operating every two minutes during rush hours in the 1950s. Today, overnight and weekend service have already been eliminated and service at other times is infrequent. I previously discussed reasons for the downward ridership trend on the B2. The next step is to reduce it to a rush-hour only route, then to finally discontinue it entirely.

It is widely agreed that, since the MTA acquired the B100 from the Command Bus Company, routes along Avenue R and Quentin Road, one block away, are duplicative and unnecessary. The logical solution, considered by the MTA in 1981 when they first were contemplating taking over the privately operated bus lines, was to extend the B2 along Avenue U into Mill Basin, taking over that portion of the B100. Since the B9 has since been extended to Kings Plaza, another possibility is to reroute the B2 at Flatbush Avenue, having it miss Kings Plaza and turn onto Fillmore Avenue, continuing into Mill Basin.

The alternative of just eliminating the B2 and retaining the B100 makes little sense because there still would be bus routes one block apart (B100 and B31) for a short distance and, with stops on the B100 more widely spaced than on the B2’s and the B100’s routing, it would not serve Marine Park as well as the B2. Eliminating the B2 would also force some riders to shift to the B3 along Avenue U for a longer more indirect trip to Manhattan. Almost as inconvenient for Marine Park residents would be yet another alternative to eliminating the B2 — that is to reroute the B100 from Quentin Road to Avenue R, running it straight to Flatbush Avenue to Fillmore Avenue. That alternative requires residents who presently do not have a bus on their street to accept one, something the MTA tries to avoid. So my prediction is that they will choose to just eliminate the B2 and this would be their primary reason: The city subsidizes the B100, but not the B2.

The MTA accepted taking over the privately operated routes only under the condition that the city would continue its practice of subsidizing operating losses as they had been doing when the routes were privately operated. The MTA’s overwhelming concern with minimizing operating losses, rather than best serving the public, will lead them to the decision to eliminate the B2.

If the MTA were concerned with the latter, rather than seeking to eliminate the route, they would have been tried years ago to expand its use by extending it westward along Avenue P and 65th Street to give it more of a purpose. This has never been done because the MTA never wanted to operate service along 65th Street as well as 60th Street a quarter-mile away, where the B9 presently operates. I know this because, in 1978, while at the Department of City Planning, I made this proposal, which was rejected for exactly that reason. The walk to an east-west bus between 65th Street and Bay Ridge Parkway (75th Street), exceeds their one-quarter-of-a-mile walking distance guideline, which was part of my rationale for a new 65th Street service. However, since the service guidelines are used only as justification to eliminate routes, never to extend them, it did not matter.

Last week, I discussed the B64 and the sinister plot to eliminate Bath Avenue service because it is slightly over a quarter-of-a-mile away from the B1 along 86th Street. That is just slightly more than the distance between 60th and 65th streets, which the MTA stated they consider too close for two parallel bus routes.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder supposedly prides himself in transparency, even creating a Transparency Tab on the MTA’s newly revamped website. However, next December’s service adjustments are tucked away in a folder called “Board and Board Materials,” hidden in a 155-page document labeled June 2011 Transit Committee Meeting with the discussion beginning on Page 123. How transparent is that?

The facts are that nothing the MTA does is transparent. There are secret agendas. How many of you understood what I was talking about last week when I stated that changes in service frequencies would result in increasing the guideline capacity from X percent to X percent? Was it easier to understand than the tax code? Increases in guideline percentages are not understandable without an explanation of what the guidelines actually are, which are nowhere to be found. Transparency in the planning process is most important if the MTA is ever to be trusted.

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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  • Guest

    Looking at the trend of all the routes the MTA has already tweaked such as the B4 and B31 or wants to eliminate it seems to be they feel everyone serviced by these routes drives. Which clearly is not the case.

  • Flatbush Depot

    Funny thing is the B2 even had a night bus until 1995. Would it be worth extending to the Rockaways or anywhere else (while still servicing Kings Plaza) to increase ridership?

    • winson

      i would love to see more bus service between south Brooklyn and the Rockaways. Right now, only the Q35 does that (running from Brooklyn College down Flatbush Avenue, serving Kings Plaza and Floyd Bennett Field, before crossing the Marine Parkway Bridge into Belle Harbor and terminating at Rockaway Park-Beach 116th Street) and the B2 is close to useless with its short route between Kings Highway and Kings Plaza. Many Rockaway residents travel to Sheepshead Bay for faster service to Manhattan.

    • Allan Rosen

      I only discussed a westward extension, but there would definitely be a market for an extension into the Rockaways.  That couldn’t be done before the takeover of the private companies, because Green Lines would have claimed the MTA was infringing on their franchise even if they would have used Beach Channel Drive.

      But I see no reason now why that wouldn’t be an excellent idea now.  The only thing stopping it is that the MTA will not extend any route unless you tell them which route you would like eliminated.  That is absolutely crazy.  They will tell you it would cost too much and they couldn’t be assured that anyone would ride the bus.  That is what you are dealing with.

      • http://twitter.com/aemoreira81 Adam Moreira

        Actually, I now see the only thing blocking it is that MTA Bus and NYC Transit are not fully merged. I could see a market for diverting alternate Q35s to Kings Highway on the B/Q, eliminating the B2 altogether. Kings Highway on the B/Q is about to get ADA access very soon, and the resulting route could then run out of the Far Rockaway Depot.

        As for what route to eliminate, I would say the QM16 and QM17 to make room for this route.

        The other issue then becomes what to do with the B31. On an aside, I would have the B100 follow the same route as these two routes to provide better service along Avenue R, and the route would use Fillmore east of Gerritsen.

