Photo by Allan Rosen

The MTA is poised to unveil a slew of bus and subway service improvements this week, but the fate of the B4 bus line is still uncertain.

With finances at the authority steadily improving, MTA officials are studying service in the five boroughs to determine locations for route enhancements. A Daily News article published today said the agency has $90 million more on hand this year, and may restore devastating cuts made in 2010 to close a budget deficit.

The bulk of the service improvements are expected in Brooklyn and the Bronx – where the cuts were most severe – and the Daily News identifies the B77, B75, B61 and B64 as “top candidate[s] for a service boost.”

The B4 line, though, may not make the short list of restorations.

The Bay Ridge-to-Sheepshead Bay bus line saw a huge chunk of the route axed in 2010, when the agency eliminated service between Ocean Parkway and Knapp Street on weekends and off-peak weekday hours. The MTA will not confirm if Sheepshead Bay is an area they are considering for improvements.

“We’re not confirming or denying any proposed changes until later this week,” said MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg.

Locals were outraged by the cuts, which eliminated bus access for most Emmons Avenue business patrons and residents – including hundreds of seniors living nearby – for most of the week. In May, approximately 70 residents gathered at a Transportation Town Hall organized by Sheepshead Bites, Transportation Alternatives and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz to express their concerns and suggest improvements. A petition with more than 2,000 signatures for the restoration of B4 service, gathered by the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Assocation, was given to elected officials, who heard residents’ concerns and echoed the neighborhood’s demands to the MTA and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“While I understand the MTA’s financial situation, thousands of residents are stranded without any viable transit option because of the lack of off-peak and weekend B4 service. The B4 is the only public transit link to the rest of the city,” Cymbrowitz wrote in a letter to the authority, also noting that reduced service hurt local real estate prices and businesses. (Full letter below article.)

Lisberg confirmed that the agency had received the letter and petitions, but could not say if it has had any sway on the current discussions of improvement.

“I dont know if there has been a particular response to that letter, those petitions, et cetera, but I know we have been carefully studying areas … to see what neighborhoods we can improve service in,” Lisberg told Sheepshead Bites.

Lisberg, though, is cautioning residents to temper any expectations of route restorations from the 2010 cuts, saying that most improvements will be to adjustments of current routes, not reversals of cuts. Some current lines may see more frequent services, or route extensions into poorly served areas.

“It’s a big differences between simply reversing cuts that were made versus making changes to service that will better serve riders,” Lisberg noted.

Assemblymember Cymbrowitz Demands B4 Restoration

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  • Allan Rosen

    First of all, the B77 and B75 were discontinued and replaced with the B61 and B57 extensions. I doubt the 75 and 77 will be coming back. More likely the B61 will get added service which it sorely needs. So I wouldn’t count out the B4 yet. It makes no sense that they would extend routes into new areas before bringing back routes that were cut. I don’t believe they will do that. Adding more service where needed supposed to be done anyway according the the service guidelines. They should not count those additions as part of the service restorations.

    I don’t believe Plumb Beach ever requested 24/7 service for the B4 which it never had before. Cymbrowitz needs to get his facts straight. They just want service restored to what it was before the cuts.

    • LLQBTT

      What’s the point of added service if the route is unreliable?  So instead of waiting 30 minutes to get on 1 jammed bus, there’ll be a second, empty 1 trailing it’s slow progress for the rest of the route?

      • Allan Rosen

        Don’t really understand your point. It’s not related to what I was talking about. Anyway, added service always improves service ven if buses bunch frequently. A 20 minute service that is bunched mean average waits of 20 minutes. A 15 minute service that I bunched mean average waits of 15 minutes, so there still is some improvement.

  • Flatbush Depot

    I hope they bring back the B4, but they really need to do something about its infrequency. I would think that if Manhattan Beach can have the amount of B1/B49 service that it has when most people down there do not even use the buses, then Plumb Beach should have roughly that same amount of B4/B44 service. They just need to beef up the B4′s service levels, in terms of both service span and service frequency.

    They need to change the western part of the route in order to justify an increase in service frequency.

    • Allan Rosen

      After SBS, Plumb Beach service will be comparable to Manattan Beach School closed service, but only 16% will be B4 service during rush hours 84% will be B44. That I don’t think is right.

      • Flatbush Depot

        I agree.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-David-Haskell/1427183336 Charles David Haskell

    I still hope that B4 will be return to Knapp Street. I would have to take two train(R to Pacific Street and switch to either 2/5 to last stop in Brooklyn and again switch to B44 to the last stop and walk several stop to the the movie theater. I remember to taken the third avenue bus to 77/78 and switch to the B4 for the ride to Knapp Street.