Local elected officials pledged support to bringing back full B4 bus service and other public transportation improvements to the area at last night’s Sheepshead Bay Transit Town Hall, organized by Sheepshead Bites, Transportation Alternatives, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association.

More than 50 people turned out for the event to share their experiences with mass transportation in the area, emphatically expressing the community’s desire to restore the B4 to a 24/7 bus line after service cuts in 2010 eliminated the line east of Ocean Parkway on weekends and off-peak hours on weekdays. The Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association presented elected officials with a petition signed by more than 1,000 people, and when a representative from Transportation Alternatives asked the crowd how many of them were affected by the B4 cuts, every hand in the room went up.

“Over 90 percent of our residents in this community rely on mass transit regularly,” Cymbrowitz said in his opening statements. “Ideas that appear brilliant on paper often fail to deliver in practice. One example? The decision to provide B4 bus service to Knapp Street and Voorhies Avenue during peak periods Monday to Friday, leaving thousands of potential riders without viable mass transit services.”

In addition to Cymbrowitz, Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, Councilmembers Lew Fidler and Michael Nelson, and a representative for State Senator Marty Golden were in attendance, and promised to take the community’s proposals back to Albany, City Hall and the MTA to press for improvements.

“Obviously it’s an important issue, because you can count, you can actually multiply everyone that’s here by tens and tens, if not hundreds, the amount of people that are concerned about this issue,” Nelson said.

In addition to the B4 being restored, residents also demanded a restoration of the BM3 between Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan. That bus line has had cuts to weekend service along parts of the route.

The cuts, residents say, aren’t just hurting their commutes, but also local businesses.

“The end result has been that I don’t spend as much time as I used to down here. I still have my tax guy down here, my barber,” said a former resident who moved to the Bronx but still visits the area. “But unfortunately I don’t have time to shop or do anything down here anymore because there’s no service.”

Other concerns from residents included more convenient bus options between Sheepshead Bay and other neighborhoods, including the Rockaways, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, and better communication about bus detours and service cuts.

“Getting to these places and requiring three buses for it is unacceptable, and that’s very much hurting the view of our neighborhood from the outside,” one neighbor pointed out.

In addition to neighbors from around the community, several representatives of community institutions came out to speak on behalf of their constituents. A faculty member from Brooklyn Amity School was on hand, talking about how students at the school are left stranded because of the lack of service on the B4, one of the only routes near their school on Shore Parkway and Knapp Street. An organizer of the Southern Brooklyn Democrats said their group supports reinstatement of B4 service as well, as did reps from area senior centers and facilities like the Sheepshead Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Perhaps most telling were the number of residents who spoke about the effect of the B4 cuts on their property values. A boardmember of a Plumb Beach co-op said many residents sold their units off after the B4 was cut, and that sales in the building have fallen off as prospective tenants say they’re put off by the lack of transit options.

“All of us are dependent on the bus,” said the co-op boardmember, who left her job early to attend the meeting. “I would say a good 15 percent of apartments were put on sale. I would ask ‘Why?’ and they would say because there’s no transportation. And we don’t have anyone to buy. People’s first question is ‘Where’s transportation?’ and there’s no transportation.”

An attendee from a neighboring community added that she looked to purchase a home in Sheepshead Bay, but the absence of convenient transportation convinced her not to.

The local pols soaked in the stories of daily commutes-turned-calamitous-odysseys, and said they would fight to improve service. Already, Cymbrowitz announced at the meeting, the MTA contacted his office on the eve of the meeting to tell him restoration and route tweaks to the B4 would be studied, but they gave no specifics about what changes would be made or when they would be implemented.

Transportation Alternatives will produce a letter outlining the feedback received at the meeting. The letter will be sent to all area officials, who will sign their support to it before sending it to the MTA and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“We look forward to the draft letter that [TA] will put together so that we can send it along to the MTA and make sure that what they are saying are the changes or potential changes, our recommendations will be included,” Cymbrowitz said.

A special thank you the Knights of Columbus – Baron De Kalb (3000 Emmons Avenue) for hosting us, and to Jimmy’s Famous Heroes (1786 Sheepshead Bay Road) for providing refreshments.

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  • Local Broker

    I have not taken a bus in over a decade but this is great news for the community. Good job by all the organizers for putting this together, getting people involved to make a change and fighting back to get what the people want and need.

  • a good neighbor

    MTA knows nothing about what we want except to keep their wallets stuffed. GREAT job sheepsheadbites!

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  • BrooklynBus

    Good luck to Assemblman Cymbrowitz. They told me in Octobet 2010 that they would study some changes to the B4 and I am still waiting.

  • sheila young

    Although I was not able to attend the meeting, I viewed it in its entirity on You Tube.  I was hoping that you would address the problem that many senior citizens are having with Access A Ride.  They now have what they call feeder trips, where they will take you to a bus stop (which usually doesn’t come on time.)  It doesn’t matter if you have to take two or three busses to get to where you have to go, weather conditions do not matter either.  I personally have had to cancel Dr’s appointments because I am unable to get there.  Sometimes they will not even take me to the bus stop, especially when I have to go to the Hip Center on Ave S and Nostrand.  I live on Batchelder St between Ave Y and Z.  I have severe osteoartritus among other problems and cannot walk 4 blocks to the bus.  Car Service at 9 dollars a ride is my only other option, a charge I cannot afford.  An example of this, I am having cataract surgery this Thursday and scheduled for a follow-up visit on Friday.  The Dr’s office is at 740 64 St, between 7th and 8th ave,and Access A Ride will only take me to a bus stop on Flatbush Ave and Ave P.  From there I am expected to take the B9 Bus to 60th St. and 8th Ave, and then walk the rest of the way.  I will not be able to see or walk the distance, car service is 25.00 each way for this trip.   
    I am  73 years old and do not abuse this service, but I do think accomondations should be made for Doctors visits and  certain exceptions.  I have tried appealing and only been told to re-apply.  This will be my third time.  I need some help.
    SheilaYoung
    Youngmarblesmom@aol.com

    • BrooklynBus

      You are 100% correct. Doctor’s visits should be door to door.

      • Andrew

        Wouldn’t that be a violation of federal law? ADA prohibits prioritizing paratransit trips by purpose (medical, recreational, etc.).

        • Allan Rosen

          Isn’t it a violation of ADA to insist someone walk 4 blocks from the bus stop to the doctor’s office when she physically is not able to do that?

          • Andrew

            It is a violation of ADA to insist someone walk 4 blocks from the bus stop to her destination, whether a doctor’s office or anything else, when she physically is not able to do that. In this case, it appears that Ms. Young is on file as being able to walk that distance, and if she really can’t, she should get that remedied. (Nobody said that dealing with the Access-A-Ride office is easy.)

            Clearly, in this case, AAR should have picked her up at the bus stop for the rest of her trip. But, again, it’s irrelevant, by federal law, whether her destination was a doctor’s office or anything else.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tanya.segal1 Tanya Segal

     The service cuts to B4 line are unprecedented. The restoration of the B4 line service to a 24/7 bus line is a must. By eliminating the line east of Ocean Parkway on weekends and off-peak hours on weekdays, MTA effectively disfranchised …a huge segment of our population – the seniors, the disabled, the school children, and others who do not have means of private transportation – from actively participating in the life of their community. Not only they can’t get to their schools, doctors’ offices, senior centers on time but they cannot enjoy Emmons Avenue vibrant shopping and eating area, which hurts the merchants over there and the City loses its revenue.

    • Allan Rosen

      The B4 never operated 24/7.

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