        • Allan Rosen

          No one ever mentioned shifting the B9 to 65th Street.  A new 65th Street service could be Limited only so it would be fast with lower operating costs.  This would work because the B9 operates as a local a quarter-mile away.  No one said that you can’t have a Limited without a local on the same street.

  • Dgherbst

    Marine Park has & will be sacrificed because Dennis Hamill of the Daily News writes how isolated Gerritsen Beach could be without the B31. I’ve lived my entire life within a block of the B2 and can tell you that it takes 45 minute to traverse the entire Rte because every stop is used to discharge passengers in the PM rush & every stop is used in the AM rush.They have already started the process.That will not only mean that I’ll have to walk longer to get the bus,but the wait for the bus will also take longer because it’ll now disappear into Mill Basin.Transit times will double for all riders of the B100.My son’s in Grad school & doesn’t get off the B/Q until 10:00PM ,5 minutes after the last B2 leaves Kings Hwy. Either I pick him up or he walks the mile home,because the 100 isn’t due until much later. As soon as I saw them add the B31,I knew they were going to screw Marine Park,1st no service after 10:00PM;2nd No weekend service.Next it’ll be gone & so will Mass transit from Marine Park. When I moved into a home on E 36th St.,it was a 2fair zone & was crowded.,it’s still crowded but is being destroyed to benefit other neighborhoods. Our Congressman resigned,Kruger is being investigated,Marty Golden is really headquartered in Bay Ridge,we have no one to stand up for us! As a kid I recall the B2 coming every 10minutes during the rush hr’s.In 1990 they ran every 15minutes, now it’s supposed to be every 20 minutes,but is usually 25-30minutes. I don’t want my neighbors in Mill Basin or Gerritsen Beach to suffer, but to sacrifice Marine Park is wrong.     

    • Allan Rosen

      What you said only proves that the users of the routes are the ones who know them the best.  As I stated, in the 1950s, the B2 operated every 2 minutes in the rush hours and has been steadily reduced since then which only drives away riders.  There also were other factors involved such as the extension of the B9 and the addition of the B31 to Avenue R which didn’t help either, but Kings Plaza didn’t exist then and that was a major draw for at least awhile.  Don’t think there are too many B2 riders to KP now however. 

  • Carl

    I have to agree with the writer based upon my own experiences on providing suggestions to NYCT.  Back in the 90′s I was foolish enough to make proposals to NYCT to extend the B13 route further southwest to connect with the B6 route and to extend the B18 route to Williamsburg Bridge Plaza and south to the Gateway Mall via Highland Blvd, Vermont Place (Highland Park) etc.  Instead during the early 2002 NYCT decided in it’s infinite wisdom to eliminate the B18 route and extend the B13 to Williamsburgh via there own routing via Flushing Avenue and Bushwick Avenue rather than the former B18 routing along Morgan Avenue and Cypress Avenue leaving many passengers from the Morgan Avenue Bushwick, Brooklyn vicinty area and passengers along Cypress Avenue, Ridgewood without any bus service.   After a few years NYCT cut the B13 route from Williamsburg back to Wyckoff Avenue/Dekalb Avenue because the route couldn’t draw any additional passengers from the Bushwich Avenue/Flushing Avenue routing they had anticipated.  I guess the smart planners at NYCT didn’t notice when they rerrouted the B18/B13 that the B57 operates on Flushing Avenue and that the B43 operated two blocks west along Graham Avenue plus those routes provides more connections than the B13 route.  No wonder that route extension/revision failed.  I have requested numerous time that NYCT extend nearby routes such as the B38 to Jamaica Avenue/Crescent Street via Cypress Avenue but they have never done it.. 

    • Allan Rosen

      The B13/18 combination occurred at the same time the B13 was extended to Gateway Mall.  According to their planning philosophy, they couldn’t just make a short extension to the route because that would have increased operating costs.  So they made the combination, causing some people who previously could just get on the B18 to now walk a half mile to the L train. Also, B13 riders who previously transferred to the B18 at Jamaica Avenue could no longer do this.  They could now stay on the B13 all the way to their destination but had to ride an extra 15 or 20 minutes on the bus.

      The entire reason for the route combination which hurt people, was so they could save one bus a day when the B13 which operated every half hour was extended to Gateway.  That extension proved to be so popular that ridership on the route increased by 80% and service had to be increased.  However, because of the route combination, instead of increasing service only to Ridgewood, they had to increase it all the way to Bushwick where it was not needed.  So the savings of one bus only lasted a year, so instead of the route combination saving money, it ended costing them much more.  At the public hearing everyone including the Brooklyn Borough President opposed the route combination but they went ahead with it anyway. Typical MTA shortsightedness and lack of willingness to listen to the public.

  • Anonymous

    I was giving this a little more thought and I wanted to clarify something. The problem is not whether or not the MTA discontinues the B2. It is if they discontinue it without making any other changes. Clearly the MTA can operate the B2/B100 more efficiently. I would recommend the following revised route from East 16th Street and Quentin Road via Avenue R, Gerritsen, Quentin Road, East 36th Street, Avenue S, Utica Avenue, Fillmore Avenue then continue via B 100 route to Mill Basin. On the weekends, I would turn it south on Flatbush Avenue to Avenue U to Mill Avenue and into Mill Basin.

    I think that would make the best sense minimizing walking to the bus from Marine Park and minimally inconveniencing Mill Basin. It is more important that Kings Plaza be served on weekends and that’s what I would do.

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